Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Squelching Latin in the Mass...Even the Novus Ordo!
Another story of the use of Latin in the Mass being unjustly curtailed comes to us from the Dallas, Texas area via Tantamergo’s blog. “St. Mark Latin Mass to be terminated” reads his headline:
It seems to me that some of the faithful have been protesting for years that Vatican II did NOT abolish Latin, did NOT turn around the altars, did NOT take away the altar rails, etc. Yet, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a story of a priest or bishop responding, “Oh my gosh! You are RIGHT! We’ll have to re-educate the people, and make some changes right away! We must adhere to the letter of Vatican II!”
…unless attendance increases dramatically, and soon. Within a month or two, I would guess. So we were told by Fr. Hopka last night, repeating the words of Bishop Kevin Farrell, who apparently told Fr. Hopka he was “disappointed” with the attendance at the Latin Mass.
Let’s be clear: this is NOT the TLM. It’s the Novus Ordo said in Latin, for heaven’s sake! It’s not a Sunday Mass; it’s a weekday Mass – a daily Mass said in Latin. Attendance is low? Tantamergo observes that
…if “attendance” is the reason why the Mass is being cancelled, half the daily Masses in the Diocese ought to be cancelled, because they have the same, or fewer people assisting compared with this Novus Ordo Latin Mass (we get about 30-50 a night…)
Wow! In my neck of the woods, that’s an outstanding number of Mass-goers! Daily Mass at the Cathedral gets about 10 on a good day. (The only time I ever saw 30 people at a daily Mass was when, the night before, the pastor had held a meeting and threatened to resign; some blamed his despair on me. Thirty people showed up the next day at Mass to “support” him – and half of them came only to give me dirty looks, from what I could tell.)
Anyway, as Tantamergo notes, the threat of this Mass being terminated is a somewhat pivotal moment for the parish/diocese concerned, because
…if this Mass goes away, the Diocese and any pastor/priest will have a ready-made, 100% plausible excuse never to have Latin Mass again – it was tried and it “failed.”
He’s right – and it will make no difference that the Novus Ordo in general seems to have “failed” in many ways no matter what language is used!
Tantamergo offers a number of reasons why attendance is “low” – reasons I’ve noted before (here, for instance). The cards always seem to be stacked against anything that smacks of “traditionalism”. In the case of St. Mark’s, the factors were:
An odd or inconvenient time (Mondays at 7pm)
Uncertainty as to whether the Mass would actually be said, with many cancellations
Lack of proper “advertising” of the Mass
That last factor is an interesting one. Tantamergo notes (his emphases):
…it was forbidden to list the Latin Mass with the rest of the weekly Masses on the front of the bulletin, or on the front page of the website, for that matter.
So, why was there little or no advertisement? Why couldn’t this Mass be listed with the other Masses at St. Mark on the bulletin’s front page, or on the website with the other Masses? We had wondered that for a long time. We had asked ushers, called the office, talked to the music minister, all who said it should be on the front page, but never was. We asked specifically for it to be added to the front page, and nothing ever happened. Well, now we know why. It’s because Bishop Farrell himself demanded that it NOT be put on the front page!!!!!!! Apparently, he was very specific about this. So, the prime means of letting people know of the Mass’ ongoing existence was eliminated from the start. I should note that the Mass, from the beginning, was described as “experimental.” Thus, it was perhaps not “worthy” to be listed with the other, “real” Masses.
We ran into something similar here in the far corners of the Diocese of Baker. Our priest was happy to say the EF Mass, and he was happy to have an announcement in the bulletin, but somehow, that just never happened. I don’t know why…not for certain, anyway. I have my suspicions, but let’s not go there. It just didn’t happen.
In addition, we also ran into the problem of a fluctuating time for the Mass. Some weeks it was at 1 pm; sometimes at 3pm; occasionally at noon. That doesn’t work towards building a stable group of attendees!
As Tantamergo notes, there’s a lot of abuse going on in this kind of situation. When a bishop squelches the Latin Mass – whether the Novus Ordo or the Extraordinary Form – it’s pretty obvious that he is setting himself in opposition to the Vatican II document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, which states plainly that “. . .the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites" (SC, #36).
And of course, a bishop who forbids a priest to celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form, is violating the provisions of Summorum Pontificum. Doesn’t a bishop telling a priest that he can’t celebrate even the Novus Ordo in Latin also seem to be an overstepping of bounds?
So here’s the rub, once again: some bishops seem to have one interpretation of the documents of Vatican II, and others seem to have a different take on the issues. Recall Bishop Anthony Taylor’s derogatory interpretation, especially regarding what the Mass was like before Vatican II.
Don’t you wonder how there can be such different interpretations? And why?
And do you think much will come of a renewed study of the Vatican II documents? I mean, if a bishop has a particular interpretation – say, for example, one that is against the use of Latin in the Mass – then won’t he promote that interpretation? And even if the faithful study the documents and come to a different understanding from their bishop, what good will it do them?
Even the Pope doesn’t get that kind of response. Case in point: Redemptionis Sacramentum (On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist), which says of itself (my emphases):
This Instruction, prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments by mandate of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was approved by the same Pontiff on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, 19 March 2004, and he ordered it to be published and to be observed immediately by all concerned.
Yeah. Right. Many of the abuses covered in that document are still going on, as if no one ever read the document!
So…I’m still a little skeptical of any great epiphanies about liturgical correctness resulting from “studying” the documents of Vatican II during the Year of Faith. But who knows? With God, all things are possible.