Saturday, September 15, 2012

Another Fr. Rodriguez Radio Interview

Fr. Michael Rodriguez was the guest on Salve Regina radio the other night (Sept. 13), with host Larry Roach. You can listen to the show here.

In the first half of the show, Larry and Fr. Rodriguez continued their conversation from the previous interview about the use of Latin in the Mass, and why it’s important. (See my post on the previous interview here; it includes Fr. Rodriguez’s list of 10 reasons why it’s important to use Latin in the Mass.)

Here’s my summary of the first half of the September 13 show:

Latin, said Fr. Rodriguez, is the sacred language of the Mass, and as such, it helps us to realize that the Mass is theocentric. We pray in Latin because the Mass is not directed toward or adapted by any one particular community; it lifts up the Church – the whole Church, the Church as one – to the worship of the Triune God. Our prayers in the Mass are directed to God. Therefore, we pray them in a universal language.

 “There’s no question the old Mass is theocentric,” said Fr. Rodriguez. “The focus is on God, on the supernatural , on Heaven, on the sacrifice of Christ; it’s the unity of the Church Militant with Church Suffering in purgatory, with the Church Triumphant in Heaven; it’s not just the Church Militant on earth – that’s only about a third of the reality of what’s taking place in the Mass.” The Latin language is just one element in the ancient rite that enables the faithful to grasp and appreciate the central mystery of the Mass : that it’s theocentric.

Larry brought up the fact that the Novus Ordo is, in many ways, anthropocentric, or man-centered; Fr. Rodriguez agreed, noting that people today tend to think that the Mass is about “my particular community, my needs, my wants, or even my country”. But Pope John XXIII made it very clear in Veterum Sapientia that this is not the case, and that the Latin language helps to show that the Church is universal. Fr. Rodriquez quoted VS:

These are the words of Our Predecessor Pius XI, who conducted a scientific inquiry into this whole subject, and indicated three qualities of the Latin language which harmonize to a remarkable degree with the Church's nature. "For the Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to endure to the end of time ... of its very nature requires a language which is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular." 

Fr. Rodriguez sees the language as part of the problem, and said he wouldn’t advocate Mass in the vernacular. “There are plenty of devotions and prayer we can pray in the vernacular”, he added. “The [use of vernacular] language in the Novus Ordo is another element leading us astray.”

With regard to the value of using non-vernacular language, Fr. Rodriguez again quoted VS:

“…[T]he Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular. In addition, the Latin language "can be called truly catholic"… 

The language issue has practical implications, Fr. Rodriguez conceded, noting that people sometimes think that if they are not going to travel to other countries they need only hear the Mass in their own vernacular language.  Others have found that if they are familiar with the Traditional Latin Mass, they can experience the same Mass no matter what country they are visiting – if they attend the EF Mass.

“But [the use of Latin] is also theological,” he said. “Irrespective of whether you’re experiencing it or not in the sense of traveling to other countries, the objective fact is that every single Catholic worshiping the Triune God is doing it in the same language.

“This may sound silly,” he continued, “but suppose someone from outer space is watching the sacrifice of the Holy Mass; everything he hears is one voice, one faith, one Church, one mystical body. Theological significance is tied into the fact that our faith is one: we believe in one doctrine, so we worship in one tongue. Whether you reap the practical benefits or not – for instance, going to another country to really be able to experience that unity is beautiful – but that practical aspect is being derived from the theological or objective fact of the unity of language. This is the way Jesus Christ instituted the Mass; early on the Holy Spirit led the Church to adopt the Latin language, so now it has a 1700-year tradition. We don’t want to discard that because of modern notions of how Mass has to be applicable to one community, or to me personally.”

Driving home his point that it’s not just the language that is important in maintaining our venerable Catholic traditions, Fr. Rodriguez maintained that even when the Novus Ordo is offered in Latin, there are problems that draw us away from the central mystery; one example he noted is the position of the priest. He also noted that “the practical things we experience personally in the TLM (language, the silences) are derived from the theological basis of the Mass.  As we familiarize ourselves with the elements of the TLM, we reap the benefits, because objectively this is the Mass the Holy Ghost has inspired. As a priest and a Catholic this is where I put my faith.

“If I have to struggle more than my neighbor to appreciate the elements and reap the benefits, I still can make that act of faith and know that the Mass is something supremely sacred; and in time those spiritual benefits will manifest themselves in my life even if I don’t necessarily realize it…but I trust that they will.”

Fr. Rodriguez emphasized that we have to recover the sense of the sacredness of the Mass. Vatican II introduced the idea that we had to change or improve the Mass, but “that makes no sense if you revere something as supremely sacred.”

“We need to go back to this important question: What is the Mass? Now you have a different understanding of the Mass (than we had traditionally for 2000years)that is centered on man and centered on our particular period in time, as opposed to an understanding of the Mass as centered on God, and the holy sacrifice of Christ that transcends all time. In a sense, it’s eternal, immutable.

“When you have that shift in understanding the Mass, it opens the floodgates to all kinds of abuses because your lex credendi –what you believe is the Mass – has changed. It works both ways: the way we pray affects the way we believe; and when we no longer believe, it’s going to affect the way we pray.”  

This, he thinks, is behind the push to have the vernacular used in Mass; and the same shift can and has resulted in some rather strange ways the Mass has been adapted in certain communities and nations, with alien elements such as native dances introduced into the liturgy.

“This is why it’s so critical that we recover the Traditional Latin Mass. We have to recover our lex orandi of 2000 years. If we don’t, I guarantee we won’t be able to recover our faith that we’ve lost, the doctrine that’s gone by the wayside. We’ve got a terrible crisis in the Church, where Church doctrine has fallen apart.

“…[For instance,] all these political characters calling themselves Catholic are violating core Catholic doctrine. How did we arrive at this point where you have such a breakdown in the Catholic Church?  And then not only that, but it’s not corrected. Wouldn’t the hierarchy (whether priests, the bishop, or the Pope) then correct the errors and the abuses? Why is there no correction? …Ask yourselves what lex orandi the members of the hierarchy in general are being nourished (malnourished!) on? What is shaping the faith, even of the members of our hierarchy? Is it the lex orandi of the Novus Ordo, or is it the lex orandi of the Mass of all ages?” (my emphases)

That’s a point to ponder, isn’t it?

There was much more, even in the first half of the show, and I haven’t even tackled the discussion in the second half. I recommend listening to the show in its entirety. You can do that here.


  1. This show was excellent! Father Rodriguez hits the mark (again & again). I can't wait to read your review for the second half of the discussion, Jay.

  2. I read this article you posted on what Father Rodriquez said : have not listened to the show....YET!
    But I will assist at the Mass of All Ages and worship MY GOD the way HE deserves to be ADOORED and REVERED !
    The Traditional Latin Mass is the mosy beautiful Mass this side of heaven : Thanks be to God !


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