Wednesday, March 09, 2022

The 'Latin Mass' Society: letters in The Tablet

Ash Wednesday. A new generation of Latin Massers.

Although printing two letters challenging the Latin Mass Society directly, The Tablet took their time in printing my response, which appeared two editions ago (yes I've been busy too). It is the old canard about our name. The Latin Mass Society is a lot easier to understand than a few other names I could mention. The Tablet, for example: what is that all about? Did its founders really look forward to the day when it would be referred to a 'the Bitter Pill'?

As for the Latin language not being the issue of polarisation, I welcome the greater depth of research and understanding which has focused attention on changes to the texts even in the Latin version. But Latin is still a sticking point. The correspondents who point out, correctly, that the reformed Mass can be celebrated in Latin, need to ask themselves: why isn't it?

Letters on 4th Feb

...While not quite accurate, it does not seem entirely misleading to speak of two rites. What is misleading – and completely inaccurate – is to refer to the “extraordinary” form as the “Latin Mass”. I find it frankly annoying that the term “Latin Mass” is so frequently used in this way, and has been adopted as a rallying cry on both sides of the current, unfortunate, liturgical conflict.
What is at issue is not only, and certainly not primarily, the use of Latin. All the post Vatican II liturgical texts – for the celebration of Mass and the sacraments, the daily Liturgy of the Hours, for ritual consecrations and blessings – were promulgated in Latin. Latin may be, and is, the language in which these rites are celebrated if and when it is appropriate to do so.
Latin is not the root cause of today’s liturgical polarisation. Please, let us agree to avoid this confusing use of the term “Latin Mass”. And, in passing, perhaps the Latin Mass Society (which I do not support, despite a personal love of Latin as a liturgical language) might consider changing its name, to represent more accurately what appear to be its own aims and ethos.


...The congregation was mixed: English, Irish, Swiss, German. Although the form of the service was post-Tridentine as prescribed by Vatican II, the language was Latin. 

Interesting to reflect on how the Latin Mass Society would view this service.


My response.

Fr Clayton and Jim Malia (Letters, 5th Feb) are correct that the Mass loved by ‘traditional’ Catholics is not simply the Mass in Latin.
The Latin Mass Society was founded to preserve the ancient Mass in Latin, when it began to be celebrated in the vernacular in 1965, and continued to seek the preservation of the ancient Mass in Latin, when it disappeared more or less completely in 1969.
Like the names of many organisations, ours reflects the circumstances of our foundation, but it remains universally understood.
The reformed Mass has never been widely celebrated in Latin. It would be pointless to make the rites ‘short, clear’ and ‘within the people's powers of comprehension’ (Sacrosanctum Concilium 34) if, at the same time, ‘the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites’ (36). The inner conflict in Vatican II’s Decree on the Liturgy has been resolved, in practice, in favour of the vernacular: to pretend otherwise is to engage in make-believe.

Joseph Shaw
Chairman, The Latin Mass Society

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