Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Benedict Will Bring A Latin Eucharistic Prayer To England

The technical advancement that was one step to far for my mother. There are cultural, spiritual, and psychological advancements that result in the same kind of backlash and sometimes this is called the 'reform of the reform'.

According to Britain's Tablet--I'd link but it's subscriber only--Benedict is definitely going retro when he visits Britain this September. This quote is making the rounds of various blogs, so I'm trusting those who say it's from a Tablet article.

"Significant parts of Masses celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI during his trip to Britain in September will be said in Latin. The Eucharistic prayer of the Mass will be said or sung in Latin by the Pope at the liturgies at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, and at the beatification of Cardinal Newman in Cofton Park, Birmingham. Congregations will respond to the dialogue preface in Latin and the consecration [sic] will be said in Latin. It is believed the Mass at Westminster Cathedral will follow a similar pattern. Mgr Paul Conroy, General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference in Scotland and part of the planning team for the liturgy, said that the decision was a requirement of the Vatican. “This helps to show the universality of the liturgy and helps Catholics from various different countries, who may be listening on the radio or watching on television, to follow the Mass,” he said."

I'm sure it will help in the Vatican City States, various SSPX and Pius X parishes, and maybe with those Traditional Anglicans Benedict is courting. As far as the rest of the world--not so much. Unless the Vatican concept of universality is to be found in cloaking sacramental mystery in linguistic incomprehension. There is truth in the notion that which you can't understand is truly a mystery and this approach does seem to have worked for the Church for a millenia or so.

When I read the above I seriously wondered if it's true that Benedict and his curia are totally tone deaf to secular society and somehow believe the they can 're evangelise' enough of Western society to accept their definition of Mystery and their right to control it's expression. If they truly believe this, they had best understand that modern laity now see that the form the message is delivered in has a lot to do with the psychology behind the message. It seems to me the hierarchy is on some kind of role misunderstanding this form/content paradigm. Tom Beaudoin writing in America puts this more succinctly:

The Vatican and its defenders can argue that so closely associating women's ordination and sexual abuse does not make them the same. But Catholics in secularizing countries, many of whom understand that the form of the message is part of its content, will be at liberty to be critical -- when they are not exhausted already into indifference over the slow-motion implosion of an archaic clericalist structure. Just as the Second Vatican Council said that Christians share responsibility for making modern people atheists, those in Catholic power today share responsibility for making people secular Catholics. It is as if the more the purity and authority of Catholicism is defended from on high, the less Catholicism actually matters as a social and spiritual phenomenon. (This is similar to the point I made recently that one of the things the Vatican is accomplishing is to force otherwise complacent true believers into serious reevaluation, precisely because the form of the message is so jarring.

This is far, far beyond a public relations issue. To cast things as a problem of public relations mistakes separates too cleanly the "content" of Catholicism from its "form" or "communication." Instead, the very form of communication should be thought of as a kind of theological content. It is not only that official Catholicism does not know how to communicate well in the contemporary media world. It is that too often what it has to communicate, and the way it does so, is not persuasive to an increasingly educated, worldly, and pluralistically-aware public. The victims, and the Catholic structures that created victimization, should have been the irreparable center of official Catholic focus. But the form and content of official communication about abuse and its structures shows that we have yet to witness that conversion of consciousness.

No, we have not witnessed any real conversion of consciousness. Instead we are witnessing a group of older celibate men desperate to validate the choices they made a long long time ago about the direction of their lives. To convince first themselves and then the rest of us that those long ago made choices are still valid, but more importantly the reasons they made those choices are still valid. The trouble is society doesn't agree with them, doesn't support their reasoning, and has moved in consciousness beyond them and their rationales. They are essentially promulgating teachings for the rest of us, but really talking to and affirming themselves.

This all reminds me of an incident that happened with my mother a couple of years before she died. We kids had all gone in together and bought her a VCR. It turned out to be the new modern technological invention that was one too many for her security level. She went ballistic about her children jamming our techie stuff down her throat and expecting her to like it. She was not going to be forced into learning one more thing period. The VCR went home with my eldest brother and was never mentioned again. My parents home remained barren of any more 'techie' stuff. They accepted micro waves, portable phones, and satellite TV, but not much more. I guess those particular things were viewed as logical extensions of changes they had already accepted, but the VCR was the step too far. When we stayed at their house we all knew, it was their house, their rules, their world. We accommodated them, they did not accommodate us.

It is becoming apparent that Benedict's Vatican is demonstrating this same sort of thing. As long as Benedict is in charge, Catholicism must accommodate his view and validate his choices from his original reasoning. He will not accommodate in the other direction perhaps because to do so would be to disavow his life and his life choices.

I suspect that's why the form of some of these messages is so jarring and the PR is so bad because to this Vatican none of that matters. It's validating themselves to themselves that matters and the forms they choose for their messages certainly do that. If this is true it makes perfect sense to link the sins of clerical abuse and women's ordination in the same document as both are sins against the male celibate priesthood. It makes sense to underline their authority as bishops and denigrate ecumenical notions of sharing the Eucharist.
These norms are about clerics talking to clerics and underlining their own world view. There is no way they would have begun to compute how badly this form of communication and it's linked content would fail in today's world.

I guess I don't find it at all surprising that Benedict's Vatican would think that Masses in Latin in Britain is a form of helping the universal church understand the Mass. To me it's just another sign of the hierarchy talking to and affirming themselves. So much for all the other less spiritually lofty People of God. Those would be the people who not only get to 'hear Mass' in Latin, but at English venues they also have to pay for the privilege.

I'm sorry but I no longer believe this is how Jesus always intended the Church to be--or ever intended it to be--and I am hardly alone. It is a conversion of consciousness which will not be re evangelized or latinized away anymore than my mother's tantrum over a VCR reversed her children's conversion to a technological world view. My mother did not delude herself into thinking her tantrum was going to effect anything other than her own fortress house. I truly wonder about Benedict, who is in a very different position than my mother. Does he really believe his preferences are going to reverse the movement in consciousness in the Church? If he does, that is truly sad.


  1. Only in the Vatican could anyone possibly think that more people would be able to follow the Mass in Latin than in English, or that a language that no one speaks as a native better demonstrates universality than the second most commonly spoken language in the world.

    They are too funny sometimes!

  2. How exactly is having all or part of these masses in Latin going to heal the wounded victims of Catholic Clerical Sex Abuse?

    Or their shell-shocked families?

    Or almost equally shell-shocked laity who have not been molested, but are gravely scandalized by all of this?

    Or the MUCH greater body of ppl throughout the UK & Ireland who have left the Church in the dust....or abandoned whatever faith in God they might still have had?

    It's wonderful when a plan comes together, ain't it?

    It can be solidly proved that Clerical Sex Abuse has been rampant & ongoing for over 1000 years. There is contemporary documentation of this as solid historic fact. The only difference is that ppl kept silent out of fear of the Church, until recently.

    And as more then a few boys (and girls) realized in the Middle Ages & through the Renaissance that one can advance in society by 'sleeping your way to the top'....willing boy lovers & concubines were far from unknown in the bedrooms of Prelates. Such immorality, while consensual, is strictly forbidden in Scripture - as it is using others as sex toys.

    Many of those 'comfort boys' became priests, often quickly promoted to bishop, archbishop, cardinal. Even a few popes. We have seen the contemporary version of this in the example of the 'radiant new priests'.

    ...groomed By Uncle Ted, Donna Weurl & others too numerous to mention. I tend to suspect that even Fabian dearest may be playing in this sandbox.....

    The 'plan'? Opus Dei knows all too well of this sordid history & has both enabled it AND is using the intentional exposure of the scandals to utterly destroy what little faith remains in millions.

    This is one of the reasons they planned for decades to be established as a 'parallel church'. They are engineering the destruction of the Roman Catholic organization. Opus Dei will be left standing (or enough of them to implement Part II)...smelling like a pious rose.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  3. Prickliest, to be honest I can't really imagine very many people in the Vatican actually believe the official reasoning. I can also easily imagine they don't believe what they think actually matters so why say anything.

    Mouse, according to Zenit Benedict will being saying nothing about clerical sexual abuse because this trip is an historic celebratory occasion--this according to Archbishop Vincent Nichols so it must be true.

    It is amazing how much power there is in sexual exploitation, especially when both parties are engaging in the same activity.

    I guess I'm not as pessimistic as you are mouse. I know humanity is not alone, and so does OD and what they may be trying to hide will not stay hidden. Jesus said he would be with His Church for ever but He did not say with the Vatican or just with a certain world view in His Church.

  4. Why not use Aramaic?

    If the Church wants to live up to the title "Catholic" they'd better enlist some facts and take appropriate action.

    If Jesus came for us all then he came for the Chinese, all 1.2 billion Mandarin speakers. It would be rather forward looking to incorporate a few words in Mandarin.

    Why not speak English in England? There are about 1 billion English speakers in the world! It is the second most spoken language in the world. I could round out the list but...

    I'm going to conclude with the little prayer kids would put at the top of their tests and exams

    Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Pray for us!


  5. This doesn't exactly come as a surprise. I guess Benedict wants his smaller church, but he will pay a high price to get it.

  6. "Jesus said he would be with His Church for ever but He did not say with the Vatican "

    On this we are solidly agreed!

    The biggest 'bait & switch' in the world is the Vatican's claim to be the Kingdom of Heaven, spoken of by Jesus.

    But if that were true....WHY would Jesus consistently refer to it as 'hidden', or that which must be sought after? If it is a global entity with a branch office every half miles, then we have a quandry:

    Either Jesus is lying.....or the Vatican is not what they claim to be. And since I know my Jesus would not lie to me......:)

    The only 'Keys' entrusted to the Apostles (and their legitimate successors) is the Gospel. The core teaching of Jesus found in the Sermon on the Mount & Beatitudes. Once one embraces it & tries one's best to LIVE it, one now possesses the 'key to the Kingdom of Heaven'.

    It is free, requiring no membership card or ecclesiastical approbation. Nobody may prevent you from entering any more then they can throw you out.

    ...so much for 'excommunication'!

    Jesus defined the Kingdom as a treasure for which one would search with all his might. Expending all human effort to find; even at the expense of money, worldly goods, friends & family. The pearl of great price.

    If it were merely a human organization, would He not have said so?

    Yet this all fits perfectly with Matthew 23:

    "You hypocrites!.....you shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men, yet you yourselves goeth not in..."

    Those words are directly at the Vatican Administration. Indicative of reality - and of the sad final disposition of many of them.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  7. A couple of observations from a linguistic point of view:
    - The Pope may celebrate certains parts of the liturgy in Latin, but I would bet that the sermon is in English rather than Latin. The idea is that when B16 is preaching to the people, they need to be active listeners; when it comes to joining in celebrating the Sacred Mysteries, they can participate as long as they speak Latin, otherwise, oh well. You can see what sort of liturgical model is at work here.
    - Latin was originally chosen as the liturgical language because it was the language of the Roman Empire and understood by most. If we used the same rational in our day, English would probably the liturgical language as it has the greatest geographical distribution of any major language on earth.
    - The current movement to use Latinized English (Langlish?) in the liturgy will actually make it harder for people with English as a second language to understand. Stilted English is not conducive to participation in worship.
    Thanks for listening, Colleen.

  8. Jesus could have bothered to learn Latin and speak Latin. But he didn't want to use the language of the oppressors.

    It's sad that Latain has once again become the languasge of oppression.

  9. I keep thinking about priests for whom English is a second language. What a mess.

    Great point TheraP and one I never thought of before.

  10. Sorry for not proofing better of late. :(

  11. TheraP's point is interesting....

    Yet the reason that Jesus spoke in a dialect of Aramaic is that it is what Jews spoke in everyday life. He was incarnate as man in the function of Messiah, long promised by God to the Jewish ppl.

    He also could read Hebrew, as He was conversant with the Jewish Scriptures .

    How did He communicate with Pilate? That He was God makes it implicit that He certainly knew ALL human languages - if He wished to speak in them. But this leaves a quandry?

    Either Pilate spoke Hebrew or Aramaic with Jesus (and the Temple Masters), or He/they spoke Latin.

    Nonethless, the contention of Latin being the 'only acceptable language for the Mass' is ludricrous today.

    Those cognizant of history would know that there was NO unified Liturgical language until Trent. While mass in Latin was common long prior to the 1500s, it was NOT exclusively so. In the earliest centuries it was said in MANY local tongues, with regional variations on the rites.

    For any who do not believe this, then please explain the existence of the Coptic Rites? Ethiopean? Or that the earliest masses were in Hebrew and were modified Ceders?

    Anon Y. Mouse