The return of the Latin Mass
TRADITIONAL Catholics, as they are called, are happy with the Vatican’s announcement six days ago that Pope Benedict XVI was set to issue a universal indult (permission) for the saying of the Latin Mass, which had been suspended since 1970 by the Mass of Paul VI.
The Latin Mass goes by the term, “Tridentine Mass,” although traditionalists prefer to call it the Latin Mass, for they held that the Modern Mass was neither a replacement nor a revision of the Traditional Mass.
All the same, the Tridentine Mass is a term from the Council of Trent; it has gone through many editions since 1570, four centuries before the modern mass became the approved liturgy. In the Philippines, a minority of Catholics preferred the Latin Mass, pressing Cardinal Sin to give his restrictive permission.
In the Tridentine Mass, as we remember from childhood, the priest officiated, in Latin (with a bilangual missal) with his back to the brethren. It was solemn and to many, in an age where even the most devout fear boredom, sonorous.
But as early as 1989, Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, wrote that the current liturgy “has become ever more distant from what was intended by Vatican II. We have a liturgy that has degenerated into a show, in which there is an attempt to make religion interesting with the help of fashionable follies and seductive moralizing maxims.”
Does “fashionable follies” include giving the sign of peace to one’s neighbor, holding hands in saying the Lord’s Prayer, and competing choral groups? And does “seductive moralizing maxims” mean the freewheeling Biblical interpretations of evangelists?
There’s no denying that these “innovations” have become popular. Parishioners have to stay awake and happy while hearing Mass just as they are happy swaying to rock music: The arms-waving is a common spectacle.
Why should the House of God be a solemn, even boring, place when it could be enlivened by holy rock? Heaven rings, after all, with the singing of angels.
The mantra of “modernity” is entertainment.
It’s refreshing then that other side of the Pope’s traditionalism is its reminder that the Mass is a sacrifice.