Saturday 12 March 2011

The language of celebration is Latin

Fr. Uwe Michael Lang with Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith

Fr Uwe Michael Lang of the Congregation of the Oratory has just written a piece for Zenit on Latin as the language of celebration - it certainly always makes me feel festive. Last time I met Fr Lang it was for a different sort of celebration, as we were in a pub in Kensington! He is, of course, the author of that wonderful and most readable book "Turning Towards the Lord" (preface by a certain Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) on the ad orientem position. In this article he is talking about sacred language as a feature of the religious imperative in mankind. You may read it here but a few quotes will serve to give you its flavour.

The Second Vatican Council wished to extend the use of the vernacular, already introduced to a certain degree in the preceding decades in the celebration of the sacraments (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy "Sacrosanctum Concilium," Article 36, No. 2). At the same time, the council stressed that "the use of the Latin language [...] should be kept in the Latin rites" (Ibid., Article 36, No. 1; cf. also Article 54).

The conciliar fathers did not imagine that the sacred language of the Western Church would be totally replaced by the vernacular. The linguistic fragmentation of Catholic worship was pushed so far, that many faithful today can hardly recite a "Pater Noster" along with others, as can be seen in international meetings in Rome and elsewhere.

In an age marked by great mobility and globalization, a common liturgical language could serve as a bond of unity among peoples and cultures, apart from the fact that the Latin liturgy is a unique spiritual treasure that has nourished the life of the Church for many centuries. Undoubtedly, Latin contributes to the sacred and stable character "which attracts many to the old use," as Benedict XVI wrote in his Letter to Bishops, on the occasion of the publication of the "Summorum Pontificum" . With the wider use of the Latin language, an altogether legitimate choice, but little used, "in the celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI, could manifest, in a stronger way than it has often up to now, that sacredness" .

I have also just been sent an article by a friend - an interview in with the Bishop of Tulsa, Edward Slattery in "Catholic World Report". I only have it in an adobe document but here is a particularly good bit:

The liturgy should be clearly identifiable as the liturgy of the pre-Vatican II Church

1 comment:

Peter said...

See also Fit for Mission by Bishop P O' makes the same point.