Sunday 27 April 2014

"Be on your guard lest anyone, eager for revolutionary changes, writes against the use of Latin in the Liturgy." - St John XXIII

We celebrated the canonisation of the Popes today with a shrine set up for the occasion.  Certainly there were many reminiscences from those who had seen St John Paul on his visit to this country , as well as those who remembered Pope St John XXIII.  

It was difficult to know how to mark the occasion but we did sing a hymn in honour of the Saints adapted with suitable words, which was much appreciated by the congregation. (To the tune of Lord accept the gifts we offer at this Eucharistic Feast.)

1. Who are these like stars appearing,
These before God’s throne who stand?
Each a golden crown is wearing;
Who are all this glorious band?
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praising loud their heav’nly King.

2. John, a humble peasant’s offspring
From Bergamo’s pleasant land;
Working hard in Christ’s own vineyard,
Feeding all by Peter’s Hand;
Bright, the hope he had in mind,
Showing Christ to all mankind.

3. Poland’s son was raised mid conflict;
Tyranny, he knew so well.
Once on Peter’s throne – he ended
Communism’s thralling spell.
On, he worked, till health t’was spent;
Showing what true suffering meant.

4. These whose hearts were truly riven,
Sore with woe and anguish tried
Who in prayer full oft have striven
With the God they glorified;
Now, their painful conflict o’er,
God has bid them weep no more.

5. John and John-Paul watched and waited,
Offering up to Christ their will;
Soul and body consecrated,
Day and night to serve Him still:
Now in God’s most holy place
Blest they stand before His face.

A reading of the quite short but informative Apostolic Constitution, Veterum Sapientia (On the Promotion of the Study of Latin), one of the Saint's last writings, would seem to give the lie to the idea that he wanted to do away with so many of the things that were done away with in the wake of the Council. Perhaps he already had some inkling of what some wanted to unleash on the Church and was trying to forestall it. Here is a taste of the "reforming" Pope's opinions:

A resolve to uphold Latin

And We also, impelled by the weightiest of reasons -- the same as those which prompted Our Predecessors and provincial synods -- are fully determined to restore this language to its position of honour, and to do all We can to promote its study and use. The employment of Latin has recently been contested in many quarters, and many are asking what the mind of the Apostolic See is in this matter. We have therefore decided to issue the timely directives contained in this document, so as to ensure that the ancient and uninterrupted use of Latin be maintained and, where necessary, restored.
We believe that We made Our own views on this subject sufficiently clear when We said to a number of eminent Latin scholars:
 "It is a matter of regret that so many people, unaccountably dazzled by the marvelous progress of science, are taking it upon themselves to oust or restrict the study of Latin and other kindred subjects.... Yet, in spite of the urgent need for science, Our own view is that the very contrary policy should be followed. The greatest impression is made on the mind by those things which correspond more closely to man's nature and dignity. And therefore the greatest zeal should be shown in the acquisition of whatever educates and ennobles the mind. Otherwise poor mortal creatures may well become like the machines they build -- cold, hard, and devoid of love."

Provisions for the Promotion of Latin Studies
With the foregoing considerations in mind, to which We have given careful thought, We now, in the full consciousness of Our Office and in virtue of Our authority, decree and command the following:
1. Bishops and superiors-general of religious orders shall take pains to ensure that in their seminaries and in their schools where adolescents are trained for the priesthood, all shall studiously observe the Apostolic See's decision in this matter and obey these Our prescriptions most carefully.
2. In the exercise of their paternal care they shall be on their guard lest anyone under their jurisdiction, eager for revolutionary changes, writes against the use of Latin in the teaching of the higher sacred studies or in the Liturgy, or through prejudice makes light of the Holy See's will in this regard or interprets it falsely.


Jacobi said...

The decision to retreat from Latin after Vat II, whether accidental, or a deliberate ploy on the part of Modernist Reformers, was a disaster. The full implications are not yet realised. Christ’s Mystical Body on Earth is shrinking back into an ever looser agglomeration of national sects, who may well be, however, “nominal” Catholics.

The idea that there can be a “Polish” Mass, for example, and a, well whatever we are Mass, in my local Cathedral, I find not only legally disconcerting, but actually thoroughly un-Catholic.

St John XXIII foresaw this.

Yes, by all means let’s have readings of the scriptures in the vernacular. Not everyone has a missal, or can read for that matter. But to reject the ancient language of the Church which has been the vehicle of Faith for some eighteen centuries was just crass – or perhaps malignant? The results in terms of disintegration and collapsing numbers of Catholics in Western societies, and increasing catholic heterodoxy in all societies, is becoming ever more apparent!

It should be noted that Islam, the worlds’ most rapidly expanding religion?, uses and is familiar with in their devotions, classical Arabic, although only about ten percent of its adherents speak it, or any variation of it, as their native language!

GOR said...

I missed seeing Pope St. John XXIII by a few months, arriving in Rome in August 1963. But, thankfully, his exhortation on the retention of Latin was still heard in the Pontifical Universities in Rome for a few more years. Lectures, texts and exams - oral and written - were still in Latin then.

While some professors would lapse into Italian or English (and one venerable Irish Dominican - into Gaelic!) on occasion - Latin was de rigueur. But in a few years – probably with the admission of lay students to the Gregorian, among others – the decline began.

I don’t know what is used today – probably Italian. But it is interesting to note that the Angelicum today offers courses in Latin. It would not have been necessary in 1963 when knowledge of the language was not only assumed - but required!

Fr Dickson said...

Thank you, Father.
Interestingly, I had a couple of parishioners asking me about learning basic Latin a few weeks ago, so I put an enquiry list out at yesterday and already have twelve names; enough for me to contact a friend and ask him to do a short course for them. Latin may be dead (unused) as a national language, but it is not dead in its attraction or in the minds of people.