Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Mass in Brussels

 St Michaels's College and the church of St John Berchmans in Brussels

I spent last weekend in Brussels for a gathering of the Order of St Lazarus  as the Commandery in Belgium was raised to the status of a Grand Priory. (More on that at that here.) Members gathered in the church of St John Berchamans for the celebration of Mass celebrated by Chaplain General of the Order in France, Rev Fr Claude Girault, Rector of the Cathedral of Orléans. Mass was greatly enhanced by the singers of the Petits Chanteurs de Belgique, who sang the Missa Brevis de Léo Delibes (you can here the Kyrie from it here.) Together with the Investiture the Mass was quite long but the boys of the choir were as professional in their behaviour as in their singing. 

 The church is part of the Jesuit College of St Michael.

 The interior of the church.

On the Sunday, I managed to find a Missa Cantata offered by the FFSP in the Church of St John and St Stephen at 62, Rue Minimes.  I couldn't follow much of the 20 minute long sermon (!) in French but at least I could join in with the chant and responses of the Mass.  Once again, it struck me as such a strange thing that in an era when people travel more than ever, that the universality of Latin would be so appropriate and helpful to bind us all together. What a pity that so little use is made of the Church's ancient language.   Even in my own very small parish in Britain, there are several nationalities represented, with not everyone's English being excellent.  We have families from Egypt, Ghana and the Philippines - particularly when they first arrive, being able to take part in Mass in a way that is familiar to them would be a great help.  If only we used the language we were directed to by the Second Vatican Council and other papal pronouncements since.  Not by chance did Saint John Paul II recall that:
“The Roman Church has special obligations towards Latin, the splendid language of ancient Rome, and she must manifest them whenever the occasion presents itself” (Dominicae cenae, n. 10).
In continuity with the Magisterium of his Predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, besides wishing that there would be a greater use of the traditional Latin language in liturgical celebrations, especially during international gatherings, wrote:
“Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant” (Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 62).

Archbishop Andrew Leonard of Archdiocese Brussels-Malines celebrated Mass in the church in 2011.


Anselm said...
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Sylvester Edwin Lambert said...

Glad that you enjoyed your trip Father.

However I have never understood the argument that Mass in Latin enables greater understanding around the world. I have attended Mass in French, Italian, Spanish, and other European languages, but the language that I struggled most with was Latin. (I am not, by the way, a linguist!)The universality of the rite used around the world was sufficient to understand most of what was going on and in most of the European languages I could, by using the Mass sheet, join in some of the responses owing to a rudimentary knowledge of French and German acquired at school. Despite twenty years of trying to learn Latin, at Benediction, by studying Latin text and by asking an attendee of the Latin Mass to try to teach me, I must confess to still being baffled by the language and its pronunciation. I can struggle through the Tantum Ergo, but still can't manage a full Salutaris Hostia or even Salve Regina (Of course though I do know the Hail Holy Queen!)I spend all of my time with Latin prayers struggling to concentrate on the pronunciation rather than directing my thoughts to God and prayer. I suspect that most Mass goers who postdate Vatican II would also find European languages easier. In these days of easy world wide communication and travel, dare I venture to suggest that perhaps the most common universal language that would be understood by the greatest number of Catholics around the world, might be English?

Sixupman said...

Latin is the mortar between the brickwork. I can, more or less, cope with vernacular in German, Italian, French and Spanish. But when hearing Mass in Maltese the dividing nature of the vernacular came home to me.

As an aside: in Malta, [at least the church I attended - the magnificent almost basilica, parish church in Melieha] "the Peace" is executed with great decorum, no handshakes and parading, merely a nod of acknowledgement. I avoided the English Mass in the lower chapel there.

No TLM in Malta.