The wonderment of the Mass. The beauty. The reverence. The spiritual uplifting to the Divine.
The highest placement of the honor and adoration of the most blessed Sacrament of the altar – the Holy Eucharist. The eternal Body and Blood of our most precious Lord and Savior.
But does it still exist? I wonder…
The Mass is the height and summit of the Catholic Faith. Without it and the perpetual Sacrifice offered every day on altars throughout the world, the Faith of its believers falters and blows away.
The Mass has changed in form and language during my lifetime. With the sweep of the pen, the entire language of the Church was removed and substituted for the very language forbidden in the Council of Trent. The dialect of the region in which the Mass was celebrated replaced what was traditionally the unchanging form of communication within the Church herself throughout the centuries in the Latin Rite.
Indeed, even in the communication between the prefects and hierarchy. All communication was famously in Latin.
But it isn’t that way now…
In the 1960’s, suddenly all that changed. Those who refused to embrace the spurious mistranslations and manifest errors of the English translation were forced to seek shelter in the houses and hotels where the Latin Mass continued to be celebrated in private.
If caught, the Bishops would send them all packing.
I know. I was there.
Pope John XXIII clamped down and shut down all Latin Masses throughout the world.
Interestingly enough, he was also the architect and promoter behind the scenes of the modern rendition of the Mass we have today. While Pope Benedict XVI and John Paul II allowed the Latin Mass to return, once more the present pontiff, Pope Francis, has now cracked down even harder against the Latin Mass.
Will the groups formed under Pope John Paul II be allowed to continue at this rate? Their entire formation was to ensure the continuation of the Latin Mass and, at the same time, be faithful to the Papacy.
Why is the Latin important?
Because the form of the Latin – the Ecclesiastical Latin – has remained fixed in stone, as it were, since nearly the beginning of the Church. Unlike the vernacular, or common language of a region, it does not vary in its meaning.
Where the word “gay”, for example, used to mean cheerful and happy, it now means homosexual in today’s English vernacular.
But the word “Credo” in Latin will always and forever mean “I Believe”. (Not “We Believe” as was the incorrect translation to the English.)
The singular use of the Latin also ensured that no matter where a person came from, they could always find unity and comfort within the walls of the Church Mass, no matter where they went around the world. The language was stable – it was unchanging.
Today, there is very little unity. Spanish speaking people go to the Spanish speaking Mass. French go the French translation of the Mass. And the same with every language in the world, each going to their own individual Mass apart from anyone else in the Church.
So what? Doesn’t it make the language of the Mass more understandable to the people?
For over 1500 years, the Latin Rite community went to the Latin Mass. The language, in many cases, had long since transformed itself into the modern Italian language.
Yet people still went.
Why? Because, while the language wasn’t their native tongue, the people who attended didn’t care. It was familiar to them. They knew what was happening during the course of the Mass at every part.
And they held all of it sacred to the formal worship of God.
But there is more to it than just the language…
Every prayer, every part of the Latin Mass was the result of centuries of tradition and inclusion. It was built, stone by stone, upon the foundation that was laid by the Apostles.
As the centuries went on, additions and corrections took place. Calendars changed, and obligations for such things as fasting were altered. But the form and function of the Mass itself remained intact.
It’s stability made it acceptable and understandable to all who attended.
Other additions to the Mass…
There were other parts that were added to induce an increase in the beauty and substance of the worship.
Gregorian Chant was often used and has been recognized as some of the most uplifting music in the world. Pellegrini and Bach were, also, part of the High form the Mass – the longer, more musical form, if you will.
It is hard to explain the experience of attending this Mass. The quiet of the Low (unsung) Mass, and the elevation spiritually on an entirely new level of the High (sung) Mass.
But even more, most of the Mass prayers themselves are missing from the vernacular form. They were removed, shortened, rewritten.
So it would no longer “offend” the Protestants.
Who don’t attend the Catholic Mass.
And have no intention of ever doing so.
The only result is that it drove most of the Catholics into the Protestant, evangelical churches instead.
We have basically removed a large chunk of our heart and soul, the “pinnacle” of Catholicism for a lesser form.
But have we learned that, after 50 years of this failed experiment, this isn’t working? Can we at least make the attempt to reintroduce some form of the Old rite back into the existing Vatican II Consilium Mass? Even throw in some Latin phrases again, like “Kyrie Eleison” or “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus”?
The answer, in a word, is no. Emphatically NO!!!
Instead of seeing the division that now exists in the Church because we no longer attend the same Mass nor the same translation of the Mass, the most recent action by the current Pontiff is to crack down on the Latin Masses because they are “causing division in the Church”.
Division? Isn’t that what we are experiencing now under the mandates and noise of the vernacular?
Return to sanity…
It is time for us to return to sanity.
While it matters that any return to the old would cause a large majority of Catholics to leave the Church, most of that would have been the result of the lack of explanation – the lack of proper catechesis, or teaching. For those who reluctantly would obey and perform the Latin Mass, they would do so begrudgingly , hoping beyond hope that it would fail just as they predict it would.
What they don’t realize is that what is going on now has caused a large surge in young people to reengage with the Latin Mass. Those tiny communities are growing exponentially while the vernacular parishes remain stagnant, or lose their youth the non-denominational churches that provide more engagement with each other.
The youth who are packing the Latin Masses don’t care much about the relationship between each other as much as they do with their relationship with their Creator.
It isn’t that relationships aren’t important. They definitely are.
But they must be built upon a mutual foundation of something much higher than themselves.
It must be built on God…
The Unmoved Mover. That which does not change. Ever.
Perhaps it’s time for us, as lay people, to begin to rethink what we’ve been taught.
Maybe, just maybe, we need to be the catalyst for change that will bring our Church back onto solid footing.
If we don’t, we will not give to the world what it is craving – a place of rest and solitude from the chaos the world has to offer. It would be the light, once more shining, that would pierce the darkness with the Light of Christ in a form it hasn’t seen for over 500 years.
The ability to take a deep breath of fresh air that would challenge the stifling pollution of the world within the walls of the parishes. A breath of air where divisiveness no long resides.
And to lure back those who left for something far less – a form of worship that no longer embraces the love or understanding of the Continual Passion of our Lord upon the altar.
We may lose many.
But how many more will be gained in the end?
Right now, we are losing far more than we are winning.
Wouldn’t it make sense to reverse course and start again?