Daily Archives: November 26, 2018

NOVEMBER 25th, 2018 – Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

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NOVEMBER 25th, 2018

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

 

“For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”

Latin and the Liturgy (Part 2)

(Continued from article last week…)

 

The use of Latin in the liturgy has long been esteemed in the Church, and it shows the universality of the Church.

Additionally, it is common that people should worship in a sacred language.  This has been true about the Jews, who worship in Hebrew, although very few people speak Hebrew.  Even at the time of Jesus, everyone spoke Aramaic or Greek, yet Hebrew was used in worship.

Latin has the power to inspire us to mystery and beauty.  Consider the singing of the Ave Maria after Communion.  Most people don’t know the exact words (though they may know it is the Hail Mary), but they are inspired by the beauty of the song.  It has the power to lift our minds and hearts to God.  So too, when praying in Latin, we may not know every word we are saying, but we know the parts of the Mass, and know, for example, when we sing “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth” we are singing “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts”, because that’s the same time we sing that prayer every Sunday.  There is a certain sense of mystery and awe in using a sacred language.  Just as the Mass itself is set apart from the rest of our busy lives, so Latin is set apart and adds to the wonder and mystery of this great event.

In fact, St. Theresa of Avila, who prayed the breviary in Latin with her community, received a special grace to suddenly understand everything she was praying in Latin.  And she later commented that it did not in fact help her prayer, because she already was raising her mind and heart to God fully in her prayer of the breviary, even though it was in Latin and she didn’t understand everything she prayed.  Rather, her heart was encountering God in love and awe and mystery, not just in known words.

Latin helps form our identity as Catholics.  It reminds us that our faith is over 2000 years old, and that we stand in continuity with countless saints and martyrs that have worshiped together for thousands of years in one common language: Latin.  It reminds us that our faith is not isolated to one local area or one time period in history.  Down through the ages, our Roman Catholic faith has had a constant living tradition bound by one common language.  That’s pretty amazing when think about it.

The Church has a beautiful liturgical treasury.  We need to rediscover it, learn it, and embrace it.  As Pope Benedict XVI suggested, we should teach the faithful to “sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant” (Sacramentum Caritatis 62).

Hearing Latin during mass should give us strength and give us pride to be Catholic.  It should enliven us and help us remember that we have been “set apart” for God, to be holy.  And it should remind us of the faith we share with all our brothers and sisters in Christ around the entire world.

During the four weeks of Advent, which begin next weekend, we will be singing the Mass parts in Latin – The Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy), Mysterium Fidei (Memorial Acclamation), and Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).  We are already familiar with the tune because it is the same as the English version we are currently doing.  I look forward to this special addition to the liturgy for the season of Advent.

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke

NOVEMBER 18th, 2018 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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NOVEMBER 18th, 2018

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Latin and the Liturgy (Part 1)

A special change I am planning for Masses this Advent is to begin singing some of the Mass parts in Latin – The Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy), Mysterium Fidei (Memorial Acclamation), and Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).  We are already familiar with the tune because it is the same as the English version we are currently doing.  I realize some people are not comfortable with Latin and would prefer everything to be in English, but the tradition of including Latin in the Mass is still very much recommended by the Church, and add a special solemnity to the Mass.  My column this week and next is a reprinted article that I published last year about Latin and the Liturgy.

Many parishes in the Archdiocese and indeed around the country are rediscovering the many liturgical treasures of our faith.  One of these treasures is the use of Latin in the liturgy.  So, why is Latin making a comeback?  Isn’t that something we abandoned after Vatican II?  Actually no.  The idea that Latin was forbidden, or even discouraged during the Mass, is inaccurate.

Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Vatican II document on the liturgy which initiated the liturgical reforms that followed the Council, said: “The use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites…But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters” (SC 36).

The document goes on to add: “Steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them” (SC 54).

Canon Law also reflects the desire for learning Latin, saying that all seminarians should learn Latin so that they can use it in pastoral ministry (cf. Canon 249).

Even more recently, Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Sacramentum Caritatis, “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” (62).

Using the native language (eg. English) is very important for the readings and homily, where they are addressed to the people for their learning.  However, most of the Mass is not so much for us to learn, but rather for us to worship.  And Latin is the universal language of worship in the Roman Catholic Church.

However, now more than 50 years after the Second Vatican Council, most parishes have no use of Latin at all, and many priests, musicians, and liturgy coordinators are entirely opposed to its use.  So why does the Church still encourage Latin at Mass?

Latin is still the official and universal language of the Church.  The importance of this is not as easily seen on the local level, but it is very important on the global level.  I have been to Mass in many countries and in many languages, and the wonderful thing about being Catholic is that you always know what is happening at every Mass, even if you don’t understand what is being said.  But furthermore, the wonderful thing about Latin is that it can unite the faithful “from every nation, tribe, people and language” in participation in the same prayers of the Mass (Revelation 7:9).  It has made me very proud to be Catholic as I stand at Mass with the Holy Father in Rome, along with thousands of other people from around the world, and we can all pray the Mass together in our Church’s language of Latin.

This feeling of unity is also felt when we sing the O Salutaris and Tantum Ergo for Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in Latin.

(To be continued next week…)

 

You are in my daily prayers.

God bless you,

Fr. VanDenBroeke