Thursday, February 04, 2010

Liking English in the Liturgy.


Is that bad?
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Helen Hull Hitchcock of Adoremus was on EWTN last evening with Fr. Pacwa.  It was an interesting discussion about the coming changes to the Roman Missal.  I liked how they traced the history of the liturgical movement/changes back before Vatican II.  The movement appeared to be in the works during the reign of Pius X, who apparently coined the term, "active participation".  If the program is aired again, try to watch it.  (Tell me if you think Hitchcock had a cocktail or two before airing - just to settle her nerves or something.  I know.)
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Anyway, leaving adoration yesterday evening, the 'ladies' were discussing the coming changes to the Missal - one had just found out about it and was telling the others about it.  Now I never, ever get involved in church talk, especially at church and about liturgical stuff - if I can avoid it I should say.  But they asked me if I knew about it and I said I had heard some rumblings.  LOL!  These women obviously do not read Catholic blogs.  For instance...
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Mary I:  "Well did you know they want more Latin back?  What are they doing, going back before the Vatican Council?"
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Mary II:  "Whatya mean Latin - who understands that?  Gosh - I used to get so bored when Mass was in Latin."
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Mary III:  "Oh I kind of liked it - we had to learn it in school - remember the Gregorian chant books?  I wouldn't mind it if just a few parts were in Latin - once in awhile - it's pretty.  We could use Missals again."
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Terry:  "And wear doilies on your head."  Everyone laughs.
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So anyway - they asked me:
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Mary II:  "Terry, had you heard about this?"
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Terry:  "A little - they are just correcting the translations and it's been going on forever.  I don't think it will result in anything drastic.  So, all of you prefer English pretty much then, huh?"
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Mary I:  "Heck yes - otherwise you don't know what's going on.  I was so happy when the Mass was in English - even the readings were in Latin before."
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Mary II:  "They were?  I don't remember that."
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Terry:  "Yeah, but the priest rattled them off in English right after.  They zipped through Mass like nothin'"  I said cracking myself up, remembering ol' Shot-gun Kelly... he could get through a Novus Ordo Mass in 10 minutes.
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Mary III:  "Why can't they just leave stuff alone - why'd they ever change it in the first place?  Couldn't they just have said the old Mass in English?"
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Mary II:  "I like the new Mass."
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Terry:  "From what I'm told - and read online - they say young people really like the old Mass and  want it back...."
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All 3 Marys:  "Who?  Who?  Who says?  The kids here don't.  How would they even know - they never grew up with it?  They have never experienced it before."
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Mary II:  "Just kids - they always have to be different - wait until they're old."
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Mary III:  "You are young, do you like Latin Terry?"
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Terry:  (I know - these women think I'm a kid.)  "It's okay - I grew up with the old Mass, as an altar boy I understood the Latin - I knew what I was saying.  The nuns drummed it into us - remember the Gregorian chant classes?  I like English though - and now - at least with the new Missal, Mass has a better chance of being said with greater reverence."
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Mary I:  "Why - what's wrong with the way Father says it now?"
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Terry:  "I don't mean here - but generally - sometimes, elsewhere,  liturgical abuses have crept in..."
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And then the conversation veered off in that direction and I excused myself.
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The End
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Anyway - watch the EWTN interview with Hitchcock - I hope those women did.
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(Obviously every woman at my parish over the age of 79 is named Mary. I know.)
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Photo:  Hitchcock and Cardinal Ratzinger

19 comments:

  1. The interview is up at the EWTN site:

    100k
    300k

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  2. I prefer English, too. Cyril and Methodius pray for me. :-)

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  3. No accounting for bad taste Terry, Thom, and the Marys.

    (but the doilies do look stupid.)

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  4. The new English translation will be a real blessing, despite all the "gnashing of teeth" from some sectors...too bad, that's life.
    I think Latin should retain some kind of presence in the Ordinary Form Masses, but that may be a bit in the future.
    And, yeah, Terry, we watched a spot of this interview, and well, couldn't take "the delivery"! H.H. H. writes very well. Her speaking is not so much.

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  5. Anybody else remember "dialogue Masses"? We used to have those for school Masses, I kind of liked them. It was basically the altar servers' parts (in Latin) said by the congregation.

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  6. ROFLMAO. Oh, Terry. You are TOO funny. I don't know what made me think of this. Anyway. My Grandfather, Percy, was a rather eccentric alcoholic. He wore a white suit in the summer, with a skimmer, and always carried a shillelagh. We always took him to Mass which was then said in Latin. If the priest went on too long, he would bang his shllelagh and moan: "How long, Father, how long"?

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  7. Maria: Your Granda was a prophet...only today it's with the homily, not the Latin..."how long, Father, how long?" is just right...get to the stinkin' point, Fatha'...quit circlin' the stinkin' wagons and get wit' it!
    Irish, yeah?

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  8. Padre: No.No. Sorry. It was the Homily!!! I got the words wrong. It was " My God Father, how long? How long"? Oh, was he Irish. He used to go to Eurpoe for months on end. Led by alcohol, of course. My parents would be frantic. Calling hospitals. Morgues. Then he would show up like he had just been away overnight somewhere. Eventually, he offered a man from the circus, named Dirty Fred Hess, a home. His job was to make sure he did not fall out of hotel windows et cetera. On one of my birthdays, I receieved a mandolin. How could God not have loved this man? Interstingly, my Father, an extremely holy man, adored him and never spoke ill of him.

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  9. in post-colonial asia, latin - being a european language made universal - has mixed reception. somehow i like to compare how latin used to be respected as the universal catholic language just like arabic is the universal islamic language. of course, no good catholics like that comparison. yet, it is true that they (the muslims) never talk about updating or using the vernacular.
    in any case, there is certainly a feeling that latin belongs to the elite. (see you have to learn latin. european or north american schools may have it as "classics" but not in this part of the world.)
    this is an observation, maybe because the clergy and the religious are part of the ecclesiastical elite in the first place - and i am part of it?!).
    anyway - i am curious about the idea that the novus ordo mass (in whatever language) is prone to abuse? i can imagine how EF masses can be abused too... maybe my imagination is a bit wild and untamed.

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  10. Maria: God love him.
    I'm reminded of Sebastian in "Brideshead Revisited"...The youngest daughter (can't remember her name now, sorry) had the most beautiful monologue about the saintliness of her brother, Sebastian, "the sot", who was truly a holy person with a most horrible cross...it is a most wonderful section of English literature about the Catholic understanding of God's mercy/human weakness-brokenness...another author I have read has said that alcoholism is a manifestation of the hunger/thirst for God only misdirected...a good point for our meditations, no?

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  11. Austringer9:22 PM

    I agree with you, Father, about that part of Brideshead Revisited. Did you ever see the BBC's "Brideshead Revisited", with Jeremy Irons? Excellent -- probably the most faithful book-to-movie production I've ever seen.

    Terry, your comment about "Shotgun Kelly" made me think of my parents -- they are in their eighties and have always been wistful for the old Mass. I grew up hearing over and over how much better everything was back then (I grew up with the Novus Ordo). After I came back to the Church, I pointed out to my parents that they could go to St. Augustine if they wished to hear the old Mass. They never expressed much interest in going there, though they persisted in trashing the Novus Ordo. Eventually it became clear that what they REALLY wanted was a 20-minute Mass, tops, without "all of that singing", which turns out to be their real complaint against the Novus Ordo. I guess they weren't used to much singing in the particular Masses they were used to, and resented the extra minutes that singing added.

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  12. Padre: It was Cordelia!! BBC. The ONLY edition. Padre, addiction as hunder for God is a lovely meditation. Brideshead was all about Mercy, indeed. I have been thinking of re-reading it.

    Brother William: I am old enough to have taken Latin at Georgetown Visitation in D.C. My brother was a classics scholar at Princeton and wrote his these on the Roman army, in Latin. Can you possibly imagine?

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  13. Sorry. Wrote his "thesis" on the Roman Army.

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  14. Austringer and Maria: The 1981 CD of "Brideshead" is the faithful rendition of E. Waugh's masterpiece!
    Watched the "new" edition...not good...too much homosex and lack of real "Catholic sensibility"...and "Cordelia" is the name!
    Loved the interaction between her and C. Rider...he didn't have a clue until the end of the book. Unfortunately this was not part of the "new" version..."Catholic sensibility" was dead then; maybe not for long!

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  15. Oh, the original Cordelia. She was just a ruby. The genius of the original Brideshead is exactly as you say , Padre. They understood Catholicism in all of its Glory. The new version was sumply awful for the reasons you state. What a treasure we have in the original.

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  16. MelodyK: We do the "dialogue Mass" in the Extraordinary Form here, also...not the norm, I guess, with the "trads"...but we do it because 'Sacrosanctum concilium '(VII document on the liturgy) exhorted the participation of the faithful in the Mass...we are not in anybody's "boat" here...but we attempt to be Catholic in the heart of the Church.

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  17. Aceman7:24 AM

    I watched the show--she (HHH) did seem a bit off...it wasn't just you Terry.

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  18. Ace - I was waiting for her to slur her words - kidding - "but it was amusing".

    Austringer - you are on to something there - seriously; ordinary folks used to pick and choose their confessors - going to the one who waved absolution without a scolding and gave short penances, and went to one of the Masses said by the fastest priest, with the shortest 'sermon' - especially in summer. Churches were not air-conditioned then and everyone wanted out asap. Comparatively speaking, the general fervor and devotion of the average Sunday Catholic is much greater now than it was when I was a kid.

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  19. Austringer10:22 AM

    Terry, what you say supports my own conclusion: those who put all the blame for the collapse of Catholic culture on Vatican ll (usually failing to make the distinction between what the Council actually said, and the toxicity of the "Spirit of Vatican ll"), usually fail to see that there were problems before the Council ever took place. If it was all so good back then, it couldn't have fallen to pieces so quickly.
    I've been reading a book on St. John of the Cross ("The Impact of God"), and the Spain of his time is described as being "well-fed with religiosity. There was no shortage of religious material, but John did perceive a shortage of depth" -- maybe the same could be said of pre-Vatican ll Catholic America.

    Nazareth Priest and Maria -- I didn't even bother to watch the new version of "Brideshead", because I had read somewhere (from a source that I trusted) that the Church was going to be made the villain. Since that was emphatically NOT Waugh's point, I couldn't bear to see his work distorted like that.

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