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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vernacular Tridentine - Does The Vatican Fear It?


THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: If one interprets Summorum Pontificum in the context of Vatican II, the Extraordinary (Tridentine) form of the mass could be celebrated in the vernacular language (English, Spanish, French, etc.)...
THE LEGITIMACY OF THE USE OF THE VERNACULAR (ENGLISH) LANGUAGE IN THE CELEBRATION OF THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF THE MASS ACCORDING TO THE MOTU PROPRIO SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM OF POPE BENEDICT XVI
11/16/2007 Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi


THE LEGITIMACY OF THE USE OF THE VERNACULAR (ENGLISH) LANGUAGE IN THE CELEBRATION OF THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF THE MASS ACCORDING TO THE MOTU PROPRIO SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM OF POPE BENEDICT XVI

The fundamental basis for the legitimacy of the use of English in the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is to be found in Article 6 of Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio:

Art. 6. In Masses celebrated in the presence of the people in accordance with the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, the readings may be given in the vernacular, using editions recognized by the Apostolic See.

To understand why Pope Benedict authorized the use of the vernacular language even though the Missal as originally promulgated by Blessed Pope John XIII in 1962 is entirely in Latin, one must return to the Decree Sacrosanctum Concilium issued on December 4, 1963 by the Second Vatican Council. In Article 36 (2) the Council stated:

But since the use of the vernacular, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or in other parts of the liturgy, may be of great advantage to the people, a wider use may be made of it, especially in the readings, directives and in some prayers and chants.

In Article 54 the Council further stated:

A suitable place may be allotted to the vernacular in Masses which are celebrated with the people, especially in the readings and "the common prayer," and also, as local conditions may warrant, in those parts which pertain to the people, according to the rules laid down in Article 36 of this Constitution.

Further, to understand the relationship of the Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII to the Council's Decree it is important to note that he died on June 3, 1963. Also, lest one exalt the Missal promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII to the equivalent of having been cast in stone as were the Ten Commandments, it is important to remember that is was but one of many revisions of the Missal. Saint Pope Pius X revised the Missal in 1910 and it was published in an Editio Typica by his successor, Pope Benedict XV. Pope Pius XII revised the Missal before he died in 1958 and it was published in an Editio Typica on June 23, 1962 by Blessed Pope John XXIII.

Following the promulgation of the Council's Decree Sacrosanctum Concilium on December 4, 1963, the bishops of the United States petitioned the Holy See on April 2, 1964 for the use of the vernacular in those parts of the Mass celebrated with the Missal of 1962 permitted by Articles 36 and 54 of the Decree. On May 1, 1964 the Holy See granted permission for the bishops of the United States to print the Missal of 1962 with the following parts of the Mass in English:

a) the Epistle and the Gospel

b) the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus-Benedictus and Agnus Dei

c) the Lord's Prayer with its introductory admonition

d) the formula Ecce Agnus Dei and Domine, non sum dignus before the communion of the faithful.

e) the Introit and the Gradual

f) the antiphons at the Offertory and Communion

g) the acclamations, salutations and formulas of dialogue in which the people participate.

Accordingly, the bishops of the United States published, on September 21, 1964 a new EDITION OF THE MISSAL OF BLESSED POPE JOHN XXIII ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON JUNE 25, 1960 NOW KNOWN AS THE MISSAL OF 1962.

IT SHOULD BE CLEARLY UNDERSTOOD BY ALL THAT THE EDITION OF THE 1962 MISSAL PUBLISHED IN THE UNITED STATES IN 1964 IS IDENTICAL TO THE EDITIO TYPICA OF THE MISSAL PUBLISHED IN 1962 IN EVERY RESPECT EXCEPT THAT THE PARTS OF THE MASS ENUMERATED ABOVE a) THROUGH g) ARE IN ENGLISH INSTEAD OF LATIN. ALL RUBRICS, ALL PRAYERS, ALL OTHER TEXTS ARE IDENTICAL IN BOTH THE 1962 AND THE 1964 EDITIONS OF THE MISSAL OF BLESSED POPE JOHN XXIII.

The use of the vernacular (English) in the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is therefore legitimate and is clearly in keeping with the mind of the Second Vatican Council and Pope Benedict XVI.

+Rene Henry Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi

source
During the years between Vatican II and the institution of the Novus Ordo Liturgy, there was a brief period of time when the Tridentine mass was translated into some vernacular languages. English was one such language. These vernacular translations virtually disappeared off the face of the earth after the institution of the Novus Ordo Liturgy in 1969/1970.

So now that the Tridentine liturgy has been revived in Latin by Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum," the question arises - what about a vernacular Tridentine?

Traditional clergy are skeptical about it. They've been conditioned to think of the Tridentine liturgy as the last bastion of traditional Catholicism, reserved only for the most devout Catholics. However, what traditional Catholics fail to realize is the implication of the very argument so many of them subscribe to. If indeed the Tridentine liturgy is superior to the Novus Ordo, and the Tridentine liturgy calls Catholics to a more vertical form of worship with God, if the Novus Ordo lessens the mass in some way, then it only stands to reason that a vernacular Tridentine liturgy would simply make that vertical worship more widely available to regular Catholics, and thus enrich the life of the Church. It only stands to reason that bringing the Tridentine liturgy to the people, in a language they can easily understand, would revive the Church and bring about a renewal of some sort.

"It's not about the language!" a Traditional Catholic once told me while introducing me to the Tridentine mass. "The language is important" she said, "because Latin is the heritage of the Church, but that's not what this is about." She insisted it's about the form of the liturgy more so than the language it's celebrated in. It wasn't long after becoming acquainted with the Tridentine mass that I came to agree with her. It isn't about the language. It's more about the form, the solemnity, the pure adoration of the most sacred Eucharist.

It has been the custom of Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox to bring the liturgy to the people in their vernacular languages so it can be easily understood and appreciated. The only difference is that in Eastern Catholicism (and Orthodoxy) the form of the liturgy never changes. It stays exactly the same. The only thing that changes is the language. Everything else remains untouched. As a Western Catholic I must admit that I more thoroughly enjoy the Eastern liturgy. I think part of it is because of it's ancient character, having been virtually untouched by centuries. While at the same time, I enjoy actually hearing it in my native language - English. As a convert to the Catholic Church, I have to admit that I am befuddled by Pope Paul VI's decision to completely change the form of the mass back in 1969/1970, when he could just as easily worked on approved translations of the Tridentine liturgy. But that was then, and this is now. So now that we have Summorum Pontificum, where are the vernacular translations?

The Vatican remains silent on this issue. Instead we've been assured that a new revision of the Novus Ordo is coming in the years ahead, which will bring the Novus Ordo more in line with the Tridentine. Still I must ask, where are the approved Tridentine vernacular translations? As far as I can tell, there is no sign of them ever coming back. So the next question is why? Perhaps one explanation is fear on the part of officials within the Vatican. Why fear? An approved vernacular translation of the Tridentine mass may quite simply put the Novus Ordo mass out of business. Stop and think about it for a minute. Suppose a translation of the Tridentine mass were approved in English for example. After the initial shock subsided, we would be faced with the prospect that virtually any English-speaking priest could celebrate this mass across the English-speaking world, with minimal training in the rubrics and Gregorian chant. Suddenly, English-speaking priests now have an option between the Novus Ordo or the Tridentine. If indeed the Tridentine liturgy does lead to a more enriching mass experience then it stands to reason that it wouldn't be long before more and more parishioners request it. In time the Tridentine would become serious competition for the Novus Ordo, and perhaps within a generation the Novus Ordo would fade into the history books as a failed liturgical experiment of the late 20th century.

So where are the approved vernacular translations of the Tridentine mass? They do exist. As there was a brief period of time when they were used. Where are they now? Can we use them? As of the moment it would appear the answer is "no," and the only explanation I can think of is to protect the Novus Ordo from extinction.