Skip to comments."Redemptionis Sacramentum" - Rights of the Priest to Celebrate Mass in Latin.
Posted on 06/02/2004 5:47:57 AM PDT by NYer
Several readers asked about my comments on the new instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum," especially about the rights of the priest to celebrate Mass in Latin.
The instruction states in No. 112: "Mass is celebrated either in Latin or in another language, provided that liturgical texts are used which have been approved according to the norm of law. Except in the case of celebrations of the Mass that are scheduled by the ecclesiastical authorities to take place in the language of the people, Priests are always and everywhere permitted to celebrate Mass in Latin."
This right refers, of course, to celebrating according to the present Roman Missal, not to the 1962 Roman Missal, the last edition of the so-called Tridentine rite which requires specific authorization from the bishop.
The priest's right is not absolute as it does not include the right to celebrate in Latin at Masses which "Ecclesiastic authorities" schedule for Mass in the vernacular.
Thus, the local bishop could determine that regular parish Masses may not be celebrated in Latin and a parish priest might not allow a visiting priest to celebrate a previously scheduled vernacular Mass in Latin.
But the bishop may not forbid priests from saying Mass in Latin either alone or for specific groups outside the regular schedules, even if he personally holds that it is not pastorally advisable.
It seems rather strange that in one or two cases bishops have even gone so far as to threaten to suspend priests for celebrating Mass in Latin. Except in the case of a priest defying an order regarding scheduled Masses, such an action would be a grave abuse of authority and contrary to canon law.
It is also very debatable whether an occasional or even regular Mass in Latin is pastorally ineffective.
It is a point that cannot be resolved based on a priori judgments, even on the diocesan level, and may be true in some parish contexts and false in others. It can only be judged by the pastoral reality of full or empty pews.
In the end, bishops and priests must do what is best for the good of souls even if it means going against their personal preferences for or against the use of Latin.
Some readers have questioned the real efficacy of the instruction, which in the end will depend on the willingness of priests and above all of the local ordinary to enforce its provisions.
Certainly, it is incumbent upon the bishops to supervise the liturgy in their diocese and they should be vigilant including imposing canonical penalties for grave abuses.
This duty does not spring from some administrative decision to decentralize at the "Vatican." Rather, it stems from the Church's divinely willed structure in which the bishop is High Priest and shepherd of his flock whom he is called to lead to sanctity and communion with the universal Church.
Bishops, like all human beings, have their strong and weak points. But the human failings of a few prelates do not invalidate the principle of hierarchical and sacramental order in governing the Church, which has weathered the test of time.
As Cardinal Ercole Consalvi is reported to have asked Napoleon Bonaparte, when the French emperor threatened to crush the Church, "If in 1,800 years we clergy have failed to destroy the Church, do you really think that you'll be able to do it?"
All the same, the instruction permits, albeit as a last recourse, for any member of the faithful to lodge a complaint of abuses directly to the Holy See (No. 184). That should serve as a prod for unwilling bishops who fail to act to stem grave abuses.
For those with cable access to EWTN, I strongly encourage you to watch their presentation of the Mass. It is now celebrated in Latin with occasional use of English. From the vestments worn by the priests and deacons to the sacred vessels, the EWTN mass is testament to the magnificence and beauty of Latin incorporated into the Novus Ordo liturgy.
Fr. Angelus knows how to deliver. Did you catch his Sunday homily? It was a letter written by a 92 year old woman. Simply stated, her message to American Catholics, was "Wake Up!"
Missed today's homily, dang! I'll try to watch it at noon. Fr. Angelus is wonderful but my favorite is Fr. Pablo Straub. I remember once of his homilies last year when he lamented the loss of tradition and teaching to the progressives and at the end he put his fist up in the air (for emphasis, not violence!) and closed with "We WILL be back.... WE WILL BE BACK!"
A local parish in Santa Clara CA celebrates the Novus Ordo in Latin. Having only grown up with the Novus Ordo, it still sent chills down my spine when I celebrated. Chant belongs in a Catholic Church, and even though I had a hard time following the chant, it was great to experience. I'll be going back again soon.
When I went to Rome for the Pope's 20th Coronation Mass, the thing that struck me was how many different languages they had going at once. To think that just 40 years ago such a Mass would have been said by ALL celebrants in the same language really caused me to wonder why they changed. I would have liked to celebrate the Mass with the Croatians across the main aisle from me in the same language.
It really brings up images of the Tower of Babel, doesn't it? The problem of Mass in the vernacular is never so apparent as in the seat of the empire.
With regard to this discussion, here's a great recent article by the editor of "Inside the Vatican":
Did you read the article on the restoration of the Latin Mass? Someone posted it on here today.
Fr Angelus always delvers. Actually, Fr. Francis gets very close to telling it like it is. His pink palace (seminaries) a few weeks ago was great.
He is coming down hard on the pols although he is does not name any.
Fr. Pavone had the best homily about the church's direction a few weeks ago.
I did not catch Sunday's mass as I was with my new grandson and it was his father's birthday.
I watched a Mass (up to the Gospel) from the Basilica in Washington. I just get the feeling I am attending an operetta with all the singing and the chorus center stage. What ever happended to peace and quiet?
You just put your finger on what niggles at me when I watch a Mass broadcast from the Basilica in DC. All the right things are there for a holy and reverential Mass but too much emphasis seems to be placed on the very large and very visible choir and reader - who is always very pc. OTOH I did see a great Mass (same distractions though) at the basilica broadcast Monday on EWTN - it was said by Bishop? Cardinal? Edwin O'Brien who is head of the military chaplains and about as masculine a guy as you'll see behind the altar.
While I do not agree with the author, there is some truth to this. However, those who pray for a total recall of the Novus Ordo Rite (SSPX, et al), are out of touch with reality. The NO Rite, like it or not, is here to stay - worldwide! This is not simply an American novelty, nor will it ever be eliminated, IMHO.
Having grown up with the old Latin Mass, and totally sick of the novelties constantly heaped upon the laity in the new rite, I located a church in my diocese where the Indult is said each week. I even brought along my missal from 40 years ago. It was like stepping out of time machine. Young girls wore long, plaid skirts, their heads covered by mantillas. The altar boys responded in perfect Latin - most impressive. The choir sang their Gregorian chants - just delightful. Missing, however, was the participation of the laity. Staring at the priest's back as he offered the Sacrifice of the Mass, brought back every memory of what it was that always bothered me about the old Latin mass.
This left me in a quandry. Forty years of actively participating in the mass, through prayer and song, had opened the liturgy, drawing me closer to God. However, the abuses, the constant changes, the protestant songs blended in with the catholic ones, communion in the hand, EEMs and altar girls, left me very troubled. Each change took away from the focus of the mass. Worse yet, I became disconsolate, angry, and bitter. Attending mass had turned into nothing more than simply fulfilling a Sunday obligation. Switching parishes made liitle or no difference.
Fortunately for us, the Catholic Church recognizes 22 different liturgies. Once I broadened my thinking and looked beyond the confines of the Latin Mass, a new world opened up. Three months ago, I stepped into a Maronite Catholic Church, was awed by the magnifict reverence in their liturgy, moved to tears with Communion by intinction, and left there that day with a tremendous sense of peace. I knew then that I had come 'home'.
It is worth noting, however, that the Maronite liturgy took 400 years to reach the point where it is now. According to an article that appeared in a 2002 San Diego News Notes:
"The Maronite liturgy originally incorporated the Church's earliest liturgical forms, which are reflected in the fact that the Maronite Service of the Holy Mysteries contains the Church's oldest Eucharistic Prayer. Rome sent apostolic visitors to Lebanon between the 15th and 17th centuries to scrutinize Maronite liturgical texts, "in the period where they started to Latinize everything," Father Mouannes explained. They ordered the Maronites to purge elements from their liturgy deemed heretical, and the Maronites complied, even when obliged to burn liturgical books. However, in doing so, some of the Church's primordial liturgical practices were lost. "That's why, now, in our Mass, we have a lot of similarities with the Latin [Roman rite] Church," he pointed out. "We were Latinized more than the other ones [Eastern rite Churches]."
The point I am trying to make is that the church will never reverse the NO Rite. It is up to you to adjust or find a liturgy through which you can worship God with all your heart.
*Sartorius* - you were asking about Maronite devotion to the Blessed Mother. From the same article mentioned above,
"When discussing Maronite history, Father Mouannes emphasized the need to understand that the Maronites "are a very, very Marian Church. The Virgin Mary came to Lebanon and she used to wait for Jesus." Father Mouannes cited a large Marian shrine in southern Lebanon, between Tyre and Sidon, called the Lady of Mnitra, meaning the lady that waits."
A Star in the East