söndag 4 mars 2012

Latin Mass should be the norm

The "Ordinary Form" (OF) of the Mass, normally celebrated in the vernacular, has been around for the past forty years. Following the declaration a couple of years ago that the 1962 version of the Tridentine Mass had never been abrogated, its use is becoming increasingly widespread under the title Extraordinary Form (EF).

When the OF Mass is celebrated in Latin and the priest is facing the same way as the congregation, there is little to distinguish it from the EF, the most noticeable difference being the extended period whilst the priest is reciting the Canon of the Mass (consecration prayers) aloud, which in the EF form are recited silently, whilst the choir, if present, is singing the Sanctus and Benedictus. Thus the OF Mass tends to take about ten minutes longer than the EF.

But when the vernacular is used, the potential for things to go wrong is considerable. If, as often happens, the priest is celebrating the Mass in another language, he is liable to be struggling at times. A further difficulty arises with the lay readers, whose clarity of enunciation often leaves much to be desired even when they are reading in their own language. There are yet more difficulties for those in the congregation who are abroad and trying to follow the Mass in foreign languages. And in these days of increasing foreign travel and migration between countries, the problem gets steadily worse.

One tendency is to hold vernacular Masses for members of national groups, but this divides parishes when the Catholic church is supposed to be universal and uniting.

It seems to me that there is a need for a determined move to get rid of the OF Mass except for use in special circumstances, primarily for schools and as an aid to catechesis and preparation for the EF which should become the norm. People could then follow the texts in their books, in whatever language they choose. The simpified lectionary in the EF is also advantageous as it does not take such a large book to fit in all the readings.

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