Wednesday, March 28, 2007


-- The use of Latin...enshrines the rituals, ceremonies, and carefully articulated prayers of the old rite of Mass. There are no "options" by which the celebrant of the Mass--or a "liturgy committee"--can make the mistake of thinking the Mass is his own creation. No matter what the popular modern song says, we aren't at Mass to "tell our story." We're at Mass to participate in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered on the cross to his Father for the forgiveness of our sins. Latin in the Mass ensures that what we're getting is the authentic liturgy of the Church without anyone's own opinions or personal agenda getting in the way. If someone wants to "tell his story," he should go to Confession.

-- The problem is, however, that in the new rite of Mass one has to actually STOP the action in order to be silent. In the Traditional Latin Mass, the silence is "built-in." The Low Mass is prized by numerous people who are attached to the traditional Mass precisely because it is so quiet--a real oasis of quiet in the midst of a hectic and noisy week for so many, many people. But even the High Mass, with its chant and polyphony and comings and goings of the celebrant and altar boys, provides silence for the faithful so that the "actual" participation so prized by Vatican II is available to all those who are willing to enter into interior silence and commune with the Lord.

And this is, perhaps, the crux of the issue about the problem of silence at Mass. It is difficult for modern man to endure silence because we are surrounded by noise that is ever louder and louder. We fear silence because it may force us in unguarded moments to introspection and self-examination. The noise with which we have surrounded ourselves hides us from ourselves. Silence in the Mass is perhaps the greatest need of modern man because we so desperately need to peer into our souls, to enter into our own hearts, and to see there what God himself sees. In the silence of the Traditional Latin Mass we can listen to God's voice within us.

-- The complaint is often made that Vatican II called for "active" participation in the sacred liturgy, but in truth, the Latin word used in the Council document (actuosa), calls for actual participation in Mass, and that's something that begins in the mind and heart through faith and understanding long before it gets to the lips.

-- It is my opinion that the practice of the celebrant facing the people has turned the appearance of the Mass in peoples' minds from being Christ's Sacrifice to merely our banquet....It is the difference between a God-centered and a man-centered liturgy.

The quotes are taken from "A new look at the old Mass" by Father Kenneth Myers, chaplain of the Pittsburgh Latin Mass Community, the largest diocesan Latin Mass community in the United States. The article appears in the March 2007 issue of "Homiletic and Pastoral Review".

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