A selection of letters to the Editor
SIR.--May I respectfully offer my sincere congratulations to the Caesinsir HERA1 n on printing the article by Fr. Clifford Howell, S.J., and Mrs. Hindmarsh on the New Liturgy and to its two authors for writing .it. Perhaps its reasoned common sense will at last put a happy end to a controversy which has gone on too long.
have only one criticism of the article: that it did not give the underlying reason for Article 54/2 of the Council's Liturgical Constitution as revealed by its official commentators (the periti who framed it and saw it through the Council). This can be found in the Ephemerides Liturgirae, Sertio Pastoralis 2, Roma 1964, p. 279 (in reprint p. 99), Here, the reason—and it is the only one—given for the occasional retention of Latin in the Ordinary of the Mass (and there only) is the desirability of those taking part in international functions (such as Lourdes, for instance), in which Latin is the nearest thing to a common tongue, being able to take their part vocally in that language, and not being reduced by ignorance of it to an impotent silence; so important and even essential does the Council consider active and vocal participation in the liturgy to be.
No hint is given in this authentic and quasi-official commentary that Latin (in the Ordinary or elsewhere) is to be preserved for the emotional comfort or satisfaction of those who have a personal dislike of the vernacular or of change as such, whether for good or ill. It speaks of the Ordinary of the Mass alone, and recommends (hot.tatter) that the faithful be taught how to say or sing this in Latin purely for the practical reason given above.
Nor is there a hint of any archaeological or aesthetic reason for the preservation of Latin in the liturgy—except perhaps for the purpose of preserving certain musical settings which have been built up around it.
Indeed, the Council, as is clear from More than one assertion in the commentary printed in the Ephemerides, seems to be at pains to disclaim archaeological or merely aesthetic motives, and to insist that it has been motivated solely by the immense pastoral advantages to be gained from the active participation of the faithful to the greatest extent and in the most effective manner possible; and the most effective manner is without doubt through the general use of their own language.
Three small points are perhaps worth noting.
(1) Ilse writer in the Ephemerides, commenting on Art. 54/2 of the Constitution, does not say that it orders the faithful to be taught the Ordinary in Latin, but encourages or recommends (hortatur) that this should be done.
(2) Limits are set to the actual, but not the theoretical, use of the vernacular in the Mass: and these limits are liable to extension, not contraction. Indeed, the commentator in the Ephemerides (loc. cit.) explicitly says that "since there is no part of the liturgy which is excluded per se from the possibility of being recited in the vernacular". Art. 40 of the Constitution provides machinery for extending these limits even further. it is well known that our Hierarchy,has already availed itself successfully of this machinery, on our behalf.
(3) Latin is, and will remain, the official basic language of the Roman Liturgy. and the exemplar from which all vernacular versions or translations are made and to which they must conform; thus are unity and orthodoxy guaranteed and the pre-eminence of Latin maintained.
Having said this, I would only add that I personally regard the joint article to which you have given such welcome publicity. as the hest and most imaginative and constructive contribution so far made in this field; it is one which, if its suggestions are implemented, should command the adherence of all reasonable Catholics and put an end to a bitter and unwanted controversy.
It would enable us all to unite in fulfilling, both in the letter and in the spirit, the precepts and wishes of the Council (that is, of the Church herself) as manifested in the Liturgical Constitution.
Frank R. James, Dorking, Surrey.
Sir,--It is most heartening to find in your columns such an honest piece of dialogue as the joint letter from a Vernacularist and a Latinist. What better way of settling difficulties? It is all the more distasteful for me to feel obliged to throw a spanner in the works with what courtesy and charity I may and, I believe, in the interests of truth.
The signatories to the joint let-' ter on The "New" Liturgy quote the Constitution as saying "Since the use of the mother tongue is frequently of great advantage to
the people . . the limits of its employment are to be extended." I have before me FrClifford Howell's own translation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy with imprimatur of the Archbishop of Birmingham. On p. 17, Art. 36, 2 1 read ". . . the limits of its employment may be extended" An obvious contradiction.
If Fr. Howell's translation is correct, which would not normally be questioned, it is not Rome who orders the use of the vernacular but Westminster; Rome leaves it entirely to the competent ecclesiastical authority to decide "whether and to what extent the vernacular is to be used". (Emphasis supplied in each case.)
It is, then, our own Hierarchy who, in their wisdom, have thought fit to introduce English into the Mass in England, Wales and Scotland; and we, loyal Catholics, obey—of course. At the same time we appreciate that it is within the competency of the Hierarchy to withdraw the use of the vernacue lar altueether should they see fit. The psteervation of the use of the Lad^ « sguc is, however. mandatory
With this in mind and knowing that the use of the vernacular in the Mass has been introduced solely for the spiritual benefit of the laity, there can surely be no question of disloyalty or contumacy should a layman suggest, as 1 dn. that it would he as well to discover what is the effect of its use upon the intended beneficiaries and to request that inquiry he directed to the individual laity themselves, at parish lesel. Further that no mandatory action be taken in this matter until the results of the inquiry be known and have been studied.
Major W. Hewett, Dallington, East Sussex.
Sin—It is surprising to find Fr. Howell's own translation of the Constitution on the Liturgy misquoted in his joint article (June II) with Mrs. Hindmarsh. Article 36 (2) does not provide that the limits of the employment of the vernacular "are to he extended", but that they "may be extended" (umplior locus ipsi tribui valeat).
Since Article 36 (3) enjoins the Hierarchy to decide whether the vernacular is to be employed at all, the suggestion that the allLatin Mass is contrary to the Constitution is clearly untenable.
The fallacy lies in the contention that Latin is invariably a bar
to "conscious participation". Were it so. Mass as now celebrated would itself be contrary to the Constitution.
In listing the reasons for desiring the all-Latin Mass as aesthetic, traditional and emotional, the authors omit the most important — the spiritual. For those for whom the full participation of the spirit in the Mass is impeded by the language of everyday use, a compromise which denies the opportunity to hear an all-Latin Mass can only be a grave spiritual privation.
The call for mutual fairness and charity is timely: the pity is that it is needed to he made. But there seems little merit in proposing a compromise which the authors admit to be satisfactory to neither side in preference to that which will satisfy the spiritual needs of all, namely that the allLatin Mass and the vernacular Mass should exist side by side.
This is the proposal of the Latin Mass Society and once the argument supposedly based on the Constitution is seen to he invalid, there appears to be nothing against it save the unreasoning prejudice which the authors rightly deplore.
Peter Kenworthy-Browne, Chairman, The Latin Mass Society.
Sir,—The Liturgy Constitution does not imply, as Fr, Howell and Mrs. Hindmarsh suggest, that "Masses with Latin ordinary will have to be given a place in the hatiitual parish programme".
Paragraph 36, which insists on the retention of Latin, will still he observed if Latin Mass is reserved for a few centres only, such as universities and tourist haunts, It will still be observed in these cireurn stances even if Masses elsewhere are wholly in English.
Nor would restriction of Latin Mass to a few centres violate par. 54, which rules that the faithful must be able to share in Latin Masses. Fr. Howell and Mrs. Hindmarsh say that the Council wishes this to be possible for all the faithful—hut the world all does not appear in par. 54, and the Omission is vital.
Gareth Edwards, London, N.3.
Sir, — The evident sincerity of A. Howarth Lord's letter (May 2R) prompts me to reply. He describes himself as a Latinist, and mentions that Pius X11 and John XXIII loved the Latin. But veteran: Sapientia was not aimed at a Latin liturgy, and its programme has been carried forward by Paul VI's institution of the Lath:um% a University of Latin Studies to be opened in October.
On the other hand, when Paul VI in recommending confident acceptance of the liturgical reforms appealed to his "function of educating the faithful to adore the Father in spirit and in truth" (14.1-1965), he was in line with Pope John, who assured the congregation in an outlying parish that he realised Latin made participation difficult, but that things would be improved.
Your correspondent is rightly concerned that the Mass should not became "a sort of comical confusion". Had he been in some churches of Rome when the Latin Mass was of obligation, he might have been disturbed to see Communion distributed during a sermon or several services superimposed, the faithful meanwhile in varying postures and states of motion or rest. The Italian liturgy seems welcome. In six different churches I have invariably met with a very good participation in the Italian prayers and responses, and with a greater uniformity of movement than in the past.
The presence of inaccuracies in some Dialogue Mass cards in circulation here and the nonexistence to date of a manual edition of the new official Festive Missal detract from uniformity in a way we can regret. However, absolute uniformity is not the aim surely. Prayer is not a military but -a family event.
Some Roman churches have already adopted the practice of receiving Communion standing, the faithful approaching in a double file to the celebrant..Standing is the position proper to someone sharing in Christ's resurrection, a confident child of God, a ready soldier of Christ, joyful in the upsurge of the new life. Kneeling indicates adoration, special reverence, humility and penance. Sitting is the position of the attentive bearer who rests from his own occupations to await the manifestation of God's will. It would seem then useful to blend these various positions, rather than adopt one rigidly at the risk of obscuring its symbolism.
Finally no law obliges me to take a meal an hour before Mass. but if I were a guest in say a nonCatholic home or had a visitor before Mass, I would think it Christian to share the common breakfast or a cup of morning coffee. From this angle the change in the Fasting Law has its Mc.
A Friend of Dante Rome