Page 2, 21st March 1940

21st March 1940
Page 2
Page 2, 21st March 1940 — SPECTATORS AT MASS Latin or English

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People: Agnus Del
Locations: Exeter, Dublin


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Sis,—In my Anglican days I attended a church in the poorest quarter of Exeter where the congregation all sang the Proper and

Common of the Mass and Office. We Were familiar with the chant of the liber usualis and sang first, and sometimes second Evensong, and either High Mass or Missa Cantata on all feasts of Our Lord, Our Lady, and the Apostles, with Vespers of the Dead on all Wednesdays in November, and of the Blessed Sacrament on occasional Thursdays. It was there that I learnt to appreciate the Roman office. If Anglicans can do it surely we, to whom the Liturgy belongs, should have no difficulty? Is not the fault with the clergy, who seem to have made up their minds that the laity are not capable of Liturgical worship? The thought of prayers and explanations in English whilst the Mass is in progress is too awful to seriously contemplate.


44, station Road, Egharn.

The Two Together

SIR,—What is the greatest obstacle— next to the Dogma of the Infallibility of the Pope—to the Conversion of England? Latin. Latin in the Mass, at baptism, and at marriage and funeral services. I have talked with many converts and with many outside the Church, and that i8 the Invariable attitude—the incomprehensibility of our church services, not alone to themselves, but to the Catholics of whom they made enquiries. Now nobody wants a change in the language of the Mass, but why should it not be possible occasionally for a priest, the local teacher or some intelligent layman with a good voice and clear enunciation to read an authorised translation while Mass is going on, giving a short explanation of the service, and of the actions of the celebrant? I have now passed the three score and ten of the Psalmist, and I can declare that I never once, except in England at a children's Mass, have heard an explanation of this the central act of Catholicity. What I know has been got from my reading, or picked up otherwise. And what reason can there be for not administering baptism or the marriage service in English, or, at least, if it must be in Latin, why not accompany that language with a suitable translation, at any rate of the vital parts? I have seen this advocated in your columns and I have never seen any convincing reply.

And just think of a Catholic burial! I have many a time been scandalised to see the poor mourners standing round with puzzled faces—where they weren't completely indifferent or talking—trying to guess what the Latin (frequently unintelligibly gabbled) meant, and then when it was all over what a sigh of relief to join, for they could then join, in the final Paler and Ave.

Twice it was my fortune to be present at a Protestant burial, and oh! the difference. What decorum! What solemnity! The splendid words were clearly declaimed and all were able to join in the service with the minister.

The ignorance of the Mass and of Catholic doctrine amongst Catholics is something terrible. An example may illustrate. Some few years ago five boys from our leading Irish colleges were taking tea at my house during Ember Days. They were all leaving Certificates (say 18 years), some with honours, and all were going to the university, some for the priesthood. Not one of them knew what Ember Days meant, or why they fasted. Not one knew what the Scapulars or Agnus Del meant, though they all Wore them. They could not give any reasons for the existence of God, of the origins of the Bible, of the belief in a future life. How can they face the devastating materialistic arguments of the present age? Certainly wrapping tip all our ceremonies in Latin will not help.

W. B, JOYCE, B.A., F.R.S.A.

1, Effra Road, Ilathmines, Dublin.

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