Sir, The president of CIEL UK defends the unintelligibility of the Tridentine Mass because she thinks it properly symbolises the mystery of Christ's sacrifice which "cannot really ever be completely understood this side of the grave."
This is a case of the emperor's new clothes isn't it? Surely the original purpose of having the Mass in Latin and not Greek was so that it could be understood by the ordinary people of the Roman empire. If the early church wanted to preserve the mystery at the heart of the Mass by celebrating it in an obscure tongue they would have celebrated the liturgy in Aramaic or Hebrew.
In fact, this might be a productive new project for CIEL to pursue. If the Mass were in Aramaic it would be in the language Jesus himself spoke. It would also have the advantage of being more "mysterious" to an even larger number of people. I'm sure this enterprise would really help make Christianity intelligi ble to the man in the street and give the new evangelisation just the boost it needs.
Forgive my satire. I'm happy for antiquarians and aesthetes to celebrate the Mass in Latin but they shouldn't mistake mystification for mystery.
Yours faithfully, DWIGHT LONGENECKER [email protected],co.uk