Monday, February 14, 2011

Latin mass

Last Tuesday I went to a Latin Mass with the Tridentine Rite here in the Portsmouth Cathedral. There were about thirty people, of all ages.

Regardless of the different underlying theological focus between the Tridentine mass and the Novo Ordo 'usual' masses I want to rise a question on language. When Jesus disciples, after the resurrection, followed Jesus' command of braking the bread and sharing the cup, they surely did this in aramaic, as Jesus had done. Nevertheless, when Paul celebrated the Supper of the Lord in the home of gentile christians, in the cities of Greece that he was visiting, he did tell the last words of Jesus in greek and not in aramaic, since he would not be understood otherwise. This was a good pastoral and theological move. Pastorally it was good because it allowed people to understand, and theologically it was good because in a sense it mimicked the incarnation of God, that being of divine nature, became one of us. Later, in the places where greek was not spoken, the mass was said in latin. People did not understand greek, but did understand latin, thus latin became the language of the mass. And, not so long ago, following this flow of a more incarnated liturgy, we got the vernacular languages into the mass. So my question is, regardless of the rite, should we not aim for a mass in the language that people understand? I see no grounds for a mass in latin, and I would appreciate anyone disagreeing  to put forward any theological argument in the comments, which as always, are very welcomed.

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