Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Did Vatican II do away with Latin in the Mass?

The following appeared on the blog of a catechist (named Rich Leonardi) called "Ten Reasons":

The February 9 Catholic Telegraph of Cincinnati runs a letter I submitted last month concerning Latin and the liturgy:
In the Jan. 5 Telegraph, Thomas Busemeyer
expresses gratitude to Vatican II for ridding Catholic worship of Latin. The problem for Mr. Busemeyer is that the Council did no such thing. Indeed, its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy instructed that the Latin language “shall be preserved” and that Gregorian Chant -- in Latin -- shall be given “pride of place.”What accounts for the near-disappearance of Latin in the Mass? A very flawed implementation of the Missal of Pope Paul VI that followed the Council. Pope Paul himself stated that the faithful "should be able to sing together, in Latin, at least the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass, especially the Creed and the Our Father.”So to the extent that Pope Benedict XVI’s forthcoming “reform of the reform” returns some Latin to the liturgy, it will be to right a wrong done during the confusion that followed
Vatican II.

The full quotations are as follows: "The use of the Latin language, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin rites. But since the use of the vernacular, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or in other parts of the liturgy, may frequently be of great advantage to the people, a wider use may be made of it, especially in readings, directives and in some prayers and chants." Sacrosanctum Concilium (The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) #36, Vatican II

"The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.
But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30.
117. The typical edition of the books of Gregorian chant is to be completed; and a more critical edition is to be prepared of those books already published since the restoration by St. Pius X.
It is desirable also that an edition be prepared containing simpler melodies, for use in small churches. Sacrosanctum Concilium (The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) #116-117, Vatican II

I'd have to agree with Rich here. There is no reason why we cannot (at least occasionally) sing the the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei), the Holy Holy Holy (Sanctus), and the Our Father in Latin. After decades of singing these in English, I think that everyone would know the meaning of the Latin if they sang it. :) That kind of use of Latin is actually what the II Vatican Council called us to do. In the poor implementation, most parishes did away with Latin entirely. And when is the last time that you heard Gregorian chant?....
Makes you wander...

You can read the documents of Vatican II by clicking below (or from my links section):

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