Disunity Is In the Eye Of The Beholder

This post will first contain an interesting fact It will then be followed by some tired old hand wringing.

First the interesting fact. This comes by way of Andrew Hamilton who is a consulting editor for Eureka Street. He also teaches at the United Faculty of Theology in Melbourne. Mr. Hamilton notes:
The reflection may be sharpened by the fact that three out of the four priests ordained for the Sydney Archdiocese celebrated their first Mass in Latin. Given the place of the first Mass as a symbolic statement of how a priest views his ministry, this majority choice is of some significance. The concerted choice of Latin suggests that many young priests share a distinctive vision of the Church, of priesthood and of pastoral priorities that older priests would not share.
That is interesting, no? Mr. Hamilton spends the rest of his article openly worrying about the potential division this might cause in the church.
Images and symbols tend to be taken for granted until the reality they represent is put under pressure. It seems inevitable that the unity of priests under the local bishop will be put under pressure if there are substantial divisions between them about the desirable form of worship, the pastoral needs of their people, their ways of relating to Catholics and the broader society, and about what it means in practice to be a priest. When they gathered around their bishop they would be facing in opposite directions, just as they might do when celebrating the Eucharist.
In fairness, Mr. Hamilton makes some good points in the article and maintains a reasonable tone throughout. I mention this because my criticism is not really directed at him. However we have seen various degrees of hand-wringing over the outlook of young priests for other quarters that have not been so reasonable. I must ask, however, where was this worry over division and disunity thirty or forty years ago? Where was this worry when centuries of tradition and any regard for doctrine or rubrics was thrown away? Where was this worry when our churches were wrecked and millions upon millions of devastated parishioners had no place to go? Mr. Hamilton asks:
Will congregations be subjected to the conflicting styles and preferences of priests who succeed one another? Will there be a settlement by which individual congregations are reserved to Latinophile or Anglophile priests? Will Catholics be encouraged to shop around to find priests and congregations that offer congenial brands of Catholic life and worship?
Well what do you think has been going on for the last thirty plus years? The only difference now is who needs to do the shopping. Why are they so worried now? Where was the worry about Church or Priest shopping these past decades.

With that said, I agree that this is a concern. A Catholic should not have to worry about whether Fr. Bob is one of those orthodox priests who take the Church's Teaching, Tradition and traditions seriously. They should know and expect that he does. We should expect that all our priests are men of good character and devoted to the Church and Her teaching. When that happens, there will be no more worry about disunity.

In the meantime I will sit back take comfort in the fact that 3 of 4 priests ordained in Sydney said their first mass in Latin wit absolutely no hand wringing. Cogito sumere potum alterum.

Comments

  1. I find this very encouraging. The reform of the reform seems to be in full force.

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  2. While I am glad to see young priests with traditional values, I'm not exactly eager for a return to the Latin mass, having grown up with English masses and not speaking Latin myself...

    But I suppose what will be will be.

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  3. Hi Blue Shoe! Love the name (nice rhyme).

    I'm a college Catholic who grew up with the OF myself. Recently got into the EF. Believe it or not many of us who attend the EF grew up with the OF mass in English. Please remember several things my friend:

    1) Thanks for not attacking the TLM :)
    2) There are more than just linguistic differences between OF and EF forms of the mass
    3) YOu dont need to understand Latin at all to appreciate the EF mass! that is the beauty of it! It is, as one person said, "liturgy that demands something of you." It takes more effort but the effort is well worth it to gain the immense spiritual benefits of the EF.

    I guess my point is don't dismiss the EF just yet. Read about it and give it some thought. You seem like a smart guy so don't think I am trying to partonize or criticize you :)

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  4. That's a very interesting post and I think you hit the nail on the head -- where was all the worrying, the pastoral concern, the hand-wringing, before now? Entire countries have huge numbers of people attending SSPX masses because they haven't been able to take what's going on in their parishes. Here in the USA we are luckier, but we lost thousands of people while many others are stuck in a sort of limbo. I would never think of abandoning my parish but I can see why some of the stuff that goes on would drive you away (or at least to drink). I would be happy for a reverent, beautiful NO mass in English but I have to settle for PARTS of one. None of the higher-ups have seemed particularly concerned about this.

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  5. It's obvious why no one worried about this is the 60s and 70s....

    Baby-Boomers are the center of the universe and the measure of all things. Whatever they want is RIGHT and whatever anyone else wants is evil and divisive!

    It's sad. I actually find myself excusing older priests for heresy... "Well, sure, Father just called the Eucharist 'Blessed Bread,'... but well... he went to school in the 60s, after all... and he's old....."

    Meanwhile, I expect young priests to be orthodox, reverent, and pro-life. And I'm excited to know that my kids will NOT have to grow up 'making excuses for Father.' Talk about a vocations booster! =)

    As for Latin vs. vernacular? I think I'll mind the vernacular much less once the translation is better. After all.... Italian and Spanish Masses are almost word for word like the LAtin NO.

    When the kiddies are older, we may try the EF occasionally, and maybe some Eastern Rite stuff. But for now, the English IS a big help...because they actually learn stuff at Mass.

    (OK... my toddler is under the impression that Jesus is God AND some sort of Super-farmer, (B/c he was born in a barn and church is decorated with sheep, oxen, pelicans and eagles and doves (pelicans and eagles= ducks and chickens in his world) but on the other hand, his sisters are pretty clear on the real presence/died to save us/ ressurection of the dead thing, so for now English is a plus...)

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  6. Blue Shoes,

    For one thing the return of the TLM does not mean that all of a sudden everything is going to be in Latin. The NO is still the norm and as I see it will be the norm for a very long time. However, even in the NO there are parts that are suppose to be in Latin (or at least can be) and also parts that are suppose to be sung (which they are not).

    If anything you should look at this as an opportunity to learn some Latin (which every Catholic should know). This is after all your patrimony and the most effective connection to the early Christians you have.

    Think about it the Kyrie (which is Greek not Latin) has been part of the Mass since the time of the Apostles and its still said today. No other Christian "church" (except for Orthodox) can say that.

    I my self don't know that much Latin, except I taught my self the Our Father and the Hail Mary but that is pretty much it. I think you should consider this as an opportunity to be deeper in your Faith rather than an inconvenience.

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  7. I don't see how Baby Boomers can take the rap for what happened in the 60's & 70's. We weren't old enough to be in charge then, if preceding generations caved to our wishes I'd say the onus is on them. Shouldn't they have been setting the example for their younger brethren?

    I also don't see how knowledge of Latin helps deepen my faith. My copy of the Catechism is written in English, being familiar with it and other documents would be a better start that being able to mechanically recite words and phrases of another language.

    But hey, what would a self-centered, pampered baby boomer know? I eagerly await the instruction of those far wiser because the year of their birth makes them so.

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  8. man I wish there were some priests here who would say the latin mass. First mass or otherwise.

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  9. Viva la contra-revolucion!!!!

    Subvet - here's a little tidbit: it's not all about you. Baby-boomers who "came of age" in the 60's and 70's set the stage for an era of self-gratification and convenience. "Latin is just too hard! Who cares if it's the official language of my church? I want it MY way!" Sound familiar? And while we of the subsequent generation may not necessarily be wiser, we can see things with a 20/20 vision looking back at all the damage your generation of complacency caused US. And if you look at who is heading up the traditionalist movement (hint: it aint the baby boomers) you must acknowledge that we are doing EVERYTHING we can to right the wrongs done on YOUR watch.

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  10. Wow... Anon of 3:42, I really hope that wasn't a personal attack on Subvet...

    But, while it's true that those who came of age (read late teens, early twenties) weren't necessarily the ruling elite, their demonstrations, the race rioting and all the Vietnam protests carried out by the youth of that generation certaintly influenced what the ruling elite did and put into policy. We've got our work cut out for us to reverse the effects of weak leadership and misled (and frankly crazy) organized youth did to our culture.

    As per the whole English vs. Latin, as a convert myself, having the Mass in English does help me tremendously when it comes to understanding the consecration and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. That, and the priest facing the faithful, helps engage young children and newbies like me in the Transubstantiation. It's so beautiful, that moment when the priest extends the Body and the Blood... it's (for me) like looking at the face of Jesus. I think I'd miss that in the traditional rite.

    Not that the Tridentine (is that the right spelling??) Mass where the priest faces away from the faithful is less holy or meaningful, just that I'd miss seeing the face of Jesus as He is made newly present in the Eucharist.

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  11. Actually it just says these priests celebrated mass in Latin, not that they used the EF. The NO can be said in Latin. Latin is the primary language of the rite. The NO in English can also be said ad orientem. A lot of issues are confuted in this report.

    If mass is in Latin, either EF or OF(NO) you will have a side by side missal to follow it. You don't have to know any Latin to do this. I have followed a Byzantine rite service in church slavonic, which I didn't know any of, with a side by side book, and even participated. (As long as the slavonic is in our familiar alphabet. If they us those funny letters..Cyrillic?...I'm sunk.)

    I am sure these priests will say some masses in English and some in Latin and people will be able to choose. So don't panic.

    Susan Peterson

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  12. Sarah, this is anon at 3:42. Welcome home! I understand your points. But as a cradle-Catholic who was raised in the NO due to it not being ever offered where I lived, let me add a couple points. In the Tridentine mass, the priest also holds up the host and chalice for all to see. He does this facing east, along with everyone else in the church. You say the priest facing the people helps engage the faithful and children. I think you nailed it on the head there in that the focus should not be on the priest, but on his actions. Anyone with good catechesis knows what he's doing, either facing the crowd or facing east. But by facing the crowd, he becomes the center of attention; NOT the eucharist. And that's just how many priests like it. This is a sad fact, but many of them run their churches by their own cult of personality. So, as a convert, once again, welcome home. But like all homes, you will often find pests trying to destroy its foundation.

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  13. People like Hamilton tend to by hypocrites. They supported change being forced on the people at breakneck speeds following Vatican II but now all of a sudden a change is such a terrible thing. It's not change they have a problem with, it's orthodoxy and tradition.

    There's a parish needs me who celebrates the NO Mass in Latin and I go there every once in a while. The striking thing for me is when the priest says Mass ad Orientem. It strikes home that he's doing something for me that I can't do for myself - all i can do is watch and pray. For me, if I could make one change to your average parish Mass it would be to make ad Orientem the norm (I guess it technically already is according to the rubrics) and versus populus only used for special situations.

    About Latin, You'd be surprised how fast you can pick up "Church Latin" since you hear the same words over and over. I go to Latin Mass a handful of times per year plus some Latin hymns and prayers used at adoration and I noticed I can get the gist of what's being said just by listening. Plus Latin Masses and devotional services always have missals or pamplets with the Latin and English side by side. You won't be able to speak it, but I after a few Masses you'd be surprised how much Latin you'll be able to pick up.

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  14. Very interesting discussion. Can someone please clarify for me, what do EF and NO stand for? I'm not familiar with those terms.

    I'm not opposed to the Latin Mass by any means. It just seems to me (yes, I know the problem here may be the emphasis on me, so I will preemptively concede that) that certain elements of the mass, such as what language it's conducted in, are of minimal importance in the grand scheme of things. I am not a theologian, however, so my knowledge of the matter is limited.

    I studied Latin in high school, so I do understand the value of knowing it. Also, I have attended masses in Spanish, French, and Japanese, so I can see the appeal of attending mass in a foreign language. It's my experience that it gets stale, however, and it can be even more challenging to concentrate on the mass when you don't understand what's being said.
    Some would argue that there's value in that, and I won't argue. These are just my thoughts on the matter.

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  15. Hi Blue Shoe,

    Great questions! EF stands for Extraordinary Form, and it's also referred to by TLM (Traditional Latin Mass) and the Tridentine Mass--all synonyms, essentially.

    OF stands for Ordinary Form, also referred to as NO, which stands for Novus Ordo (meaning 'New Order' in Latin, somewhat ironic since the great majority of NO Masses nowadays are said in the vernacular of the local diocese!) However, as you may have picked up here from some other posters, the OF/NO can also be said in Latin. This is typical of some churches, like the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, the monastery built under Mother Angelica's auspices.

    In sum, there is room for both vernacular and Latin Masses in the universal Church, thank God!

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  16. I wish we could just start by eliminating the 6 "Eucharistic Ministers" and at least 1 of the Lectors we have at each Mass. But I realize that might cut down on "active participation" by parishioners. What a shame.

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  17. Steve - just get people to stop going up to them. Problem solved.

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  18. Actually, where the situation described in the article differs from what took place in the 1960's is that every priest had to do things the new way so there was no division. For us layfolks there was no other place to go and we had to listen to sermons in favour of the new ways given by priests who, often enough, hated the changes us much as we did.

    There was no question of the next priest changing things back. The old ways were gone! Period!

    If you told a priest you didn't like what was happening you might be told (by the very priests who burned the old vestments and tore down the altars) that you were too caught up with externals.

    I heard one priest who was preaching on a liturgical ruling from the archbishop sum up his sermon with, "Therefore, His Grace the archbishop, who is, after all, the personal representative of Christ in this diocese has decided such and such." What do you do in the face of a statement like that?

    Yes, a period of co-existance might pose some challenges but believe me, these challenges would come from their being a choice which is more than we had 40-50 years ago.

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  19. Actually, where the situation described in the article differs from what took place in the 1960's is that every priest had to do things the new way so there was no division. For us layfolks there was no other place to go and we had to listen to sermons in favour of the new ways given by priests who, often enough, hated the changes us much as we did.

    There was no question of the next priest changing things back. The old ways were gone! Period!

    If you told a priest you didn't like what was happening you might be told (by the very priests who burned the old vestments and tore down the altars) that you were too caught up with externals.

    I heard one priest who was preaching on a liturgical ruling from the archbishop sum up his sermon with, "Therefore, His Grace the archbishop, who is, after all, the personal representative of Christ in this diocese has decided such and such." What do you do in the face of a statement like that?

    Yes, a period of co-existance might pose some challenges but believe me, these challenges would come from their being a choice which is more than we had 40-50 years ago.

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  20. David - but arent' liberals all about personal choice? Shouldn't it be no problem for us then?

    Heavy sarcasm there...

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