Friday, October 13, 2006

Tridentine Latin Mass: No Gum Involved

Anothing interesting Benedict move: fostering ties with our long-lost orthodox relatives. Call it return of the prodigal conservative, if you will.

And how is the Pope doing it? By possibly loosening restrictions on the Latin Mass. This immediately made me think of a fascinating discussion I had last year with the Sisters of St Joseph in Pittsburgh, as a guest of S. Mary Pellegrino. One of the other sisters was talking about Vatican II and its impact on her generation of Catholics (she was in her 50s).

"All of a sudden, there was this huge swing away from piety and toward social justice," she said. "I'm not sure that was completely the right approach, though it was important to do at the time. Now your generation is achieving more equilibrium, and balancing piety and social justice in a more complete way."

I think she hit the bull's-eye, and I think reintroducing the Latin Mass is a nod to that realization. Vatican II was a tremendous boon to our Church---a true sea change. Case in point: Making Mass accessible to its worshippers by celebrating in native languages, and with direct contact with the priest.

But in the rush to change, perhaps we did sweep aside some traditions too hastily. [I don't know, I wasn't there, but I hear things :) ] After all, isn't abolishing the Latin Mass just as pig-headed as insisting on it? Let's get the word out to people in any way they want to hear it, in whatever way speaks to them most clearly, and if the Latin Mass is it, then let's lift the restrictions on it.

This is all in the hope, of course, that the pendulum stays steady, and doesn't completely swing back the other way, taking Vatican II with it. But I don't think it will. I have faith in the upward movement of our church.

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