The pope's recent authorization of the Tridentine Latin Mass, without the need to seek the local bishop's permission, has stirred some measure of debate within the Roman Catholic Church, especially in letters-to-the-editor and on blogs written by individuals who seem not to have day-jobs.
Ooooh. That was light'ning in a bottle, Jethro! Zing! Bang! Boom! Fortunately for me, part of my day job is to write for this blog. But, honestly, if your day job includes writing columns for Catholic newspapers, shouldn't you make some sort of effort to make them readable? If I had thrown down that opening sentence on a sixth-grade English exam, Mrs. Hermiston would have smacked me silly. And rightly so.
The overwhelming majority of Catholics, however, are apparently unaware of, or have already forgotten, the July 7 papal letter, entitled Summorum Pontificum (Latin, "Of supreme pontiffs").
Make up your mind: either people should be busy working their day jobs like mindless drones, or they should be paying attention to papal documents and blogging about them every single day. Which is it?
Indeed, those who attend Mass regularly would never prefer Mass in a language other than their own.
Never! None of them! And that, folks, is from the Chair of Richard, which means it can be placed right next to that glorious work of catechetical brilliance, Catholicism, nominated for several doctrinal errors by the USCCB. Well, every Sunday, my family and I attend Divine Liturgy at a Ukrainian Catholic parish, and some 20 to 30% of the liturgy is in
Old Church Slavonic, a language that is not "my own." Do I "prefer" Church Slavonic? I don't think of in that way, I suppose; my preference is for reverence, a palpable sense of the sacred, decent music, a lack of experimentation, a good homily, a valid Eucharist. Is that so much to ask?
Those who do claim to prefer the Latin Mass, whether Tridentine or Novus Ordo (that is, in keeping with the reforms of Pope Paul VI), constitute a tiny minority of the Roman Catholic Church, which is not to say that they have no right to speak their minds about the matter or to take advantage of the concessions which the Vatican has offered them.
Please tell me he doesn't actually get paid to write these sort of sentences. Doing so makes it very difficult to decide if I should be more offended by the sloppy, inept writing style or the empty, condescending blathering. Here, then, is a glimpse into the world of Fr. McBrien:
1. No good Catholic prefers Mass said in a language not his own.
2. Some claim to prefer the Latin Mass.
3. But since Latin is not their language, they are only claiming to prefer the Latin Mass.
Thus, we can conclude that these folks are liars or that Fr. McBrien doesn't know what he's talking about. Tough choice.
But if such Catholics are under the ages of 45 or 50, they have little or no hands-on experience of the pre-Vatican II Mass. It is a mystery how one can be nostalgic for something one had never experienced.
Right, just like the "nostalgia" a bride and groom have for one another before they are married. Sure, they've never enjoyed the marital embrace, but for some strange reason they look forward to it, and for whatever reason anticipate its goodness. Nostalgic morons!
The point is that the use of "nostalgic" here is simply an empty (and bumbling) polemical device. But it also exposes the fraudulent nature of Fr. McBrien's "argument," which began with the bald assertion that no one, especially anyone under "45 or 50" would prefer the Latin Mass, but since many younger people do, they must be "nostalgic." But since you can't be nostalgic for what you don't know, they must be idiots. No, it's worse than that: they aren't "liturgical scholars":
In the past three months, liturgical scholars have published articles which carefully pick apart the reasoning behind the papal document that authorizes the use of the Tridentine Latin Mass.
[Similar, I presume, to how McBrien's Catholicism attempted to "pick apart" the reasoning behind certain core Christological and ecclesiological doctrines of the Church.]
(The document is technically known as a motu proprio, in that it is produced by the pope "on his own initiative.") Each critical analysis usually provokes a flurry of indignant reactions from a handful of Latin-Mass advocates.
Those Latin-loving, nostalgic ingrates! Just because the Pope has taken the step of allowing folks the right to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite doesn't free them from their obligation to cower before the liturgical scholars (of McBrien's choice, of course). How dare they question these expert denouncements of the papal motu proprio!
Again, while no one should question their freedom of speech, not one of them, to my knowledge, has presented a credible justification for their preference. A few substitute ridicule for reasoning.
"No one should question their freedom of speech..." What is this, fourth-grade debate class? Forget freedom of speech, how about freedom from yapping silliness? And, to your knowledge? Don't even get me started. Oops, that sure sounded like ridicule, didn't it? But, once again, I'm free from criticism since I'm not a Latin guy—remember, I attend a Byzantine Catholic Church. Yes, yes, I know. No real Catholic would prefer an Eastern Catholic parish when he could go to a Western rite parish. Let's just say that, having been raised in an anti-Catholic fundamentalist Bible chapel in western Montana, attending Divine Liturgy is all about nostalgia for me.
• Richard "Clueless About Converts" McBrien (July 26, 2007)