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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Reading For Comprehension

An opinion piece in Homiletic and Pastoral Review has occasioned quite a bit of comment in my online ovals, (they are far too off-kilter to call "circles.")
It is called "Questions Regarding the Use of Latin in Celebrating the Mass" and it boils down pretty much to Do you think it should be? and then an answer of No.
The Pharmacist/Philosopher starts off with an example of a verse of a Latin hymn and asks the reader to "pray the text...without performing an internet search or using an online translation."

I'm not typical because I took Latin in middle and high school.
Well, I suppose I should say rather than "took," that I was "given" Latin.
And I gave precious little back.
Oh, I did well enough to get highest marks on the College Board "achievement test", but that tells you all you need to know about the follies of reading too much into test scores.
I've forgotten most of it, but I had no problem with his example, the one word I didn't recognize I could deduce, from the English "irrigation."

Other in my online ovals might think I already knew that verse, but I am a little ashamed to say that while I recognized it as the sequence for Pentecost, I honestly did not know the Latin, I have only ever sung or spoken it in English, (and often done neither as the celebrant didn't have time for all that stuff, optional or otherwise,) but that is neither here nor there.

He goes on to fret about possible lack of understanding of the Eucharistic Prayer/Canon, on the part of the priest, and therefore, a defect in his intention, which would invalidate the Sacrament.
If a celebrant doesn't know, and remember, and understand the EP in his native language well enough to be quite sure of his intentions when reading from a missal in Tagalog, in French, hell, in Klingon, were it licitly translated, HE IS NOT COMPETENT TO SAY MASS PERIOD.

It is odd, is it not? that anti-Latin forces, (among which I count this Pharmacist/Philosopher,) continue to harp on a priest's possible incompetence, lack of comprehension and mispronunciation of Latin, and no one ever seems to campaign against non-Latino priests stumbling through Spanish-language Mass to be pastoral; or worry that the English language Mass celebrated in the United States by your local Ghanaian or Pakistani priest may not be valid.

My, I do go on...
And I haven't even arrived at my actual points.

There are two of them.

One of them is the mistaken message given by too much emphasis on comprehension -- that the miracle of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the confection of the Eucharist, the infusion of Grace by the actions of God the Holy Spirit is somehow open to human understanding.



It is beyond our comprehension.

And the other is amusement that the type of Catholic, (I do not include the Pharmacist/Philosopher in this, I have no idea of where he stands on this,) who is most likely to say that the people can't PRAY unless the WORDS are simple enough and familiar enough, is also the type of Catholic most likely to love and repeat ad nausum the probably misattributed to St Francis of Assisi, "PREACH the Gospel at all times, if  necessary, use WORDS."

It seems to me that the Person to Whom prayers are directed is more sure to understand them perfectly even if we don't use words than is the person to whom preaching the Gospel is directed, no?

Maybe that's just me.

(Oh, and whilst I think of it, "Some of the differences between the two Masses are the direction the priest faces while celebrating the Mass, the music, the prayers, and the languages used during the celebrations"? Umm.... no. Of  those four exactly ONE is actually a "differences between the two Masses.")

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