Saturday, October 16, 2021

Ethnic Diversity and the Latin Mass

 From One Peter Five:

Faggioli claims that the Mass as experienced in celebrations of the pre-Vatican II liturgical books is the “product” of 16th century Europe. Were it so, it would come from a milieu with completely different cultural and political concerns from those of current American politics, but let that pass, because the claim is false, as Faggioli must be aware. Readers can compare the first printed missal, of 1474, with 16th-century and later examples right up to 1962 to satisfy themselves that no major changes were made in the 16th century. Nor was it new in 1474: that was simply a printed version of what the Franciscans had been using since the 13th century, a version of the Roman Missal for use outside Rome. The last significant changes to the Roman Missal took place between 9th and the 12th century—things like the Preparatory Prayers and Last Gospel, and the development of Low Mass—but it was substantially complete in the 8th century, and its central components were in place long before that. The Canon of the Mass dates, scholars tell us, from the 4th century.

The 4th century is not even Medieval: it is late Antiquity. Before the Muslims conquered North Africa three centuries later it would be anachronistic to contrast “European” with “non-European” culture, since the Mediterranean was not the dividing line between different cultures, but a conduit connecting a region of strongly interconnected cultures, which contrasted with the more remote hinterland in any direction: Germany in the north, Persia to the east, and the Sahara to the south. The ancient Roman Mass was a product of Jewish and Roman religious culture in this Mediterranean world, and it was closely aligned with the liturgical tradition of what the Romans called North Africa (as opposed to Egypt). The liturgy of other parts of the Roman Empire—Greece, Egypt, the Levant, France and Spain—had their own lines of development, but each influenced and were influenced by the others.

When the reformers started pulling things out of the Missal in the 1960s, they sometimes claimed that these things were “late” or “medieval.” They lacked the brass neck to claim they were “16th century”: they had more intellectual self-respect than Faggioli. In some cases they were correct, but in other cases what they removed went back much earlier. The ancient cycle of Sunday Gospels, for example, entirely lost in 1969, provided the subject matter of sermons by Pope Gregory the Great in the year 590. The ancient orations, which the reformers of the 1960s didn’t like because they talked about penance, sin, and grace, reflect the world of the Church’s great African theologians, St Augustine of Hippo and St Cyprian of Carthage.

What of the reformed Mass? When, and by whom, was this created? It may come as a shock to Faggioli to discover this, but it was produced overwhelmingly by a small group of European liturgical experts, closely aligned in age, education, and attitudes. Notoriously, only a few of them were pastors; even fewer had experience of pastoral work outside Europe and North America. What they destroyed was something which had formed the Catholic culture, not just of Europe, but of Latin America, Africa, India, and China.

To a Catholic in Shanghai, in Goa, in Mexico City, or in Cape Town, the ancient Mass is their ancient Mass. It is the Mass which marked the life events of their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. It is the Mass which evangelised their countries, often in the distant past, just as it evangelised England, Germany and Ireland in the early Middle Ages. It is this Mass which inspired their native saints and martyrs. It is this Mass which formed the backdrop to the authentic Catholic customs and art of which they are justly proud, from the wonderful baroque architecture of Catholic Latin America, to the exquisite devotional art of Catholic China.

Faggioli and his gang are determined to deprive them of this Mass, on the basis that he, and a handful of white American and European self-appointed liturgical experts, know better than they what is good for them. Sadly, since bishops all over the world are educated in Rome, a tiny clique of European liberals have outsized influence over what happens in other continents. (Read more.)

From The Liturgy Guy:

If an angel allowed me one suggestion as to what more than anything else would most quickly restore the sense of the sacred to the Mass, it would be this: to do away with Mass facing the people. I am convinced that the position of the priest at the altar is the single most important liturgical external symbol, the one that carries the most doctrinal baggage. To put the priest back on our side of the altar, facing with us towards God, would at one stroke restore the Mass from an exercise in interpersonal relationship to the universal prayer of the Church to God our Father. With the priest facing God once more as leader of the people, the importance of the microphone will diminish, and the priest can stop making faces at us. He and we can go back to thinking only about what is happening in the Mystery. (Read more.)


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