I’ve been rather hesitant to say anything whatsoever about the recently released motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, which allows for more liberal use of the Tridentine mass (in its 1962 form). I figured I had little to say that wouldn’t be said by others with greater eloquence. However, in the last few days I’ve read a number of articles that repeat common myths regarding the Roman mass in both its older and newer forms, and they’ve annoyed me sufficiently to provoke me to write (Exhibit A, Exhibit B). Someone may have already written or will write a better correction. If anyone happens upon one, let your fellow readers know by leaving a comment.
Readers of Stuff’s post on singing before/during/after communion may find these interesting.
[…]In any case, the first use of actuosa participatio, i.e., active participation, referred explicitly and exclusively to the restoration of the congregational singing of Gregorian Chant. In 1928, Pope Pius XI reiterated the point in his Apostolic Letter, Divini Cultus. Nineteen years after that, in the Magna Carta of liturgical reform, Mediator Dei, issued by Pius XII, the same term was used with the same meaning. So until the Second Vatican Council, the term “active participation” referred exclusively to the singing of Gregorian Chant by the people.
42. In the ars celebrandi, liturgical song has a pre-eminent place. (126) Saint Augustine rightly says in a famous sermon that “the new man sings a new song. Singing is an expression of joy and, if we consider the matter, an expression of love” (127). The People of God assembled for the liturgy sings the praises of God. In the course of her two-thousand-year history, the Church has created, and still creates, music and songs which represent a rich patrimony of faith and love. This heritage must not be lost. Certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. As an element of the liturgy, song should be well integrated into the overall celebration (128). Consequently everything – texts, music, execution – ought to correspond to the meaning of the mystery being celebrated, the structure of the rite and the liturgical seasons (129). Finally, while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed (130) as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy (131).
62. None of the above observations should cast doubt upon the importance of such large-scale liturgies. I am thinking here particularly of celebrations at international gatherings, which nowadays are held with greater frequency. The most should be made of these occasions. In order to express more clearly the unity and universality of the Church, I wish to endorse the proposal made by the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the directives of the Second Vatican Council, (182) that, with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, it is fitting that such liturgies be celebrated in Latin. Similarly, the better-known prayers (183) of the Church’s tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung. Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant. (184)
A BoingBoing contributor interprets a Latin sign on a church wall as being a threat, but the "memento mori" message is a Medieval reminder to us that we are mortals. Rather, I think the message is really a reminder to those goofing off outside that the fun won't last forever (and therefore they should consider going into the Church to help ensure a pleasant eternal hereafter!).
Witnessing all the recent hubbub about new English mass translation that’s just been approved by US bishops and the ever-present tensions between rival Bible translators, I thought the following quite from Peter Berger’s The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion might provoke interesting discussion.
"The social world constitutes a nomos both objectively and subjectively. The objective nomos is given in the process of objectivation as such. the fact of language, even if taken by itself, can readily be seen as the imposition of order upon experience. Language nomizes by imposing differentiation and structure upon the ongoing flux of experience. As an item of experience is named, it is ipso facto, taken out of this flux and given stability as the entity so named. Language further provides a fundamental order of relationships by the addition of syntax and grammar to vocabulary. It is impossible to use language without participating in its order. Every empirical language may be said to constitute a nomos in the making, or, with equal validity, as the historical consequence of the nomizing activity of generations of men. The original nomizing act is to say that an item is this, and thus not that. As this original incorporation of the item into the order that includes other items is followed by sharper linguistic designations (the item is male and not female, singular and not plural, a noun and not a verb, and so forth), the nomizing act intends a comprehensive order of all items that may be linguistically objectivated, that is, intends a totalizing nomos.
What I primarily take from this is the importance of word choice for the recording and transmission of information, i.e., order. When we translate Scripture or liturgies to modern languages, we must be mindful of a few important questions.
- What sort of order did the original author(s) intend to impose with the words they chose?
- What sort of order do we wish to impose with the words we choose?
- If these orders do not match, why do they not, and how should that affect our translation efforts?
Pope Benedict continues to encourage the study of Latin. Eximie! (Fedora Tip: Bill Cork)