Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Novus Ordo

St Matthew's Cathedral during Saturday Mass (not the vigil)

I had the wonderful opportunity while on vacation. On Sunday morning I attended the Novus Ordo Liturgy at St. Matthew's Cathedral. It was my first time attending a liturgy with more than a smattering of Latin.

The entire Liturgy was in latin other than the readings and response to the readings and the psalm. The priest celebrant chanted all the prayers and we chanted the mass parts together.

The Eucharistic prayer was spoken and the priest seem to role right through the prayers, needless to say - I'm not fluent in latin - so it was very difficult to keep up, but his pronunciation, intonation, and rythmn of speaking the words, sounded musical. Of course he did slow up twice, during the words of Institution (Hoc est enim corpus meum... etc.)

It was absolutely gorgeous, of course the only downside was that even though I knew what the priest was saying, I wish I knew latin to have more than just the gist of what was going on. And the best part about it, the church was packed! The median age of the crowd was probably 45, but there was a huge disparity between the ages. Many young 20 somethings and a lot of geriatrics. There were a few families with adolescent children who represented the median age group.

Now before you start getting freaked out, I'm not one of those prissy ultraconservatives, I like other friends of mine, appreciate, support, and promote the great changes that Vatican II brought, especially when it comes to the involvement of the laity in the liturgy. We are, after all, the "Latin Rite" Church.

Besides being beautiful, I've previously noted at least one practical case for latin - which is we live in a linguistically diverse society and though English is the lingua franca politically and traditionally of these United States, it certainly isn't the only one. But there are more reasons.

Envision a reformation in CCD programs where we familiarize the youngest of the Church with the language of the Church. This serves multiple purposes beyond the familiarity and usefulness with and in liturgical celebrations. There are the obvious other advantages from being familiar with Latin as constantly pointed out by Educators (it helps students in advance English and Science classes as well as other subject areas), but there's also a shoring up of the Catholic Identity, which I believe would help the church with her abysmal attrition rate. (We wouldn't be the first to make such a move, the Greek Orthodox have done this for years!)

So here you would have people of different languages, economic situations, races etc. joined in a common worship using a common language that opens them up to more freely understanding the richness of 2000 years worth of tradition and history for which their actions and indeed most readily their language is based upon.

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