Vernacular: the cause that won hands-down

More serious than glad-handing in the post-council reform (and more successful) was the all-church changeover from Latin to, in our part of the world, English. The centralized planning and execution here was enough to make a statist weep with envy.

The world over, Catholics got used to mass in everyday language. It became part of the worldwide social engineering taking place — change by design, not by natural influences, not organically, as explained and favored by then-Cardinal Ratzinger.

Vatican II celebrated the freedom of the children of God, but it did not work that way when it came to liturgy. Latin, declared by Pope John XXII on the eve of the council as a very good thing and by the council itself as “to be preserved” had to go. Latin went. Rebels were marginalized. Only decades later did Latin return with church authority’s blessing.

So it went, change dictated from above for our own good by people who knew what was best for us. My friend M., in his last year before ordination as a holy Jesuit, complained. He had enough trouble believing in the mass in Latin, he said. Now (in the mid-1960s, he spoke) the mystery would be severely lessened. He was not happy.

M.’s problems would sound strange to those of today who see in the mass essentially a church-sponsored, Scripture-referenced celebration of unity with each other. M. had to believe in transubstantiation. Who now uses the word? For him in the mid-60’s the bread and wine became the body and blood of Jesus in substance, while accidents (of breadness, etc.) remained.

The priest held the host (unleavened bread) and believed he held the body of Christ. Some few could hardly do it and would stutter at the “words of consecration,” barely able to say them, making painfully sure they got them right.

After Vatican II a whole new mass developed. This liturgy of the future, vernacularized, would be as much communicating with people as with God. The priest would face them, look at them, saying the sacred words. He would be a presenter, a presider (horrible word). The mass would be more pew-sitter-friendly.

My friend saw the mystery dissolving away, and with it his belief. This happened. Mass is now something in which we celebrate unity with each other. As for the mystical and mysterious, that’s a happy memory, fast fading from Catholic consciousness.

1 Comment

  1. Jim Bowman says:

    Reblogged this on Blithe Spirit and commented:

    Mystery dissolved . . .


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