27 June 2007

Return to the Latin Mass

Many of our Roman sisters and brothers are excited (or alarmed) about the apparently immanent arrival of the letter from Benedict XVI that will permit again the celebration of the old Latin service, at least as it was celebrated by Roman Catholic Christians throughout the world until the conclusion of Vatican II and its liturgical reforms. Those reforms were more than a bit of a mixed bag. Among Lutherans, Hermann Sasse could note with dismay that it seemed as if St. Zwingli presided over the liturgical reform! So a move back toward the old Tridentine mass is not something a Lutheran can view as entirely negative, not by a long shot.

This Lutheran watches from the sidelines with interest and sympathy. And I wonder.

You see, there is a parallel in a way with our own liturgy. If I may put it so, LSB contains both the results of the second Vatican Council and the liturgy prior to it. You can worship with Divine Service I or II and the revised three year lectionary, and the very heart of the council's reforms are yours (right down to the "and also with you"). Or you can worship with Divine Service III and the one year (better called the historic) lectionary and you are essentially worshipping in the manner that Lutherans in this country worshipped prior to the heady liturgical reforms in the middle of the 20th century - granted, not in Latin, but the Latin mass largely in direct translation (right down to the "and with thy spirit").

I confess to being a traditionalist in this regard. My parish at its sung Divine Services over the weekend uses only Divine Service 3. We still use the old calendar (gesimas and such, and yes, Visitation is coming up on July 2!) and the traditional collects to the traditional tones.

But we are not exclusively Vatican II, if you will. During Advent and Lent we use Evening Prayer (rather than Vespers) and this ordo owes much to the liturgical reforms. And at our Thursday Divine Services (spoken) which will begin in July, we'll be using Divine Service I.

Which is all to say to any Roman brothers or sisters who read this, I don't think the allowance of the old Tridentine mass will be a bad thing for Rome, not at all. It will restore much that was beautiful and lost with Vatican II. I trust it will counter the man-centered treatment of the liturgy and restore it as a prayer addressed to the All-holy Father through the Son and in the Spirit. But I hope that some of the best of Vatican II is not lost: celebration in the language of the people (at least for the Scripture readings and the sermon!), and the realization that there is more than one way to pray Eucharistically than the recitation of the Roman canon (that throughout much of the history of the Western church there have been other ways). Frankly, from my perspective, the ideal would be to see the old service rendered in the vernacular without all the changes that came with Vatican II. We can witness from our perspective, it is possible to live from the best of both pre and post the Council, and that is what we hope and pray for you and your parishes.


Anonymous said...

Pastor Weedon, as always you convey a spirit of graciousness in your comments and they are very much appreciated.

Aside from the Motu Proprio, with the exception of a few alarmist bishops the new Roman Missal will, I think, help return a greater sense of the numinous to the Roman Catholic liturgy which has undeniably been missing in some places since Vatican II. Many thoughtful people now recognize that there was too much haste in getting the vernacular liturgy out to the people and the revisions now being made by the successors to ICEL have long been needed. The Mass as celebrated in Latin-based cultures such as Spanish, etc. has always been more textually faithful than the liturgies produced by the ICEL.

I welcome the return of the Tridentine Mass. It was my first exposure to Roman Catholic worship as a child and I have not forgotten its beauty while I nevertheless am perfectly comfortable with the Novus Ordo when celebrated with reverence (which it fortunately is, in my parish).

It will be interesting to see how the younger generations, once they have been given sufficient time to acquaint themselves with the traditional Mass, will respond.

WM Cwirla said...

Or you can use the 3-year lectionary AND Divine Service III (believe it or not!). Nothing in DS III ties it to the so-called "historic" 1-year lectionary.

We use all four settings in seasonal rotation, monthly in the summer. A true postmodernist pastiche of pre- and post-Vatican II liturgics. Now if we could just bring back those Latin ordinaries....

Pr. H. R. said...

Fr. Weedon,

Why DS I on Thursdays? Just wondering what your rational was...

As you know, I can't stand the thing - gutted Gloria, weirdly translated Sanctus, etc. (and obviously, I have cooly rational on this matter). But perhaps the biggest pastoral point with me is the "and also with you" vs. "and with thy spirit" instinct in the response of the people.

We'll still with Ap. XIV.1 - we're not going to abolish _The_ Mass :)


William Weedon said...


Two reasons:

1. So that there is at least textual familiarity with what I suspect is the most common liturgy in the Synod.

2. Because of the fuller Eucharistia.

Past Elder said...

We already had the "best of Vatican II" several hundred years before it convened -- as you mention two of them, vernacular languages for preaching and teaching without losing Latin entirely, canons other than the Roman one -- so this boon is for the RC church only. We have nothing gain from fooling around with the rest except to confirm the suspicion that Rome still really leads the pack and we are just Catholics without the pope. And we admit willy nilly into our circles the intent of the liturgical reformers, some of whom were my teachers, to replace the faith expressed in the old liturgy via lex orandi lex credendi with the new faith expressed in the new liturgy. Thus we speak of "historic liturgy" yet worship according to sources which, despite the antiquity of some of their sources, dates from 1970 Rome. The Reformers aimed to preserve the historic liturgy, pruned of unwarranted accretions, not write a new one!

Chop out DS One and Two and the three year lectionary from the LSB and you've got a great new hymnal!

Even so, even they are better than their Roman originals. In the re-Greekification of the kyrie, even from LSB on, at least we got it right. Instead of attaching a confession of sin from the now absent Confiteor to Lord, have mercy [as the bogus, er, novus ordo does: "For the times we have (fill in with the sin of your choice, preferably a societal one), Lord have mercy] we kept the confession of sin what it is, preserved the Greek "In peace let us pray to the Lord" and continued with a shortened version of the Greek petitionary, not penitential, kyrie. Remembering things like that, I can handle DSI without wondering if I "converted" to end up full circle worshipping like they do in the parish down the street I am "supposed" to belong to as an RC!

I love the Common Service, just love it, and I think the version of it in LSB is a near miracle!

Sch├╝tz said...

I have blogged a little on the matter of a vernacular 1962 rite--with the conclusion "I think not". Reasons on my page.

But a question for you folk--how do you see the new translations of the Novus Ordo (ie. ditching the "gutted Gloria, weirdly translated Sanctus, and also with you" etc.) affecting the Lutheran liturgical world?

Thinking back to when I was on the LCA's Commission on Worship, we would have welcomed an alternative to the ICEL translations when we adopted "The Service--Alternative Form" (and even attempted it on a few occasions with the disasterous result of creating yet a third translation of some prayers).

Having the two versions (or three or four in reality) meant that we also had different orderings of the "ordo"--for instance, in one order we went:

Gospel, Creed, hymn, sermon, hymn, prayers, Eucharist

And in the other we went

Gospel, Sermon, Creed, prayers, hymn, Eucharist.

I standardised the ordo fo the two versions in my parishes (we used both equally) but in the end the real difference came down to a differnt style of singing the liturgy. We used to call the "Service with Holy Communion" the "chanted" service, and the other one the "sung" service.

Past Elder said...

My first exposure to the LBW came during a long solo drive years ago, during a period when I was trying again to convince myself that the Catholic Church was still the Catholic Church, and I stopped to make a "visit" at what turned out to be a Lutheran Church, though I don't remember which of the synods of the day it was. (If you don't know what a "visit" is, Schuetz can add that, assuming they are not discouraged by the Sacred Congregation for the Intergalactic Observance of the Spirit of Vatican II) I thought oh no, not the Lutherans too, why even bother with this when you can get the real deal in any post conciliar parish?

Some years later, I was commissioned to write programme notes for a Lutheran choral group, whose director was one of the contributors to the LBW and who gave me a copy as an aid. Further examination confirmed the impression -- could have been issued by an office down the hall in Rome as "novus ordo missae, Lutheran edition".

I went to university at one of the hotbeds of "liturgical reform" and watched it happen. It was unmistakable. The push for "alternate forms", including alternate forms within the alternate forms, had nothing to do with the Reformers' onjection to the Roman strangelehold on the liturgy, and everything to do with expressing in liturgy what was taught in class, that faith admits of alternate forms, all of them partial and incomplete, and all equally valid along with the mediaval understanding that became uniform at Trent. The push for another lectionary, though publicly couched in terms of making Scripture more available to priests for preaching and the faithful, was privately expressed in terms of getting away from the miracles prevalent in the lectionary, which we now know probably didn't happen literally anyway, and breaking continuity with the preaching and worshipping tradition based on it, replacing it with more moral teaching to achieve relevance. (In Lutheran terms that they did not use, more Law, less Gospel. Here is what you should do rather than here is what he has done. Just like the megachurch types but with vestments.)

Now, when push comes to shove I am just another grunt in the pew, not a pastor, not a theologian, not even an elder now. That said, my answer to how do I see the new novus ordo translations affecting Lutheran liturgical life is, I hope and pray not at all.

Happily, traditional Lutheran worship does not have to be rehabilitated after decades of suppression as with Rome, since our worship books, particularly the new LSB, offer both traditional Lutheran worship along with Vatican II For Lutherans, with indeed some major improvements as noted in my previous post on this thread.

And that is what is also unhappy about it. Lex orandi lex credendi. The aims of the liturgical reform movement will have their effect if the "reforms" are implemented whether the ideas behind it are subscribed to or not. That is what they were counting on. And it is why now heterodox mainline Protestant denominations with a liturgical tradition have all followed suit.

It is why we should not. Doing so has put us in the untenable position of on the one hand resisting the temptation to graft other kinds of worship that arose to express a message that is not ours onto our message (evangelical style, Lutheran content etc) and on the other trying to foster "historic" liturgy with alongside historic liturgy another kind of worship superficially similar but that also arose to express a message that is not ours and that has become the common property of all heterodox liturgical churches.

I think we have as much to lose from that as from all the emerging church, contemporary worship, Saddleback, Willow Creek etc stuff there is currently being offered under the name Lutheran.

And, apart from all that, why what an apostate church headed by an office bearing the mark of Anti-Christ chooses to do with its liturgy should have the slightest interest to us for our liturgy is completely beyond me.

1030 service with DS1 and the praise band coming up!

William Weedon said...


That is a very good question. As things stand in the LCMS at present, probably not a lot of influence for us right away - we've just published our new books.

But the 1962 Mass in the vernacular already exists in English - at least I have a copy of Parish Mass Book and Hymnal published in 1965 with the Mass in English. So it doesn't seem that big of a job to simply authorize also this service again.

Past Elder said...

Most missals prior to Vatican II had English translations of the Mass. I have several of them. These translations were for the use of the laity following along, though, and not at all with use for public celebration nor approved for such, a question which would not even have come up in those days.

William Weedon said...


You lived through it, so you would know, but I do note that this particular missal is subtitled: "Arranged for congregation recitation" and note that in the ordo itself it says: "The PEOPLE then recite the Introit" and the people pray the Kyrie responsively (in English) and the People respond to the Priest's "Glory to God in the highest" with "And on earth peace to men of good will..."

At least this edition certainly seems to presuppose that the people participated in the vernacular and yet it is the 1962 rite (near as I can tell).

William Weedon said...

I am also struck by how much closer the 1962 Mass was to our own Common Service than the reformed Mass.

I mean, the Entrance right had an optional Entrance Hymn, but then Introit, Kyrie, and Gloria in Excelsis. There was a salutation before the collect (why on earth was that dropped there?), and onto Epistle, Gradual and Alleluia or Tract, and the Gospel. I mean that's exactly what the Common Service had, of course, with the exception of NOT having the salutation also prior to the Gospel reading.

Anonymous said...

Happily, traditional Lutheran worship does not have to be rehabilitated after decades of suppression as with Rome, since our worship books, particularly the new LSB, offer both traditional Lutheran worship along with Vatican II For Lutherans, with indeed some major improvements as noted in my previous post on this thread.

Very interesting to hear Past Elder speak of "tradtional Lutheran worship." Since I grew up in that tradition let me assure him that the "traditional Lutheran worship" of that day was not infected with the fundamentalism I see in some LCMS congregations today.

I also utterly reject his preposterous notion that the Catholic Church of our day is the harbinger of the "antichrist."

Past Elder said...

I would have to examine the missal you mention to really know what I am talking about, but lacking that opportunity, here are a few facts and educated guesses.

I still have the missal I used as a kid when just going to Mass, not as a server (altar boy). It is the St Joseph Daily Missal, published by Catholic Book Publishing Company, cpoyright 1950. In it, on the English side of the page the rubrics (literally, in red) read the same as on the Latin, not only for the people but the priest -- "the priest says" etc, though of course they are not going to say the English but the Latin. That way, if you are following along in the English translation which is not being spoken with the Latin that is, the actions are still the same. So the priest (or people) says, indeed, but in Latin while you follow in English. There was even before the Council what was called a "dialogue" Mass, where the people spoke their parts, but in Latin, rather than the altar boy speaking them for them. Apart from that usage, one of the reasons given us for learning our Latin lines well is that we are speaking for the people. In other words, active voice rubrics with the English text does not imply it was the English that was spoken.

In the years leading up to the promulgation of the novus ordo, parts of it were introduced here and there with the rest in the old rite, leading to a kind of hybrid. With a copyright of 1965 it is possible that the missal you have reflects this transitional time, but that is simply a guess. Catholic bibles of the time were like that. I still have my childhood bible, given to me at about age 8 (1958) by a priest for whom I often served -- it is what had been done to date of what is now the St Joseph Bible, with the rest in the traditional Challoner Bible. Those were part English, part Latin, and it is possible you have such a missal though I cannot say for sure. What I can say for sure is that the rubrics remain the same on both the English and Latin pages and the English was simply so you could follow what was said in Latin, in pre council missals. My guess is you have a missal that allows for the use of the "dialogue" Mass, but that, originally at least, was in Latin.

As to the Dominus vobiscum (and one can argue pronunciation there, as almost everyone accented the "bis", but Sister Colleen my Latin teacher insisted insisted that when Latin adds the conjunction on the end of a word rather than as a separate word before it as in English, it does not alter accentuation, hence the accent still falls on the "vo" whether its vobis or vobiscum) my theory is this: it is a remain of the time when the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar were said in the sacristy apart from Mass (which is still done in some usages) at the altar itself, and when the Gloria was a private prayer spoken only by bishops.

Most certainly the 1962 Mass is closer to our beloved Common Service than the novus ordo. How could it not be? Both are versions of a single common heritage, whereas the novus ordo, whatever the antiquity of some of its sources, as an entity dates from 1970 and serves the purposes of those who framed it and has become the common heritage of heterodox modernist liturgical churches everywhere, which is among the many reasons why I believe it should be rejected by confessional Lutherans.

I don't like the fundamentalism I see in some LCMS congregations to-day either. Or the pseudo Reformed, pseudo evangelical (in the American sense), pseudo megachurch, purpose driven church, emerging church, etc either. And add to the list, the pseudo Vatican II wannabeism seen also -- which I regard as a far greater threat than the others combined to confessional Lutheranism since it preserves a deceptive superficial continuity with a tradition from which it is a departure, as evidenced by its universality in heterodox liturgical churches.

My point simply was, the Common Service was not put under offical lock and key when this wannabeism invaded Lutheranism with the LBW, so we do not need a Lutheran Moto Proprio from Houston or something to rehabilitate it. In fact, it exists in an excellent version in the LSB. (Though in my parish I will probably never hear it!)

As to the Revelation (Apocalypse, as we called it back in the day) references: yes, I believe the Catholic Church fits the description of the Whore of Babylon and its papal office bears the mark of Anti Christ. But understand also, two things, I don't believe they are co-terminous, ie the papacy is not THE Antichrist nor is the Catholic Church necessarily all there is to the Whore of Babylon, and also, this is a belief about an institution and an office, not the members of the institution or the occupiers of the office. Or as I put it to my older son (10) when he asked the other day, out of his encounters with a wide variety of kids at day-care, if Catholics can go to heaven, certainly they can and do.

Past Elder said...

Motu, not moto, sorry. Those cell phone adds are catchy! Maybe they could release it that way. Sure to catch on with the younger crowd -- Hey Motu!

Past Elder said...

Just read the latest over at Schuetz' site -- someone identified it as a hybrid, so my first guess was right. My parish didn't use it, instead we had hand outs, introduced of course as what "the people" want, then the people went about going back and forth between them and the old missals.

I was starting on my way out the door at the time, but just starting. As an example of the effect of all this, when I began graduate school in music in 1972, in the core graduate history classes when we got to liturgical music in the Western tradition the professor would ask if there were any Catholics in the class since they might be more familiar with the basics, only to find they were as clueless as anyone else! I was ashamed to raise my hand.

Anonymous said...

I would also add that had the Lutheran Book of Worship been faithfully followed in the ELCA that once august body could have headed in a very different direction. I still have in my personal library a copy of Commentary on the Lutheran Book of Worship by Philip Pfatteicher. Rev. Pfatteicher along with Rev. Frank Senn are two of the finest minds vis a vis liturgical history and practice that the ELCA has. More's the pity they weren't heard and adhered to.

Rev. Pfatteicher, last I heard, was still shepherding an ELCA congregation in the Pittsburgh area. The services at his church are beautiful, reverent and liturgically sound, a wonderful model for those Lutherans who remain confessionally faithful in the ELCA.

Anonymous said...

I have been dissatisfied with the Church since they forced Vatican 2 upon us. My dissatisfaction has never been with the FAITH, just the Church and its blatant conversion to Protestantism; with its guitar and folk masses, the liturgy in the local language and its warm and fuzzy hand shaking and hugging. I want to go to Mass where GOD is the focus; if I want to shake hands and fraternize, I'll join a social club.
PLEASE, won't our Holy Father come to his senses and reverse the absurdities and blasphemies of Vatican 2? It can be done with the stroke of a pen on a Papal Bull.
I am getting on in years and want to return to the Church for the celebration of the TRUE and ONLY acceptable Liturgy: In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen