Saturday, April 28, 2007

Spiritus sanctus! Latin returning in liturgy!

The pope says he's down with the idea of Latin returning to Masses.

Personally, as an agnostic, I never quite understood the objection to it in the first place. It was a common denominator in Catholic services worldwide until shortly after I was born -- my older Catholic friends tell me they can still remember traveling, as children, and no matter where in the world their parents took them, they could participate in the regular and holiday mass, because it was always in the same language. Vatican II took that away.

Vernacular is useful for a lot of things, but there is something to be said for keeping a tradition. It unifies more than just the priests.

I noticed, too, in the Beeb's article & comments, how many people who were not Catholics (ahem, she said, looking the other way as angelically as she could) had comments on what was, essentially, none of their business. For example, this piece:
Concern is now focused on traditional mass's Good Friday liturgy which contains a prayer "For the conversion of the Jews". The prayer reads: "Let us pray also for the Jews, that the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts and that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ."

It refers to their "blindness" and prays for them to be "delivered from their darkness."

To which, later in the article, came this:
Rabbi David Rosen president of IJCIC, the International Jewish Committee that represents World Jewry in its relations with other world religions, says: "Any liturgy that presents Jews as being doomed in their faith doesn't present a very healthy attitude towards Judaism and the Jewish people."
Well, don't pretty much all faiths say that about every other faith? The point behind whatever faith you have is that you are right, that the specific deity is with you, and (if it's a charitable sort of faith), your prayers are that the others you respect will soon discover the light your deity shines upon you, and join you under that lamp. It isn't supposed to be an exclusionary prayer, but one of hope. At least the good rabbi says he doesn't believe this will take the church back to antisemitism, and that this conservative move can have its own purpose:
"Conservative theology itself is not necessarily bad for relations with the Jewish people and even if Catholics believe their path is the absolute truth, that shouldn't contradict the ability to respect the integrity of others' identity and choice," he says.
Three cheers for a man of faith agreeing that people of other faiths should be respected for their choice, and that, while one may have a conservative view within one's faith, it doesn't mean a lack of respect for others! Would that all others could see things the same way. Would that all others could have some respect (hear that, evangelical atheists?).

IMO, Latin is such a lovely language, it should be kept alive. I discovered that, back in my days at public school, struggling through the basic language classes (okay, I exaggerate. I hated it in high school, and didn't learn to enjoy it until much later, when I found out that the Romans didn't just write about military campaigns and politics and gods, but about sex and romance and sex and adventure and sex). What little of it remains after all these years still brings me pleasure (and not just when I'm trying to read Catullus). Perhaps it really does belong ringing off the walls of a great cathedral or two.

Ah, well. Maybe somebody will come up with a prayer in Latin for the agnostic children of athiest scientists who once were seminarians... and, maybe, somebody will hear it.

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