Saturday, 8 December 2012

A treat for the Immaculate Conception

The parish where I from time to time attend Mass on a weekday is celebrating Mass in the Ordinary Form, in Latin, on the evenings of the Friday's of Advent. This appears to have come about from a suggestion made to the parish priest by some of his parish community.

Yesterday evening, Father celebrated the Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, explaining that it being subsequent to the celebration of the first Vespers of the feast we were therefore already in the celebration of the day itself. A real treat!

Booklets were provided with the Latin texts, though they still retained the former English translation. (Newly ordered booklets from the CTS had not arrived in time.) At the homily, Father spoke ably about the Immaculate Conception, but also explained the use of Latin as the official language of the Church and that, by using it in our prayer today, we entered into a language of prayer that had been used by many of the saints before us. An echo here, perhaps, of a remark that Pope Benedict made with regard to the Extraordinary Form - but applicable to the Ordinary Form in so far as many of the texts (eg of Collects and Prefaces) do have roots in the history of the Church's liturgy.

Mass was celebrated in a sensitive manner, and without any "edge" or sense of "making a point"; Father celebrated Mass in a manner that was positive about the language being used, encouraged participation by the faithful in the congregation, but did not "make an issue" of it. And that was important, even for someone like myself, who has a more natural affinity for the use of Latin than might have a typical parishioner.

Particularly because Mass was "said" rather than "sung", it was very easy to see how the new English translation better reflected the Latin than did the previous translation. This was very noticeable for, among other texts, the Entrance Antiphon and the Collect, where it was possible to follow the English in Magnificat in an absolute parallel with the Latin as it was being pronounced. The new English translation can therefore mediate, because of its proximity to the Latin, our participation in the language of prayer used by the saints of the past, to which Father referred in his homily. Its evaluation depends not just on a judgement with regard to the principles of translation that were used, but on a judgement arising from the nature of the Liturgy itself.

It will be interesting to see how the Friday evening Mass attendance plays out during the rest of Advent. There were certainly a number of people present yesterday evening who I had not seen before, and who had come for the Latin. Some may have attended the morning Mass rather than the evening Mass. But a good number of the familiar faces were there, too.

Father had - literally - spent several hours reading the Latin to try and make sure that he could pronounce it in a way that matched its sense. And he did very well. I, for one, was very appreciative of his efforts.

1 comment:

Patricius said...

You lucky so-and-so!
You may be interested to know that the CTS Sunday- and Daily missals are very good in respect of showing the Latin and English texts in parallel.
I have to admit that I, too, am an Ordinary Form Latin enthusiast!