Latin morning prayer at CAL

There they go again, those old lefties from the ivory towers of academia…holding morning prayer in Latin. This was an unicum, for the 20th anniversary of the Medieval Liturgy seminar. (Much of the work of NAAL happens in seminars which meet together for their specific topic area throughout the conference.) Ably compiled by Dr. John Leonard, who was also precentor and primicerius scholae. A well thought-out mix of mostly Latin and some English (well-done adaptations of Fr. Columba Kelly, OSB), with schola doing the harder parts and all doing the easier parts.

My reaction? I thought it worked well. Not everyone found it easy to chime in, but I sensed everyone trying with a good spirit. It bothered me that we celebrated the “Tertia Die infra Octavam Epiphaniae,” which it isn’t in the current Roman rite since Epiphany no longer has an octave. [I fully expect the Summorum folks to comment on that last statement.] But the idea was to follow medieval useage, albeit with common sense adaptations for this group.

Checking my emotional barometer, I realized why I felt pretty calm as the whole thing went forward. Being in an academic setting, and with so many Protestants, somehow made it OK. In a post-modern world devoid of firm standards or canons, any and all aesthetic experiences are legit, including this one. Diversity and all that. But if it had been all Roman Catholics with a bishop presiding, the tension would have been unbearable – 35 minutes of politicized angst about “reform of the reform” and the meaning of Vatican II and you know the rest. Then this hit me: “I bet older Catholics who remember The Bad Old Days aren’t having my pleasant experience at all.” It didn’t take long for this to be confirmed. One fellow member of the Mystical Body found the service to be…wait for it… “oppressive.” Don’t ya love generational differences?

If there is a general outcry for it, I will offer up my wonkish critique of the psalm pointing, source selection, neume treatment, and such. But I’ll wait for the general outcry on that.



10 responses to “Latin morning prayer at CAL”

  1. Cody C.  Unterseher Avatar

    Let me be the first to rally the “general outcry” for your “wonkish” critique of the musical details! … wonkish??

    (Of course, when it comes to Gregorian Chant, some of us know you’re a fan of the “usus antiquior” of the manuscripts, not the contrived “usus recenter” of the 19th century, and so can only imagine. . . .)

  2. Derek Olsen Avatar

    I’ll be out-cry number 2!

    I couldn’t be there, but one of my Episcopal friends who is said it was quite nicely chanted and promised he’d send me a copy…

  3. Ryan Ellis Avatar
    Ryan Ellis

    1. You sound a bit defensive, man. Chillax.

    2. How is it “medieval usage” (in form) if it was widely used as recently as 1970, and continues to be used today? We young traddies don’t call the Novus Ordo the “hippie usage/aging hipster form/Baby Boomer geritol use,” just because that’s where it came from and is descending toward.

    3. The level of hatred here against the usus antiquior is far greater than the median level of angst against the Novus Ordo on the more established liturgy blogs.

    4. You do realize that the Liturgia Horarum is also supposed to be used in Latin, right? And that the Divine Office can be celebrated in the vernacular, right? To assume that Latin = E.F. betrays a lot.

  4. Vincent Avatar

    “35 minutes of politicized angst about ‘reform of the reform’ and the meaning of Vatican II and you know the rest”

    While this is certainly true in some places where Latin is used, I have been to many parishes / places that utilize Latin (in Mass, music, etc.) in the Ordinary or Extraordinary forms where this is not this angst. To them, it’s just normal. If you asked someone at the parish I went to in college why their choir sings in Latin, I’m positive the response would have been something like, “Ummm, that’s just what they do. Is there something wrong with that?” No angst, just love for the Lord and desire to worship him reverently.

    Are the angsty people who just won’t give it up about how Bugnini was a Mason annoying? Well, of course they are. And that might have characterized the people who support Latin liturgy through the early days of the Quattuor Abhinc Annos indult, it is becoming increasingly less the case as time goes on.

  5. Joseph W. MacCarthy Avatar
    Joseph W. MacCarthy

    The tone here is so political… why aren’t we speaking of what our Christian brothers and sisters need to be nourished by God? For some it is more traditional, for others it is less so.

  6. Ronald Ciavolino Avatar
    Ronald Ciavolino

    Quite frankly, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, they would have to drag me kicking and screaming back to the Latin Rite. I’m old enough (73) to remember it well. I remember one priest (very nice man and devout) who said weekday Mass in eleven minutes. He claimed that he could do it even faster if the altar boys would only cooperate! Of course there was never a homily in the old days. Now was he deficient in faith? Lax? So worn-down by routine that he was totally unaware of what he was doing – well no. Actually he was very devout and quite charming; he did it for reasons that seem never to be discussed and, I fear, are returning – he did it because the only thing that mattered was the Consecration: reciting the words slowly and clearly, scripture, preaching – these were totally unnecessary. All one needed was the magic word, which, by the way, was repeated several times. I looked forward to the reforms inspired by Vatican II with great anticipation; and what did I get? Well I got black leotards, clown suits, “Where have all the flowers gone?”, sanctuaries denuded to such an extent that they resembled conventicles in Edinburgh (of course without the art of preaching and knowledge of scripture that are usually associated with them), and a pack of clergy who dressed like rag pickers and were never home. Actually what went on for forty years would have raised eyebrows even in Edinburgh. What could you all at Collegeville and “Worship” possibly have been thinking of? The only thing you appear to have accomplished, after all that scribbling and all those conventions, is the deliberate creation of a disgruntled constituency that now dreams of past ages that never existed. Fr. Benedict Groeschel is quit right: this movement back to the Latin rite has nothing to do with a love of Latin on the part of the laity; it represents a vote of no confidence delivered against what you all dished out to them. And you know, now that the fun and games are coming to an ignominious end, it will serve you right if you all end up with your faces once again plastered up against the tabernacle muttering “Te igitur.” And I sincerely hope that while you’re up there, dressed in the “eat at Joe’s billboards,” muttering away and listening to the sound of the rosary beads rattling against the pews, you all reflect on your shocking lack of responsibility while you had the time, and on what you might have achieved after such a long struggle if you had only possessed an ounce of maturity, class, poetry and concern for your fellow Christians. My only regret is that you’re going to drag me along with you back to the past. I sincerely hope I don’t live long enough to witness all this; indeed I’m thinking of taking up smoking (unfiltered Camels) just to hasten the process along.

  7. Linda Reid Avatar
    Linda Reid

    “and what did I get? Well I got black leotards, clown suits, “Where have all the flowers gone?”, sanctuaries denuded to such an extent that they resembled conventicles in Edinburgh”

    Wow!! I am truly sorry that this is what you experienced…. on both sides of the Council. I also got 11 minute masses, but I got beautiful “high masses” on Sundays as well. (albeit with an all male choir!). After the council, I got thoughtful catechesis about “full and active participation” from the music director and helpful rehearsals of new vernacular mass ordinaries and responsorial psalms. Perhaps this is why I am now a music director myself – I saw the good (even at my young age!) that a dedicated music director/clergy team can do.
    At my home parish in Baltimore, we got no black leotards nor clowns – we got solidly done Vatican II liturgy (done with halting steps, until we all got on or near the same page!)
    At the parish where I got married, we went through the “growing pains” of home liturgies and searching for God in some of the wrong places.
    Then we moved, and the parish where I have ministered for 30 years, has come through (with the help of often exemplary clergy) many phases, with the guidance of the conciliar documents, liturgical formation, the Sacramentary and the Lectionary. Our liturgies are prayerful, reverent and faithful to Catholic traditions without being hidebound. (in MOST people’s opinion) We acknowledge the importance of the presence of Christ in the “consecration”, but we also see it in His Word, in His priest and in HIs assembled Body.
    I would have to be dragged screaming and kicking back to pre-Vatican II liturgies also, but it is because I love the liturgy as we do it now!!
    I hope you can find a place that does this for you too.

  8. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

    I won’t repost the quotations here, as I’ve done so other places in the past, but consultation of the standard liturgical manuals of the 19th and 20th centuries would inform those who remember the “bad old days” that celebrating the Mass in 11 minutes was always considered a serious sin.

  9. Michelle Kate Weber Avatar

    I’m out-cry number 3! Come on, awr, we’re interested. 🙂

  10. Jeffrey Herbert Avatar
    Jeffrey Herbert

    The level of hatred here against the usus antiquior is far greater than the median level of angst against the Novus Ordo on the more established liturgy blogs.


    Two totally different dynamics at work. One is the dynamic of a former “underclass” that has just recently been elevated but which is still suspicious of the established majority. We may well belong in that box…no real “hatred” for the Novus Ordo but just the ability to now voice one’s feelings without being thought of as a schismatic loon.

    The other is the dynamic of anestablished majority that now finds its long-enjoyed control of the liturgical discussion challenged by this underclass that is quickly gaining momentum. There is some fear because they (the established majority) now find themselves increasingly sandwiched between a hierarchy that seems to have an interest in elevating the underclass to actually influence the status quo, and that same underclass who is vying for dominance of the liturgical discussion with the apparent support of the hierarchy.

    Most curious of all, for me at least, is that the “lunch meat” in the middle doesn’t seem to realize that it has been made into a sandwich.

    And… I hope nobody really takes this too seriously. I just made an analogy using lunch meat. As Ryan also said… Chillax!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *