By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The 4th False Myth about the "Vatican II" Mass

The opening of the Second Session of the Secon...Image via Wikipedia
4. The fourth false myth is that to have a Mass without a significant amount of or at least some Latin defies the original intent of the Second Vatican Council. The only way I know of discovering the intent of the Council is to go to the relevant text and read it, putting aside polemical agendas that can cloud what we see in the text.

Oh my, you can write hundreds of pages on this particular false myth, hundreds of pages that probably are not worth the effort. So, I will be concise.Let us go to the famous relevant text of the 
Dogmatic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium):




36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.
3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2 [namely, "competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established"] to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See.And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.


4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.

Source link (emphasis added by blogger).


My translation of the above legislative language follows: "The bishops' conference, with the approval of the Vatican, determines the extent of the use of the vernacular language in the liturgy. Translations are to be approved by the bishops' conference."


So, any questions about the how much Latin a priest must use in celebrating Mass comes down to this issue: has the national bishops' conference and the Vatican approved how much of the vernacular or mother tongue the priest is using? If they have approved, there are no grounds for complaint based on the text of Vatican II. 


In fact, the new English translation of the Roman Missal to be implemented in 2011 translates the entire Roman Missal into English. There is an option to use the Greek Kyrie eleison in the penitential rite (a reminder that even the early Roman liturgy was in Koine Greek). The only Latin I saw in the new translation was the Latin rendering of the Sanctus (Holy, holy, holy, . . .), use of which is optional, in the sample "Order of Mass" at the bishops' website.


In other words, Vatican II left the extent of use of the vernacular to the competent authorities. It was not the original intent of the Council to set forth a preordained limit to how much of the vernacular could be used. How do I infer this view about the Council's intent? I make this inference precisely because they did not set such a preordained limit. Case closed.


Now, if you want to argue that some Latin should be present, you are certainly free to do so; and even I might very well agree with you (I recall personally requesting some Latin in the Mass in at least one of the parishes I attended in the past). Yet, my current view is that it is false to say that a Mass with no Latin is in
defiance of Vatican II; while, at the same time, I am happy to see at least some Latin used in the Mass of Justin Martyr, especially the Agnus Dei