TOWER OF BABEL
EPISODE IV: RETURN OF THE LATIN MASS(?)
I found this interesting little story out of Thailand. Stick with me on this one....
Mass in Bangkok is celebrated in the Thai language. OK, that's simple, but Whitney Houston, we have a problem. Turns out that 50,000 of Bangkok's 75,000 Catholics are ethnically Chinese. And even though all of that 50,000 speak fluent Thai, they want Mass celebrated in Chinese. And not just any Chinese. They want Chaozhou, a southern Chinese dialect. Now we run into another little problem... turns out that many of the priests in the Bangkok Archdiocese don't speak Chaozhou.
Now we have another problem. Many within the Chinese Catholic community say that it would be better to use Mandarin Chinese because younger Catholics are not fluent in Chaozhou. And I'm not done yet! What about the Filipino, Korean and Vietnamese Catholics that also reside in the Archdiocese of Bangkok?
OK, with all that said... this reminds me of why in the 1500's, Pope St. Pius V ordered that the Latin Mass of Pope St. Gregory The Great (which had already been around for over 1,000 years in Italy) to be the official liturgy of The Western Church. There are many reasons as to why St Pius did this, but essentially, it was to unify The Church against the rising tide of Protestantism, and also to fight the Tower of Babel syndrome that had become so prevalent within The Western Church.
From nation to nation, province to province, city to city and in some cases... village to village, Mass was different. The Mozabaric Rite, the Ambrosian Rite, The Dominican Rite, variants of the Hispano-Gallican Rite, remnants of the Celtic Rite, a never ending parade of local traditions and customs incorporated into (polluting?) the Mass, etc, etc. The Western Church really was a Tower of Babel.
You know, I'm proud of my Guamanian heritage. I'm proud of my Spanish heritage. I'm proud of my Irish heritage. I'm proud of my German heritage. But you know what I'm most proud of? My CATHOLIC heritage. I'm proud to be a Catholic of The Latin Rite. Is it too much to expect that I be allowed to worship like a Latin Rite Catholic?
Why is it that I have to 'ask permission' for something that supposedly is to be 'widely and generously given'? What a joke. How many times have I been told by priests that the Latin Mass is 'divisive? Too many times. But it's not divisive to have a Mass schedule that runs the gamut from English to Urdu to Polish to Swahili with the occasional foray into the wonderful world of the Hula Mass, the Polka Mass, the Cowboy Mass, The Easter Bunny Mass, or my all-time personal fav, the Blood Sacrifice Mass?
I remember once asking a priest about having a Latin Mass... his eyes lit up and he said "but we do have a Latino Mariachi Mass!", and this goomba was serious.
Bottom line, if you want to be a good Protestant where their services vary from nation to nation, province to province, city to city and in some cases... village to village, then by all means, be a good Protestant. Personally, I'll stick with the unifying (and not to mention utterly Catholic) Latin Mass.
It's about time Roman Catholics got back into the habit of being Roman Catholics.