Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Confessions Of A Child Of Vatican II
Even terribly confused Catholics want the Latin Mass

From Time magazine. Here's a bit of the article;

I Confess, I Want Latin
Friday, Jul. 20, 2007

Bless me, father, for I have sinned. It has been three months since I last attended Mass. I have instead spent Sunday mornings attending total-body workout classes at the gym, after which I have been attending brunch. In other words, no uncommon circumstances kept me from coming to church. I expect as penance a boatload of Hail Marys.

I come today having heard that Pope Benedict XVI has just removed restrictions on celebrating Mass in Latin. Many of those who favor a return to the Tridentine Mass were born before 1930 and long for it out of conservative nostalgia. Not me. I confess: I want to hear Mass sung in a language I don't understand because too often I don't like what I hear in English.

Though I was born after Vatican II, I did not grow up comprehending the liturgy. In Japan, Mass was said in a traditional form of Japanese too obscure for me to grasp. Twelve years of Sunday school--held inexplicably and inconveniently on Saturdays--did not help clarify all the mysteries of the missal. My father instructed us to spend the time in prayer. I inspected Jesus on the Cross and wondered what he thought of my life. I inspected the boy across the aisle and wondered what he thought of my hair. There were times I thought I would pass out from boredom. There were times I probably did. Not understanding all the words spoken during the endless sermons, I had little choice but to spend the time in thought about myself, my family, my God.

This changed when I came to America. At first I was too busy jamming to the guitar band at my parish to notice; I even joined the tambourine section. Eventually, though, the newly comprehensible sermons began to sink in. I clearly remember one involving a newborn baby left in a Dumpster that somehow in the end advocated against laws allowing abortion. There was that time you beseeched us, Father, to write letters of protest to a Senator who supported stem-cell research. Not long ago, your homily excoriated divorce. You used as your rhetorical cornerstone the 1998 Lindsay Lohan vehicle The Parent Trap. As if that were not galling enough, you failed to note that, as previously divorced people, the characters played by Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson would be denied communion in the Catholic Church.

It almost goes without saying that as a young, progressive-minded American Catholic, I'm at odds with many of the church's rules and with much of its politics. You might thus infer that my generation instinctively rejects the age-old traditions of the church. That would be wrong. In a world unmoored by violence and uncertainty, there is something deeply soothing about participating in ancient rituals practiced by so many. Whatever our issues with the tenets of Catholicism the religion, we still cling to what unites us in Catholicism the faith: our devotion to the celebration of the Eucharist. I confess I adore the rich minutiae of the Mass: the frankincense, the Kyrie, the droning of creeds in a sacred space. It comforts me to know that my family around the globe takes part in the same weekly rites. The common purpose of shared ceremony helps me reflect on the Holy Spirit. With apologies, Father, homilies based on your Netflix queue do not.

Once I thought I had all the time in the world to mull over my quarrels with the church. The thing is, Father, I don't. My mother has fought cancer for years now, and it is spreading fast. This is not a good time for me to deny myself the support of spiritual community and inspiriting ritual. In my desire to return to church, I see the Latin Mass as an acceptable solution: With your back to the congregation and speaking in a dead language, you would find it difficult to tell me how to vote. Allow me to experience the joy of communion without the anguish of our modern-day differences. Bring back the Latin, and bring back an embattled believer.


Blogger Former Altar Boy said...

Dear Lisa,
I'm happy you're still a believer despite years of not fulfilling your Sunday obligation, but after 12 years of Sunday School, you should know to address a Catholic priest as Father with a capital "F" (rwgardless what the liberal TIME magazine style book says).

10:38 PM  
Blogger Alli said...

I loved this article.

I had a lady ask me on the bus what the Latin on the back of my t-shirt said. It was "Pastores Dabo Vobis." She said she was educated post-Vat2, and my heart broke a little, because... I'm 21 years old. I AM TOO.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Kasia said...

I didn't love this article. I appreciate it, to a degree, but it seems to me the girl is basically saying "Give me the Eucharist and the smells-and-bells, but don't make me think about pesky dogma." I think it's basically John Kerry in a pretty dress.

Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe I'm uncharitable. I just don't see myself turning cartwheels over her article. (Although she's right about the homilies based on the Netflix queue.)

12:29 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

I absolutely understand what you're saying. Granted, she's childish in many of her reasons for wanting The Latin Mass, but at least she wants it. And that is a very important first step.

Give her time... she's on the right path. Remember what my secondary title is: Even terribly confused Catholics want the Latin Mass. Yeah, I'd say she's terribly confused on more than one count.

And onced she's been exposed to a dose of orthodox Catholicism, she won't have any more problems with the priest "telling her how to vote". eventually by osmosis, she'll understand and embrace concepts like "killing babies is wrong", and "voting for those who promote killing babies is wrong".

God moves in mysterious ways!

12:45 PM  

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