16 August 2021

Muggers at large

 "Some younger priests, who had never experienced that liturgy, knew no Latin, nor had anyone to teach them the rubrics, ran and grabbed a biretta and maniple and presented themselves as ready to celebrate the Eucharist with a liturgy they knew little about. They liked the garments, the smells and bells, the mystery they felt surrounded that form of worship. It made them feel strong and powerful and ... well ... elite.

"In order to allow them to celebrate the Mass, the bishop had only one requirement. They had to be able to know what they were saying. Every one of them failed that simple test. He didn't even require them to translate the liturgy; he simply asked them to summarize the content. They could not."

I saw this piece in the Internet ... might have been in the Catholic Herald ... the writer is a Mgr Eric Barr, of Rockford, Illinois, ordained circa 1984, pastor, principal, teacher, university professor, Vicar for Clergy, Vicar General,  ... who speaks on "Celtic Theology" and "Current Catholic Issues".

Firstly: something that strikes me powerfully; but it is not my main point, so I'll get it out of the way first: Monsignore: I find your piece unpleasant and Ageist. We old dodderers don't like being mocked for our age; I don't see why the young should be mocked and treated with condescension for their age, either. "No good, Granddad, you sitting there waggling your angry zimmer-frame at us!" No ... not very good manners, is it ... and, surprisingly, the "Younger" also resent being type-cast and then ridiculed. Even if every sneer and insult you hurl at them is literally true (they "ran" ... they "grabbed" ...), they won't love you any the better for it.

But what most irritated me when I first read your words was ... Why is it, Monsignore, that you never explore the question of why these "younger" priests knew no Latin ("no Latin" is your phrase). S John XXIII issued Veterum Sapientia in 1962; since then, S Paul VI, S John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI, and Canon 249 of the current Code, have each powerfully re-emphasised the importance of Latin in priestly formation. So you can hardly argue that Law had lost its binding force through 'desuetude' on the grounds that the Legislator (down to 2013) ceased to propose it. So the Seminaries these young men (at least three of them ... you write "Every one of them", not "both of them", so it must be at least three) attended did not teach Latin, or failed utterly to do a competent job of it, and, thus, were negligently conducted and supervised.

I repeat: you say that they "knew no Latin". You say that "every one of them" knew no Latin.

SO ...

... what steps did you, or your Bishop, or your Metropolitan, or the Congregation for Clergy, or the Bishops' Conference, or the Nunciature, or the boards that supervised the seminaries, or your university contacts, take ... over more than five decades ... to remedy this blatant and unconcealed illegality? 

You make me think of a mugger who robs someone in the street and then stands over them shouting abuse: "Lying there in the gutter without any money in your wallet! You ought to be thoroughly ashamed of yourself!"

In the last decade, I've taught Latin to quite a few seminarians who knew they needed it and were not being given it, or enough of it. I have done Summer Schools in which I have taught older priests who say that they were not taught it at seminary and resent this as a species of robbery. (A couple of them once said "Father; that was like a Retreat combined with a Latin Course" ... which rather moved me.) Some older priests have gruesome anecdotes about what happened to fellow seminarians known to be taking a secret interest in Latin texts.

As for these terrible "younger priests" who had nobody to teach them the rubrics ... exactly whose fault is that? In fact, at least in Britain, there are well-subscribed courses put on for such people. 

And ... if you knew "younger" people just a little bit better, you would not need me to reveal to you that quite a lot of them possess computers.


Tim O. said...

If one uses Liturgiam Authenticam and the CDF clarifying note (which I am tried to relocate) that the meaning of any Novus Ordo Mass is the meaning of the Latin Text, I accept Mgr. Barr's standard and apply it relentlessly. Any priest who cannot say the Novus Ordo with the Latin understanding of what he is offering should not be saying Mass in the Latin Rite.

JOSEPH said...

Thank you Fr. Just goes to show there is no such a thing as a 51 year old vernacular liturgy that can be called a tradition.1970 is no different than 1570 and no different than 1517.Grant,a blessing lord.Hope you are well. your friend,coup'eeo' disolvei.If nothing else please correct the latin.

Arthur H. said...

Dear Father,

Thank you for this, hoisting him on his own petard! What a powerful image of the mugger!

You are our champion, Father. I'm praying for your intentions.

Tony V said...

What pronunciation do you use in your lessons? I recall Mr Chips complaining they'd started pronouncing vicissim as 'We kiss 'em'.

Greyman 82 said...

I've just quickly read Mgr Barr's piece here: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/ericbarr/2021/07/et-cum-spiritu-nono-the-demise-of-the-traditional-latin-mass-experiment/

What a small-minded and nasty attitude he shows to those who love the TLM. He fails to address the obvious question that, if the N.O. is so flipping marvellous and unifying, why have Catholic Mass attendance and priestly vocations plummeted in most places since it was introduced? Many of the places where Catholicism is growing are those devoted to the TLM and the Traditions of the Church. Mgr Barr is technically wrong when he states that the N.O. is "the Mass in the vernacular established by Pope Paul VI". The N.O. was composed and published in Latin and is still sometimes celebrated in Latin today. Most Catholics experience one of the many vernacular translations of the N.O., but the vernacular language is not of the essence of it.

Banshee said...

Thank you.

And frankly, I bet a lot of those younger priests did know Latin. They just weren't prepared to give oral answers to advanced questions, and so they got stuck. Most American people my age and younger have not really received much oral or conversational training in even modern languages, or are even asked to give ex tempore oral presentations. Giving an answer orally that's a sentence long, on the spur of the moment, is asking a lot.

(Of course people give speeches, or even do debate team. But that's with a lot of preparation and notes, even if the notes are not visible and in hand.)

There are some people who just love to "attack" other people under the guise of reasonable questioning. They are particularly good at keeping shy, serious people from showing their knowledge.

Unknown said...

From one oldie to another, "Well spoken, Sir."
Msgr Harry Entwistle

coradcorloquitur said...

"Muggers at large" is absolute perfection when describing these malevolent enemies of holy tradition. We can easily notice how they latch on to anything---youth, ignorance, inflated egos, decadent taste, etc.---to smear and convict without evidence or even a "crime" or fault. Classic leftist tactic from the very hypocrites who often preach to the rest of us against bigoted generalizations and painting others with too broad a stroke, who ceaselessly prattle about love, compassion, and "accompaniment." If we, sinners but also lovers of the Truth and tradition, listen to the well-meaning but less than courageous Christian pacifists who at times make their appearance even in solid blogs like this one---those who counsel only prayer---we can be sure the demise of a visible Christian presence in the world and of the Great Commission itself cannot be far. I wonder what these gentle souls would have dared counsel Our Blessed Lord had they been around when He physically cast the money-changers from the temple or unmasked the Pharisees with names they richly deserved.

Venite Prandete said...

I had read the same article (yes it was the Catholic Herald) and it confirmed to me how second-rate it had become as a publication- quite a shame as it used to be interesting, to the point and informative. Now it is just bland, with self- referential articles such as this one. Thank you for your defence of these priests who are drawn by a desire to worship with reverence and beauty and who are sneered at by these, as you say, ageist baby-boomers who think that the 70’s are modern. The other thing that struck me about the article was that the attraction of the TLM to the young and the fact that the TLM was drawing vocations was dismissed. This is in an environment where we are constantly exhorted to the ‘new evangelisation ‘ - yes, exhorted since the 1970’s, so it is obvious that it is a fail. And yet these priests (& this pope) seem to resent the fact that people are attracted to the Faith through the Mass that it is the liturgy of the Church and has been for her history. What does this tell us? First, that people are drawn to and recognise the truth. Secondly, that the enemies of the TLM are not inclusive tolerant or loving of the Church. Rather, they have vandalised a beautiful Faith and are inclusive only of those who fit within their view of the world.

Unknown said...

An excellent piece, Father, and thank you for it. I could not have said it nearly as well as you.

Mark D.

FrB. said...