EVERAL DAYS AGO, I received an email asking why today’s Missals no longer include Latin. You may recall that many directives following the Council required 100% of the Altar Missals to include the Latin, since the Council fathers wanted Latin to be retained in the Liturgy. For example, Inter Oecumenici (26 September 1964) decreed: “Missals to be used in the liturgy, however, shall contain besides the vernacular version the Latin text as well.”
Doing some research, I found several sources explaining matters. It seems a decree printed on 10 November 1969 in Notitiae reversed the 1964 mandate. Bugnini says this was due to “difficulties” and gives the example of printers in faraway countries [!!!] who don’t know how to print Latin characters. As Susan Benofy has noted, this was a favorite technique of the reformers. First, ask permission for a particular (rare) circumstance … then apply that permission everywhere, even in countries which have been Christian for centuries. However, I’m getting away from my subject.
In fact, it’s not impossible to include both Latin & English. One example would be the 1965 Missal, which we recently placed online (and can be freely downloaded by everyone). If this principle had been followed, there’s no way horrible atrocities like the following would have been tolerated:
* * Ash Wednesday (Old, discredited ICEL)
* * Holy Saturday Exsultet (Old, discredited ICEL)
WHENEVER BUGNINI CITES “DIFFICULTIES,” I inwardly cringe. Certain reformers use and abuse the notion of “difficulties.” After all, to completely change and remake a liturgy developed over a period of 1500+ years was not considered “too difficult” by the reformers. Yet, following a basic instruction about including the official Latin was considered “too difficult.” This is piccoluomini logic: it just doesn’t make sense! It leads to things like omitting the wedding garment from the Parable of the Wedding Garment in our current Lectionary.
Sadly, piccoluomini logic has been in style for a long time. One of the most scathing explanations ever was penned by Amy Welborn on 19 June 2007, entitled Note to John and Mary Catholic: You’re Stupid. Again. She asked a question that was never answered (because there can be no answer!):
This “John and Mary Catholic” who haunt Bishop Trautman’s conscience are a worrisome pair because of what they imply about a cleric’s view of the laity. As I have blogged and written before, clerics and those in the church bureaucracy need to get their stories straight. Are we “the most highly educated laity in the history of the church” capable of making our moral decisions all on our own, without substantive Church guidance … or are we idiots who can’t figure out what “dew” is? Make up your minds.
Let us consider another example. The reformers suppressed the beautiful, ecumenical, and traditional pre-Lenten time of preparation (Septuagesima, Sexagesima, & Quinquagesima) because they said, “The penitential character of the time of Septuagesima or pre-Lent is difficult for the faithful to understand without many explanations.” (You can learn more about these discussions by reading this remarkable book by Dr. Lauren Pristas.)
I’m no genius, yet I never had the slightest problem understanding the season of Septuagesima. The “difficulties” here seem to be related to the “difficulties” in printing Latin characters mentioned above … but none of that really matters, because the liturgical reformers operated by means of the following principle:
It’s much easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
Whoever thought of that phrase is a genius!