Council of Trent and Mass in the Vernacular.

Can anyone offer a good explanation of the following quote from the council of Trent?:

If anyone says that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned; or that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular tongue only;[28] or that water ought not to be mixed with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice because it is contrary to the institution of Christ,[29] let him be anathema.

This is just one of maaany pre Vatican 2 quotes from popes, saints, theologians, councils that are blatantly contradicted by the post-Vatican 2 church, and it’s honestly very frustrating. :shrug:

I’m not looking for a debate BTW. Just an explanation


Perhaps you could point out the contradictions. I see none in what you have wrote here.

OP, perhaps you may be mistaken. The Church certainly does not teach that Mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular only.

or that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular tongue only;

First, what is your source? Second, it appears that you are looking for reasons to doubt the validity of Vatican II. As it is with faith itself, if you look for reasons not to believe, you will find many. Just be certain of your source(s).

As Fr. Mitch Pacwa says, tongue in cheek, “Never mind the Latin mass let’s go back to the original Aramaic mass!”

The Magisterium of the Church is the guardian of the sacred deposit of the faith – the Magisterium is also the guardian of the sacraments

The Holy See has the power to regulate the sacraments save where it determines that power to do so has been circumscribed by the Church’s Divine Founder

The Church cannot, for example, alter the matter and form of baptism or of the Eucharist since these were prescribed by the Lord…although for the form of the sacrament of baptism, the West uses the active voice for the form while the East uses the passive voice for the form. The matter being, obviously, water. Both formula are faithful to the prescription of the Lord, who mandated the Trinitarian formula but did not prescribe if the voice be active or passive

The Church can, and has, altered the sacramental form for both the sacraments of Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick just as she established and regulates the form for the sacrament of Order in its three levels

That which you are referencing concerns formulations at a time when there was dispute as to what was within the Church’s power to regulate and what its prudential determinations should be…the Council Fathers made particularly forceful replies

These matters, however, concern the discipline of the sacraments, which of course the Church can make other disposition for subsequently.

The judgment of the Council Fathers at Vatican II – who are every bit as much Council Fathers as their predecessors at the previous ecumenical councils – made their own severe judgment about the absolute need for every aspect of the sacred liturgy to undergo urgent and thorough revision and renewal. As they mandated in Sacrosanctum Concilium:
*1. This sacred Council has several aims in view: it desires to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change; to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church. The Council therefore sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy.

  1. Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.

In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.

    1. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.
  1. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established.

  2. The liturgical books are to be revised as soon as possible; experts are to be employed on the task, and bishops are to be consulted, from various parts of the world.

  3. The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved.

For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance; elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded; other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or necessary. *
Indeed, at one point the Council Fathers of Vatican II reiterate the doctrinal legitimacy of what the Fathers of Trent wrote while determining that the discipline they imposed was no longer appropriate to the contemporary Church and was to be set aside.
*55. That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended.

The dogmatic principles which were laid down by the Council of Trent remaining intact, communion under both kinds may be granted when the bishops think fit, not only to clerics and religious, but also to the laity, in cases to be determined by the Apostolic See…*

Beyond that, as a theologian I’m afraid I don’t understand the source of your frustration. Decisions concerning the liturgy rest uniquely with the Apostolic See. The only response to those who are not the Pope is, ultimately, that of acquiescence. I’ve never found anything to become frustrated about since the matter rests with the Vicar of Christ. The issue begins and also ends there.

:popcorn: :popcorn:


There is no contradiction and I’ll be interested to see these “maaany pre Vatican 2 quotes from popes, saints, theologians, councils that are blatantly contradicted by the post-Vatican 2 church”

You seem to be ignoring one very important word in that section. The word “only” with regard to the language of the Mass. The church has not changed or contradicted anything because it has always maintained and allowed the Mass in both Latin and the vernacular, but the anathema applies to anyone demanding it should be the only way. That has no more validity than saying all of us must use the Latin Vulgate when long before the birth of Martin Luther the church had many vernacular translations of the scriptures that clergy used to teach from.

Moreover, unless a pope made a ex cathedra decree it’s not a universal rule. This is so it’s okay, but you allowed someone to misread or misinterpret it for you.

Saints can be wrong and do not speak with infallibility (except for certain things from certain sainted popes,) but just generally…it’s no problem.

Theologians are not infallible teachers.

What councils? Your whole rant is a rash generalization.

The only blatant thing I see is your misinterpretation.:shrug:

BTW AWESOME post Don Ruggerio!:thumbsup:

Does it say that a person who says that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular tongue only is to be anathematised? Is an anathema an ecclesiastical curse? If a person has been anathematised by the Catholic Church, does that send him to hell or what is the effect on his soul?

Anathema is a type of excommunication, not a curse. An excommunicated/anathematized soul is cut off from the sacraments, until they repent and get the excommunication lifted.

The inability to receive the sacraments does not automatically mean you are going to hell. If an excommunicated person repented on their deathbed but there was no time to get the excommunication lifted, they could be saved by their repentance plus their Desire to receive the sacraments.

If an excommunicated person does not repent before death (at least not from what we can see), we can still pray for their salvation, and hope that they were invincibly ignorant, or repented at the last moment unbeknownst to us. God is able to save anyone who repents of sin and tries to do right to the best of their ability.

When an ecumenical council attaches an anathema to a doctrinal statement (e.g. “If anyone says that Jesus is not God, let him be anathema”), that is the traditional formula used by ecumenical councils for defining a dogma. In such a case, the doctrinal statement is infallible.

Apart from that case, wrongful excommunications can occur. If someone thinks they’ve been wrongly excommunicated, they can have recourse to their bishop, and he can make their case known. If it is serious enough, the pope might conceivably issue a dogmatic statement settling the matter, or call an ecumenical council to do the same. Either authority can overturn an excommunication. If they make an infallible pronouncement that the excommunicated person is wrong, then he has no more recourse except to accept the infallible decision and recant, because an infallible decision cannot possibly be wrong.

If a person is wrongly excommunicated but is never exonerated, God won’t hold him responsible for his wrongful excommunication, but will rather hold his excommunicator responsible for a wrongful excommunication. Such a person can be saved in the same way that a Catholic on a desert island could be saved even without access to the sacraments. Through desire for the sacraments, repentance for any grave offenses committed while excommunicated, prayer, and good works.

I hope that helps. Please let me know.

Also, lest anyone think this is entirely theoretical, there have been saints who were faithful under excommunication. St. Mary of the Cross was excommunicated for disobedience to the Church in 1871. From what I can see, she was faithful to the Church during her excommunication, and found grace to grow in grace during this period. Her excommunication was lifted in 1872 and she was absolved of her sins. She went on to become a saint. I don’t know if her excommunication was wrongful or not, but either way there is evidence that she accepted her excommunication in obedience and showed fidelity to the Church during this time. If so, perhaps she will one day be the patron saint of excommunicated souls, reminding them that faithfulness is still possible and praiseworthy during such times.

Is there any difference between being excommunicated and being anathematized? Or are they exactly the same?

Popes…saints and others in the Church express what they believe. It is rarely infallible. And BTW…you may want to google Church anathemas have been dropped.

God bless. Enjoy the Eucharist and don’t worry about the language. :wink:

According to Fr. John Hardon, S.J.† they are basically equal. The difference being that all who are anathema are excommunicated, but not all who are excommunicated are anathematized. Anathema is used against those who knowingly cause scandal and persist in grievous error, whereas excommunication might be used against someone for serious disobedience.

It’s worth adding that the same formula is also used for authoritative canonical or disciplinary provisions - that is to say, where the intention is to require that a particular law be followed, the individual who may refuse to do so is being warned that the result will be the penalty of anathema.

And that is the case in relation to the text herein considered: that exclusive celebration of the mass in the vernacular is anathematised is not a dogmatic statement, because it does not rise to the level of dogma. In other words, the language to be used in the mass is not an issue of doctrine.

Perhaps this is part of the confusion expressed by the OP, and what we have here is the common misunderstanding of the difference between doctrine and discipline, and between Church teaching and Church law. The prescription of the language to be used in the mass was disciplinary, not doctrinal, and so can be changed or reformed; and such canonical provisions are, by their very nature, not infallible.

With that said, if an anathema is attached to an authoritative statement, whether the statement is disciplinary or doctrinal in nature, the penalty is the same in either case, as is the medicinal intent of the penalty.

In Christ,

IMO the best explanation is contained in Veterum Sapientia, written by Pope John XXIII as an Apostolic Constitution shortly before he convened Vatican II.

… The nature of Latin

Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every form of culture among peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies. It does not favor any one nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all and is equally acceptable to all.

Nor must we overlook the characteristic nobility of Latin for mal structure. Its "concise, varied and harmonious style, full of majesty and dignity"4 makes for singular clarity and impressiveness of expression.

Preservation of Latin by the Holy See

For these reasons the Apostolic See has always been at pains to preserve Latin, deeming it worthy of being used in the exercise of her teaching authority "as the splendid vesture of her heavenly doctrine and sacred laws."5 She further requires her sacred ministers to use it, for by so doing they are the better able, wherever they may be, to acquaint themselves with the mind of the Holy See on any matter, and communicate the more easily with Rome and with one another.

Thus the “knowledge and use of this language,” so intimately bound up with the Church’s life, "is important not so much on cultural or literary grounds, as for religious reasons."6 These are the words of Our Predecessor Pius XI, who conducted a scientific inquiry into this whole subject, and indicated three qualities of the Latin language which harmonize to a remarkable degree with the Church’s nature. "For the Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to endure to the end of time … of its very nature requires a language which is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular."7


Since "every Church must assemble round the Roman Church,"8 and since the Supreme Pontiffs have "true episcopal power, ordinary and immediate, over each and every Church and each and every Pastor, as well as over the faithful"9 of every rite and language, it seems particularly desirable that the instrument of mutual communication be uniform and universal, especially between the Apostolic See and the Churches which use the same Latin rite.

When, therefore, the Roman Pontiffs wish to instruct the Catholic world, or when the Congregations of the Roman Curia handle matters or draw up decrees which concern the whole body of the faithful, they invariably make use of Latin, for this is a maternal voice acceptable to countless nations.


Furthermore, the Church’s language must be not only universal but also immutable. Modern languages are liable to change, and no single one of them is superior to the others in authority. Thus if the truths of the Catholic Church were entrusted to an unspecified number of them, the meaning of these truths, varied as they are, would not be manifested to everyone with sufficient clarity and precision. There would, moreover, be no language which could serve as a common and constant norm by which to gauge the exact meaning of other renderings.

But Latin is indeed such a language. It is set and unchanging. it has long since ceased to be affected by those alterations in the meaning of words which are the normal result of daily, popular use. Certain Latin words, it is true, acquired new meanings as Christian teaching developed and needed to be explained and defended, but these new meanings have long since become accepted and firmly established.


Finally, the Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular.

In addition, the Latin language "can be called truly catholic."10 It has been consecrated through constant use by the Apostolic See, the mother and teacher of all Churches, and must be esteemed "a treasure … of incomparable worth."11. It is a general passport to the proper understanding of the Christian writers of antiquity and the documents of the Church’s teaching.12 It is also a most effective bond, binding the Church of today with that of the past and of the future in wonderful continuity.

Educational value of Latin

There can be no doubt as to the formative and educational value either of the language of the Romans or of great literature generally. It is a most effective training for the pliant minds of youth. It exercises, matures and perfects the principal faculties of mind and spirit. It sharpens the wits and gives keenness of judgment. It helps the young mind to grasp things accurately and develop a true sense of values. It is also a means for teaching highly intelligent thought and speech.


There is no contradiction

There is an apparent contradiction in the Vatican II documents.

  1. §1. Linguae latinae usus, salvo particulari iure, in Ritibus latinis servetur. (jussive subjunctive, a command)

§2. Cum tamen, sive in Missa, sive in Sacramentorum administratione, sive in aliis Liturgiae partibus, haud raro linguae vernaculae usurpatio valde utilis apud populum exsistere possit, amplior locus ipsi tribui valeat, imprimis autem in lectionibus et admonitionibus, in nonnullis orationibus et cantibus, iuxta normas quae de hac re in sequentibus capitibus singillatim statuuntur.

btw haud raro, literally “not rarely,” has been biasly translated IMO as “frequently.”

I still don’t see a contradiction. The one says that Latin is to be used, the other say that the vernacular is to be used too, especially in certain parts of the Mass.

It’s the good old both/and again. I wish it was more commonly practiced.

btw haud raro, literally “not rarely,” has been biasly translated IMO as “frequently.”

I don’t think there’s any bias there. “haud raro” is idiomatic for “frequently.”


Sorry, I meant to connect the document to the previous post where I quoted a portion of Veterum Sapientia.

I believe the anathema has been lifted since but the underlying doctrine remains AFAIK:

Doctrines on The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

The Twenty-Second Session
Being the Sixth Under the Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IV,
Celebrated on the Seventeenth Day of September, MDLXII.


The Sacred and Holy, Ecumenical and General Synod of Trent - lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same Legates of the Apostolic Sec presiding therein–to the end that the Ancient, Complete, and in every part Perfect Faith and Doctrine touching the Great Mystery of the Eucharist may be retained in the Holy Catholic Church; and may, all errors and heresies being repelled, be preserved in its own purity; (the Synod) instructed by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, Teaches, Declares; and Decrees what follows, to be preached to the Faithful, on the subject of the Eucharist, considered as being a True and Singular Sacrifice.


On not Celebrating the Mass Everywhere in the Vulgar Tongue;
The Mysteries of the Mass to be Explained to the People.

Although the Mass contains great instruction for the Faithful people, nevertheless, it has not seemed expedient to the Fathers, that it should be every where celebrated in the vulgar tongue. Wherefore, the ancient usage of each church, and the rite approved of by the holy Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all churches, being in each place retained; and, that the sheep of Christ may not suffer hunger, nor the little ones ask for bread, and there be none to break it unto them, the holy Synod charges pastors, and all who have the cure of souls, that they frequently, during the celebration of mass, expound either by themselves, or others, some portion of those things which are read at mass, and that, amongst the rest, they explain some mystery of this most Holy Sacrifice, especially on the Lord’s days and festivals.

I am looking for the contradiction and so far I can’t find one. I think you are saying that a contradiction arises involving this phrase from Sacrosanctum Concilium:

Vatican 2 - “the [native language], whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, [not rarely] may be of great advantage to the people.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 36)

Is that the problematic one? Or is there more? The closest things to tension that I can find in Veterum Sapientia are in these phrases:

St. John 23 - “[Bishops] shall be on their guard lest anyone under their jurisdiction, eager for revolutionary changes, writes against the use of Latin in the teaching of the higher sacred studies or in the Liturgy.” (Veterum Sapientia)

Also: “the language [the Church] uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular.” (Veterum Sapientia)

Also: “The employment of Latin has recently been contested in many quarters… We have therefore decided…to ensure that the ancient and uninterrupted use of Latin be maintained.” (Veterum Sapientia)

Do you think there is a tension between one of these phrases and the selections you gave from Sacrosanctum Concilium?

The one that most Seems like a tension is in the second quotation. To some, St. John 23 appears to say that the Church should not use the vernacular, whereas Vatican 2 appears to say the vernacular is of great advantage in the liturgy and should be spread.

However, I think that is not a contradiction. First, St. John 23 did not say that the liturgy can never be done in native languages. Earlier in the document he mentions other languages: “[The Church] has likewise welcomed the use of other venerable languages, which flourished in the East…[and] have remained in force in certain regions even to the present day.” (Veterum Sapientia) Regarding these languages, the pope praises “their use in sacred liturgies and in versions of Holy Scripture.” (Veterum Sapientia)

Therefore it seems impossible to interpret Veterum Sapientia as a slam on vernacular languages or their use in the liturgy. When he says the Church’s language should not be vernacular, he does not mean the liturgy can never be in native languages, but something else. (I think it probably has something to do with the official language of the Holy See, based on other parts of Veterum Sapientia.)

Does that ring true for you, ProVobis?

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