Novus Quodlibet


Anthony Esolen ponders some elements of the liturgy, including “acts of aggressive etiquette, parading as bonhomie .”

“I have attended the Novus Ordo Mass all my life. I do not believe it was necessarily a mistake to have the Mass translated into the vernacular, so that people could more readily understand the words and the action. Yet I have great sympathy for people who flock to, or flee to, the traditional rite, and have wondered why, if language alone were the point, that old rite had not simply been translated and otherwise left as it was.”

continued here:


I don’t know I wonder that myself because the Divine Liturgy of the East is in the vernacular.


Because the Council of Trent forbids the use of vernacular alone and Vatican II wanted to keep Latin in the liturgy. I think a majority of the mass being Latin with vernacular sprinkled in would be okay though.

But I agree with his sentiments.


One of the greatest gifts of V11 was to beat a path to the Laity praying Liturgy of the Hours in one’s own language


When you read the “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy”, particularly articles 21-36 & 54, it is clear that the primary intent was NOT to change the Mass to the vernacular but to simplify it and remove things that had crept in over the centuries.

Indeed Latin was to be retained as the language of the liturgy, but the vernacular could be used for readings and certain prayers. I’m not sure that they envisioned that 45 years later we’d rarely if ever hear any Greek or Latin at Mass. That is far from what Paul VI had in mind when he sent “Jubilate Deo” to every one of his bishops.


Anthony gets a lot of mileage by being offended by stuff and writing about it.

In fact, that’s true of most of the folks at Crises


Liturgical reform, in itself, is natural, good, and brings about needed change when necessary. That certainly explains why a simple translation was not sufficient for the Council Fathers, in addition to the prohibition on vernacular alone decreed by the Council of Trent. However, I must ask: why not revise the existing Missal of 1962? Why write up a completely new rite? The idea of writing up a new rite gives the impression that the Mass is an invention created by man, rather than a gift from God, and that is problematic in my opinion.

As for removing things which had developed over the centuries, there is nothing wrong, in principle, with the wish to renew the spirit of the liturgy and help the Church become more true to her roots. However, the principle of organic development limits this kind of “reversal”, so to speak. As Pope Pius XII taught in Mediator Dei, 62:

“Assuredly it is a wise and most laudable thing to return in spirit and affection to the sources of the sacred liturgy. For research in this field of study, by tracing it back to its origins, contributes valuable assistance towards a more thorough and careful investigation of the significance of feast-days, and of the meaning of the texts and sacred ceremonies employed on their occasion. But it is neither wise nor laudable to reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device. Thus, to cite some instances, one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive tableform; were he to want black excluded as a color for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in Churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer’s body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings; and lastly were he to disdain and reject polyphonic music or singing in parts, even where it conforms to regulations issued by the Holy See”.

While I appreciate the principle of liturgical reform in general, the product of the reform following Vatican II doesn’t sit well with me because of the criticisms I have brought up above. Does the Missal of 1962 need to be reformed? Perhaps, but I will leave that decision to the Church’s authority.


Yeah (suspicious-sounding voice). I wonder why they didn’t just change the language to the vernacular.


How sad, to be suspicious of Holy Mother Church. :frowning:


I don’t know if suspicious is the right word. I guess curious might be a better word.


The new whatever

I am not suggesting that laymen should become liturgists. Was that not one of the plagues of Egypt?


Excellent article.


I attend an OF Mass every week that is in Gregorian chant, Latin/Greek ordinary and propers, and the rest in French plainchant. It is very beautiful and much what the Council Fathers anticipated.

It is participatory, and the EP is of course chanted aloud. It has had many now irrelevant accretions removed. Our abbot gave us a good talk once on why this was done. Not just for the benefit of the laity but also for the clergy. The clergy had to concentrate so hard on the minutiae of the rubrics to avoid mistakes (such as counting the number of swings when incensing the altar) that the Mass lost its prayerful character and mystery for them as well.

And make no mistake, before the council, when was is now the EF was the only form in the Roman church, there were plenty of irreverent, poorly executed Masses as well. Clergy were no more or no less saintly before than after the Council. Some did a good job, some did a lackadaisical job. The EF today is now almost always said by and attended by, enthusiasts of that form.


Just throwing this out there: What were the very early Masses like? I mean, the very, very, early, nearly ancient Masses? The old Traditional Masses were once new. Surely they added, subtracted, and changed from what had been done in that Second Floor Room at that particular Passover.


Yes. Liturgy has evolved. Read the Didache to see the differences.

As long as our hearts do not change in the purity of worship, i’m not so sure why the decades old argument persists.


I am blessed to be able to go to Mass at the Fathers of Mercy where the Mass in the vernacular is said right and the hymns are not trite and My Little Ponyish.
I don’t have to greet people, I don’t have to watch the choir and the readers are all excellent. They place the emphasis on the word not on themselves.


I think that Prof. Esolen would be much happier attending an OF Mass at my own parish. The only complaint he might have is that the hymn selection is rather sparse. I recall when singing in the elementary school children’s choir many decades ago, we had a much better selection of hymns, both Latin and English. And sometimes in my parish there are just too many people puttering around on the altar, but mainly it is just the priest and altar servers. We’re doing better.


I remember thinking that many Protestants would be converting once the mass was translated into the vernacular.


Half this entire forum seems to be on CAF mostly to be offended by stuff and complain. Must be part of the human condition. Gets pretty tiresome.


They wouldn’t have been “Masses” yet, then–“Mass” derives from the latin word of dismissal, which would not have been used until the liturgy changed (in Rome) to the vernacular in about the fourth century.

Look up Constitutions of the Holy Apostles for early liturgical guidance. I believe the current view is that the prior view of these being a later forgery was wrong, and that they are authentic.



How dare you!



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