Friday, July 20, 2007

Latin Mass

The Pope has liberalised the rules under which the Latin Mass can be used. Like most Catholics, I welcome this move, although I am not expecting to see a Tridentine Mass being celebrated anywhere near me. This is a pity. When I was at Oxford, my usual Sunday service was at St Aloysius on the Woodstock Road next door to Somerville College. As this was an oratory church, it was not under the control of the local bishop and could celebrate mass in Latin as it wished. Indeed, this was what it did at the main Sunday service complete with a first rate choir and several kilos of incense. I wasn’t even a Catholic at the time but loved the show and the fact that the pews were stuffed full every week.

Needless to say, the media are portraying the Pope’s liberalising measure as a victory for conservatives. Even more oddly, the Anti-Defamation League has been trying to make a fuss over a prayer for the conversion of the Jews. This is strange for two reasons. Firstly, the Mass contains no prayer for the conversion of the Jews. The prayer in question is part of the liturgy for Good Friday (when there is no mass celebrated) and the new ruling has not the slightest effect on this. So the controversy appears to be the usual combination of journalistic laziness and mischief-making by a pressure group. The second reason the fuss is strange is that I cannot for the life of me see how anyone could object to being prayed for.

If Muslims prayed regularly for the conversion of Christians (maybe they do, I don’t know) it would not cause me even the slightest raised eyebrow of concern. I would be utterly indifferent or perhaps slightly flattered. Likewise, I have no idea why the ADF or any other Jewish person would object to a prayer asking for their conversion. From Christopher Howse in the Telegraph, here’s a translation of the prayer in question:

Let us pray also for the unbelieving Jews: that our God and Lord will remove the
veil from their hearts, so that they too may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ.

I might just be an insensitive bastard, but I cannot see why anyone would get their hair mussed up over this, especially as it is spoken in a language no one understands anyway.

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