Defending the Tridentine Mass

In the previous blog post, I wrote what was possibly the best form of defense for the Latin Mass, that is because I displayed what saints and other distinct Catholics said about it. Today I would like to offer my view of the Mass, just one day after being part of it. The first thing that struck me was the music, so enchanting and solemn. As I joined in and raised my voice in praise I couldn’t believe that I was singing in Latin, a language Pope Pius XII considered so important that he is recorded to have said: “The day the Church abandons her universal language (Latin) is the day before she returns to the catacombs.” As I reflect on such words I can’t help but remember the crisis that the Church is facing today which is every bit as tragic as those earlier times of Christianity. I was very surprised when I read that Agatha Christie, who was not Catholic, was so appalled at the disappearance of the traditional Mass and the effect that this would have on English culture that she signed a petition to Pope Paul VI to keep it alive in England. It read in part: “The rite in question in its magnificent Latin text, has also inspired a host of priceless achievements in the arts-not only mystical works, but works by poets, philosophers, musician (such as Mozart among others), architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus it belongs to universal culture as well as to churchman and formal Christians.” Why did Agatha Christie , who was no Catholic, write such a request? Because beauty matters to every one. It must be said that Pope Paul VI who was responsible to continue the Second Vatican Council after Pope John XXIII, was himself no enemy of Latin. On the contrary he said: “The Latin language is assuredly worthy of being defended with great care instead of being scorned; for the Latin Church it is most abundant source of Christian civilization and the richest treasury of piety….We must not hold in low esteem those traditions of your fathers, which were your glory for centuries.” How happy I am to be one of the few in Malta to appreciate such a glorious language and although I looked often at the English translation on the hand-held missal, I couldn’t help but reflect on the extraordinary moment I was living. As I write such words of praise about the Latin Mass, I couldn’t help but reflect on the persecution which so many traditionalists had to endure during the late 1960s, 70s and 80s when dioceses across the world, dumped the Tridentine Mass and Latin in order to introduce the Novos Ordo. Such a downfall in language brought about a downfall in music, whereby the faithful were forced to hear saccharine and theologically insipid while glorious hymns such as Salve Regina and Ubi Caritas were dumped. I finish this defense of the Tridentine Mass, which lifted my soul like no other mass in my life, by quoting Pope Benedict XVI who in his Summorum Pontificum wrote: “What was sacred for prior generations, remains sacred and great for us as well and cannot be suddenly prohibited altogether or even judged harmful.” Deus Vult!


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