Mass in Latin is a trip back in time – San Bernardino Sun

Gregory Elder is professor emeritus of history and humanities at Moreno Valley College and a Roman Catholic priest. (Photo courtesy)

I was sitting on a bench, dressed in enough medieval clerical robes, listening to a Mass delivered by a priest I knew. This I have done countless times as an Anglican and later as a Catholic priest. But this time was different, because it was done in the Latin language and according to the older church rites. It is truly a trip back in time.

Mass begins with what is known as the prologue, or a series of prayers said by the priest at the foot of the altar and answered by a small number of male altar servers. Followed by Bible readings, thoughtfully translated for us by the priest. Not long after this, the altar was prepared, which took a period of time with various prayer rites, followed by the actual rite of Mass.

When it was time to receive Communion, the faithful came forward, knelt, and the celebrant was placed on their tongues. This was the part where I was really involved because according to the old rite, only ordained clergy could distribute the Eucharist. One line that I must recount is “Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen. ” Or “May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul to eternal life. Amen. ” Followed by prayers, chants, and final readings from the opening lines of the Gospel of John. I admit that what I have described here is a highly simplified summary.

The texts used in this Mass were modified by Pope Gregory the Great, who reigned as pope from AD 590 to AD 604. Saint Gregory the Great is better known for sending missionaries to England to convert barbarian English. He was also known for his dealings with the violent and brawling Lombards and Visigoths, who had stormed the borders of the Roman Empire a generation earlier. The son of a Roman senator, Gregory lives in a world where civilization seems to be disintegrating at the seams. He was also a gifted writer, writing about the lives of saints, composing sermons and even writing a notebook for the clergy, whose level of education during this period was very low.

Gregory is also known for the famous Gregorian hymns named after him. Gregory did not personally write them, and singing of the Psalms has been known since biblical times. But he found schools where liturgy and its music were taught to young monks, and so, just as King David is credited for the Psalms, Gregory’s name is associated with the hymn. shift.

But his influence was further enhanced by his modification of Catholic rites. Gregory shortened the length of the Mass, and revised the rules of the Mass from older manuscripts. The result is what is known as the Roman law. The term “canon law” in this context means the Eucharistic prayer said by the priest alone. Since the 1960s, other rules have been added to the rite, but Pope Gregory’s text on the consecration prayer has been in use since he was pope, although now translated into vernacular. His Mass, in Latin, is the Mass that Christopher Columbus’ missionaries used on the shores of the Americas, the refuge of England in Elizabethan times, and on the frozen battlefields of the wars. world. It was brought to China, Africa, Latin America, India, Japan, and distant Maryland.

Pope Francis is not a friend of the old Mass and has recently restricted its use. At this point it can be said to be used only in places where it is already used regularly, but no new Latin language churches are allowed to use it. In my diocese which includes San Bernardino and Riverside counties, there are only two Catholic Churches that can legally be used, in Guasti and in Palm Desert. The congregation that attended the Mass described here was large with several young families, teenagers and young adults. There are a few gray heads but it’s fair to say that most worshipers today are too young to remember before the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65 when Pope Gregory’s older Latin Mass was the only one celebrated. use.

Your author personally does not currently use the old Latin Mass, although he is authorized to do so. Although language service is dead, the congregation has bilingual books to follow. My experience with Latin was when studying the imperial world of Caesars, and where we could read stories of violent military conquests, philosophy, and the occasional perverted poet. But the sound of Gregorian hymns is beautiful and leads one into prayer. Mass in Latin is a trip back in time – San Bernardino Sun

Tom Vazquez

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