Friday, February 26, 2010

Latin, pt. 2

Dr.Nuke posted earlier, regarding Mass in Latin:
may help promoting the unity among those that do not share a common language during service/prayer.

I was in Vienna for Easter in 1975 (I was 9). I didn't want to go to Mass, and tried to argue with my parents that there was no need to go, since none of us spoke German & we wouldn't be able to follow anything. This is the point in my life where I discovered Latin.

My parents: when we were children, Mass was always in Latin.

Me: that's stupid

... fast forward to 2010 ...

Some one: I want Mass to always be in Latin

Me: that's stupid

We went to Mass that Easter Sunday. Mom told me later it was some Hungarian?/not-German/not-English congregation. Definitely not speaking the vernacular, Mom & Dad decided to see how much Latin they remembered.

So ... I got to listen to Mass in Hungarian, and my parents in Latin. I assure you, there wasn't any unification goin' on with me.

Conversely ...

The first time I was in Germany with Mr.Gopher, we went to Mass with his parents. Who do speak German :-) I thought "well, I speak German, sort-of" (having, courtesy of Dr.Nuke & Mr.Gohper, learned how "sort-of" it was)... I thought steadfastly, "I can do this". ha ha. I very quickly realized I couldn't: I just recited it all in English. My father-in-law thought it was cool that I did.

I agree with Dr.Nuke's point #3; which is likely the intent behind the person I quoted. It would be nice to be able to follow some of the service if visiting a foreign land (like Lake Street in Midtown). I don't know if this is the way to do it. After all, the reason I could follow the Mass in Germany is that it is the same. Even today, at the sign of peace, we both say to each other "Der Friede sei mit dir". Not that I think peace is any more effective in German ... it's just that it is German; an offering from me to him.

At our wedding in Gladbeck, the Mass was (obviously) in German. However, being cognizant of the mixed audience, we had the Gospel read in both German and English, that being the most important of the readings to understand. We also had the Lamb of God in - yes - Latin. Sung by a Frenchwoman. Why? I am particularly fond of the arrangement; we used it at St. John's.

Almost everyone at the wedding was Catholic. It was unifying, as an aspect of our Catholic cultural history. Basically, the reason many people argue we should keep doing it on occasion. And, the reason I don't object to doing it on occasion. I see it as similar to taking the kids to the Minneapolis Art Institute to look at Greco-Roman art. It's important to understand how we as Catholics got to where we are, in order to figure out which direction we should be demanding the Church take from here. (Yo, Your Holiness: call me; let's discuss bureaucracy & theology. The staff over at St. Albert's can give you my number.)

Anyway - the Agnus Dei in Latin at my wedding: Ultimately, it was a mass offered by us to our families and friends in celebration of our marriage; it wasn't next Sunday's liturgy. And there were quite a few people singing with it; Violaine sung it a capella while standing in the middle of the congregation - she couldn't get up to the front. It was particularly appealing, truly driving home the point that we all get together and we worship together - it's an audience participation event. (and something we can do without the priest)


Anonymous said...

wow, you were in Vienna at Easter in 1975? So was I! Do you remember the name of the church where you heard Mass? Or where it was? How big? It would have been truly unusual for the service to be in Hungarian unless the church was 1)small and 2)located in an outer district where there were a lot of Hungarians, like in the 10th District (the only one that comes to mind)which was totally working class. In the inner city, the services were in German and Latin.

My Easter in Vienna in 1975 was spent primarily at the home of friends of my landlady -- they wanted to meet her American student -- eating a sumptious Jause and drinking wine. My landlady listened to Mass on the radio (from St. Stefan's every Sunday morning) and I was out for a walk, I think. I remember it being somewhat cool but sunny....

Gopher MPH said...

How bizarre!

I'll ask my parent(s) where we were. I don't recall much, beyond it being an 'old' church. My experience of churches up to that time being "less than 50 years old"; and in '75, living in the Azores on a military base ... I don't recall, but I'm sure that the church was likely shared between the different Christian denominations, and wasn't just Catholic.