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A brief excerpt on opposition to Latin in the Liturgy September 26, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Basics, disaster, error, foolishness, General Catholic, Latin Mass, Liturgy, Papa, sadness, scandals, secularism, shocking.

Opposition to the use of Latin as the primary language of the Roman Rite has been around for a very long, long time.  As Fr. Nicholas Gihr notes in his seminal The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Dogmatically, Liturgically, and Ascetically Explained, opposition to Latin has almost invariably been associated with heresy or other philosophies hostile to the Church:

“The very ancient practice of the Church of celebrating Mass in the West, not in the living language of the country, but in a dead language, that is, in Latin, for the most part a language unintelligible to the people, has since the twelfth century [Wow! That goes back a ways. But it is true.]  to the present epoch been frequently made the subject of attack. Such attacks originated principally in an heretical, schismatical, proudly national spirit hostile to the Church, or in a superficial and false enlightenment, in a shallow and aird rationalism entirely destitute of the perception and understanding of the essence and object of the Catholic Liturgy, especially of the profoundly mystical Sacrifice. In an attempt to suppress the Latin language of the Liturgy and to replace it by the vernacular, there was a more or less premeditated scheme to undermine Catholic unity, to loosen the bond of union with Rome, to weaken the Catholic spirit, to destroy the humility and simplicity of faith. Therefore, the Apostolic See at all times most persistently and inflexibly resisted such innovations; for it is an invariable principle of the Church never to alter the ancient liturgical language, but inviolably to adhere to it, even though it be no longer the living language spoken or understood by the people.”

A note further clarifies:

Opponents of the Latin language of worship were, as a rule, heretics, schismatics, and rationalistic Catholics; for example, the Albigensians, the so-called reformers, the Jansenists, the Gallicans, the Josephites, etc.”

Fr. Gihr wrote the first edition of his magnum opus in the 1870s.  He updated it in the 1890s.  He did not, then, live to see the resurgence of attacks on Latin which began in the 1920s and accelerated rapidly as the “liturgical movement” gathered steam as the previous century wore on. Perhaps mercifully, he did not live to witness the Apostolic See itself, in the form of Pope Paul VI, deliberately undermine the use of Latin in the Roman Rite and call for its near total substitution by the vernacular – indeed, Paul VI set a very firm example by offering the very first vernacular Mass in St. Peter’s in 1965. At that Mass, attended by many of the council fathers, Pope Paul VI called for liberality with the use of the vernacular, a liberatlity which seemed to exceed the guidance laid down in the already approved Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium.  That is why it is very difficult for those with an affinity for Latin to point back to the Council and cry foul at the lack of Latin in the vast preponderance of Masses offered today.  The very Pope charged with implementing that Council set an early precedent of heavy use of the vernacular in the Mass.

So, more and more I come to agree with Fr. Anthony Cekada, sede vacantist though he may be, regarding the famous phrase regarding the relative use of Latin and vernacular in Sacrosanctum Concilum (SC) 19.  As Fr. Cekada argued, and many prelates have since confirmed, if not directly, SC and most of the other conciliar documents were deliberately written in a very vague, indecisive manner, which would permit endless argument as to just what the documents were saying. This vagueness is a veritable definition of how modernism works in practice: novelty or even error is mixed with just enough orthodoxy to seem plausible. But that novelty tends to crush the orthodoxy and completely predominate, at least in the practical experience of the past 50 years.

I find this statement by Fr. Gihr, one of the great experts in the Church’s history on matters liturgical, very similar to the warnings of the anti-liturgical heresy that Dom Prosper Gueranger penned in the 1850s. Both great liturgists found through their studies that profound dislike for Latin, and a desire to rid the Church of its liturgical language, went hand in hand with much wider heresies. It is a tragedy of unspeakable proportions their warnings were not heeded in the latter half of the 20th century, or today.



1. Woody - September 26, 2013

Speaking of experiments, I do believe it is time to end the experiment of vernacular masses and go back to Latin. Let’s face it, it didn’t work.

2. Don - September 27, 2013

Remember the Protestant advisers or ‘observers’ at Vatican II. Don’t think there were any at Trent.


“We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, that is for the Protestants.”

(Archbishop Bugnini before the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae, quoted in “Osservatore Romano”, March 19, 1965)

“The liturgical reform is a major conquest of the Catholic Church and has its ecumenical dimensions since the other churches and Christian denominations see in it not only something to be admired, but equally a sign of further progress to come.”

(Archbishop Bugnini after the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae, quoted in “Notitiae”, No. 92, April 1974, p. 126)

“To tell the truth, it is a different liturgy of the Mass. This needs to be said without ambiguity. The Roman Rite as we knew it no longer exists. It has been destroyed.”

(Father Joseph Gelineau, Demain la Liturgie, Paris, 1976, p. 9-10)

“They (the Protestant ministers) were not simply there as observers, but as consultants as well, and they participate fully in the discussions on Catholic liturgical renewal. It wouldn’t mean much if they just listened, but they contributed.”

(Monsignor Baum, quoted in “The Detroit News”, June 27, 1967)

“Today’s liturgical study has brought our respective liturgies to a remarkable similarity, so that there is very little difference in the sacrificial phrasing of the prayer of oblation in the Series Three and that of Eucharistic Prayer II in the Missa Normativa (Novus Ordo Missae).”

(Dr. Ronald Jasper, Anglican Observer on the Consilium, quoted in the London “Catholic Herald”, December 22, 1972)


3. Don - September 27, 2013
4. RC - September 27, 2013

Don, I had a question for you about a previous post you made linking to our lady of the roses (I think).

I have read and listened to Fr. Martin’s interviews and I have been puzzled by them, it would be awesome if you could shed some light.

If what Fr. Martin says is true, would that mean that the “Gates of hell” have definitely defeated the Catholic Church? Or do we in essence have two separate Catholic Church’s right now? It all reminds me of Anne Catherine Emmerich’s visions. What are your thoughts?

I spent so much time and effort coming into the Catholic Church, and it seems like it just falling apart, I think I need more words of reassurance than anything.

5. Blessed John Paul II loved him some liturgical dance? | A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics - September 27, 2013

[…] included that last bit, because both Fr. Nicholas Gihr, who I have been quoting a great deal lately, and the father of true liturgical reform, Dom Prosper Gueranger, […]

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