The Tridentine Fallacy

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What most people call the “Latin Mass” seems to have a bewildering number of names and many of them are imprecise for one reason or another. Perhaps surprisingly ”Latin Mass” is the least precise of all. But another label, Tridentine, can be used by some naysayers in a way that is downright troublesome.

Among the many names for it, calling the liturgy conducted in Latin and pursuant to the 1962 Missal the “Extraordinary Form” is certainly accurate since Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum formalized the term, along with the term Ordinary Form for the form of the Mass commonly seen today. Pope Francis seems to prefer calling the Extraordinary Form the Vetus Ordo, or Old Form, which lines up nicely given that the Ordinary Form is also called the Novus Ordo, or New Form. So, regardless of any possible connotations, the benefit of the labels Extraordinary Form or Vetus Ordo for the so-called Latin Mass is that they are precise, accurate and used by popes. Many, though, prefer to call the Traditional Latin Mass/Old Form/Extraordinary Form the “Tridentine Mass,” which, historically speaking, can be both right and wrong, and which is often a springboard to an increasingly common and often deliberate fallacy.

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Why is Latin the Language of the Church?

oldmassMany today do not understand the eternal link between the Church and the Latin language.  While it is true that Jesus did not speak it, he clearly founded the Church in the Book of Acts, and sent his disciples to the “ends of the Earth.”  In that age there was only place where all roads led, where a Church could be central and universal, and that was Rome.  Even the documents of Vatican II call for Latin’s preservation, though the foul “Spirit of Vatican II” that followed did its best to systematically dispense with it.  To the faithful, though, the idea of the Church actually abandoning Latin is unthinkable, and to return to it, even if only to hear it spoken in the Mass, is to come home to what your ancestors knew was the language of the saints.  Ten years after Summorum Pontificum, let’s take a look at this history, step-by-step:


Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Latina Lingua establishing the Pontifical Academy for Latin (2012).


Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum expanding access to the Traditional Latin Mass (2007).


Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to the bishops accompanying the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum (2007).


The formation of the Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Petri (FSSP) as a traditionalist Catholic society for priests interested in promoting and protecting the Traditional Latin Mass, which broke off from the SSPX and is in communion with the Holy See, occurs (1988).


Bl. Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution Scripturarium Thesaurus promolgating the Nova Vulgata (1979).


The Nova Vulgata, or new Vulgate, the official modern version of St. Jerome’s Vulgate Bible, is published (1979).


The Ottaviani Intervention, a famous letter by Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani to Pope Paul VI stressing that the Traditional Latin Mass should not be replaced by the new mass (1969).


Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, is promolgated by Pope Paul VI, allowing for Mass in the vernacular instead of Latin when a territorial decree permits the exception, see p. 36. (1963). (Permission for the change was obtained by U.S. bishops in May of 1964.)


Bl. Pope John XXIII’s Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia on the Promotion of the Study of Latin (1962).


Pope St. Pius X‘s Motu Propio Tra le Sollecitudini stresses the majesty and importance of Gregorian Chant as a part of the liturgy (1903).


Following the Council of Trent, Pope Clement VIII issues the Papal Bull Cum Sacrorum accompanying the issuance of the Clementine Vulgate (searchable text), the revision of St. Jerome’s Vulgate Bible, which stands until the 1979 revision (1592).


Pope St. Pius V‘s Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum is issued, implementing the decision of the Council of Trent to require the use of the historic Latin liturgy in perpetuity, and foregoing any other which did not have 200 years of consistent use by that date (1570).


Pope St. Gregory The Great formalizes the Mass in Latin and, tradition states, begins Gregorian Chant during his pontificate (c. 600).


St. Jerome writes a letter to Pope Damasus prefacing his translation of the Gospels into Latin (c. 377).


St. Irenaeus describes the “Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul” at Book 3 Chap. 3 Para. 2 of his work Against Heresies (c. 180).


St. Paul arrives in Rome, Acts 28:11, later martyred there (c. 64).


 

Who Takes Away

lamb2[This is a short story written in February 2013 for the Tuscany Press fiction contest.  Alas, it did not win, but we were rather happy with it here at Traditium and are re-printing now in its final form.  Enjoy.]

John wondered which of them looked worse. The man lumbering along the path to the city was most likely a farmer. He looked strong but stooped, ragged and older than his years, and his skin had been worn and hardened by the sun. The cart behind him clearly contained just a few days of provisions and the animal. The animal looked energetic and curious, glancing all around—it had no idea of its fate. John knew though.

John, meanwhile, was covered in hair: His twisting salt-and-pepper beard, his itchy coat, and his weathered hands. He’d always been hairy, but this was pretty bad. Almost as much as the animal, he amused himself by thinking. His seriousness quickly returned. There was a job to do. He watched the man walk along a bit then John turned and headed back toward the river, trying not to lumber so much himself.

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Twas The Night Of Nicea

Twas the Night Of Nicea, and all through the land,
The bishops were gathering, with hopes for a plan.
Three cent’ries before, Jesus had been,
But many still differed on just what that means.

Go and decide, the Emperor had said,
And so they all went, pressing firmly ahead.
Easter’s date to consider, a creed to declare,
Much to decide, with faith and with prayer.

But storm clouds were brewing. A heresy had spread:
Jesus was prophet–a branch, not the head.
Arius led them. And for this he had fought,
But it was not the good news that the apostles had taught.
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The Great Lie Of Our Time

Whether a moral, ethical or philosophical statement can be absolutely true is the central issue of our time. We live in a culture bombarded by messages from television, books, radio, magazines and more. The discoveries of archaeology and technology in the last 100 years have placed the entire past and a vision of the future at our doorsteps.

We each have at our fingertips an opportunity Aristotle or Voltaire would practically have given their lives for: We can wade into an almost endless supply of facts and piece together what is true or not true about life, death, the world, the soul and the progressive income tax.

Where science ends, we can rely upon the greatest philosophers and thinkers humanity has ever known to see over the edge. We can climb onto their shoulders and peer out further towards the truth.

The only thing holding us back is a malignant theory of our own invention: The idea that there is no truth to find. As the world has grown smaller and the perspectives of all the cultures have come into focus, some among us have decided that because there are so many belief systems, all of them must be equal.

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What The Question Isn’t: Can A Catholic Be A Libertarian?

Unknown artists. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, June 1885.Can someone be an unapologetic member of the Catholic Church and a proud member of the Libertarian Party at the same time? One is a faith with a strong moral code and high expectations for individuals and societies, the other is a political party which is for liberty across the board and for government only big enough to protect us from aggression and fraud.

There are, after all, many who say these two philosophies are contradictory, that it is impossible to be both, that to do so borders on scandal. See, for example, the Washington Post column Can you be Catholic and Libertarian?, as well as the National Catholic Report piece on Catholicism and Libertarianism Clash Over Property and the Common Good and Catholics Divided on Libertarianism as ‘Heresy’ on the Blaze site.

Moreover there are occasional, impassioned discussions at the Catholic Answers Forums and occasional blog posts both ways around the web such as Can Catholicism and Libertarianism Co-Exist? and Catholic and Libertarian? Cardinal Says They’re Incompatible. This is Why He’s Wrong. The problem with many of these, though, is that they are answering a flawed question. The real question is not can you be a Catholic and a Libertarian, the real question is how can a Catholic be anything else?

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On The Top 6

With the move of Father Robert Barron to auxillary bishop of Los Angeles it gives Traditium an opportunity to bring attention back to its 2012 post of his Top Five videos, in our opinion.  His Word On Fire website, found here, have been meeting the popular culture where it lives, on podcoasts, youtube and the internet in general, for quite some time. He does so in an engaging way, weaving the contemporary with the timeless. Those who haven’t heard of him owe it to themselves to take a look. Here Traditium links to its Top 5 Father Barron videos for those who are open to a different perspective on popular culture and life in general.

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Consolation

popeb16Bernard of Clairvaux coined the marvellous expression: Impassibilis est Deus, sed non incompassibilis—God cannot suffer, but he can suffer with. Man is worth so much to God that he himself became man in order to suffer with man in an utterly real way—in flesh and blood—as is revealed to us in the account of Jesus’s Passion.

Hence in all human suffering we are joined by one who experiences and carries that suffering with us; hence con-solatio is present in all suffering, the consolation of God’s compassionate love—and so the star of hope rises.

— Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, para. 39.