The Poetry Of Latin Mass

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 4 2011 @ 9:53am

Robert Fay wonders why there aren't great contemporary Catholic writers like Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, and Flannery O’Connor. Fay blames the Sunday morning Mass, updated in the 1960s:

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), Waugh’s worst fears were realized as English replaced Latin, priests suddenly faced the people (as if to entertain them), and the reverential tradition of kneeling at the altar rail to receive communion on one’s tongue was replaced with the breezy practice of taking the host standing and in the hand. In short, what for centuries had seemed eternal, mysterious, and rich in symbolism — the very marrow that feeds artists — was suddenly being conducted in the same language as sitcoms, TV commercials, and business meetings.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI released the document Summorum Pontificum, allowing parishes worldwide to celebrate the “Latin Mass," or the Tridentine Mass. Frank Wilson cheers the change:

I thought this remark, from the comments, interesting: "But seriously, a widespread reinstating of the Tridentine Mass is just going to bleed Catholic membership in most Western countries. It does seem alienating …" Alienating? To whom? To the millions who buy CDs of Gregorian Chant or who go to see a film like Into Great Silence? Given the response I have been getting to my article [on a popular Latin Mass in Philadelphia], it looks to me as if a lot of people find it anything but alienating.

(Video: A clip from Into Great Silence, a documentary about life inside the Grande Chartreuse, the head monastery of the reclusive Carthusian Order in France.)