Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Brian Mershon interviews Fr. John Berg, FSSP

Summorum Pontificum One Year Later

B. Mershon: Because Latin is the norm for the liturgical language of the Latin Church, even if the readings are in the vernacular, doesn’t it make perfect sense to have the priest say the prayers in Latin simultaneously, or even better, have him read them from the ambo in the vernacular (outside of the liturgy) during the sermon? And a related question, since the ideal liturgy is the Solemn High Mass, or at least the Missa Cantata, it certainly makes sense for the readings to be sung in Latin, right?

Fr. Berg: True. To me, that goes back to jumping on that clause of the motu proprio. As far as the Fraternity of St. Peter goes, the general norm in those places where we have been serving in English-speaking countries for 20 years is to pray the readings at the outset in Latin and then to read them in the vernacular prior to the sermon.

I think you have to be careful of falling into that tendency, which has been very prevalent in the liturgy for the past 30 years, where priests come into a church and think they know what the faithful need, or they know what they want.

For me personally, I went to Thomas Aquinas College and that was the first time I ever experienced the liturgy in Latin. And after that, I started to go to the Mass in Latin.

So I think it would be a real mistake to think that just because the readings are read in Latin, they are less followed or somehow more difficult to follow. My personal experience both as a pastor at a church in California and attending the Mass as a layman, is that even children before their first Communion can quite easily follow along from a hand missal.

I think it is a mistake to just walk in and think, “Oh this group is not used to the Latin Mass, so we should do the readings in the vernacular.” I just don’t think that is necessarily true—that you’re going to get a greater following of the Gospel texts.


I think I'd still follow Fr. Bouyer on the question of the use of the vernacular in the liturgy. For the High Mass or Missa Cantata, what is required is that chanting/singing should be the norm, not that everything should be in Latin, no? Still, if I were a traditionalist, my opinion would probably be in the minority... unless a community already had this custom of substitute the vernacular for chanting of the epistle and Gospel, I don't see how it would be introduced. The 'traditionalist' communities tend to favor the custom of presenting the readings a second time, but in the vernacular, before the sermon. Perhaps a personal parish administered by a priest of the diocese would be more open to the use of the vernacular.

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