Word has reached us here in the village that Pope Benedict is going to sign what is called in the Roman Church as a Universal Indult. Since the suppression on the Latin Mass after Vatican II, bishops have had the discretion to allow the Latin Mass to be said at certain times in certain places. Many of the diocese have at least one Latin Mass a week. Now, the discretion will be held by the individual priest. I find this very interesting. As a child, the Latin Mass had already gone out of style and the Novus Ordo, the New Order, had taken hold. I have never been to a Latin Mass but as one who constantly advocates for the use of the vernacular in all this liturgical I find this move very troubling.
Since most people did not understand Latin, private devotions become the thing at Mass. You could see people saying the Rosary or reading from their prayer books. Is that what we are trying to get back too? As Orthodox, look around our churches and see how many young people there are in our churches when the liturgical language is not the vernacular. Of course if the parish is strictly an immigrant parish it would be different. I look at my own parish. We are in the third generation here and if the language were to switch back to Romanian I believe that the third generation, as well as the converts, would slip away.
As an outsider I think the church needs to look at liturgical reform and how we can make the church relevant in the world today. What can we do in this regard? One of the reasons the Orthodox Church spread as far and as fast as it did in the east was that the early missionaries learned the language of the people and did not force them to learn a new language. Then we come to America, and bring our church with us, and force people to learn a new language. This needs much more thought and discussion than I am giving it here so please be patient.
So that’s the ramble for now. Blessed Sunday to all.