The Post-Conciliar Church and the “Latin Mass”


“Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.” ~ Second Vatican Council (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 36.1)

Contrary to the fallible opinion of some traditionalists, the post-conciliar Church never sought to do away with the traditional Latin rite or the Usus Antiquor.  Rather, it sought to preserve the ancient Latin rite and keep it close to the reforms of Saint Pius V with some changes by Saint John XXIII.  Nevertheless the Latin rite was still in Latin under John XXIII.  It wasn’t until 1970 that the Mass was in the vernacular with Blessed Pius VI’s reforms; even then, he sought to preserve the traditional Latin rite and the use of Latin; he even lamented the grave lose of traditional liturgy.

“For while some are very faithful to the Latin language, others wish to use the vernacular within the choral office. Others, in various places, wish to exchange that chant which is called Gregorian for newly-minted melodies. Indeed, some even insist that Latin should be wholly suppressed.

“We must acknowledge that We have been somewhat disturbed and saddened by these requests. One may well wonder what the origin is of this new way of thinking and this sudden dislike for the past; one may well wonder why these things have been fostered.”

~Blessed Paul VI (Sacrificium Laudis)

His Eminence, Cardinal Robert Sarah also had something to say about the traditional Latin rite.

“The Second Vatican Council never asked for the rejection of the past and the abandonment of the Mass of Saint Pius V, that formed so many saints, not even to leave Latin behind.”

~Robert Cardinal Sarah (Interview with Aleteia)

His Holiness, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI also spoke on the subject back when he gave more liberty to priests to celebrate Holy Mass in the Usus Antiquor.

“What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”

~Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Summorum Pontificum)

His Eminence, Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez also commented on the Latin rite.

“The Second Vatican Council strongly desired to preserve with care the authentic Liturgy, which flows forth from the Church’s living and most ancient spiritual tradition, …”

~Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez (Liturgiam Authenticam, n. 1)

His Excellency, Bishop Athnasius Schneider also commented.

“Latin must be preserved in the liturgy, especially in Holy Mass (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 24 and 54)…

“The fourth wound is the total disappearance of Latin in the huge majority of Eucharistic celebrations in the Ordinary Form in all Catholic countries. This is a direct infraction against the decisions of Vatican II.”

~Bishop Athanasius Schneider (The Extraordinary Form and the New Evangelization)

His Eminence, Cardinal Leo Burke also gave his thoughts.

“I think the celebration of the Extraordinary Form can have a very significant part to play in the New Evangelization because of its emphasis on the transcendence of the Sacred Liturgy. In other words, it emphasizes the reality of the union of Heaven and earth through the Sacred Liturgy. The action of Christ through the signs of the sacrament, through His priests, is very evident in the Extraordinary Form. It helps us, then, to be more reverent also in the celebration of the Ordinary Form.”

His Eminence, Cardinal Dario Castrillon-Hoyos also spoke out.

“All this liturgical richness , … and all the prayers so well preserved during the centuries, all of this is offered … It is not a gift merely for the so-called ‘traditionalists’; … it is a gift for the whole Catholic Church.”

Blessed John XXIII had this to say.

“We also, impelled by the weightiest of reasons … are fully determined to restore this language to its position of honor and to do all We can to promote its study and use. The employment of Latin has recently been contested in some quarters, and many are asking what the mind of the Apostolic See is in this matter. We have therefore decided to issue the timely directives contained in this document, so as to ensure that the ancient and uninterrupted use of Latin be maintained and, where necessary, restored.”

~Blessed John XXIII (Veterum Sapientia, ch. 13)

Saint John Paul II also spoke about it.

“In an epoch when in some areas, as you know, the Latin language and the human values are less appreciated, you must joyfully accept the patrimony of the language which the Church holds in high esteem and must, with energy, make it fruitful. The well-known words of Cicero, ‘It is not so much excellent to know Latin, as it is a shame not to know it’ [Non tam praeclarum est scire Latine, quam turpe nescire (Brutus, xxxvii.140)] in a certain sense are directed to you. We exhort you all to lift up high the torch of Latin which is even today a bond of unity among peoples of all nations.”

~Saint John Paul II

While there are plenty of abuses which came after Vatican II, it would be unfair to ignore the orthodoxy on the part of post-conciliar Catholics and their love of the traditional liturgy.


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