From Our Pastor

From Our Pastor

Dear Folks,

Singing Latin at Mass? What are we to think?

Since I have had two folks ask me about singing in Latin in our Sunday Masses, that means that many of you are asking yourself the same questions.

Four principles: First, having hired a qualified director of Sacred Music, I do not micromanage the selections that he makes. He has earned my trust and yours. Second, I do and will continue to give feedback, just as you do, and to enunciate principles for the parish celebration of the Liturgy. Third, I do not believe that Latin is the answer to all that ails the Catholic Church. Fourth: full and active participation is an external and internal conformity to the Mass; not a matter of ‘what I am doing.’ Prayer and singing is a both/and principle, not either/or.

We have been doing the Latin responses during the penitential seasons (Lent and Advent) for a little while now (three years). There are a couple of reasons why the Latin Mass parts are appropriate for penitential seasons:

1. The penitential seasons of Lent and Advent call for limited use of the organ and musical instruments. We try to limit their use as much as reasonably possible. Previous music directors here have chosen to have no recessional hymn, and to have priests exit in silence as an expression of the penitential nature of the season. I have found this silence stilted and awkward, and thus gave permission to have a simple chant serve the same purpose because it is ideal for acappella singing for those who wish to join, and a pleasant ear wash for those who prefer otherwise.

2. The second Vatican Council explicitly asked that all of the faithful know the Latin Mass parts that correspond to them: “Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 54). This pertains to the Confiteor, Gloria, Creed, Holy Holy Holy, Memorial Acclamation, and the Our Father.

This has been sadly and widely ignored. So in trying to gently keep this alive, the parish is faithfully trying to be a part of the universal church. However, I understand that some/many folks do not know this, nor do they have a desire for this. This is why I have put this into the penitential seasons, and why we have done mostly the three shortest of those seven prayers.

3. I understand that learning these Latin chants requires stretching our comfort zones. Because of this, I have not suggested, nor do I have plans to suggest, that the Latin parts
be used all year. It seems reasonable and appropriate that 10 Sundays a year (6 Lent, and 4 Advent) during penitential seasons we try to stretch our comfort zone.

4. One parishioners suggested that I ask the majority what they want? Don’t worry! Folks express their desires frequently to me, the priests, and the music director as she did kindly by email this week. Moreover the selection of music is delegated to the director of music, who tries to have a wide variety of music so that there is some comfort for everyone. Honestly, there are even times when I think, “I really hate this song.” But I offer that up for whomever it is in the parish who loves it.

5. Translations of Latin? After the second Sunday with the same Latin recessional chant, I did ask the music director to provide a translation for us. That should appear in the next music program. Unfortunately, at the time I asked him, previous versions had already been printed. But I agree with the folks who requested this as an help in understanding. Again, thank you to the kind parishioner who requested this respectfully.

6. Ok, that covers the penitential seasons. But since the Second Vatican Council asked that all the faithful know the parts that apply to them, that includes the Gloria and the Creed. Because there is no Gloria in Lent, I have permitted the Gloria in Latin for the feasts of: Christmas /Holy Family/Mary Mother of God / Baptism of the Lord and Pentecost. That is 3 Sundays and 2 Holy Days.

7. Having looked at music sheets from the prior music director: I see that we did occasionally sing the Our Father in Latin and in Spanish too. Hmmm…. not a bad idea. Know that we are members of the Latin Rite Church because it is the mother tongue of our divine liturgy. But getting to the point where we could pray the Confiteor or Creed in the mother tongue? We are not there yet.

Thanks for your prayers and kindness,

Father John Mosimann

March 27, 2022
IV Sunday of Lent
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