Scribo Ergo Sum

My current and former denominations are each infighting.

The Southern Baptists recently elected a new president. This is controversial because the new guy wants to be seen as a polite ultra conservative, rather than as just as an ultra conservative.

The U.S. Catholic Bishops are arguing over changes to the Mass. More specifically, they don't agree on the best way to translate the Latin into English. An example:

Minor changes to the wording of many portions of the Mass will be obvious to Catholics. The repeated exchanges "The Lord be with you" / "And also with you" between a priest and his congregation, for example, become "The Lord be with you" / "And with your spirit" in the updated version.

The prayer said before Communion would become "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof," instead of "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you."

For these two at least, I agree with the party opposing change. For the first, the new version makes "you" and "spirit" seem like two different things. That invites metaphysical disputes easily avoided by saying "you" and "you."

The second is too restrictive. What if I do not have a roof? Or what if I have a roof but I'm not currently under it? The new option more closely follows the actual Latin wording, but the second better captures the meaning. The point is humility, one the second phrase better expresses.

That said, I'd prefer they go back to doing the whole thing in Latin. (Read the Latin Mass here). Then there would not be any arguments over translations. In addition, it would create a sense of unity knowing that every Catholic in every country is using the same words. But the real reason is that Latin is better for the Mass.

Catholic services are all about the senses. The incense, the chants, the standing and kneeling, the beauty of the building and its adornments, the robes: It all brings your entire being into the experience. Then the culmination is a participation in the actual Body and Blood of Christ.

This would all occur just as well if I did not understand a bit of the language. Further, the benefits of Latin are much greater than the benefits of hearing the Mass in your native tongue.

Those Latin phrases are inherently beautiful. I much prefer "Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi, misere nobis" to "Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us." The Latin flows, it has its own rhythm. The English is choppy and dull. 

The beauty only increases when pondered in light of the weight and power the Latin has accumulated throughout the centuries. Hearing it and knowing that countless thousands have used the exact same words as Divine vessels far outweighs whatever cognitive benefits understanding them would bring.

That's my view, anyway.

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One Comment on “Scribo Ergo Sum”

  1. Dan Says:

    That said, I’d prefer they go back to doing the whole thing in Latin

    Or they could just stop believing in fairy tales in any language. (My one and only religious bash. Sorry, it’s been a long day).


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