Thursday, September 1, 2011

My worries as a Maltese Catholic

In this fourth article of the series about the Tridentine Mass, I want to share some of my experiences. I grew up without the Tridentine Mass and was therefore surprised when - during the time as an altar boy in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican 30 years ago - I served the Novus Ordo Missae in Latin with the priest facing the altar and his back towards the congregation. I dismissed it as simply a necessity because of the way altars are in this Basilica.

I loved the Latin liturgy back then (altar boys at the Vatican had to learn the Novus Ordo Missae in Latin and Italian, it is my understanding that nowadays they learn it in English and Italian) and did not like the continuous changes that I experienced in many masses in Malta. Not to speak about laxity in a number of churches.

What amazes me nowadays in Malta is the real hostility that any expression of a desire for the Tridentine Mass raises. The mere mention of Latin seems to mark the speaker as a subversive weirdo. The Bishops’ response to Pope Benedict XVI’s Moto Proprio Summorum Pontificum and the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae has been less than enthusiastic at best. It almost seems that the Church in Malta is afraid that the people will create a schism! Still you hear in various Masses music coming directly from so-called Christian groups that in some cases use subtle language against the Catholic Church. So much for lex orandi, lex credendi!

The propaganda that the Tridentine Mass was unintelligible to the people has been sold to such an extent that even people who should remember it will claim that they did not know what was being said. Well, I still remember and understand most of the Novus Ordo Missae in Latin and I haven't attended one since 1981. Please note, that means when I was 11 years old.

Hebrew, Sanskrit, Classic Arabic, Old Church Slavonic, etc., are all used as sacred languages by their respective religions. They have the advantage of adding solemnity, authority and consistency to the rites in which they are used. We used to have a sacred Language for Holy Mass too. I wish that it will be revived in Malta once again. If not out of conviction, at least out of respect for His Holiness.

(Note: the photo is not taken in Malta)