Monday, June 02, 2008

Raw Opinion: Vernacular Breeds Nationalism

I found this today online. I was searching (in vain) for a printed edition of the modern Breviary with parallel Latin/English. I knew the answer before I started searching but you'd think I would find someone, somewhere who desired such a creation. Nevertheless, this is what I found instead...bold highlights are things I want you to see, of course.

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium (CV II) 101. §1. says: “In accordance with the centuries-old tradition of the Latin rite, the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in the divine office. But in individual cases the ordinary has the power of granting the use of a vernacular translation to those clerics for whom the use of Latin constitutes a grave obstacle to their praying the office properly. The vernacular version, however, must be one that is drawn up according to the provision of Art. 36.”

(Jump to Article 36)
Art. 36

36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.

4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.

There are two (or perhaps 3, I'll get to that) things which bind cultures together. And when you remove whichever one or the other, the culture declines. The first is Religion and the other is Language. Now we have lost the common language and so the Catholic culture declines. Its not the only factor for sure but it is surely an evil that it is nearly lost. When we all speak different languages eventually we begin to develop different versions of the religion. For instance, how do you explain to a Spanish family that the Douay-Rheims version of the Bible is the only faithful translation? (threw you a curve there didn't I? Yes, Nationalism exists with Traditionalism sometimes too.) You don't. The Catholic Church needs is common language.

The 3rd thing that can bind a culture is Nationalism. Good or bad, but rampant Nationalism is a negative to Church unity. I'm painting a broad brush here but one has only to look at the divisions in Orthodoxy to see the effects of Nationalism in ecclessial life. The loss of Latin breeds Nationalism which leads to division of the Religion. Notice how this all works together. I have nothing to cite here, just my opinion.

I want to get back to the quote from Sacrosanctum Consilium. Mainly, this quote:

"But in individual cases the ordinary has the power of granting the use of a vernacular translation to those clerics for whom the use of Latin constitutes a grave obstacle to their praying the office properly."

My only issue with how this text was handled is that nearly anyone, even newly converted laymen without a lick of Latin training, can learn to pray the Divine Office properly in Latin. (YES, WE CAN!) I cannot imagine the use of vernacular being necessary (40 years ago) by clergy or religious except in the most extreme cases. Which is kind of what the authors of SC were getting at when they write "grave obstacle". Were 99% of all clergy gravely obstructed from the use of Latin? I guess its more necessary now since so little Latin is seemingly taught at seminary. Personally, I'm not fluent (or close) in Latin but I've only been using my Latin-English Diurnal since January and it is catching on. Having the English side by side is a great way to learn. I use the English less all the time because I don't need it as much as I did before.

I need to read the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours to better understand the conception of praying the Hours set forth after Vatican II. I really don't mind their structure at all (4 week Psalter for e.g.). But I think pushing the vernacular has helped lessen our Catholic culture. I do dislike the fact that (does this make me a dissident?) the modern Liturgy of the Hours removes "difficult" passages in the Psalms. They are difficult on their face but certainly with maybe a line of explanation God's Word isn't so bad is it?

Oh, and I did find someone who has thought of a parallel Latin/English version but for online use only. Here you go:

In keeping with the wishes of Sacrosanctum Consilium, you can still purchase a copy of the Latin Divine Office over at Paxbooks. Its only a mere $400 for the whole set. What a bargain, no wonder its so popular! (I'm sure its really nice though...I'm probably just being a little bitter.)

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