A brief explanation of some aspects of the Mass in its Extraordinary Form
Latin is the ordinary Liturgical Language of all the Catholics of the Roman Church, even though translations are authorized. Many rites cohabit under the same language, Ambrosian (from Milan), Mozarabic (in Spain), Carthusian or Dominican (proper to the respective religious orders). Latin appears therefore as a link between all the Catholics of the world but also between those of all ages in the past and present times. As Latin is a dead language and doesn’t change, it is particularly fit to express the immutable dogmas. In the Eastern churches, diverse liturgical languages are used for the same reason (Aramaic, Arabic, Syrian, Coptic…).
Latin is then the official language of the Church and all the official documents are written in this language.
As Latin is not the proper language of any country, it is suitable for the Universal Church.
“Latin is a universal language without frontier, and the Holy See is very attached to it. We address the young people in particular: May they welcome the patrimony of Latin and make it bearing fruits.” JP II (27/11/78)
Do we need to know Latin to follow the Liturgy of the Mass? Let’s consider first what is Mass? Mass is nothing less than the continued Sacrifice of God made man, who died on a Cross and continuously offers Himself—Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity—as Food for our souls. Could any language ever explain that? It is the Mystery of Faith. The Sacredness of the Latin Language helps us to enter into this mystery. At Mass, it is with reverence that we enter into the Unique Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ, words being far from giving justice to the Sacred Reality of the Divine and Substantial presence of Jesus Christ on the Altar.
Today, July 2nd, Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is also the ordination anniversary of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Oratory Chaplain, Reverend Canon Raphael Ueda! Ordained on July 2, 2009 (alongside Canon Jason Apple and Canon Frederic Goupil), at the Chiesa dei Santi Michele e Gaetano in Florence, Italy, by the Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, then Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (now Cardinal Burke of the Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta). Ad multos annos! Please remember to include our dear Canons in your prayers on this special day.
Photo: Canon Ueda giving his first blessing to then Archbishop (now Cardinal) Burke
On Wednesday, the Church celebrated the august solemnity of the Blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul, both of whom were martyred in Rome on June 29 in the year 67 A.D. We are still in the octave of this feast and we continue to celebrate this very ancient festival of the Roman Church. Indeed, it is a celebration of Rome herself!
St. Paul was beheaded on the Via Ostia. His sacred head bounced three times on the ground, from each of which bounces flowed a miraculous spring of water. The Monastery of the Three Fountains now stands at the holy site. St. Peter was crucified upside down on the Vatican hill in the Circus of Nero. He was buried nearby. His basilica stands now above his tomb and place of his martyrdom is within the walls of Vatican City, to the left of the facade of St. Peter’s.
One of the hymns for the feast day sums up beautifully the essence of this celebration: “O happy Rome, who have been consecrated by the glorious blood of the two Princes!” Every Catholic – even those who belong to the Eastern churches – is a Roman Catholic because of today’s feast. Ss. Peter and Paul consecrated the Church of Rome. Their blood made of the Eternal City the new Jerusalem, with St. Peter consecrating the Vatican Hill as the Calvary of this new holy city.
Today’s feast reminds us of why we are in communion with the Bishop of Rome. St. Ignatius of Loyola famously wrote, “To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it…” Ignatius knew the meaning of this feast. He knew that Jesus really lives in His Church and in His Vicar, the Successor of St. Peter, who is the Bishop of Rome. One is also reminded on this feast of the great consolation of St. Teresa of Avila at the end of her life: “I am a daughter of the Church.” She knew she had no greater cause for hope in Jesus’s Mercy.
Today let us rejoice in being Roman Catholics. Let us pray for the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, and for the Church of Rome. We are called today to have in our hearts the love for Jesus Christ with which Peter and Paul shed their blood. Jesus had made their blood holy and so their blood consecrated Rome. We find this holiness, therefore, in the Church built on St. Peter.
Reverend Joseph Previtali