TO THE EDITOR:
Father Joseph Creedon’s hostility to the Latin Mass mystifies me. In The Rhode Island Catholic’s July 8 article (“Ways we worship: Celebrating the Latin Mass”), Latin Mass priests and parishioners reflected upon the beauty of that rite. No one denigrated the ordinary form of the Mass.
Why, then, were Father Creedon’s hackles raised in his 7/22/10 letter to the editor?
In his letter, Father Creedon proclaimed, “Latin is a dead language that was used in our liturgies far longer than was necessary or effective.” He concluded with “Illigitimi non carborundum,” which means “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” One wonders who these alleged “bastards” are. Surely, he can’t be referring to Latin Mass devotees? As a Rhode Island resident who has attended the Latin Mass at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Providence for the past 15 years, I’d like to offer my perspective.
My family makes the one-hour trek to Providence most Sundays. (When we can’t make it to Holy Name, we attend an ordinary Mass celebrated in English.) We attend the Latin Mass at Holy Name for a combination of reasons. We appreciate the beauty and poetry of the language used in the 1962 Roman Missal (the Latin words, incidentally, are translated into English on the facing pages of the Missal.) We also enjoy the Gregorian chant and traditional hymns performed by our choir. We like the softly-glowing candles, the stained glass windows depicting the life of Christ in rich hues, and the Gothic-style architecture. We feel most comfortable kneeling when we receive the Holy Eucharist. We also appreciate the history, tradition, and continuity that the Latin Mass affords: we’re celebrating the Mass in the same way that the Roman Catholic Church celebrated Mass for centuries.
Of course, different people prefer different things. Some Catholic churches offer modern architecture and contemporary music. I know of one church that is shaped like a circle. Instead of stained glass windows depicting the life of Christ, the windows feature colored triangles with no discernible pattern. Come to the right Mass and you can clap along to the guitar music. To be perfectly frank, belting out “Sing to the Mountains” in a stark, barren building really doesn’t do it for me. However, I can understand how that Mass might appeal to some people (children and teenagers in particular).
Presumably, Father Creedon would also feel quite at home in such an environment. And that’s fine. The Roman Catholic Church permits different forms of worship. I certainly feel no hostility toward Catholics who prefer a contemporary Mass, nor do I feel a need to disparage them in a letter to the editor. I am, however, very grateful that a more traditional alternative exists.