Consecrations at Mass in various languages in various rites because, you know, !tradition!

  • “The words of Consecration, the Epiclesis (the invocation of the Holy Spirit), as well as certain hymns and blessings, should be in the original Aramaic, the language spoken by Christ, to remind the faithful of their Maronite heritage and traditions.”
  • “The languages used in the Maronite Liturgy are ancient Syro-Aramaic for certain fixed parts (the Trisagion, Qadishat aloho; the two approaches to the Altar; and the Consecration of the bread and wine), along with Arabic, and the other local languages of the countries of expansion.”

That’s just an example of one of numerous liturgical rites right around the world. I could provide many more. How’s that? Because religion and tradition go together very deeply in the human spirit. Of course they do. This is how God made us. Let’s see what our Jewish friends have to sing about all kinds of tradition:

For myself, if I’m offering the New Order of Holy Mass in Latin or English or Spanish or German or Italian or French or Hebrew (which Hebrew Mass I’ve memorized from beginning to end decades ago) or whatever other language, the readings are in that particular modern vernacular, and the preaching is in whatever vernacular language as well. Without any particular permission of the bishop, any priest of the Roman Rite can offer the Novus Ordo Missae in Latin, including the readings and the preaching, whatever is pastorally indicated, right? Whatever.

In this parish, weekday and weekend Masses up at the mission church are entirely are exclusively in English. The Novus Ordo. The Saturday vigil Mass at the main parish church in is in Spanish, all of them, exclusively. Well, almost….

At various times during the year there are “mixed” Masses in English and Spanish, and many other languages. For instance, Palm Sunday Mass and Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, and the Good Friday Service, and the Easter Vigil were, this year, as in all other years, all a mix of Spanish and English and Latin (I sang, as always, the Exultet, in Latin and sang the “Ite Missa est. Alleluia. Alleluia” in Latin. Oh, sorry! “Alleluia” is a Hebrew imperative verb: Praise ye the Lord! “Amen” is also Hebrew for “So may it be.” “Kyrie eleison” is Greek. Such multi-lingual liberalism! The “narrator” for the reading of the Passion Narrative on both Palm Sunday and Good Friday was a fine gentleman from another liturgical rite altogether. Both Passion Narratives from the Gospels were all in English. It’s all good. But wait, depending on which Gospel is used, we sometimes hear: “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me!”, either in Hebrew or in Aramaic. Yikes! So confusing for those who feel entitled to hear every single word they ever hear in a language of their choice. It’s like trying to guess someone’s pronouns.

I mean, whatever about the languages used, the one thing important, the One Person who is important is Jesus and His Sacrifice of the Mass.

Having said all that, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is also offered in Latin except, you know, the usual bits in Hebrew and Greek, etc. And whether this is the Novus Ordo in Latin or the TLM, all readings are pronounced in the vernacular and the preaching is in the vernacular.

Meanwhile, yours truly, although Latin Rite by baptism and practice, and growing up in the North Woods of Minnesota with moose and timber wolves and German speakers as companions, has spent a large part of his life learning languages, living and dead, of the Holy Land and the Middle East including Syriac and Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew (biblical and modern), Latin and so many others. An even longer part of my life was spent getting to know the Sacred Scriptures, also by way of historical philology, with my studies also being in Jerusalem and the West Bank. I went up as far as Lebanon and the West Bank and far into Egypt as well. Over time, I became convinced, as I still am today, that however expert Jesus was in speaking Aramaic from the street kids in Nazareth, and Arabic from His exile into Egypt, and of course, the languages of commerce both of Greek and the ever so vulgar (common) language of Latin, it is nevertheless true that at the greatest fulfillment of the entirety of God’s interventions upon this earth at the Last Supper united with Calvary, the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah, and with the action of the Suffering Servant on Calvary prophesied by Isaiah… to me it is obvious that Jesus would use, in this Supreme Liturgy of the Last Supper, the ultimate Sacrifice of all times and places, the ultimate and supreme liturgical language of Hebrew, and not some cool dialect with which He was also familiar. The chances that Jesus used Hebrew at the Last Supper is fully 100%. Just my opinion. Sorry.

But – Hey! – I’m no liturgist. What do I know? I’ll tell you what I know. I know that the Sacred Liturgy belongs not to any priest, nor to any Patriarch, nor to any bishop (not even to the bishop of Rome), but rather belongs, in whatever liturgical rite, to the entire Body of Christ, of which we, the members, have Christ Jesus Himself as the Head of that Body. The Holy Mass, the consecrations, specifically belong to Jesus. Those consecrations are defined by Pope Benedict as the lex orandi, the Law of Prayer, for all Liturgical Rites, and that pronouncement of Benedict is cited by Pope Francis in Traditionis Custodes and its accompanying letter to the bishops. Therefore, the universal law of the Church is to be followed regarding those consecrations. They are most sacred. If your rite instructs you to use Aramaic, do it! If your rite provides that you use Latin for pastoral reasons or another language for pastoral reasons, by all means, do so. The consecrations are, in se, whatever language they are in, the very Law of Prayer from which we get the lex credendi, the Law of believing. No bishop has the right to change the rites at whim, acting ultra vires, acting beyond their powers. If Aramaic is provided for that rite, no bishop or Patriarch of that rite can forbid it. If Latin or other languages are provided for, say, the Latin rite, no bishop forbid those languages. And, for that matter, no priest has this right to do whatever he wants. And no layman has any right to coerce, or extort, or bribe, or intimidate, or threaten, or demean or humiliate or slander any bishop or priest so as to force him to change the universal law of the Church regarding the Consecrations at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

But – Hey! – I’m no liturgist. What do I know? I’ll tell you what I know. I know that the very diverse rites used in Holy Mass are to be respected, so that the rite of, just to give another example, that of St John Chrysostom is to be respected, as is, for instance, that of the Roman rite of the much larger Latin rite (I think there were dozens of Latin rites at one time). This respect for all rites right around the world is enshrined in the laws of the Church, the Canon Law of the Latin Rite and the Oriental Code for so many others of our dear brothers and sisters throughout the world.

In other words, those of the Eastern rites have no right, as it were, to bribe or coerce or extort those of the Roman rite to celebrate Holy Mass according to the whims of the Eastern rites, and vice versa. Right? Yep. Everyone has the right to be free to follow faithfully his own rite. As it should be. I mean, what if I were to go to, I don’t know, say, Lebanon (because I’ve actually been invited to go and take up a parish there[!] already decades ago) and then, as a simple priest, surprise surprise, command the revered Patriarch to pronounce the words of the Consecrations in a low voice and in Latin? They would laugh at me, right? And probably excommunicate me. And rightly so. But what if I said that – Hey! – I’m me, so all y’all have to change your rites because I have entitled rights as a North Woods boy from Minnesota who grew up with moose and wolves and German speakers! At that point I think they would have, as Saint Benedict said, two stout brothers explain the matter to me. And then I would say, “Finally! Someone’s respecting their rites! I love it!”

And I’ll tell you what, however much, say, individual lay members of one rite want to kick in the face those priests and bishops who belong to another rite, it is the most reverend bishops of those other rites who will step up to smack down their own recalcitrant members, telling their own recalcitrant members to stick to the affairs of their own rites instead of interfering with the rights of the rites of others around the world. I mean, if I, a simple priest, were to insist that no Eastern Rites anywhere in Western North Carolina are to be allowed to use Greek or Aramaic or whatever at the Consecrations at Holy Mass, well, my own bishop of my own rite would happily smack me down. And rightly so. That would be the right thing to do.

Finally, just to say it. There is something that happens at every Holy Mass when the priest recites the Consecrations, the wedding vows, really, of Jesus, regardless of the language used:

1 Comment

Filed under Liturgy

One response to “Consecrations at Mass in various languages in various rites because, you know, !tradition!

  1. KP Cain

    It just seems Father that so many abuses have come in during the Novus Ordo times. It causes some to believe the problem is there. I’m not sure myself anymore.

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