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Thoughts on Mass before and after Vatican II Print
Letters to the editor
Thursday, Sep. 07, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

To the editor:

While not yet Catholic, I attended many Latin Masses before Vatican II. The formal beauty and solemnity of the processions, the cross, the priest’s vestments — all inspired reverence.

I followed the spoken Latin, although not all of it was audible. Many parishioners not understanding Latin prayed the Rosary, following which they received Communion on the tongue, kneeling at a rail.

Many of the rubrics we treat as devotions were instituted by the emperor Diocletian. Processionals and recessionals, vestments, the bishop’s cathedra on the dais were drawn from Diocletian’s court.

Kneeling to receive Communion originated in the act of submission to Diocletian, who had appropriated this  practice from contemporary Persian emperors. That brings up the question: to whom are we kneeling?

When I became a Catholic in 2000, I found a more welcoming Mass, one of participation and attention by parishioners, more akin to the celebration of communal life described in Acts 2:42-47.

As for Latin, it could be taught as Hebrew is in Judaism. In the traditional Mass, even the Scriptures could be read in Latin and understood, bringing an end to the disconnect.

Tom Roberts, Madison