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Sunday, April 7, 2013
Roger Ebert: On the Traditional Latin Mass

In my childhood the Church arched high above everything. I was awed by its ceremonies. Years later I agreed completely with Pauline Kael when she said that the three greatest American directors of the 1970s — Scorsese, Altman and Coppola — had derived much of their artistic richness from having grown up in the pre-Vatican Two era of Latin, incense, mortal sins, indulgences, dire sufferings in hell, Gregorian chant, and so on.
The parish priest was the greatest man in the town. Our priest was Father J.W. McGinn, who was a good and kind man and not given to issuing fiery declarations from the pulpit. Of course, in Catholic grade school, I took the classes for altar boys. We learned by heart all the Latin of the Mass, and I believe I could serve Mass to this day. There was something satisfying about the sound of Latin.
Introibo ad altare Dei.
Ad Deum qui laitificat juventutem meum.
“I will go to the altar of God. The God who gives joy to my youth.” There was a “thunk” to the syllables, measured and confident, said aloud the way they looked … 
You could go anywhere in the world and the Mass would sound the same, we were told, and the priests could all speak with one another in Latin. The dissolution of that practice at Vatican Two was the end of something that had survived for nearly two millennia. I loved the idea of Latin. I loved the hymns, especially Tantum Ergo, the solemn song at the Consecration of the Eucharist, which had been written by Thomas Aquinas.


del_button April 7, 2013 at 2:05 PM
Aged parent said...

If the late Mr Ebert (RIP) thought that "Scorcese, Altman and Coppola" were great directors it merely confirms how completely out of touch with reality the poor man was. Over the years I would occasionally read Mr Ebert's rapturous praising of some cinematic drivel and imagine how terrible it must be to be a film critic: having to sit through hours and hours of rubbish from an industry that lost its way at least fifty years ago. It would have been torture.

I will trust that Mr Ebert made his peace with God prior to his death but will say that he, and most other critics, were responsible for making respectable some of the most revolting sewage ever to have oozed out of Hollywood.

del_button April 7, 2013 at 2:40 PM
Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

del_button April 9, 2013 at 2:21 AM
Angelo Cardinal Fratelli said...

The traditional hymns and Latin are what first attracted me to the Catholic Church. We lost something really great and worst of all, Vatican II never mandated that these things be removed but preserved!

del_button April 13, 2013 at 9:40 PM
Moonshadow said...

He's correct about those directors conveying a Catholic sensibility in their work.

He may truly have felt he could still serve mass but things go with time. For comparison's sake, words set to music are the easiest to remember, but I find myself struggling to sing along to the radio verses of American POP songs memorized through repetition thirty years ago. The proper words feel just on the "tip of my tongue." I don't doubt Mr. Ebert could follow along, keep up with a TLM but say the responses? Beyond "et cum spiritu tuo," the responses really don't come that easy after all these years.

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