There they go again, those old lefties from the ivory towers of academia…holding morning prayer in Latin. This was an unicum, for the 20th anniversary of the Medieval Liturgy seminar. (Much of the work of NAAL happens in seminars which meet together for their specific topic area throughout the conference.) Ably compiled by Dr. John Leonard, who was also precentor and primicerius scholae. A well thought-out mix of mostly Latin and some English (well-done adaptations of Fr. Columba Kelly, OSB), with schola doing the harder parts and all doing the easier parts.
My reaction? I thought it worked well. Not everyone found it easy to chime in, but I sensed everyone trying with a good spirit. It bothered me that we celebrated the “Tertia Die infra Octavam Epiphaniae,” which it isn’t in the current Roman rite since Epiphany no longer has an octave. [I fully expect the Summorum folks to comment on that last statement.] But the idea was to follow medieval useage, albeit with common sense adaptations for this group.
Checking my emotional barometer, I realized why I felt pretty calm as the whole thing went forward. Being in an academic setting, and with so many Protestants, somehow made it OK. In a post-modern world devoid of firm standards or canons, any and all aesthetic experiences are legit, including this one. Diversity and all that. But if it had been all Roman Catholics with a bishop presiding, the tension would have been unbearable – 35 minutes of politicized angst about “reform of the reform” and the meaning of Vatican II and you know the rest. Then this hit me: “I bet older Catholics who remember The Bad Old Days aren’t having my pleasant experience at all.” It didn’t take long for this to be confirmed. One fellow member of the Mystical Body found the service to be…wait for it… “oppressive.” Don’t ya love generational differences?
If there is a general outcry for it, I will offer up my wonkish critique of the psalm pointing, source selection, neume treatment, and such. But I’ll wait for the general outcry on that.