I attended a Latin, or Tridentine, Mass at St. Anthony's of Padua in Jersey City yesterday. The Mass was a beautiful work of art. A full choir, along with the priest, chanted the entire liturgy. Only the Gospel was given in English. This was my first Latin Mass in, probably, 45 years.
Mark Stahlman, a Facebook friend, invited me to attend. Mark is a Marshall McCluhan scholar.
St. Anthony's is all of four blocks from the house where Myrna and I lived as she was dying of cancer.
What did the Church gain by destroying its own tradition of the Latin Mass? Nothing, or so it appears to me. Every time the Church concedes to its critics that it must "reform" in order to be contemporary and relevant, the result is that more people leave the Church.
Mark's academic focus is on how media affects the Church. He divides the modern era into Radio, Television and Digital eras. The dominant media of each era shapes the assumptions of the listener/viewer/user about how the world works. The Church has consistently, according to Mark, failed to appreciate the impact of these different media eras on its faithful.
Vatican II, according to Mark, was the response of the Church to the Television era. The dominant message of that era was "Do your own thing." One of the primary reforms of Vatican II was dumping the Latin Mass in favor of Mass being given in the native tongue of the congregation.
The Latin Mass is a stunning work of art and dramatic theater when it is properly presented. Learning another language, even one no longer in use, is a great intellectual exercise. The Latin Mass sort of united the Church under the banner of "Roman." At the time of Vatican II, I was generally in favor of the "reforms," but the long term affect of those reforms seems to be entirely negative.
I'll be going back to St. Anthony's. I really enjoyed Latin Mass.