Sunday, October 24, 2010

where is the real diversity...

... looking at photos of my son singing in the church choir the first thing I noticed was all the different ethnicities of our parish represented in the faces of the youth. It is one of the few Catholic parishes I have ever attended that has been so racially diverse. You can get a true sense of how universal the church is on any given Sunday at this particular church.

And here is why I think that is. This particular parish refuses to have a separate mass in Spanish. In deliberately choosing to not self segregate ourselves, everyone then attends mass together. I am sure many parishes have a large Hispanic population too, but you would never know because they go to their mass and you go to yours. And the two shall never meet.

I understand the desire to maintain cultural identity and be among your own. But is church the place to preserve this identity? Is this what She really needs; a divided and segregated church with masses in different languages? I also think it does just as much damage to have entire parishes devoted to one specific ethnic group.



Mitch said...

However, this type of arguement is why we get the latinization of Eastern Rites. "Well, they really shouldn't be seperating themselves from the rest of the parishes around here... so I Bishop Ireland will not allow married priests for the Eastern Catholics" => Bam! They leave for Orthodoxy.

I see the issue you have with the ghettoization of the Church, and I agree unity should be increased but at the same time we have to be careful of how we blend, combine and move forward.

Andie said...

I'm a lurker, and have chosen this ocssion to creep forth from the shadows. I love your blog for so many, many reasons.

A couple things here:

One, masses in different languages aren't just translations; for people who understand the languages, they are different masses. No matter how close the translation is, the nuance of language adds to the meaning for those who attend. And especially when we're talking about prayer, language matters. Personally, I am a different person in Spanish than I am in English, and I am barely conversational (much to my abuela's sadness).

Two, and following one, the universality of the church is not really expressed by obliging everyone to worship in precisely the same manner, but in the huge range of ways that the Church's central, immutable Truths are expresses and experienced. Not having given it a whole lot of thought, I think that suggesting masses should be in the same language is sort of similar to saying everyone should practice the same devotions. I know that devotions and the Mass are very, very different, and like I said, I haven't thought that through very well, but given how important and significant language is as an aspect of identity, I feel like there's some kind of correlation.

So from one and two, I wouldn't be comfortable telling anyone they ought to abandon Mass in their mother tongue.

On a more practical note specific to Spanish, and along the same lines as what Mitch said, it seems really risky -- maybe even uncharitable -- to take a largely immigrant population that also tends to be deeply religious and take from them something precious and familiar. And (little known fact, but a fact), two-thirds or practicing Catholics under 35 are Hispanic. So if we're going to have all Masses in one language, at least at most parishes, it ought to be Spanish, but I can guess what how that would go over with the people in charge, who remain largely not-Hispanic.

Finally, I'd be interested to hear more about your experience at your parish and whether that integration extends beyond the pew in a meaningful way. I think if we want to bring about unity between the groups in our Church, it's going to REALLY happen outside the Mass. While I am (clearly) a fan of Masses in different languages, I am more skeptical about segregated groups within the parish (some parishes have different youth groups for different ethnic groups, for example; while different groups can have hugely different needs that need to be addressed in different ways, I get a little nervous about that sort of thing).

And that's my dissertation, by which I emerge from lurker-hood.

The Ringmistress said...

When I lived in Lubbock, there was a huge divide between the English and Spanish speakers. We frequently argued that this was the best reason for a Mass in Latin. It was neutral alternative that didn't favor one group over the other. Of course that would leave an issue of what language the homily would be in, but a priest could easily solve that if he had a parish that truly had a population that divided by alternating the language for the sermon and printing a translation for the rest of the congregation.

I think there is a big difference between restricting a Rite to a common language and latinizing other rites. Really, how many folks are actually fluent in Old Slavonic these days? It's not there language anymore, but it is the liturgical language of a group of Eastern Catholics, and ought to remain so. Latin is our language for us Latin Rite Catholics.

I'm not willing to claim that American Catholics ought to worship in English though, if we're going to going with a vernacular Mass. Our government may be English in origin, but this country has a long Spanish and French heritage as well, one that I think we abandon to our detriment (especially since it is where all the Catholic heritage is rooted). Nevertheless, I am in agreement that when we start worshipping in different languages, we lose an aspect of the universality of the Faith that unites us.

The Ringmistress said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

One reason I go to the Latin Mass is because of this. My parish has a very large Hispanic population, and they do have a Mass in Spanish. However, even at the English Masses, the Hispanics seem to be favored. Latin is universal. It plays no favorites.

Angela M. said...

We have many Portuguese and Fillipino parishioners but the Mass is in English. Especially since many of the priests in the diocese are Nigerian! Bring back the Latin!

Nan said...

Mitch, while it's unfortunate that Abp. Ireland was on an Americanization kick and wasn't knowledgable about the Unions of Brest and Uzhorod, Father Toth initially only took his parish back into communion with the Orthodox; he later went into the pay of the Czar who wanted him to convert Ruthenians.

In any case, those targeted for conversion were from formerly Orthodox lands, similar to Pope Benedict offering the Anglican Ordinariate.

I went to Vigil Mass in Moscow a few weeks ago and they offer Mass in Russian, Polish, English, Armenian, Korean, Latin and once a month offer Mass in the Extraordinary Form. I went to Mass in Russian.

PaxetBonum said...

I hope and pray to see the day when the norm is to offer most parochial Masses in Latin according to the editio typica of the OF or EF, and Latin Masses are accorded "pride of place" in the prime-time Sunday and weekday am time slots, with at least one EF Mass offered per Sunday. Vernacular Masses should be relegated to the non-prime-time Saturday vigil, very early Sunday am and Sunday and weekday afternoon/evening time slots.

Oh, and I'd like to see "multi-lingual/multi-culti" Masses suppressed entirely. Stick with just one language, or one language with some Latin Mass parts or prayers.

Oremus pro Pontifice, Benedictus XVI.


Anita Moore said...

John XXIII said one of the reasons Latin is the language of the Church is precisely to avoid nationalistic/ethnic/cultural jealousies.

Anonymous said...


Bloody Polish parishes.

A Pole.

Whimsy said...

In one parish there is Spanish and English masses, but the Reconciliation services are bilingual.

When it comes time to say the Our Father, everyone is supposed to say it in the native language.

It sounds awful!

I'm not so radical to say that we ought to scrap the separate masses, but could we at least say the Our Father in Latin every Sunday so we can say it together at the Reconciliation service??

Linda said...

Best arguement for Latin!

Rick said...

A Church in NJ said, "They'd rather burn the building down than let the Latinos use it." You're a Latina right, Sotomayor is your hermana. From the sound of that report, do you think that if you're FOB, you'd integrate in that community like a beloved sister. Or would you feel like a child out of wedlock whom everyone scoffs behind her back. That is why there are ethnic Masses.