Monday, January 3, 2011

Latin lover

My brother George and I were talking about the Mass we went to on New Year's Day and he was saying it made him remember Uncle Bob. We had a funny situation when we were kids and teenagers. Uncle Bob never got over the loss of the Tridentine Mass. He was blind and one thing our parents made us do was take turns taking Uncle Bob to Mass. And every Mass it was torture, because the Mass was in English and Uncle Bob would say the responses loudly in Latin. And we would want to go through the floor.

George says now it is no wonder that he is practically un-embarrass-able. Next to Uncle Bob everything else is pretty much smooth sailing, you know? Nothing can beat that.

We always thought Uncle Bob was unique and in some ways he was. But in this Latin business, he was not. I was telling George, I was startled a while ago to read there was someone who used to do just what he did, create a scene by doing just what Uncle Bob did. By going to Mass when it was in English and saying the responses loudly and obstinately in Latin.

Here is what this gentleman's grandson recalled:

I vividly remember going to church with him in Bournemouth. He was a devout Roman Catholic and it was soon after the Church had changed the liturgy from Latin to English. My grandfather obviously didn't agree with this and made all the responses very loudly in Latin while the rest of the congregation answered in English. I found the whole experience quite excruciating, but my grandfather was oblivious. He simply had to do what he believed to be right.[87

I never would have guessed who his grandfather is. Here is a hint: He was a writer.

Were he alive now, which he is not, he would be very, very rich.

Give up?

It is J.R.R. Tolkien!

Tolkien loved the Tridentine Mass and never got over it when the Mass switched to English. He kept on going but he behaved the way my Uncle Bob did.

Here is a picture of J.R.R. Tolkien when he is happy and relaxed and thinking about hobbits and not about Mass in the vernacular.

It is almost impossible to find a picture of Tolkien without a pipe in his mouth. That is just like my Uncle Bob too.

I never got into "The Lord of the Rings" when I was a kid but all my friends did. Perhaps I will now. You never know. Here is something else I like about J.R.R. Tolkien, besides his kinship with my Uncle Bob.  I just read this clip online about "The Lord of the Rings" that says, among other things:

He originally intended that the work be published as one volume, but because of the immense length of the manuscript, the book was published as a trilogy: The Fellowship of the Rings (1954), The Two Towers (1954), and The Return of the King (1955).

Ha, ha! That reminds me of someone else I know.


"She originally intended that the work be published as one volume, but because of the immense length of the manuscript..."

That could be what my biographer will be writing some day!

Perhaps I will write a trilogy on Leonard Pennario.

At the rate I am going, I just might.

Facebook comments:

    • Bonnie L Musella Bowen I never could get into Lord of the Rings either.
      2 hours ago · 

    • Daryle Pompeo Tolkien was definitely a stubborn old Latin scholar. He wrote for the Oxford English Dictionary, looking up the etymology of Germanic words that start with 'W'.

      He must have killed at parties.

      51 minutes ago ·  ·  1 person

    • Paul Gunderson The Professor (whose birthday it is today) also did a *bit* of translating and editing of The Jerusalem Bible - part work on the Books of Jonah and Job.
      36 minutes ago ·  ·  1 person

    • Mary Kunz Goldman Paul, it's Tolkien's birthday today?? How odd!! I had no idea. I just looked it up and sure enough, there it is, Jan. 3. I hope "the professor" -- I love how you call him that -- would be pleased.
      2 minutes ago · 


Prof. G said...

Latin to English; I have vivid memories of the switch which took place in the middle 1960s. What stands out in my mind was not language so much as the strong sense of betrayal felt by traditionalists when they were told that non-Catholics had rights and were no longer to be despised and shunned. For centuries, Catholics, at least those I lived with, were taught that the Catholic Church was the One True Religion worshiping the Only Real God. Changing the language was only one factor of what they felt was a disgusting sell - out to pagans. Who wants to belong to a club where anybody can be a member?

Bingles said...

My Grandfather... who went along with the reforms, did lament the loss of uniformity in the Liturgy.

He was a Marine stationed in China after WWII during China's reconstruction. One of his duties included escorting people to and from Mass. "Back then", he'd say "it didn't matter where you were in the world.. when you went to a Catholic Church, it looked and sounded as it did in your own parish. No matter where you were, it was home."

Mary Kunz Goldman said...

Bing, I agree with your dad! That is something we have lost, the universality. I like to think we will get it back!

Mary Kunz Goldman said...

Prof. G, I don't shun or despise non-Catholics. But I think they lost so much reverence when they took away the Latin. It opened the door to so much goofiness. Well, we have talked about that...

Prof. G said...

I have never said or implied that you shun or despise non-Catholics; you were born too late for that environment. My point is that was the unspoken point of view in the old days - at least among my family and Catholic social circle (I'm older than you). I fully agree that a sense of reverence and awe in worship was abandoned and that the liturgical rite was (to crib a phrase from Fred Allen) thrown to the cretin. In fact, when the celebrant turned around, it often became a kind of narcissistic 60s-ish love-in...and a very lazy one.