An Ill-Starred 1960s Ad Campaign

An ad campaign is probably trivialising what was clearly a campaign not to sell a product but to advocate for the traditional liturgy when the tide was perceived to be turning against it. The average person in the pew might believe the Church went from the old Mass to the new almost overnight. Seen in the context of the entire history of the Church some might argue it was little short of overnight. Nevertheless there were 5 years of official transition from the old liturgy to the new, with a new Ordo Missae in 1965, which was further reformed in 1967. Contiguous with this official universal reform was a melange of official, semi-official, unofficial and illicit experimentation and adaptation. Most of this was centred on and moulded by the local churches, almost invariably involving the introduction of the vernacular to the Mass to greater or lesser degrees.

In 1967 the Latin Mass Society had clearly taken fright. From February 1967 to February 1969 the LMS took out advertisements in The Clergy Review, placed at the beginning in the bod of the journal but soon they took out full-page ads on the inside of the front or back covers. The ads were every month except for April and September 1967, and January and November 1968. From March 1969 the LMS took out no more ads, one presumes either because they saw the die had been cast, or perhaps because they had run low on funds. I suspect the former.

The ads were interesting in the variety of their approach and I include some of them here as an historical curio. Swimming against the tide is a common experience for serious Catholics. This selection dates from 1968 but is representative of the general spread of the ads. I offer no commentary as others may be better placed to offer one.

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  1. The Mass in Latin is fine for those who know Latin, and perhaps that is all that is being advocated. But for the majority who do not know Latin, Mass in the vernacular seems an obvious improvement in terms of involvement in the Mass. My early memories, where I grew up, are of pious Mass attenders with their rosaries saying the rosary during Mass,and quite personally disconnected with what was going on at the altar. I always thought that bizarre.
    I was taught Latin by priests in a Catholic school and have no problem with it, but in most modern high schools or secondary schools Latin has been displaced, as far as I can see, by modern European languages.

    1. I think Joseph Shaw has the right response to this: one and the same Church gave us both the Latin Mass and all the teachings on faith and morals, and if we’re going to suppose that the Church was totally wrong about how we worship God (reducing the laity to dumb spectators with no understanding of or involvement in what was going on), why should we trust her when it comes to relating to God in other ways (by living morally and believing the right things about him)?

    2. The common belief that one must “know” or “speak” Latin to get the most from the worship experience in the TLM is a falsehood used as an excuse to avoid it, just like the ramped-up memories of little old ladies praying their Rosaries during that Mass. Yes, there were always a group of those, but their numbers were small. The majority of us followed the TLM in our Latin/English Missals, and we knew where we were and what was going on – not by watching but by repeatedly following along – authentic interior participation.

      And, no, we didn’t “know” the Latin except through sheer repetition of exposure. Funny what you can pick up just by inserting yourself into the experience.

      1. Exactly my point, Phil Steinacker, You followed the Mass in your Latin/English Missals because there was a ready translation from Latin into English for you ; but if the Mass had simply been said by the priest in the vernacular, there would have been no need for the translation.
        If the Missal used by the congregation was simply in Latin alone, then the majority who did not know Latin would not have understood what the priest was saying. Why complicate matters by saying the Mass in a language ( Latin) which the majority do not understand ?
        The argument seems to be that incomprehension of the liturgy is better than comprehension because of its ancient provenance.

  2. And yet STILL many bishops & priests continue to make celebrations of the EF Mass very difficult. I have met some priests who react violently (in speech) when offered the opportunity of attending EF Mass. Our Church is in a dire position & yet so many do nothing to redress the situation. Can they not see that we have a dearth of priests & religious. & congregations? Do even priests still believe in the Real Presence? Certainly not those who pass before the tabernacle with a cursory bow & those who DARE to receive Our Lord & God in profane hands. AMDG

  3. We hear much of the argument that ‘involvement’ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is better facilitated by the use of the vernacular. I question whether or not this necessarily the case. If by ‘involvement’ is meant being able to hear the words being spoken in English rather than the Liturgical language of Latin one must remember that hearing and understanding does not necessarily guarantee involvement. If involvement also includes the active participation by representatives of the congregation in the form of a couple of ‘welcomers’, two readers with perhaps a cantor, a Eucharistic minister, altar server and a music group with singers (who sometimes seem to choose music unsuited to the Liturgical action because it is chosen with more consideration to its ability to entertain); then I suggest it that does not necessarily satisfy the notion of individual ‘involvement’ per se. Involvement must surely mean a personal and individual concentrated attention to what is happening on the Altar even if one remains in the pew without having any particular function to perform. It means listening carefully to what the Priest/Celebrant is doing and saying; to the words of Holy Scripture and in particular to the words of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, to a wrapt attention to and recognition of Our Lord when He truly appears in our midst at the words of Consecration. The centre and summit of our participation simply by our presence. Yes, it is more convenient to hear the words of scripture in our own language perhaps and I quite like to hear it so, providing the reader is clear and sufficiently loud as well as being able to convey accurately the meaning of the reading. But I have never had a problem following the Latin by using a Missal with an English translation alongside. As far as the parts of the Mass which do not vary according to seasons and feasts, one quickly becomes familiar with them and learns to understand and appreciate them spoken with the beauty of the Latin language. It simply means making an effort. One can still be aware of all those other disciples around you who are present sharing the same faith in Christ’s Sacrificial presence and take comfort from being with each other without necessarily chatting and shaking hands during the Sacred rites. After leaving the church is the time for catching up with the latest parish news and saying ‘hello’ to particular friends and enjoying the company of all the other members of our one Body of Christ. Even going down the pub for a pint if you want! I guess what I am driving at is that a person may be just as involved devotionally and spiritually at the Extraordinary Rite of Mass as any other. Equally of course, there is no reason why the Novus Ordo cannot also be said with true reverence and devotion. I only wish that I had experienced this to be the case more frequently. A simple rule: Whatever rite one prefers, put Christ first and foremost and not allow yourself to be distracted.

    1. I think the biggest problem with the Novus Ordo is that it makes it difficult to cultivate an attitude of prayerful contemplation towards the mysteries spread before you. No matter how reverently it’s celebrated, you constantly have things to do — stand up, sit down, say this, make this response — and it’s difficult, if not outright impossible, to fully lose yourself in just contemplating the mysteries.

      1. The Novus Ordo may have its faults but it is surely preferable to the Tridentine Mass which most people, not having learned Latin, do not understand. I don’t personally have a problem having done Latin at College but what of the majority who have not ? I am told that few second- level schools now teach Latin, as the demand for it is simply not there.


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