A new lecture from Cardinal Sarah

We missed yesterday a delightful surprise at New Liturgical Movement: a talk by Robert Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, to the priests of the Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, the jurisdiction of Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, himself formerly a high official in the Congregation for Divine Worship. Cardinal Sarah’s talk was about “liturgical life and the priesthood,” and it is a must-read lecture for priests and laity alike. It has been exclusively shared with NLM, so we will not quote much of it, instead encouraging you to read the whole thing there. However, we will quote one brief passage from the talk:

Firstly, let us ask ourselves: how do we pray the Divine Office? Is it something that we have to ‘get done’ as soon as possible each day so as to be ‘free’ to get on with other tasks? Do I even neglect to pray it sometimes? Certainly, pastoral life is busy, but if I do not pray the Prayer of the Church as I have solemnly promised to do, or if I do not pray it with fervour, with devotion, and indeed liturgically, then I am failing to nourish my soul and I am endangering my vocation.

Practically speaking I would suggest this: as often as is possible pray the Divine Office liturgically, together with others, most especially with your people, for the Office is not a text to be read but a rite to be celebrated, with its own rituals, postures, chant, etc. And if circumstances dictate that you must pray the Office by yourself, do as much as you can to make it a liturgical rite—pray it in an oratory if possible, standing and sitting and so on at the appropriate times. Sing the Office if it is possible—it is not a book to be read in an armchair; rather it is the loving song of the Church, of the Bride, to Him Who has redeemed us.

(Emphasis supplied.) Music to our ears! Say what you will about Mass celebrated ad orientem or versus apsidem—the ancient tradition of the Church, which was abandoned only the day before yesterday, practically speaking, and for almost no reason at all. But how can anyone object to the regular celebration of the Divine Office with one’s congregation? How can anyone object to parishioners forming scholae to participate in the liturgy in a more meaningful way—by singing it, preferably in Latin—connecting themselves with their fathers in the faith going back all the way to the earliest days of the Church in Jerusalem?

It is another example of the great Cardinal’s clear thinking and frank talk.

A tragedy in Norcia

We woke up this morning to find that a strong earthquake had rocked Italy, including Norcia. Early reports show that 73 people are known to have died in the quake and perhaps hundreds more are trapped in rubble. Property damage is apparently widespread and very serious.

Rorate Caeli reports that the Benedictines of Norcia, known, among other things, for their wonderful liturgy and their beer, are safe. However, their buildings, including their basilica, have been damaged. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, a supporter of the monks of Norcia, has more information at his blog about the damage to the monastery.

At the very least, prayers are dearly needed for Norcia and its surrounding region.

UPDATE: Gregory DiPippo at New Liturgical Movement reports that the Benedictines have made the decision to relocate temporarily to Rome, residing at the Benedictine center of Sant’Anselmo, pending a structural investigation of their buildings.

Shea, Fisher, politics, and the Catholic Media

We note at the outset that we did not follow either Mark Shea or Simcha Fisher all that closely. This will surprise no one, but we probably were not the target audience or the ideal reader for either of them. However, from time to time, something they wrote at the National Catholic Register (or elsewhere) would bubble into our sphere. Sometimes we agreed, sometimes we disagreed, but never especially vehemently and never often. The fact of the matter is that neither of them wrote regularly on topics in which we ourselves were interested. Over the last few days, it appears that the National Catholic Register (or its parent company, EWTN) has fired both Shea and Fisher. This has provoked a lot of reaction, both cheering the firings and lamenting them. It seems to us that the firings, which may or may not have been just considered on their own terms, say something important about the state of American Catholic media.

Shea’s firing was very strange. The Register, in a statement issued concerning the firing, stated that Shea never violated their editorial standards. However, it appears that statements he made on other websites were sufficient to cause them to terminate his employment. (It does not appear that Shea broke those other websites’ rules.) In other words, the Register admits that Shea’s work for them was at least minimally satisfactory. Strange, then, that he would be let go. Fisher’s firing was stranger still, since it remains hugely unclear to us what she was let go for. Some people have suggested that it was due to some vulgar language in a political context, others that she expressed too much support for Shea. It seems that one explanation that has been given is that Shea and Fisher can be pointed in different ways in their interactions on Facebook, but that hardly seems like a justification for firing someone, not least since a platform like Facebook encourages pointed interactions.

And we have spoken with some folks who have had less than charming interactions with Mark Shea in particular, and they believe that he could be very pointed and very dismissive of his opponents. Though we have yet to see a debate on matters of faith conducted on the internet that does not involve someone being very pointed and very dismissive of one’s opponents. Perhaps Shea exceeded the limits imposed by charity, perhaps he didn’t. That’s a matter for him and his confessor. We mention it only to say that sharp elbows seem to be a known hazard among those of us who discuss these matters on the internet. One may celebrate Shea getting at long last his comeuppance, but one shouldn’t whistle past the graveyard quite so cheerfully. We wouldn’t want to be judged on our worst interactions. Likewise, people feel that Fisher could be pointed. However, it seems to us that Fisher does not quite have the same reputation for nastiness that Shea does.

It is also, we will say only briefly, something else to see traditionally minded Catholics, who have been tone-policed and concern-trolled, to say the least, by everyone from high prelates in the Church on down at various times, engaging in exactly the same sort of behavior that was intolerable when applied to them. Error has no rights, it is true, but let us be humane about these things, even if our opponents are not.

At any rate, we have seen some gloating among traditionally minded Catholics, many of whom never had a lot of use for EWTN or the National Catholic Register to begin with, over Shea and Fisher’s firings. The thrust of it is that Shea and Fisher weren’t traditionally minded Catholics and maybe even weren’t all that conservative, and, thus, they deserved what they got. Some folks might even be able to point to specific issues on which Shea and Fisher were insufficiently orthodox or whatever, but even that may presuppose a traditional mindset. (Certainly, we have questions about NFP as it is currently understood popularly, to take one example at semi-random, but we strive to avoid discussing the matter at any length for a variety of reasons.) But it is unclear to us that EWTN or the Register is especially known for the sort of precise, clear-eyed orthodoxy that other outlets are. They seem to be, instead, the voice of a center-right, middle-of-the-road American Catholicism.

This seems to us to be the crucial problem. It seems to us that Shea and Fisher were not heterodox in a relevant way (at least from the corporation’s perspective), so much as they were inconvenient to the specific coalition that EWTN and the Register serve. A traditionally minded Catholic might call the coalition “neo-Caths on the American political right.” (The Reporter is, of course, their left counterpart. More on that in a second.) This is, of course, insider jargon, but what it means is, essentially, a Catholic for whom the doctrine of the Church begins and ends with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the platform of the Republican Party. Shea and Fisher often pitched to the left, speaking in American political terms, of this alliance, though I don’t think either of them is a leftist in conventional terms. Shea perhaps is more explicitly to the left, insofar as part of his project was rejecting the implication that Catholics have to be on the American political right. But, notwithstanding their precise personal categorization, neither of them spends a lot of time making nice with Catholics on the American political right.  And that seems to be a big part of the problem for us with the Shea and Fisher situation. Perhaps Shea is uncharitable in online interactions; perhaps Fisher uses vulgar language when she oughtn’t; but both of those things seem to be convenient pretexts for the Register getting rid of some contributors who don’t fit in with the broader political tendencies of the Register‘s constituency.

Just as EWTN and the Register is the house organ of the neo-Cath/GOP coalition, so too is the Reporter the house organ of Catholics on the American political left. And both sides have essentially guaranteed that their readers will never be challenged by a contrary view. Name one politically conservative writer for the Reporter. Try to name one politically liberal, or relatively politically liberal, writer for the Register (after Shea and Fisher got canned). There is, then, no contradiction to either publication’s contention that they represent the correct expression of Catholicism in the United States, which involves fusion with one or the other major political party, when anyone with eyes to see can identify the serious problems with either. Moreover, the ideological purification of the publications only furthers this toxic, erroneous notion that Catholics ought to engage wholeheartedly with the categories of the American political spectrum.

We have said and said, both here and elsewhere, that the alliance between Catholics and the American political right, forged largely on the basis of the Republican Party’s laudable opposition to legalized infanticide, is one of the most damaging relationships that the Church has entered. It seemingly locks Catholics into a set of policies that in many ways deviate seriously from the traditional teaching of the Church, especially on issues central to the Church’s social teaching. Consider Republican nominee Donald J. Trump’s immigration platform. Are a border wall and aggressive background investigations for some immigrants consistent with the natural right of migration that Pius XII articulated in his radio address on the 50th anniversary of Rerum novarum or in his Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia Nazarethana? (We leave it to you to decide, though we suspect you know what we think.) And other issues could be mentioned, if you think immigration too hot button an issue. A Catholic who wants to be a good Republican is, therefore, in a bind. And Shea and Fisher, each in their way, did little to make that situation more comfortable for those Catholics.

We note in passing that Catholics who want to be good Democrats have been in a very serious bind for a very long time, and we will not rehearse all the problems with that approach, since they are all too obvious and all too well known. We don’t want to minimize this difficult, but we don’t want to bore you (or ourselves) by repeating the all the allegations of the libellus. Suffice it to say that no Catholic can wholeheartedly support—or, indeed, even support in the slightest way without the gravest reservations and for a grave cause—a political party that makes a “right” to infanticide and contraception a cornerstone of its platform.

Indeed, it goes beyond mere discomfort: Trump is causing strain within this traditional coalition. George Weigel and Robert George came out strong against Trump in March, when the Trump candidacy was still a contingent thing. (We probably criticized it here then, as little more than an objection that Trump was outside the neo-Cath/GOP consensus, which still seems a just critique to us.) And even sources that aren’t hugely in touch with Catholic thought realize, especially in the light of Steve Bannon’s comments, among other things, that Trump has a hard time connecting with Catholics. In other words, not only is the dual loyalty of this neo-Cath/GOP coalition a difficulty philosophically, but also the concrete problem of Donald Trump is a tremendous difficulty. A Catholic who wants to be a good Republican is in a very serious bind in the age of Donald Trump.

Catholics—at least Catholics who are serious about the Church’s teachings—know that all this is exactly backwards. The American political spectrum ought to engage wholeheartedly with the teachings of the Church. Catholics should not run to figure out how they can combine their political beliefs and their faith comfortably. Indeed, the only way the sickness in American culture gets better is by submitting to Christ the King and His Church, not by demanding that Christ get out of public life and that the Church accommodate whatever novelty, however wretched, people come up with.

 

A brief note for the record

Recently, Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump reorganized his campaign, bringing Breitbart boss Steve Bannon on board and ushering veteran operative Paul Manafort to the door. This was seen as an attempt to right Trump’s sinking poll numbers in advance of the November general election. Bannon has a reputation as a maverick in the ordinarily staid Washington political scene, and is seen by many as a tough-as-nails brawler with a keen sense of what people on the right want to see. He also has something of a dim view of the opposition of some Catholics to Donald Trump.

Indeed, Bannon connects the opposition to Trump to the desire to rejuvenate the American Church through immigration. The Hill has reported on some comments Bannon has made about the Church, including this remark:

“I understand why Catholics want as many Hispanics in this country as possible, because the church is dying in this country, right? If it was not for the Hispanics,” Bannon told Robert P. George, a Princeton law professor who, along with dozens of other leaders, wrote an open letter to fellow Catholics denouncing Trump.

“I get that, right? But I think that is the subtext of part of the letter, and I think that is the subtext of a lot of the political direction of this.”

(Emphasis supplied.) Bannon also criticized House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “social-justice Catholicism.”

Yet another sign that American Catholics need to be far less cozy with either of the major political parties? You decide.

New “mega-dicastery” for laity, family, and life formally established

Today, the Holy Father has handed down the Apostolic Letter motu proprio data Sedula Mater, formally establishing the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life. He has also appointed the Bishop of Dallas, Kevin Joseph Farrell, as the first prefect of the new dicastery. Recall that the statutes of the Dicastery were approved ad experimentum in June, and scheduled to come into force in September. In an interesting twist, the statutes anticipate that the secretary of the Dicastery may be a layperson, and three lay undersecretaries (for the laity, family, and life divisions). (Art. 2 § 1.) Indeed, much about the new dicastery is interesting in comparison to the ordinary structure of a Roman congregation under Pastor Bonus. (Though Pastor Bonus, art. 3 § 1, plainly anticipates that particular law might create a unique dicastery.)

All of this is interesting, to be sure, but we are especially interested in the fact that the Holy Father approved the statutes before he created the Dicastery. Certainly, since the Dicastery is ultimately the product of a merger, for the moment, of the Pontifical Council for Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family, with, we suppose, the anticipated involvement of the Pontifical Council for Life, perhaps it was easier to put the cart before the horse this time, but still the optics are passing strange.

The Assumption and Our Lady’s death

Yesterday was the Feast of the Assumption, and we saw in a couple of places some questions about what, exactly, the Dogma of the Assumption requires Catholics to believe. A certain question arises in the context of the comparison of the Assumption with the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Feast of the Dormition: did Our Lady die before she was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory? Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox say that she did, in fact, suffer death, and was resurrected and assumed into heaven. (There are various accounts of her death and resurrection.) But what does the Latin Church say? It turns out that that’s an open question. Indeed, we’ll see here in a minute that Pius XII’s definition of the Assumption, in fact, leaves the question open. But, we’ll also see that the tradition of the Church provides a possible—probable?—answer.

First a quick reminder what Pius declared. In the Latin text of Munificentissimus Deus, the Dogma of the Assumption is defined thus:

Quapropter, postquam supplices etiam atque etiam ad Deum admovimus preces, ac Veritatis Spiritus lumen invocavimus, ad Omnipotentis Dei gloriam, qui peculiarem benevolentiam suam Mariae Virgini dilargitus est, ad sui Filii honorem, immortalis saeculorum Regis ac peccati mortisque victoris, ad eiusdem augustae Matris augendam gloriam et ad totius Ecclesiae gaudium exsultationemque, auctoritate Domini Nostri Iesu Christi, Beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli ac Nostra pronuntiamus, declaramus et definimus divinitus revelatum dogma esse : Immaculatam Deiparam semper Virginem Mariam, expleto terrestris vitae cursu, fuisse corpore et anima ad caelestem gloriam assumptam.

(Emphasis supplied.) Which is rendered in the Vatican’s English translation as:

For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

(Emphasis supplied.) She “completed the course of her earthly life.” In other words, Pius XII never says whether Our Lady died prior to being assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

Father John Hunwicke makes precisely that observation, and goes on to observe that Pius’s definition actually omits a considerable part of the tradition:

The first millennium texts common to Rome and Canterbury expressed a belief common also to the East: that Mary ‘underwent temporal death’; that nevertheless she ‘could not be held down by the bonds of death’ and that the precise reason why God ‘translated her from this age’ was that ‘she might faithfully intercede for our sins’. This is the Ancient Common Tradition of East and West. It is, in fact, expressed clearly in much of the liturgical and patristic evidence which Pius XII cited as evidence for the dogma in Munificentissimus Deus; one suspects that this is because the Pope would have been much shorter of evidence if he had omitted this material. But it is left out of the definition. Which means that it has de facto disappeared from the consciousness of Latin Christendom.

[…]

Yet this is not what Pius XII defined. His 1950 definition, as the ARCIC document on Mary accurately reminds us, does not ‘use about her the language of death and resurrection, but celebrates the action of God in her.’ [A very strange ‘but’!] In other words, Pius XII took a machete and slashed ruthlessly at the Common Ancient Tradition about our Lady’s end, not simply by ignoring the apocryphal stories about how the Apostles gathered and what they found in the tomb and how S Thomas arrived late and all the rest of it; but also by pruning away even the bare structural bones of what Christians Eastern and Western had harmoniously thought they knew: that she died and was resurrected.

(Emphasis supplied.) But Father Hunwicke is not alone in this observation.

No less a churchman than St. John Paul made the same observation in a June 1997 general audience, noting that the opinion that Our Lady did not die was “unknown until the 17th century”:

Concerning the end of Mary’s earthly life, the Council uses the terms of the Bull defining the dogma of the Assumption and states: “The Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over” (Lumen gentium, n. 59). With this formula, the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, following my Venerable Predecessor Pius XII, made no pronouncement on the question of Mary’s death. Nevertheless, Pius XII did not intend to deny the fact of her death, but merely did not judge it opportune to affirm solemnly the death of the Mother of God as a truth to be accepted by all believers. 

Some theologians have in fact maintained that the Blessed Virgin did not die and and was immediately raised from earthly life to heavenly glory. However, this opinion was unknown until the 17th century, whereas a common tradition actually exists which sees Mary’s death as her entry into heavenly glory. 

Could Mary of Nazareth have experienced the drama of death in her own flesh? Reflecting on Mary’s destiny and her relationship with her divine Son, it seems legitimate to answer in the affirmative: since Christ died, it would be difficult to maintain the contrary for his Mother. 

The Fathers of the Church, who had no doubts in this regard, reasoned along these lines. One need only quote St Jacob of Sarug (†521), who wrote that when the time came for Mary “to walk on the way of all generations”, the way, that is, of death, “the group of the Twelve Apostles” gathered to bury “the virginal body of the Blessed One” (Discourse on the burial of the Holy Mother of God, 87-99 in C. Vona, Lateranum 19 [1953], 188). St Modestus of Jerusalem (†634), after a lengthy discussion of “the most blessed dormition of the most glorious Mother of God”, ends his eulogy by exalting the miraculous intervention of Christ who “raised her from the tomb”, to take her up with him in glory (Enc. in dormitionem Deiparae semperque Virginis Mariae, nn. 7 and 14: PG 86 bis, 3293; 3311). St John Damascene (†704) for his part asks: “Why is it that she who in giving birth surpassed all the limits of nature should now bend to its laws, and her immaculate body be subjected to death?”. And he answers: “To be clothed in immortality, it is of course necessary that the mortal part be shed, since even the master of nature did not refuse the experience of death. Indeed, he died according to the flesh and by dying destroyed death; on corruption he bestowed incorruption and made death the source of resurrection” (Panegyric on the Dormition of the Mother of God, n. 10: SC 80, 107).

(Emphasis supplied and one hyperlink omitted.) Unknown until the 17th century! A common, patristic tradition says Our Lady died! What on earth could explain the more recent opinion—an opinion that is, in the life of the Church, no older than the day before yesterday—that Our Lady did not die?

John Paul has an idea, and it’s confusion—though confusion might be too strong a word—resulting from the Immaculate Conception. We die because of original sin. But for Adam and Eve’s first sin in Eden, we would live forever. (This is, of course, why a New Adam was necessary to restore us to immortality.) But! the objection goes, Our Lady was in her conception preserved free from the stain of original sin. Indeed, Pius IX infallibly declared the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception in Ineffabilis Deus in 1854. So, the argument goes, if we die because of original sin (true!), and Our Lady was preserved free from the stain of original sin (true!), then Our Lady was not subject to death. How, then, can one hold that Our Lady died before being assumed bodily into heavenly glory? John Paul answers:

It is true that in Revelation death is presented as a punishment for sin. However, the fact that the Church proclaims Mary free from original sin by a unique divine privilege does not lead to the conclusion that she also received physical immortality. The Mother is not superior to the Son who underwent death, giving it a new meaning and changing it into a means of salvation. 

Involved in Christ’s redemptive work and associated in his saving sacrifice, Mary was able to share in his suffering and death for the sake of humanity’s Redemption. What Severus of Antioch says about Christ also applies to her: “Without a preliminary death, how could the Resurrection have taken place?” (Antijulianistica, Beirut 1931, 194f.). To share in Christ’s Resurrection, Mary had first to share in his death.

(Emphasis supplied.) Recall briefly the witness of St. John Damascene in the passage quoted above:

“Why is it that she who in giving birth surpassed all the limits of nature should now bend to its laws, and her immaculate body be subjected to death?”. And he answers: “To be clothed in immortality, it is of course necessary that the mortal part be shed, since even the master of nature did not refuse the experience of death. Indeed, he died according to the flesh and by dying destroyed death; on corruption he bestowed incorruption and made death the source of resurrection

(Emphasis supplied.) And this makes sense, and, for our part, it answers the objection nicely. Others may have deeper, more penetrating questions remaining, but our limited, limited theological training leaves us happy with what we have here.

We add, as a brief aside, that it also seems to us that this would be an excellent point to include in official dialogue between Catholic, both Latin and Eastern, theologians and Orthodox theologians, since it is a point where there could be much fruitful enrichment of the Latin tradition by the Eastern and Orthodox traditions.

Returning to our main point, it seems to us that Pius XII may well have had Ineffabilis Deus and the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception in mind when he defined the Assumption. Certainly, the common tradition of the Church—capital-T Tradition, most likely—held that Our Lady died, was raised from the dead, and was assumed bodily into heaven. Pius cites sources from this tradition in Munificentissimus Deus. Yet, when it comes time to actually define the Dogma of the Assumption, Pius leaves this significant component of the tradition out, making instead a very general statement about Our Lady completing the course of her earthly life. (And it seems to us, if she was assumed body and soul into heaven, perforce she completed the course of her earthly life.) Is it possible, then, that Pius wanted to avoid the merest whiff of difficulty with his dogmatic definition? The faintest hint of trickiness between the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption? One way to do that would be to adopt a minimalistic definition of the Assumption that permits Catholics to adopt, really, either view about the exact circumstances of Our Lady’s assumption into heaven.

In one of our comments elsewhere about this question, we observed that it would be a worthwhile project to write a study about the circumstances, beginning in 1946 with the Encyclical Deiparae Virginis Mariae, polling the world’s bishops about whether it was opportune to define as a dogma the Assumption, and continuing through the glorious fall day in 1950 when Pius declared the dogma. It would be an interesting story, full of colorful characters. (One of Pius’s advisers was the eminent Dominican theologian, Guérard des Lauriers, who was later consecrated a bishop by Archbishop Thuc, for example.) And it may well clear up some of the perplexities surrounding the definition, including why, precisely, Pius chose not to include an important aspect of the tradition in the definition. Perhaps such a study exists, and if it does and you’re feeling charitable, do feel free to drop us an email.

 

Pope Paul’s “Sacrificium laudis”

At New Liturgical Movement, Peter Kwasniewski has a brief piece commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Sacrificium laudis, Paul VI’s 1966 apostolic letter to religious exhorting them to retain the choral office in Latin. Kwasniewski’s essay includes a translation by the eminent English Dominican, Fr. Thomas Crean, of Paul’s letter. Echoing a point we have made here before, Kwasniewski observes:

But in many ways the greatest tragedy of the postconciliar period was the sudden, dramatic, worldwide collapse of religious life, especially in its contemplative branches, and the disappearance, as if overnight, of the chanting of the Divine Office in Gregorian chant. It was an anti-miracle, so to speak — a feat of Satan who, appearing as an angel of light, lured the religious to their doom. The praises of God, which had been sung day and night for well over a millennium with melodies more beautiful than any the world has ever birthed before or since, fell silent, with the silence of the tomb.

And yet, Pope Paul VI, in words no less clear, stalwart, principled, and prophetic than those he uttered about birth control in Humanae Vitae, urged religious in 1966 to uphold their traditional choral office at all costs, for it was their special contribution to the life, health, and growth of the Mystical Body. While it is true that Paul VI, with his self-admitted Hamlet syndrome, walked a zigzag path in contrary directions, seeming to be trapped in the torments and doubts of his age, he nevertheless rose above the churning waters now and again to speak a clear word that, had it only been followed, would have been a blessing for the Church.

(Emphasis supplied.) For example, consider this passage from Pope Paul:

What is in question here is not only the retention within the choral office of the Latin language, though it is of course right that this should be eagerly guarded and should certainly not be lightly esteemed. For this language is, within the Latin Church, an abundant well-spring of Christian civilisation and a very rich treasure-trove of devotion. But it is also the seemliness, the beauty and the native strength of these prayers and canticles which is at stake: the choral office itself, ‘the lovely voice of the Church in song’ (Cf. St Augustine’s Confessions, Bk 9, 6). Your founders and teachers, the holy ones who are as it were so many lights within your religious families, have transmitted this to you. The traditions of the elders, your glory throughout long ages, must not be belittled. Indeed, your manner of celebrating the choral office has been one of the chief reasons why these families of yours have lasted so long, and happily increased. It is thus most surprising that under the influence of a sudden agitation, some now think that it should be given up.

In present conditions, what words or melodies could replace the forms of Catholic devotion which you have used until now? You should reflect and carefully consider whether things would not be worse, should this fine inheritance be discarded. It is to be feared that the choral office would turn into a mere bland recitation, suffering from poverty and begetting weariness, as you yourselves would perhaps be the first to experience. One can also wonder whether men would come in such numbers to your churches in quest of the sacred prayer, if its ancient and native tongue, joined to a chant full of grave beauty, resounded no more within your walls. We therefore ask all those to whom it pertains, to ponder what they wish to give up, and not to let that spring run dry from which, until the present, they have themselves drunk deep.

(Emphasis supplied.) Read the whole thing there.