Sunday, October 30, 2011

Reductio ad absurdum: Latin, English and Spanish at Mass

(Preliminary Note: This article is not written to take a doctrinal stand on anything.  Rather it is a reflection for people to consider what our motives are when we express dislikes over certain things.)

I've encountered in the region I live in a certain group of people who object to Spanish being used at Mass to reach out to the Hispanic members of the community.  They say things like, "We're in America.  They should speak English."

Many people of this group also champion the use of the 1962 missal, and saying that the Mass should be said in Latin.

Very well.

If we accept as a given their claim that the Latin is the best language for the Mass, we can argue the following:

Major Premise: The closer the Mass is to Latin, the better it is.

Minor Premise: Spanish is closer to Latin than English is.

Conclusion: Therefore, a Spanish Mass is better than an English Mass.

Now I am sure that nobody (I sure don't) would accept the conclusion of this argument.  But this is the point of a reductio ad absurdum.  It points out the problematic conclusions one could draw if one accepted an argument at face value.

Now, I'm not going to accuse these individuals who dislike Spanish within the Mass as being racist.  God knows what is in their hearts.  I don't.  However, I do believe that these individuals are dogmatizing what is mere preference for them.  They prefer the old Latin Mass because that is comfortable for them.  They prefer English over Spanish because that is comfortable for them.

Such individuals need to remember that those who speak a different language than we do are just as much members of the Catholic Church as we are, and they take comfort in hearing the Mass in their own language just as much as we do.

I don't write this to condemn any individual.  I merely ask every person to consider in their heart whether their attitudes show love for their brothers and sisters in Christ.

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