NR Marks 10th Anniversary of Latin Mass Revival

An article in the National Review cites today (7 July 2017) as the 10th anniversary of Pope Benedict’s action to revive the Latin Mass. This was an action that had been sought by the founder of the National Review, William F Buckley Jr, as well as Evelyn Waugh, since 1962 when the vernacular mass became the norm. As described in the NR by Michael Brendan Dougherty:

It is so difficult to explain to young Catholics the fugitive feeling of attending a Traditional Latin Mass before the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year in this millennium. I had been doing so for just five years. Latin Mass communities were detested by bishops and cardinals, most of whom believed it was their life’s mission to modernize a defective Church. It also marked one out for scorn from most who considered themselves conservative Catholics. They called us disobedient schismatics. We often deplored them in return for the personality cult they built around the papacy of John Paul II. (In truth, our side of this dispute did and still does have cranks in its ranks.)

Pope’s Benedict’s action 10 years ago apparently explained or clarified that Vatican II had not abrogated the Latin Mass, as some had advocated, and this had the effect of re-legitimizing it. Other leading conservative Catholics in addition to Buckley and Waugh, such as Patrick Buchanan and JRR Tolkien, had urged that the Latin Mass continue to be allowed. Dougherty explains Waugh’s position in his article:

Evelyn Waugh intuitively sensed the bizarre intellectual alliance that informed the making of the new rite of the Mass; it was slipshod scholarship paired with a facile desire for revolution: “There is a deep-lying connection in the human heart between worship and age. But the new fashion is for something bright and loud and practical. It has been set by a strange alliance between archaeologists absorbed in their speculations on the rites of the second century, and modernists who wish to give the Church the character of our own deplorable epoch. In combination they call themselves ‘liturgists.’” Waugh’s son Auberon stopped going to Mass and likely lost his faith, feeling that the modern Church had almost no connection to the faith of his father. Modern Masses appeared to him to be “kindergarten assemblies.”

The quotation comes from Waugh’s 1962 essay about the Vatican Council entitled “The Same Again, Please” which appeared in both the Spectator and the National Review (EAR, p. 606).

A US religious journal Tablet Magazine (this one with Jewish sponsors, not to be confused with “The Tablet” which is a Roman Catholic journal published in the UK) also includes a quote from Waugh in a recent issue. This is in an article on marriage by Rabbi David Wolpe. One of the recommendations he gives to modern couples is this:

Seek Out Meaning, Not Happiness

After the breakup of his own marriage, the English writer Evelyn Waugh wrote to a friend: “Fortune is the least capricious of deities, and arranges things on the just and rigid system that no one shall be very happy for very long.” Americans have mostly lost the talent for unhappiness. Earlier generations did not expect that life would be as frictionless as we try to make it. They took suffering as the inevitable lot of life; we more often see it as a fundamental injustice to be corrected. This, along with an increased emphasis on individualism, makes us temperamentally less suited for the stresses of life in general, and married life in particular.

The quote comes not from a letter to a friend but from Waugh’s travel book Labels (p. 206) which he wrote, as stated, in the aftermath of the breakup of his first marriage.

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