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September 30 marks the Feast of St. Jerome, a Doctor of the Church and a master of the Latin language. Jerome was a complex man that history has not devoted nearly enough attention to — I could scarcely find many videos or approachable short biographies online to post here (though please do if you find any).
While hardly ideal, the Wikipedia entry about St. Jerome is a start, and of course there is the Family of St. Jerome society right here in Florida (see here). Try to spend a little time learning about St. Jerome, a man who changed history in many ways, particularly on his feast day. And feel free to share any thoughts here or on our Facebook Page.
What most people call the “Latin Mass” seems to have a bewildering number of names and many of them are imprecise for one reason or another. Perhaps surprisingly ”Latin Mass” is the least precise of all. But another label, Tridentine, can be used by some naysayers in a way that is downright troublesome.
Among the many names for it, calling the liturgy conducted in Latin and pursuant to the 1962 Missal the “Extraordinary Form” is certainly accurate since Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum formalized the term, along with the term Ordinary Form for the form of the Mass commonly seen today. Pope Francis seems to prefer calling the Extraordinary Form the Vetus Ordo, or Old Form, which lines up nicely given that the Ordinary Form is also called the Novus Ordo, or New Form. So, regardless of any possible connotations, the benefit of the labels Extraordinary Form or Vetus Ordo for the so-called Latin Mass is that they are precise, accurate and used by popes. Many, though, prefer to call the Traditional Latin Mass/Old Form/Extraordinary Form the “Tridentine Mass,” which, historically speaking, can be both right and wrong, and which is often a springboard to an increasingly common and often deliberate fallacy.
At the very edges of the culture you sometimes hear about how tradition is coming back. You hear how the John Paul II generation is coming into the seminaries, the monasteries, the parishes. You hear about how the Traditional Latin Mass is starting to pop up where you least expect it. You hear about how certain trends in architecture, literature and art are looking back to the great methods and styles of the past.
That’s not to say that the values of the past are returning to the popular culture. Two minutes on any television channel—or a peek at the poll numbers on just about any issue—tell you that Western Civilization is not only dying, it is cold to the touch. But somehow there is a warm whisper in the air saying that the popular culture that came along and changed everything is itself subject to the winds of change.