Agatha Christie and the Latin Mass (from the Catholic Herald)

From the Catholic Herald (my emphasis):

“… Opposition to the liturgical reforms and regret at the passing of a liturgical tradition going back to the 4th century, if not further, was widespread, as the radical nature of what was being done in the name of the Second Vatican Council became apparent in the 1960s. The Latin Mass Society (of England and Wales, website here – TC) was founded in 1965, as the first reforming documents from Rome made clear that the Latin language was in the crosshairs, and liturgical experiments and abuses were disturbing the faithful in parishes.

Cardinal John Heenan ordered all parish churches in Westminster diocese to celebrate one Mass on Sundays in Latin, in light of Vatican II’s mandate: “the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 36.1). However, the celebration of the reformed Mass in Latin quickly came to be seen as an anomaly, and the rule was withdrawn early in 1971. The debate resolved for most into a choice between the New Mass in the vernacular, and the “Tridentine” (or Latin) Mass…

The article is a short summary of that brief moment on the eve of the top-down imposition of the Novus ordo Missae on the First Sunday of Advent, 1969 (we discussed this here) when attempts were made to stop the “terrible mistake” of the liturgical “reform” which Pope Paul VI had made the centerpiece of his pontificate. One approach (among many) was developed as a petition to Pope Paul VI…

“… by the remarkable Alfred Marnau, a Slovakian poet who had come to Britain in 1939…

‘…The rite in question, (wrote Marnau - TC) in its magnificent Latin text, has also inspired a host of priceless achievements in the arts – not only mystical works, but works by poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus, it belongs to universal culture as well as to churchmen and formal Christians.’

knowing time was short, in the space of just three weeks Marnau managed to gather the signatures of more than 50 public figures, including an MP from each of the major political parties, two Anglican bishops, and numerous writers, artists and musicians. These included Graham Greene, Colin Davis, Iris Murdoch, FR Leavis, Malcolm Muggeridge, Yehudi Menuhin and Nancy Mitford. William Rees-Mogg, editor of the Times, ensured that it received national attention.

But it was another signatory who, at least in popular legend, caught Paul VI’s eye, when the petition was presented to him by Cardinal Heenan, on behalf of the Latin Mass Society. Marnau relates: “The story goes that Pope Paul VI was reading quietly through the list of signatories and then suddenly said, ‘Ah, Agatha Christie!’ and signed his approval.”

Sadly, the Pope’s approval was only that the Latin Mass not be entirely suppressed. The Pope chose to not halt the impending trainwreck of liturgical revolution.

Curate, ut valeatis.

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