Category Archives: Prayers

Rident Stolidi Verba Latina

I’m not a “Latin or Bust” Catholic. but I do admit a certain fondness for Latin left over from my days as an idealist who studied the language in high school and college in order to become like the old-fashioned scholars I admired. (I drew the line at Greek — so much for my ideals.) But I am outside the walls of the fierce, at least in some circles, fight over whether the old mass in Latin, the new mass in Latin, or the new mass in English is the best for all mankind.

In an effort to explore just what is the big deal about Latin mass, I went to St. Cecilia’s in Oakley Friday, where Fr. Earl Fernandez is celebrating the new mass (that’s “novus ordo,” for us Latin fans) every other Friday morning as an experiment. I offer my impressions to you, gentle readers, as a public service:

1) It is definitely more reverent. With (male) acolytes in cassocks and lace-trimmed albs, no extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, two priests, at least half of it sung, and all the music chanted, the mass was beautiful and centered on the Eucharist. It was restful not to cringe at music choices or at the apparel (or lack of such) of laypeople crowded around the altar. It was less about “the assembly” and more about the mass itself.

2) It is not hard to chant. Before mass started, Fr. Fernandez helpfully went over the chants (except the “Salve Regina,” which was chanted after the mass and which your correspondent could not even find in the missal). Only the Our Father (“Pater Noster”) gave me much trouble. Being longer and complicated, it probably takes a few times to master. Chanting prayers is not a brain drainer and is not beyond the abilities of the average person.

3) It is not all that hard to respond in Latin. The prayers and responses that are not sung are a little harder than the chants, because it’s harder to read quickly in another language than it is to sing. But not beyond mastery.

4) I didn’t understand a word. Having left the house without my handy-dandy book of the mass in six languages, I was forced to rely on the little handout for the responses and for understanding the Eucharistic prayers. Studying Latin decades ago does not, I discovered, help much when you hear it sung or said very quickly. I was hoping to pick out some words here and there to figure out where we were (after all, I can practically recite the mass myself in English having heard it so many times) but it was the printed translation that saved me. Having the complete text, which St. Cecilia plans to do in the future, and then hearing it frequently would change that.

In all, I found that attending the mass at St. Cecilia helped me to appreciate both the Latin and the English versions. The N.O. mass in Latin emphasized reverence, the liturgy, and the Eucharist. Much of what I find lacking (or too abundant) at masses in English was not even an issue. Listening to the Latin, even though I didn’t understand it by ear, was not dull or like listening to nonsense syllables. On the other hand, I discovered that I pay more attention than I knew to which prayers in the liturgy change every week or every day, and which of the Eucharistic prayers are being said. The immediacy of hearing and understanding my own language is a dear and valuable thing.

Most of all, I saw clearly the need for a common liturgy. The Tridentine mass (that’s the one used before Vatican II, for those still learning all this) is beautiful and reverent but is very different from the N.O. mass. At St. Cecilia’s, even though the language was different, I felt a real connection to the same mass being offered at altars all over the world, all the time. What was different about this N.O. mass in Latin were its “accidents,” to borrow a Thomist term. In essence it was the same. Any resistance to offering the N.O. mass in Latin seems to me to be misplaced. Surely offering the same mass in two different guises is an acceptable way to accommodate many different people. I understand the reluctance pastors have to start dividing their parishes up into passionate devotees of this type of mass or that type of mass — and never the twain shall meet. But what many parishes have is a compromise that satisfies no one, and a flashpoint for people who prefer tradition and reverence to complain about, often with good reason.

They’re the same mass, folks. I can hear people say, “Well, if they’re the same mass why bother with the Latin one?” To which I can only say, why NOT bother? Why deny a perfectly valid option to people, one that is beautiful and valuable, for the sake of conformity to an arbitrary standard? Getting rid of Latin was throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It divides the church for no good reason.

I’ve been to a mariachi mass. Yes, all the music was really played by a mariachi band wearing big sombreros and costumes by the same folks who gave us “The Three Amigos.” If the Catholic Church has room for mariachi masses, it surely has room for the N.O. in Latin. I would like to thank Fr. Fernandez and St. Cecilia pastor Fr. Jamie Weber, for trying this experiment. I hope it is a successful one. As they say, “Fools laugh at the Latin language.” Rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated for centuries. May it continue a long and happy liturgical life for many years to come.


St. Brigid of Ireland, I know your feast was last week, but this is too amazing for me to ignore…

Patroness of poultry raisers, pray for us!

I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us.
I would like an abundance of peace.
I would like full vessels of charity.
I would like rich treasures of mercy.
I would like cheerfulness to preside over all.
I would like Jesus to be present.
I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from all parts.
I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should suffer distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me.
I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I would like to be watching Heaven’s family drinking it through all eternity.
– Saint Brigid

Feast day: February 1

Grade-School Football

As a transplant to Cincinnati, I’m just not up on all the parishes and schools and football rivalries, even after almost 20 years. Though I do have the Elder-Moeller-St. X thing figured out — I think.

But grade school football, itself, is new to me. I don’t even know if there WAS grade school football where I grew up. Until a couple of years ago I didn’t know kids strapped on pads and donned helmets in third and fourth grade. Boy, do they!

My son just finished his second year of football playing for the CYO Division II City Champion Reserve team, the St. Bartholomew Panthers. He knows a lot more plays than I do (not a difficult feat) and he can play several positions (much more impressive). He’s learned a lot about sportsmanship and working hard and being gracious in victory and don’t I sound like a greeting card? But it’s true. We’ve played all around the city against kids of all backgrounds, on back-lot fields like our home field and in spectacular stadiums such as the truly amazing Summit Country Day complex.

Remember that great scene in Rudy when the Notre Dame football team says the Hail Mary, and then the priest says “Our Lady of Victory –” and all the players shout, “Pray for us!” Well, our team doesn’t do that. But they do pray the Our Father together at every practice and before every game. And at a time when churches everywhere seem more and more the province of women and whispey, “spiritual” men, I find the prospect of 22 hardy young men in football gear saying the Our Father to be a reassuring one. The Catholic church is for everyone.

SBAA Panthers (Reserve) Say the Our Father

SBAA Panthers (Reserve) Say the Our Father

St. Peter Claver

Today is the feast of St. Peter Claver, who shared the faith with some 300,000 recipients who were willing to alter their lives because of it.  As a missionary, yea, the “slave of the slaves,” he traveled from Spain to Colombia to advocate better working conditions and more dignity for the African slaves that were being mistreated by cruel European colonists.  Because of his tireless advocacy of justice, he has been recognized as the patron saint of African-Americans.

Many of our readers probably know that there is actually a St. Peter Claver school in Over the Rhine, founded in part by the late Fr. Al Lauer, the former pastor of Old St. Mary’s who is frequently heard on Sacred Heart Radio.

This being a special day for those students, teachers, and administrators at St. Peter Claver, we offer this prayer, taken from the St. Peter Claver website.:

Heavenly Father, you conferred on St. Peter
Claver a supernatural gift of love. Through
his intercession we pray for the young men
entrusted to St. Peter Claver Latin School to
be transformed by Jesus into strong Christian
leaders, husbands and fathers. May the Holy
Spirit working in and through parents, students
and faculty revitalize the City of Cincinnati and
the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood and beyond.
We give you praise and thanksgiving for
inspiring our many generous benefactors
and volunteers and we ask you to grant
their special intentions.

Grant eternal rest to Fr. Al and Fr. Charles.
Let perpetual light shine upon them.

Glory be to the Father, Son and
Holy Spirit. Amen.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
St. Peter Claver, pray for us.
St. Martin de Porres, pray for us.
St. Juan Diego, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Fr. Charles, pray for us.
Fr. Al Lauer, pray for us.

Matt Swaim

If you squint really hard…

Chocolaty Cistercian Cuisine

Chocolaty Cistercian Cuisine

…you can see that the inscription on the pastry in the picture to our left reads “St. Bernard, Ora Pro Nobis!” Apologies for the lateness of this post, since St. Bernard’s feast was last Wednesday. For the rest of the menu delightfully ingested at the Swaim household on the memorial of the honey-tongued doctor (not coincidentally also the patron saint of beekeepers), head over to our other intrepid literary venture at CultCultureCultivation. For a prayer of St. Bernard of Clairvaux to the shoulder wound of Christ, visit the slightly less intrepid Apoloblogology.

And while you’re surfing the auxiliary musings of our team of crack(ed) investigative journalists, you might find it edifying to snag a print copy of the latest National Catholic Register, where our very own Archdiocesan Vocations Director (and M E R E L Y * C A T H O L I C charter member) Fr. Kyle Schnippel shares a thought or two on vocations. Bravo Father, and as I’ve said before, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

That’s all the self-promoting varia we’ll fling at you for the time being. Now it’s off to a luau in honor of St. Rose of Lima…

-Matt Swaim

On The Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe…

Since St. Maximilian was the co-founder of the Immaculata movement, it only seems fitting to share with you the following video of Fra Gabriel, a Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate, distributing St. Max’s Miraculous Medal in his own expression of the New Evangelization:

St. Maximilian Kolbe, ora pro nobis!

-Matt Swaim

A Prayer to St. Dominic for Astronomers

Wonderful Saintly Founder of the eloquent Order of Preachers and friend of Saint Francis of Assisi, you were a fiery defender of the Faith and a fighter against the darkness of heresy. You resembled a great star that shone close to the world and pointed to the Light which was Christ. Help astronomers to study the stars and admire their wonderful Maker, proclaiming: “Give glory to God in the highest.” Amen.

St. Dominic, Ora pro nobis!

-Matt Swaim