Language of the Church

The language of the church includes the Mass and the Gregorian chant. A liturgical scholar can give you dates and beginnings of the traditional liturgy; I cannot! I am simply blessed by the continuity over the centuries and from country to country. In December, I left behind my daily round of offices at the Beguinnage…Lauds, Mass, Midday, Vespers and Compline when I left Brugge to spend my Christmas with my American community in Italy. The language of the Church, however, does not get left behind for the faithful! In our small oratory in Italy, Lauds, Midday and Vespers continued even moving inside when the heater (desperately needed in the Oratory) gave out during one of the coldest winters in this mountain Italian town. The daily office is sung in the Italy house with two brothers or sisters at the smallest to 8 religious at the largest; so similar to Belgium where there are from 4-8 sisters depending on the time of day. The liturgical week of the year is the fourth and the psalm cycle is coincidentally also number 4, no matter Italy, Belgium or probably Malaysia. It had a familiar feel! The chant endings of the psalms are always familiar if not the very same whether the psalms are sung in Dutch or in Latin. No chanting in Italian in our small house with American sisters and brothers but we live in Italy! The ‘Our Father’ is done in Italian, and I managed a “ma liberaci dal male” – Deliver us from evil – a good prayer to learn no matter the language. So in fact, I did not feel faraway, I felt actually very much at home in the kingdom of God. God must want it that way; the language of the church is the voice of God, no matter the language or the country. Having done overseas teaching in my younger days, the sameness of the Eucharist whatever the language – Chinese, Swiss German, Spanish, French, Dutch or any other was a blessing, and now as I return to Flemish speaking Brugge, the language of the church is here waiting for me in our Beguinage church. Reassurance, comfort and the peace of the sameness is something this sister is glad to bank on.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
God is dezelfde gisteren, vaandag en tot in eeuwigheid.
Dio e lo stresso ieri, oggi e sempre.

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