Thursday, January 17, 2008

Carnival clowns invite Cardinal to attend Mass

Catholic translation of Masses in Low German- Gottesdienste auf Platt: Jecke bitten Kardinal zur Messe

Masses in Low German are permitted only with restrictions, said Cardinal Joachim Meisner, a few days ago. In Düsseldorf, unrest has resulted. Chief of Fools Oxenfort now wants an audience in Cologne with the Cardinal on the matter.

Tomorrow, Cardinal Joachim Meisner will receive a letter from Düsseldorf in the post. Sender: Engelbert Oxenfort, President of the Düsseldorf Carnival Committee (CC), who actively promotes the use of German dialect and otherwise is also very active. In the letter, Oxenfort asks the Cardinal for an audience. The topic: Masses in Low German. There have been such Masses in Düsseldorf for many years, not just during Carnival and they are very popular, but the Archdiocese of Cologne came out a few weeks ago with a so-called toolkit for them. In this paper, in carefully chosen words, it is laid out that the Catholic Church does not allow a complete Mass to be read in dialect. Especially, the liturgical texts, such as the Canon and words of Consecration.

Some local Catholics, however, seem unwilling, to accept this reminder from Cologne with patience. At the welcome of the Carnival Prince by the Jonges, Carnival Chief, Oxenfort was furious with Cologne: "Now Cardinal Meisner will ban us from speaking Low German in Church. Meisner bliew better Koelle (dialect for Meisner had better stay in Cologne) and leave us in peace. We don’t need you here in Düsseldorf. "From Jonges, he got plenty of applause.” (Cathcon- The Jonges are a group who guard “traditional” customs- false traditionalists if there ever were)

Yesterday, however, Oxenfort was back to more measured tones as he sent the above-mentioned letter, and also was conciliatory. He would prefer to personally discuss the issue with Meisner and hopes for an early appointment. He also offers to come to Düsseldorf with the Carnival Prince and Princess who will decorate the Cardinal with a medal (Cathcon- O Cardinal, remember thy dignity that is scarcely augmented by receiving Carnival prizes) . Meisner was also warmly welcome when he in is Düsseldorf to attend a Mass in Low German. (Cathcon- I don’t really want to speak for the Cardinal- but no chance!)

Welcome from the Heart to Mass in Cologne Dialect

That Oxenfort gets a meeting is quite conceivable. The spokesman for the Archdiocese, Stephan Schmidt, said yesterday in any case, that Meisner, of course, was concerned with such issues. He will wait for Oxenfort’s letter and then decide.

In any case, Oxenfort is sure, " . . . I love to speak to God in Low German. He certainly understands me! "

Masses in Low German have been celebrated regularly and for many years in St. Lambertus, regardless of whether or not it is carnival time. Different to Masses in Eller and Bilk: During the carnival period people, dressed for carnival mixed with others who do not dress up attend Masses in Low German, some in fancy dress costume (by the way, also banned- Cathcon- for instance devils are seen, as reported here!). Here priests not in birettas (alas!) but carnival hats!

The carnival fools from Düsseldorf are getting help from the carnival fools from Cologne. When they heard of Meisner’s "handout" there – a typically Rhineland reaction was forthcoming- Hint, to ignore the whole thing and continue on as before. This is done even in the shadow of the cathedral. And also they believe to have discovered in the Cardinal a big heart for fools. Once he even shouted in the Cathedral "Alaaf" (the Carnival greeting).

Cathcon comment- these fools (that’s what the carnival people call themselves) would be the first to say that Latin is incomprehensible, but it is universally understood- they have just replaced it with an incomprehensible German dialect. They think God lives in Düsseldorf.

Ironically, the man who institutionalized High German more than anyone was one Martin Luther when he used court German for his translation of the Bible. He looked down on the use of Low German – that Catholic Masses were taking place using Low German would confirm his worst suspicion. But in the 20th century, the post-Conciliar use of the vernacular has opened a Pandora’s box. Catholics used to joke that you can speak to God in your way, but I will speak to God in His. Now the jokes on us, as we have Catholics who wish to speak to God in their own dialect.

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