It is hard to believe that, until about 50 years ago, it was considered socially acceptable to get "high" on Latin. For example, Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci, a leading writer of the 19th century, wrote a successful memoir Confessions of a Latin-speaker, in which he admitted that he had been obtaining spiritual experiences through the use of Latin Masses, and even softer drugs such as the Rosary, Veneration, and even simple prayers.
Rumours that Pecci also experimented with Bovril are probably exaggerated.
In the 1960s there was a long-overdue clampdown on Latin, and the Spirit of Vatican II (if not the actual congress itself) drove use of it underground. Of course there were always hippies who continued to indulge in it, and we all remember Woodstock, that great open-air Latin Mass of 1969, featuring such bands as Gloria in Excelsis, Credo, and Agnus Dei.
However, it was generally agreed that the use of Latin Masses could severely cut one's time in Purgatory, and - in Catholic circles at least - spiritual experiences were frowned upon. Too fit in with the Zeitgeist (German for "Spirit of Vatican II"), it was necessary to root ones worship in more secular rituals, such as the Sign of Peace, the use of clowns and puppets, liturgical dancing, and of course hymns that were indistinguishable from pop songs.
Laudato sing-songs for tree-huggers!
But there is a problem!
Yes, I was coming to that. Although it is fiercely denied by bishops, priests, school chaplains, and the like, the "yoof" of today are beginning to experiment with Extraordinary Forms once more. A few sample comments from young people whom we interviewed:
"Until I tried the older form, I hadn't realised that Mass was all about God. I thought the highlight was supposed to be the Sign of Peace, as that's the point at which people started getting interested."
"This Gregorian chant is COOL. Can we get Gregory to write some more?"
"Call me 'rigid' if you must, Pope Francis, dude, but I'm hooked!"
One of the warning signs of Latin abuse - a mantilla!
What is the solution?
Of course it is the duty of every Catholic to drive the Latin Mass underground. Although that liberal pope, Benedict XVI, made it easier to get access to Latin, there are still many reliable bishops who will tell you, "It's still illegal!" And there are priests who argue "Get lost, there's no demand for an Extraordinary Form Mass. And you're the 50th person I've had to turn away today!"
Make it a thing to be ashamed about. "Yes, your grandparents experimented with such substances - even your ancestors did for hundreds of years - but we modernists know better than they did, just as Pope Francis's Magisterium is better than anything the previous Popes and Doctors of the Church taught!"
No, the only safe way to worship is in Vernacular. So if you're in Swansea it will be Catalan, or if in Barcelona it will be Welsh. Because Vernacular is a very useful language - nearly as important as Italian, the language preferred by great thinkers such as Bergoglio, Spadaro, Faggioli, Coccopalmerio... Whoever wrote anything worth reading in Latin or Greek?
Hands up, everyone who wants to look "with it"!
It is the "yoof" who are the problem. We invite them to World Yoof Day, where they can sing and dance, celebrating Mass with plastic cups and watching bishops acting like pantomime dames; but they will insist on looking for something deeper.
We're not worried about the older Latin junkies - who cares what they think, and anyway they're going to die off. No, it is the "yoof" that need protecting, and that means "NO LATIN".
Where are the police? Why aren't they doing something? Doesn't it count as a hate crime to use Latin?
Protect our kids, and ban this book!