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*Image: All Saints (The Adoration of the Holy Trinity or the Landauer Altar) by Albrecht Dürer, 1511 [Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna]

By Robert W. Shaffern, The Catholic Thing, Nov. 13, 2022

Robert W. Shaffern is a professor of medieval history at the University of Scranton. Dr. Shaffern also teaches courses in ancient and Byzantine civilization, as well as the Italian Renaissance and the Reformation. He is the author of The Penitents’ Treasury: Indulgences in Latin Christendom, 1175-1375.

A central question amid all the controversy about Catholic liturgy these days is: what are the purposes of liturgy? The argument often seems to be a mere matter of taste. “Traditionalists,” in that perspective, just prefer the sonorous rhythm of Latin, as well as the beauty of Gregorian chant. In contrast, those who uphold the Mass of Paul VI feel more at home in the vernacular and in its less formal atmosphere. These Catholics doubtlessly like its familiarity. Traditionalists would rather experience what they do not customarily encounter in the everyday.

But the real question remains: What is liturgy for? …