A case for Ukrainian us the liturgical language

As we survey our Ukrainian Catholic churches here in the United States, we realize that an increasing number of them celebrate the Holy Liturgy not in Ukrainian nor in Church Slavic, but rather in the English language. In the past many Ukrainians raised this issue pointing out the inconsistancy which is inherent in such practice. After all, we are supposed to be Ukrainian Catholics, we cherish our ancient rite and our ecclesiastical traditions and as such it should not be tampered with. In addition, from the purely aestetic point of view, the Ukrainian Liturgy in English is, in our opinion, a non-viable hybrid, neither Roman Catholic nor Ukrainian Catholic but something concocted, something artificial, something which is basically alien to the Ukrainian spirtuality. How can one, after-all capture the meaning and the sound of the Slavic word in an Anglo-Saxon form and expect to get the same results, the same piety and reverance that the ancient words inspire in us? And finally, the head of our Church, His Beatitude Patriarch Joseph Slipyj himself, declined to sanction the English language liturgy.

But all these arguments fail to convince those who maintain, and not without some right, one might add, that they are entitled to hear the Holy Liturgy in the language which they know and understand. And inasmuch as they understand English and English alone, they feel that the Holy Liturgy should be celebrated in that language regardless of any arguments that might be raised against it. There is something to be said for that point of view, especially when we take into consideration the pronouncement of the Second Vatican Council, which decreed that the Mass should be celebrated in the vernacular so that it is understood by all the faithful. However, one can point out with equal justification, that the Fathers of Vatican II referred primarily to Latin and not to other liturgical languages which are living languages spoken by millions of people.

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