Bill Murray and Jimmy Fallon Miss the Old Latin Mass

David Shankbone, Flickr / Jim, the Photographer, Flickr / Viva Vivanista, Flickr

The UK news media outlet The Guardian recently published a fascinating interview with actor Bill Murray. Towards the end of it, the subject turns to Murray’s Catholic faith:

His parents were Irish Catholics; one of his sisters is a nun. This conspicuous religion adds to his broad church appeal. You don’t need to ask if his faith is important to him. He talks about how 19th-century candidates risk not getting canonised because the church is keen to push ahead with the likes of John Paul II and Mother Teresa. “I think they’re just trying to get current and hot,” he smiles.

One new saint he does approve of is Pope John XXIII (who died in 1963). “I’ll buy that one, he’s my guy; an extraordinary joyous Florentine who changed the order.”

But then Murray laments the loss of the old Latin mass:

I’m not sure all those changes were right. I tend to disagree with what they call the new mass. I think we lost something by losing the Latin. Now if you go to a Catholic mass even just in Harlem it can be in Spanish, it can be in Ethiopian, it can be in any number of languages. The shape of it, the pictures, are the same but the words aren’t the same.”

Isn’t it good for people to understand it? “I guess,” he says, shaking his head. “But there’s a vibration to those words. If you’ve been in the business long enough you know what they mean anyway. And I really miss the music – the power of it, y’know? Yikes! Sacred music has an affect on your brain.” Instead, he says, we get “folk songs … top 40 stuff … oh, brother….”

In 2012, late night comic Jimmy Fallon, also raised Catholic, expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with NPR. After talking about how, growing up, he went to Catholic school, served as an altar boy, loved the old Latin mass, and wanted to become a priest, the interviewer asks him whether he still goes to mass. Here’s his answer:

Mr. FALLON: I don’t go to – I tried to go back. When I was out in L.A. and I was kind of struggling for a bit. I went to church for a while, but it’s kind of, it’s gotten gigantic now for me. It’s like too… There’s a band. There’s a band there now, and you got to, you have to hold hands with people through the whole Mass now, and I don’t like doing that. You know, I mean, it used to be the shaking hands piece was the only time you touched each other.

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. FALLON: Now, I’m holding hands – now I’m lifting people. Like Simba.

(Laughter)

Mr. FALLON: I’m holding them (Singing) ha nah hey nah ho.

(Speaking) I’m doing too much. I don’t want – there’s Frisbees being thrown, there’s beach balls going around, people waving lighters, and I go, ‘This is too much for me.’ I want the old way. I want to hang out with the, you know, with the nuns, you know, that was my favorite type of Mass, and the grotto, and just like straight up, just Mass Mass.

The Second Vatican Council taught clearly on the central importance of the liturgy for the Christian life: “the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows.” (SC 10)

If the liturgy is done poorly, there can be casualties!

What do you think of the sentiments of Murray and Fallon? Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments!

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