Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Oh, How Exotic

March 18th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

The following was a discourse between a local Latin professor and his class, as emailed to us by a youthful friend of the blog.

“Culpa. That word means . . . anyone?”
“No, it actually means ‘fault.’ As in, ‘mea culpa.’ Does anyone know where that phrase comes from? ‘Mea culpa?’ It could be used as meaning ‘my bad.'”


“It comes from the old Mass, before the changes in the sixties. The servers would say, ‘mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.’ Culpa is in the ablative form, so it means, ‘through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.’ And when they would say those words, the faithful were encouraged to strike their breast, to show a sort of olde-fashioned lamentation. Oh, we used to have a fun Mass – priests swinging incense around, chanting the prayers of the day. Oh, how exotic! I’ll have to dig out my old missal. It goes from 1950 to well into the seventies. No one could have envisioned something called ‘Vatican II,’ so they went on writing books and missals with the old ways until things came to a crashing halt.”


“So it doesn’t mean ‘cup?'”

So, what’s more exotic than Mr. Warfield’s liturgical dancing? Gregorian chant. That’s what.


One Response to “Oh, How Exotic”

  1. Mike says:

    I was at last Sunday's Latin Mass at St. Stan's. I believe it was my third time in maybe the last year. As I'm only getting there every few months, reading through the Latin each time is a fresh rediscovery of what I used to do at Mass 50 or so years ago after I had a few years of high school Latin under my belt.

    Of course I had learned all the server's prayers (including the Confetior and its mea culpas) in 5th grade, but that was mere phonetic memorization. I knew what these prayers meant, as I could read the English on the adjacent page, but I was clueless as to actual translation.

    But by junior year of high school I could actually follow the Latin and understand it. I think it's going to take several more trips to St. Stan's before I regain that facility.

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