Do all priests know Latin enough to say Latin Mass?

My husband and I both converted to Catholicism from pretty much no religion (though I’m technically Jewish by birth) in the '80s, and I only have vague childhood memories of the occassional Latin Mass as a little kid. I would LOVE to hear the Latin Mass, but we live in a very rural area, and really can’t afford to travel to a big City to celebrate one.

Our one local Priest is in his mid-'50s with a strong Irish accent. He sometimes tries to speak some Spanish as we have a lot of Hispanics but not always someone to translate, and honestly, he just butchers the language – though we all appreciate the effort. Gosh, most of us have trouble even understanding his English (he speaks VERY fast!). Any chance we will hear any Latin Mass with the new changes? Or is this something voluntary on the part of Priests.

Just wondering if he even knows enough Latin to say the entire Mass, or is this a requirement in seminary?


A couple issues.

First, I heard a priest on the radio say that he hadn’t received any Latin instruction while in the seminary. I doubt that it is a common class in seminaries. So, my unguided opinion is that most priests do not know how to pray the Latin Mass.

Notice that I put “pray” in boldface. The second issue is that it is not good enough to “say” the Mass. I imagine that priests could just read the words of the Latin Mass from the Missal and reasonably manage to get through the Mass. But to say the Mass is to pray the Mass. The priest needs a clear understanding of the translation, what the words mean.

I am absolutely thrilled that the Holy Father has allowed more widespread use of the TLM. But the issues I mentioned will, I believe, be the biggest obstacles in getting the Mass celebrated more universally.

My pastor and associate priest never learned Latin in the seminary. They are both young. The pastor is in his late 30’s, and the associate priest is in his early 30’s. The retired priest in residence knows Latin, but he has bad arthritis and would probably be unable to do all the genuflecting that is required by the rubrics of the TLM. I do not know if there are any men in my parish who could serve the Mass either. I know none of the boys know Latin, but there may be adult men who were servers when they were kids who may still remember how to serve. Also, we have a free standing altar that is close to the edge of the carpet of the sanctuary. It does not appear that the prayers at the foot of the altar could be done with the configuration of the sanctuary. In addition, since there is no communion rail, the congregation would actually be kneeling on the edge of the sanctuary to receive. The sanctuary would need major renovation in order to celebrate a TLM.

You can easily get around the altar rail issue by either installing temporary kneelers, or simply by leaving the first row of pews empty and stepping into them and using it as your altar rail.

That’s good to know!:slight_smile:

The best way to find out is to ask him. My priest (he is also young - 35 years old) has been incorporating more and more Latin into our Mass. I asked him if he will offer a TLM if/when the Motu Proprio is announced, and he said “yes” but that he would need more instruction in order to do so.

So, ask your priest. He may have had instruction a long time ago and need a refresher, or he may be open to getting help from the FSSP.


My new pastor is a young one too and is singing most of the mass and doing more in Latin… a good sign of the times???

Now if we could just get rid of the childrens liturgy Gloria at weekend masses!!!:frowning:

What seminary did these priests attend? I was in Prep-Seminary (High School) 20-25 years ago and not only learned Latin, but still speak, read, and write it fluently.

I know my classmates who went on to College Seminary and beyond received much more instruction.

Well one of our local churches has too - Kyrie in Greek, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin and for the first time this weekend even an unexpected ‘Corpus Christi’ at communion time. Problem is most of the parishioners are older folks who’ve simply forgotten what they used to know of the Latin Mass and can’t follow along or sing along.

Father was ordained in 1957 so I think we’re OK.

The issue is not so much that of learning Latin, though that ceratinly is a justfied concern, but of learning the complex rubrics involved in the old rite. Even older priests ordained back in the day have to completely retrain themselves, to undo forty years of other habits. This generally proves more involved than the Latin issue.

But the good news is that training is now offered by the FSSP and SSJC and I expect that they will increase the frequency and venues of the training offered.

It will be interesting to see if some priests say the Mass in classical Latin rather than Church Latin.

  • Kathie :bowdown:

I’m sure that some good videos will be produced to support TLM and that there will be workshops available for priests to get on board.

The Pope said he wanted to hear back in three years on how things are going, and so there’s no emergency here.

I suspect that TLM will be alive and well soon in many places where it is appreciated.

Younger people may be totally turned off (who knows?) by TLM.

I guess now I’m worried that this will backfire, and that more people will leave the Church, if it seems that the Mass is becoming a spectacle or sideshow.

Those of us who have seen and appreciated reverent liturgies may witness that the NO Masses might have a run for their money, so to speak, against TLM.

A weekday “low” Mass can be pretty much boring, too. After all, the Church used bells to alert people to the big moments in the Mass.

It might take a while to put out some sheet music with the Latin forms of the Mass. There was a lot of spectacular Mass melodies, and this must still be in the archives. Remember, that under TLM, the choir was doing the “heavy lifting” on the songs. So, the choirs might have to “ramp up” to be ready for TLM celebrations.

And he’s still active? That’s impressive.

I imagine our biggest problem is that the priests of his generation are just too old now, which is sad.

I agree. I was in seminary a few years ago. We had only a requirement of 1 year in Latin at that time (along with 1 year in Greek). Many seminarians opted to take more Latin as electives, but it was not required. Of course, at that time, nothing like the present MP was every envisioned (at least not by the sems, profs, or sem faculty). I imagine that many of the good seminaries (and these do exist) will start increasing the Latin requirement.
I also concur about the rubrics–the greatest challenge will be for priests who are used to the “more free-flowing” (shall we say) NO to learn the more complex TLM rubrics.
A LOT of effort and time will be required for instruction of priests, servers, etc. I think that there will be more and more new priests (and some really old priests) who will be willing to answer the people’s call for this “extraordinary use” of the Roman Rite. But people will have to be patient and not expect a miracle to happen overnight.

I am hearing a lot of negativity from everyone about this - pardon me if I am interpreting wrongly, but I believe that the grace of God will help the Priests to learn what they need to know and through prayer and full participation in the Mass we can get back to or learn what we need to know also. It is not a requirement that we attend the Latin form of the Mass but this has come from our Pope - shouldn’t we give it our best attention?

I must add one more humorous note. A few years ago, a lot of priests talked to many of us more traditional seminarians about the TLM (because some sems were known to attend the TLM on occasions). On more than one occasion we had a priest tell us, “forget about the Latin stuff, … that situation is history, it is over and not coming back, … you have to think about serving the parishoner’s today.”

Ironically, many of those seminarians will now be priests who will be serving the parishoners of today… with the NO AND the TLM (little did those seminary formators know that the old Mass was not just “history” for a great many Catholics…nor for that future Pope BXVI).

Very active rector of our cathedral. He exercises far more than me. I wouldn’t be able to keep up with him.

One of the priests at the Latin Mass in Pequannock, New Jersey says the Mass in classical Latin. He’s a highly regarded Jesuit and the editor of a leading Catholic journal.

In my diocese the seminary does not have Latin as a requirement. They are focused on Spanish right now. Even older priests I do not think would know Latin in my diocese and if they did, they would be very against the MP. I also heard from some seminarians that right now now some bishops do not know Latin either. I cannot confirm that but it would not surprise me.

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