I think many people have a really simplistic view of the Latin language. They think it’s some old fogey type of thing, and there’s no point in learning it. People refuse to apply logic to this situation. We know there’s value in learning Latin, and that value is that it is the universal language of the Church. I think, personally, that anyone who puts their mind to learning Ecclesiastical Latin, can. If not the whole language, then just the parts of the mass. I mean, kids ABSORB languages like sponges. You’d be amazed how fast they can pick them up. Adults will naturally learn slightly more slowly, but it will still happen, given the time. It wouldn’t be very hard to learn the Order of Mass in Latin. Of course, some people are slower learners, but immerse yourself in that Sunday environment for, say, six months, and I guarantee that you will have, at the very least, the Order down pat. What are other benefits of learning a bit of Latin? Given the fact that the two most widely-taught foreign languages (in American schools, at least) are Spanish and French, and that I can’t think of any school that DOESN’T require foreign language study, and knowing that these languages are both parallel in many ways to Latin in both spelling and grammar, prior knowledge of Latin could be put to use in this manner. Think of the connections a Spanish teacher at a Catholic school could make to illustrate concepts to kids who’ve been exposed to Latin from the time they were born; of course, not every kid at Catholic schools is Catholic, but most are. Even with the English language, the lingua franca of modern times, there are many similarities to Latin in spelling. Of course, considering that English is an amalgamation of many different languages, there isn’t as much similarity between it and Latin as there is with, say, Spanish and Latin, there still are a lot of striking similarities. My native language is English, and I could decipher Phaffenhoffen’s above post pretty decently, and even though I do know some Latin prayers already, I didn’t know many of the words he used, but I could still interpret them.
Wouldn’t the “modern” thing to do be to celebrate mass in a common language? Seeing as how the world is that much “smaller,” I think that makes perfect sense. We already have a codified, perfect language that has had thousands of years of history of use in the Church, yet we’ve destroyed the use of it, and completely removed any sense of universality that we had. I think what most of the timidity with using Latin in the mas is just the very fact that the language is old. People, especially Americans, are afraid of old things. Old things scare us. We don’t like old things, because we associate them with negative things. I bet if the pope decreed, “All masses throughout the world will be celebrated in Italian effective immediately,” we wouldn’t have as much of a backlash. Sure, people would be a bit upset, but I’m willing to bet that there wouldn’t be nearly as much opposition as there would be to using Latin. Again I say, people are afraid of using Latin. Their opposition to the language is not rooted in logic, but fear of oldness. There are many benefits to being exposed to the Latin language, and chiefly among them is heightening our intellect, raising our minds. Out of close-mindedness, people are afraid to do so, and have, like I said, destroyed much of the Church’s universality.