Latin language and it's future role

Hello everybody

I am a new member as can be seen when looking at my join date.

First of all I would like to apologize if this subject has been discussed before.

I am currently studying the mother tongue of our church, the Roman Catholic Church on my own. I am lucky to know French and Italian and a great deal of Spanish (been studying it in school)

My question is this; Would it not be great and a blessing for us Catholics and all Christians for that matter to revive the Latin language not only as the language of Catholic clergy but also as a language that bounds us Catholics regardless of ethnicity and language? I think it is highly plausible that it would strengthen our common unity.

I am still very young, my English is not the best and I have not studied the Second Vatican Council as much as I should but I fell we lost something when Latin was removed during mass, most cultural tradition. I am not a Catholic traditionalist and I understand the need for reforms, especially when it concerns language barriers during mass but I feel those reforms reduced Latins ancient role in our religion, greatly.

What is others opinion on this subject?

And sorry for my English, again.

God Bless.

its a good idea, the discussion should be interesting.:popcorn:

Forget the declinations, please !

Nostrae Paginae, Ave. Lingua latina in futuris generationibus importantia non erit. Cicerone tempore, lingua latina a populo senatoribusque et a “mare romano” circundato populis familiris erat. In commercio, in templis, in Senatu, in execitu, in multis et uarris ubicumque templis (in orationibus variis deiis), nihil nisi lingua latina orata erat.

Sed, portquam Caesarem Agustum multos annos habemus. Si atque apud romanos, dixerimus Caesar Augustus mediam historiae esse, dunc MM annos potquam Caesar Augustus sumuus, quod ineptum sententia est.

In Lusitania, Spania, Gallia, Italia Romeniaque, loquendi lingua, lingua latina est. Veta, autem, MM annis.

Lingua latina ad Ciceronem et ad Caesarem tempores Revertenda est? Non convenit! Missa ad linguam latinam revertenda est? Ego dubio hanc conditionem ad maiorem gloriam Dei esse. V II dedit populos licentiae gratiam in suis linguis misam participes esse. Populi, hodie, non facultates habent ad misam in lingua latina Caesare modo intellegere.

Ego liguam latinam et Graecam amo. Sed, intelligo ad maiorem gloriam Dei in propriis linguis Di Populi misam in suis linguis cantare, ladudare, audire et intellegere proprium esse.

Your English is very good, actually. As for Latin, well, it is the traditional language of the Latin rite but it is not a biblical language on part with Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. To exalt Latin above the three Biblical languages is somewhat illogical. To me, it feels like putting the form above the content. This is said from the perspective of someone who knows and has taught Latin to others. Latin is my first choice abroad but I don’t go to mass in Latin in my own country, nor do I pray in Latin.

This said, I believe there should always remain a group of people who know Latin, as a matter of civilisation. Too much is based on it to allow it to become forgotten.

Okay. I didn’t read anything flattering in your post.

First thing they should have is a Latin spellchecker, IMO. English misspellings we’re all used to but a codified language like Classic Latin…:tsktsk:

I would slightly disagree with you. Latin, Hebrew, and Greek are the languages of the cross. And there were early Latin versions of the Bible which were of poor quality but from which St. Jerome used to create his Latin Vulgate. Furthermore, the Latin we use in the Mass is the codified Latin of Cicero and other classicists. In other words we use the same Latin grammar and vocabulary as was used during the time of Christ, which can’t be said for any modern language. Whether Christ chose to speak Latin or not is immaterial. The Church decided to use Latin as it proved to be the most efficient way of spreading Christianity in the West. And I’ll disagree with those who say Latin was the vernacular/vulgar language at the time. It wasn’t in the true sense. For example, by the time Latin was made the language of the Mass, Vulgar Latin was more the vernacular and it was being slowly being morphed by mostly illiterates and half-literates into the Romance languages we have today.

A good book to read on this is “Latin Alive: The Survival of Latin in English and the Romance Languages” by Joseph Solodow. Great research on the part of the author.

Also, “A Natural History of Latin…The story of the world’s most successful language” by Tore Janson, translated into English, is a good read.

Just a joke.
To un-rust my Latin. The OP called for a return to Latin and I obeyed !!!
I just say that modern latin languages are** latin 2000 years old**. It is useless to go back to the old Latin 2000 years ago. If you study portuguese, spanish, french, italian and romenian you are learning Latin…2000 years old.
No big deal…

St Gabriel,

           Your idea is the same as that of many Popes. John XXIII wrote an encyclical on Latin "Veterum Sapientiae", the Second Vatican Council actually called for the retention of Latin in the Latin rite, though this has been ignored, and the Vatican still publishes a Latin journal called Latinitas. Benedict XVI also has endorsed a wider use of Latin.
          In Europe there are a number of Latinists who give courses in spoken Latin, you can see a few examples on Youtube. 
           Young people seem more open to the idea than those of the 1960's generation, at least among Catholics who are often less friendly to the idea than educated secular types.
           In any case, compared to 30 years ago, we are definitely seeing a revival of interest in Latin, and of course, it remains extremely important for the study of Catholic theology.

I like attending Latin Masses, whether they are EF or an OF Mass with the Ordinary being chanted in Latin. I think it would do some good to have at least the Ordinary done in Latin, especially with so many people and languages running around these days and getting mixed up. THat way, at least everyone could say part of the Mass together. However, I agree that it is important for the readings and the homily to be in the vernacular language.

I’m old enough to have attended Latin Masses for many years before Vatican II. As with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages. As a small child, I was bored out of my mind at Mass because I couldn’t understand anything that was being said. When I was abou 8 years old, I got a missal that had Latin on one side and English on the other. I loved it! I could understand what was being said and I loved learning the new language. I liked when I traveled in other countries that I could still attend Mass and understand what was going on.

Most American priests I have met who studied after Vatican II don’t know much Latin. Americans are not, for the most part, interested in learning other languages as Europeans are; so from my point of view, I don’t see Latin ever being widely used in this country. I like the arguments you made for its use, though, but I kind of like studying languages.

Hi Saint Gabriel,

Welcome! Your English is fine. No apologies needed.

Our parish priest is giving a series of lectures on the changes to the translations of the Mass. At our last session, he offered an interesting opinion: He thinks,(emphasis added, he stressed, this is his opinion), we will return to Latin in the Mass. So any Catholic travelling to anywhere in the world would understand the Mass. The Latin would be universal. Naturally, the Homily would be in the vernacular.

Nothing unifies more than language.

Spoken languages evolve over time. Latin is unique in that it does not change.

Gosh, I love Latin, and I’ve been studying it using Lingua Latina, though I’ve had to set my studies aside for the last few months. I’ve not yet been to a Latin mass, but I will soon.

Is there any validity to the idea that we can only love God with all our heart, all our mind and all our soul only in Latin?

Are prayers prayed in Latin any more efficacious than in the vernacular?

Isn’t it perhaps a good thing that the Mass, the gathering of the Christian faithful for the supreme prayer of the Church, is said in a language that is familiar to those in attendance so that they can readily commit themselves to where they are and what they are doing?

Is there any validity to the idea that Latin as the sole liturgical language will be best for the faithful?

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.

The seminaries in Rome teach in Italian. Whenever a new encyclical is published, it is the Italian translation that the seminarians study.

The Catechism was originally written in French and then back translated into Latin, as is many of the “official” statements that come from the Holy See.

Latin is the official language of the Church; it is not the “universal” language.

Parroting the Order of the Mass is not “learning” Latin. Knowing that a certain phrase in Latin means this in English is not the same as knowing Latin.

There was a time in the late 19th century that the Holy See was opposed to missals in the hands of the laity because the Canon was reserved for the priest.

  1. All this shows is that Latin is not being taught in seminaries, and that the encyclical is being taught in the language of the seminary that is normally used.

  2. Cool. So, what does this mean? French, by the way, is a Romance language, and is quite similar to Latin to begin with.

  3. Oops. You’re right. But I’m also right to say that it is the universal language of the Latin Rite. I’m sorry for not being specific.

  4. You’re underestimating peoples’ intellect. “Parroting,” as you so basically put it, does, in fact, aid in learning a language. Repetition, repetition, repetition. In one way or another, that’s how all languages are taught, learned and retained. Given that I indicated that English shares many similar words with Latin, people do start to make connections. Plus, I’m quite the advocate for catechesis on the Latin language, among catechesis in general, and an introduction of an “expectation” in the Catholic culture to attend catechetical sessions. Lifelong Sunday School is one of the (albeit only) things Protestants have gotten right.

  5. What does this have to do with anything?

With regard to both encyclicals and the CCC, it is the Latin versions which are binding. The vernacular is the usual means of study, but in a disputed point the Latin text must be employed.

PS It was in the 17nth, not the 19nth Century that the Holy See prohibited hand missals, largely because of the Jansenist movement in France.

Very well said.

Just to add, Christ came and Christianity is, for all people of all races, of all cultures. The Mass is not made more holy by the use of Latin.

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