Mass in the vernacular


#1

Please explain how the mass started being in the vernacular. Was there a specific allowance or demand in the Vatican II documents? Did all parishes start using the vernacular at the same time? How did the use vary among different nations? When did it become mandatory that the vernacular was to be used by all parishes?


#2

[quote="sainthumbert, post:1, topic:334360"]
Please explain how the mass started being in the vernacular. Was there a specific allowance or demand in the Vatican II documents? Did all parishes start using the vernacular at the same time? How did the use vary among different nations? When did it become mandatory that the vernacular was to be used by all parishes?

[/quote]

Let's start with your last question. It NEVER became mandatory that Mass be celebrated in the vernacular. It is allowed that it be celebrated in the vernacular. The norm is still that it is celebrated in Latin (for the Roman rite).


#3

[quote="sainthumbert, post:1, topic:334360"]
Please explain how the mass started being in the vernacular. Was there a specific allowance or demand in the Vatican II documents?

[/quote]

Read the Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium
vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19631204_sacrosanctum-concilium_en.html

Did all parishes start using the vernacular at the same time?

No

How did the use vary among different nations?

Broadly

When did it become mandatory that the vernacular was to be used by all parishes?

Never


#4

I have no knowledge of non-English speaking nations --or even about any English speaking nation other than my own-- but from what I remember, by the end of 1966, English language Masses had pretty much become the norm in the United States.


#5

[quote="sainthumbert, post:1, topic:334360"]
Did all parishes start using the vernacular at the same time? How did the use vary among different nations?

[/quote]

At first each country was allowed to say Mass in the national language of the country. It has now progressed to allowing Mass to be said depending on the language of most of those attending. The Archdiocese of Chicago allows Mass to be said in 24 different languages, each one's text approved by the bishops of the countries represented by those languages. Some claim they are not true vernaculars (UK English, US English, etc.) but languages for the largest groups of people (same English for all Anglophones, for example.)


#6

chantcafe.com/2013/07/what-happened.html


#7

Mass was originally said in the vernacular from the very beginning of Catholicism. That is how it ended up being said in Latin only for much of history because when Christianity began, outside of Jerusalem, Latin was the vernacular. (While it was likely that Mass was said in Aramaic in the earliest days in Jerusalem, that ended shortly after the Roman army destroyed the city in 70 A.D.) Other liturgies, like Greek and Coptic, also existed from the earliest days.

By allowing the Mass to be said in vernacular in modern times, the Church is returning to her roots and the way it was done from the beginning, when everyone heard the liturgy in the language of the people. While this has been allowed where appropriate since Vatican II ended in 1965, Latin has remained the official language of the liturgy of the Roman Rite.


#8

[quote="DelsonJacobs, post:7, topic:334360"]
Mass was originally said in the vernacular from the very beginning of Catholicism. That is how it ended up being said in Latin only for much of history because when Christianity began, outside of Jerusalem, Latin was the vernacular. (While it was likely that Mass was said in Aramaic in the earliest days in Jerusalem, that ended shortly after the Roman army destroyed the city in 70 A.D.) Other liturgies, like Greek and Coptic, also existed from the earliest days.

By allowing the Mass to be said in vernacular in modern times, the Church is returning to her roots and the way it was done from the beginning, when everyone heard the liturgy in the language of the people. While this has been allowed where appropriate since Vatican II ended in 1965, Latin has remained the official language of the liturgy of the Roman Rite.

[/quote]

:thumbsup: Well said. You beat me to it as I was about to offer a similar response although my hunch is that the OP was speaking in terms of the changes in the 1960s-1970s. .


#9

[quote="DelsonJacobs, post:7, topic:334360"]
Mass was originally said in the vernacular from the very beginning of Catholicism. That is how it ended up being said in Latin only for much of history because when Christianity began, outside of Jerusalem, Latin was the vernacular.

[/quote]

Actually Vulgar Latin would have been the vernacular. Church Latin was never considered (nor intended AFAIK) to be the street language of the Romans. Nor was Old Church Slavonic in the East.

In fact, if you look at history, very few religions had have worship in the vernacular.


#10

[quote="FrDavid96, post:3, topic:334360"]
Read the Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium
vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19631204_sacrosanctum-concilium_en.html

No

Broadly

Never

[/quote]

With respect to the United States: If a local parish priest had wanted to continue to use Latin in the 1960's or 1970's would he have been able to do so? Or would he have to get permission from the Bishop?

I am trying to get a sense of how all parishes started to use a non-Latin language. It seems that there would have been at least a few priests or parishes that would have wanted to continue to use Latin uninterrupted before Vatican II up until the present. I know some parishes now have Latin masses but my understanding is that these parishes had not used Latin continuously since the first half of the 1900's.


#11

[quote="ProVobis, post:9, topic:334360"]
Actually Vulgar Latin would have been the vernacular. Church Latin was never considered (nor intended AFAIK) to be the street language of the Romans. Nor was Old Church Slavonic in the East.

In fact, if you look at history, very few religions had have worship in the vernacular.

[/quote]

Yes, that is what I was thinking...

[quote="sainthumbert, post:10, topic:334360"]
With respect to the United States: If a local parish priest had wanted to continue to use Latin in the 1960's or 1970's would he have been able to do so? Or would he have to get permission from the Bishop?

I am trying to get a sense of how all parishes started to use a non-Latin language. It seems that there would have been at least a few priests or parishes that would have wanted to continue to use Latin uninterrupted before Vatican II up until the present. I know some parishes now have Latin masses but my understanding is that these parishes had not used Latin continuously since the first half of the 1900's.

[/quote]

Officially, yes, and no. However, I am not sure of how many bishops were, at that time, receptive to keeping at least some Masses in the Latin language. Who would want to be in that sort of row? Few.


#12

[quote="ProVobis, post:9, topic:334360"]
In fact, if you look at history, very few religions had have worship in the vernacular.

[/quote]

No other religion invites its followers into a personal relationship with their God either. Many of them are centred around trying to appease their deity or hold back their wrath.

Using other religions as the yardstick is not the best way of measuring.


#13

[quote="sainthumbert, post:10, topic:334360"]
With respect to the United States: If a local parish priest had wanted to continue to use Latin in the 1960's or 1970's would he have been able to do so? Or would he have to get permission from the Bishop?

I am trying to get a sense of how all parishes started to use a non-Latin language. It seems that there would have been at least a few priests or parishes that would have wanted to continue to use Latin uninterrupted before Vatican II up until the present. I know some parishes now have Latin masses but my understanding is that these parishes had not used Latin continuously since the first half of the 1900's.

[/quote]

IMO the ICEL was given too much power by the bishops, but I don't blame the bishops, some of whom were probably very weary with the onslaught of forthcoming changes to the liturgy.


#14

[quote="curlycool89, post:12, topic:334360"]
Using other religions as the yardstick is not the best way of measuring.

[/quote]

I don't think Cardinal Arinze agrees with you.

vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20061111_gateway-conference_en.html

Excerpt:

Most rites have an original language which also gives each rite its historical identity. The Roman Rite has Latin as its official language. The typical editions of its liturgical books are to this day issued in Latin.

It is a remarkable phenomenon that many religions of the world, or major branches of them, hold on to a language as dear to them. We cannot think of the Jewish religion without Hebrew. Islam holds Arabic as sacred to the Qur'an. Classical Hinduism considers Sanskrit its official language. Buddhism has its sacred texts in Pali.

It would be superficial to dismiss this tendency as esoteric, or strange, or outmoded, old or medieval. That would be to ignore a fine element of human psychology. In religious matters, people tend to hold on to what they received from the beginning, how their earliest predecessors articulated their religion and prayed. Words and formulae used by earlier generations are dear to those who today inherit from them. While a religion is of course not identified with a language, how it understands itself can have an affective link with a particular linguistic expression in its classical period of growth.


#15

[quote="DelsonJacobs, post:7, topic:334360"]
Mass was originally said in the vernacular from the very beginning of Catholicism.

[/quote]

I don't think that's so. If you could give some links I would be most appreciative.

AFAIK, the first Christians would have used Koine Greek, which is not a mother tongue, a second language for everybody using it. Kinda like English in international business today.

Eventually, in the west there was a shift to Latin. Again, for many people not a mother tongue, a second language.

[quote="DelsonJacobs, post:7, topic:334360"]
That is how it ended up being said in Latin only for much of history because when Christianity began, outside of Jerusalem, Latin was the vernacular.

[/quote]

I don't think that's generally true. I believe Greek was a shared "market place" kind of language throughout the Hellenistic mediterranean world; Latin gradually became the shared "market place" language. Latin would have been "vernacular," the mother tongue, in Rome and vicinity only.

[quote="DelsonJacobs, post:7, topic:334360"]
By allowing the Mass to be said in vernacular in modern times, the Church is returning to her roots and the way it was done from the beginning, when everyone heard the liturgy in the language of the people.

[/quote]

Sorry. This is the last time I'll say it: I think that is a false statement. I believe something like the opposite is true. Until the 1960s, the western Church always used a shared language, a language that was the mother tongue of virtually nobody.


#16

[quote="ProVobis, post:9, topic:334360"]
In fact, if you look at history, very few religions had have worship in the vernacular.

[/quote]

Actually, if we're going to take a broader view, then I think mono-lingual Americans are a freakishly tiny minority.

I believe most people throughout most of human history have had some facility with languages that are not "vernacular," not their mother tongue.

So, really, it's only ignorant Americans (& other people who aren't exposed to multiple languages) who think that a special language for Mass, Latin, is a great big deal. It's not, really.


#17

[quote="ASD, post:15, topic:334360"]
I don't think that's generally true. I believe Greek was a shared "market place" kind of language throughout the Hellenistic mediterranean world; Latin gradually became the shared "market place" language. Latin would have been "vernacular," the mother tongue, in Rome and vicinity only.

[/quote]

I'm not disagreeing with you here but it might be interesting to find out how exactly the pre-Christ pagan Greco-Roman world worshipped their mythological gods.


#18

There is another historical reason why Latin continued to be used.

For most (but certainly not all) of Western Europe, Latin eventually replaced Greek as the vernacular language, however the next phase is also important.

Keep in mind that the modern day Romance languages (and even to a limited extent English, which is properly a Germanic language) are all just "very bad Latin."

Sacred Scripture and the written prayers of the Church and even the language of government and diplomacy continued to use proper Latin; while the spoken Latin gradually developed into distinct languages.

While the spoken Latin changed and evolved, the written Latin (and therefore the Latin of the Church) remained a constant. So it was not that we had a situation where the Church spoke Latin but the people spoke a different language called Italian or Spanish or French. It was more that they were all speaking the same language, but only the Church and the governments were concerned about getting the language "right."


#19

[quote="sainthumbert, post:10, topic:334360"]

I am trying to get a sense of how all parishes started to use a non-Latin language. It seems that there would have been at least a few priests or parishes that would have wanted to continue to use Latin uninterrupted before Vatican II up until the present. I know some parishes now have Latin masses but my understanding is that these parishes had not used Latin continuously since the first half of the 1900's.

[/quote]

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:11, topic:334360"]

Officially, yes, and no. However, I am not sure of how many bishops were, at that time, receptive to keeping at least some Masses in the Latin language. Who would want to be in that sort of row? Few.

[/quote]

My guess is that most priests and bishops had more than enough on their plates trying to keep track of the changes that the Mass went through in the period from about 1960 to 1975 or so. Keeping track of those changes in both English and Latin was probably just more than they felt equipped to handle.

There were some American parishes that continued to celebrate some Masses in Latin up until around the 1969/1970 time frame. At that point there were the changes to the cycle of readings, the new ICEL translation, and various other changes going on. Figuring out how to do everything to multiple languages was just too much. And at that point English had the upper hand.


#20

[quote="FrDavid96, post:18, topic:334360"]
There is another historical reason why Latin continued to be used. ... While the spoken Latin changed and evolved, the written Latin (and therefore the Latin of the Church) remained a constant.

[/quote]

Yes.

[quote="FrDavid96, post:18, topic:334360"]
For most (but certainly not all) of Western Europe, Latin eventually replaced Greek as the vernacular language, ...

[/quote]

I'm afraid we're conflating vernacular with vulgate:

[LIST]
]vernacular: mother tongue. Until ca. 1966, Mass was never in the vernacular (unless *Koine Greek or Vulgate Latin happened to be one's mother tongue; not the typical case).
*]vulgate: widely used; understood by almost everybody, regardless of mother tongue.
[/LIST]

Obviously, the two can be the same language. E.g., English is the vulgate in international business now; but it's also my mother tongue, my vernacular.

[list]
] The ancient mediterranean world was multi-lingual
*] People throughout that world used shared *koine
or vulgate languages for business, government, intellectual life, etc. Exactly the way English is used in business now.
*] So, naturally, an institution like the Church also had to use a shared language so that people from one end of med world to the other could join in.
[/list]

It was easy to see the logic of this when the Pole, Karol Wojtyła, was Pope. Who knows his vernacular, Polish? Not me, that's for sure. In fact, almost exclusively Poles. Nevertheless, I can read Wojtyła's work, written using the shared (koine, vulgate) non-native (non-vernacular) language of the Church, Latin.


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