Use of Latin and the vernacular at Mass


[quote=Rand Al’Thor]Pax vobiscum!

To get slightly back on track, in regards to use of the vernacular in the Mass, how would the “Latin only” people feel about a Mass celebrated this way:

The readings in the vernacular and everything else in Latin.


Possibly some of the propers chanted in English, as many Benedictines do today and maybe some vernacular hymns. Maybe even a couple other parts of the Mass done in the vernacular, but with the majority said in Latin.

How would that Mass sit with the “Latin only” crowd?

In Christ,

In my opinion, all of the mass should be in one of the 3 languages written on the cross: Latin, Greek and Hebrew. The readings should be said or sung in Latin. If the priest wishes to repeat the readings and the gospel to the congregation in the vernacular, almost as part of the homily, that would be fine.

This was common practice in the decades leading up to the Council, and personally I think that worked very well.

I would not object to a vernacular hymn after mass, as it is not strictly part of the mass itself.

However, I am speaking of an ideal situation. As things stand today, we should be grateful that there is any Latin at all.


What about NO with everything in Latin, the Kyrie (Greek of course), the readings in either Latin or vernacular plus homily in vernacular. No dance hall music but Gregorian chants, and maybe the organ playing once the Mass is ended. That is my ideal Mass.

And no people wearing flip-flops!!!


Pax vobiscum!

But why would the readings need to be in Latin? The readings are proclaimed to the people, not to God, like the other prayers of the Mass. The reason that the readings were done in Latin throughout much of history was because Bibles were usually only printed in Latin because they cost so much money.

In Christ,


I think the Traditional Latin Mass, along the lines I described, is what we should, in an ideal situation, have. But what you described is far better than most masses these days, and I would be reasonably happy with that.

Latin has always been the language of the Church, so the Mass was in Latin.

So, the prayers of the mass are proclaimed to the people? I was rather under the impression that the prayers were directed towards God.


I think you’ve misunderstood Randalthor. He meant

The readings are directed to the people
unlike the other prayers of the Mass which are directed to God.


Sorry, my mistake.

But in the pre-1955 liturgy, at High Mass, the priest would say the reading and Gospel at the Altar sotto-voce (i.e. to God), whilst the sub-deacon and deacon would proclaim the reading and gospel to the people.

I suppose it would be acceptable to have the latter in the vernacular, but in my opinion, it should be also be directed to God - in Latin.


Yes, but the whole sotto voce double reading of the Epistle and Gospel until the 1961 Ritus Servandus was because of the overlapping of the Low Mass with the High Mass.

But since you brought it up, I would like to know how the Epistle and Gospel are directed to God because I’ve never really understood that . I don’t get it from the text itself, and as you probably know, in the Traditional Mass, the Epistle from one of the Apostles always begins with ‘Fratres’. The words of ‘Munda Cor meum’ and ‘Domine sit in corde’ which would have been said by the priest before reading the Gospel sotto voce suggest that the Gospel is to be proclaimed/announced. Don’t both suggest that it is directed to the people rather than God?


Pax tecum!

That is not quite correct. Latin has never been the language of the Church. Since the 5th century or so, Latin has been the language of the Latin/Roman Rite of the Church. Before that, even in Rome they used Greek. The Eastern Church (Orthodox and Catholic) has always used the vernacular, be it Greek, Aramaic, ect.

Yes I think Latin should be used in the Mass, as Vatican II clearly stated. However, I don’t see the need to do the readings in Latin anymore, since people do not speak Latin now and the readings are supposed to be proclaimed to the people. Therefore it would only make sense that they could understand them without having to read a translation or have them read again at the homily.

In Christ,


Why cannot the priest just repeat the Epistle and the Gospel in vernacular in the homily?


Perhaps you’re right. Fratres certainly does indicate the people. But then, when the priest is addressing the people, such as with ‘Dominus Vobiscum’, he turns around and faces the people. He does not turn around for the readings. I suspect it is both for God and the people. But even then, the words of the Gospel speak to your heart through the Holy Spirit - it doesn’t really matter whether the person understands Latin or not.

The three languages of the church, are those on the cross - Latin, Greek and Aramaic. In the 8th century, Rome permited some of the Eastern churches to use the vernacular, to prevent a schism. It was the exception, rather than the rule.

All of the Mass should be in one of these 3 languages. The homily (+readings) and the recessional hymn are not part of the mass - so vernacular is fine.


Why can he not read it in the vernacular in the first place?


That would be acceptable, I suppose - certainly if the rest of the Mass was in Latin I would settle for that.

We should not say the Mass outside the 3 languages of the cross.

It has never been traditional to have vernacular readings, and they are not a necessity. For centuries and centuries the church had readings in Latin, which the vast majority of people didn’t understand. Was this some divine revelation we have had in the past 40 years?


I’m a little confused by your last line-would you mind re-explaining it?

Why is the Epistle for God? Doesn’t it contain instruction for the people? Forgive me if I’m being rude, but what sense does it make to, for instance, address God by saying “Be followers of me and observe those that walk according to our model…d my crown, stand fast in the Lord” (from the Epistle of last Sunday [the 23rd after Pentecost] )

The three languages of the church, are those on the cross - Latin, Greek and Aramaic. In the 8th century, Rome permited some of the Eastern churches to use the vernacular, to prevent a schism. It was the exception, rather than the rule.

All of the Mass should be in one of these 3 languages. The homily (+readings) and the recessional hymn are not part of the mass - so vernacular is fine.

Would you be suprised if I told you that Luther had the exact idea? :slight_smile: :wink: Except he wanted Hebrew not Aramaic.

It’s not true that Rome allowed it as the exception. The Coptic language for example is very ancint and so is the Syriac. The apostles to the Slavs, St. Cyril and Methodius translated their texts. It was only in the 9th century as a result of friction between Constantinople and Rome that Latin was imposed on the Bulgars in order to align them more closely. Finally John VIII relented and allowed it to continue in Bophemia, Poland and Hungary but later when political rivalry broke out this time wiht the Germans, the permission was revoked again.


What I mean is, the Holy Spirit works through the Gospel, affecting the person - softening their heart, as it were. So it doesn’t really matter very much whether the person can understand the readings.

Yes, it certainly gives instructions to the people - but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is not directed at God as well as the people. I am unsure on this point - have to look into it.

About the vernacular/Latin for the readings - see above posts.

Ok - but permission was granted then revoked from Rome. When the churches went into schism - that’s no longer relevant.


But if it doesn’t matter whether a person understands- why read it at all? Why have different readings arranged?

I’m a little dull today I think :stuck_out_tongue: what is no longer relevant?

Permission was granted for the churches OF THE WEST by the Patriarch of the West. And was revoked in order to align the clergy with Rome. Rome did not determine the languages used in the Churches of the East- Syriac was used in the Near East, Coptic was used in Egypt, Geez in Ethiopia and Slavonic by the missionaries in Poland and Russia .


What the churches did after they went into schism with Rome.

Indeed. But in the Latin Western Church, permission was required, and it was an irregularlity.

A person does not need as such, to understand it - the Holy Spirit can work without understanding. But understanding is preferable, as (in my opinion) is keeping the Latin for the readings.

Latin then vernacular seem like the best system to me - keep the tradition and people can understand it - everyone’s happy! :stuck_out_tongue:


Maybe I am dumb, but can someone answer me.
What part of the Mass is in Aramaic? Or was everyone referring to it being a possible language to use?

Latin Mass, readings in Vernacular, read at the same time by the Priest in Latin to God quietly. Then the Gospel in Latin then Vernacular with Homily in Vernacular.
This is would be my personal creation if I was Bernini.

God Bless


The Holy Spirit does not infuse understanding supernaturally … one must hear to comprehend. Rom. 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

It may help you to read St. Paul’s frustration with those who spoke in tongues, for he said, “So likewise with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? For you shall be speaking into the air.” [1 Cor. 14:9]

And if the readings are delivered in latin, do not be so foolish as to think understanding is going to come forth in some fashion. They must be grasped through one’s native language. It is greatly presumptious to expect God to work miracles in the minds of the hearers, using your theory.


Are you implying that God only knows how to listen in Latin?


I think Resurrexit was referring to following parts
Latin- almost everything :stuck_out_tongue:
Greek- Kyrie
Hebrew- parts of the Sanctus

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