Where'd the Latin go?


Growing up, I remember hearing the “Agnus Dei” prayer in Mass. I don’t hear any Latin anymore. Why? How can we bring it back? I think Latin in the Mass is absolutely beautiful! :yup:
I’m considering writing a letter to my Bishop here in Springfield.

Myrrh :juggle:

Don’t treat people the way you would want to be treated. Treat them better than you would want to be treated.

The road is long, but I have a lot of gassssss…

I think hoop skirts and 6" stiletto heels are beautiful too - would I wear them even to save my life?? Absolutely not.

Beautiful is one thing, but when you’re talking about Mass, which people attend week in week out, practicality has to be given some consideration as well.

The use of Latin was “practical” until about 40 years ago. Now somehow latin is impractical? Has mankind degenerated so much in 4 decades that latin is an impediment?

Or perhaps 40 years later people have grown too impatient to try to learn the language of their rite?

We must also remember that nowhere does it say that latin was to be removed completly from the mass, to the contrary. See Sacrosanctum Concilium.

Not every change is a degeneration, you know :rolleyes:

The fact is GREEK was the original language of the Catholic Church - for liturgy and everything else. It’s not like a single word of the New Testament was written in Latin, after all!

As Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the FOURTH century, the Church changed to Latin - in the West only - for purely practical reasons. It was the vernacular of a lot of people and by far the most easily understood language. And it gained a strong hold on all of Western civilisation.

And up until 40 years ago almost every schoolchild, regardless of religious persuasion, still learned at least some Latin. It was still useful for that reason if no other.

This is no longer the case at all - even plenty of seminaries now either don’t teach or don’t require the study of Latin for their students. Holding on to traditions at least to some extent is good, but we have to be careful not to become fossils.

I am no champion of Latin, however it woukld be more than nice to have the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin from time to time. I guess from a more recent post more specifically the “Kyriale”

In addition I would make the comment that speech and writing in English has taken a great hit since Latin is no longer taught in the schools. Latin is the source of a significant part of the English vocabulary. We even have a president who can’t seem to get past simple declarative sentences and frequently stumbles over those.

Good observation. Not to mention that the English speakers have reached a low ebb in regards to grammar, something that is not easily tolerated for some reason when one writes or speaks Latin.

I understand the appeal of Latin to people of Western European backgrounds, but what about people from other backgrounds? How would Latin benefit Catholics from say African or Native American backgrounds?

We had a priest that 95% of the time included some Latin in his Mass including the Agnus Dei then he left and we got a younger priest from the Archdiocese’s seminary and he threw away all the cards in the hymnals with the various prayers in Latin. I, personally, do not think he knew Latin. Very sad - we felt there was more respect when some Latin was included especially the Agnus Dei.

Often the tribal language is not written, and few priests would speak it. Often it is also not “dignified”, it is nursery and farmyard language, not one for discussing sophisticated ideas. So their choice is a modern European language or Latin.

Latin is a source of English vocab, true, but non-technical English owes a lot more to German and French. I can vouch for my abilities in English improving when I began to study French. So I think the decline in study of foreign languages in general is probably responsible, not Latin in particular. I don’t imagine Bush Jr ever felt the need to seriously study any foreign language for starters.

True. Even professional writers,especially since the 1960’s,are often inarticulate,sloppy,scatterbrained,or at least lacking in eloquence and grace. Even intelligent,well-educated people find the English language unwieldly when they try to speak or write in a philosophical or poetical vein. We grope for the right words,stumble,stutter,trip up,halt and hesitate – and
this is partly due to the lack of practice with Latin grammar,syntax,sentence structure. Latin was the backbone that propped up English speech and writing. If one grew up reading and writing Latin,one could certainly master the vernacular. People are also afraid to be eloquent – they would rather be casual and inarticulate. Compare the way that even Southern soldiers during the Civil War wrote their letters to the way people write letters or postcards these days.

Even though the Church still teaches that it is. Latin (for the Western Church) is still supposed to be the predominate language in the Mass according to the Second Vatican Council.

It is a tradition which celebrates our unity regardless of cultural barriers. It is also the language of our rite: we are of the Latin rite yet none of our liturgy is in latin. Isn’t that strange? The greek traditions are in greek, why can’t the latin traditions be in latin?

The fact is that nowhere does it say that vernacular is to overtake latin, to the contrary:

Pope Pius XI:

For the Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to endure until the end of time… of its very nature requires a language which is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular.

Pope Pius XII:

The use of the Latin language prevailing in a great part of the Church affords at once an imposing sign of unity and an effective safeguard against the corruption of true doctrine.

Pope John XXIII:

The Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic and non-vernacular.

Sacrosanctum Concilium:

  1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
  1. Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

Pope Paul VI:

The Latin language is assuredly worthy of being defended with great care instead of being scorned; for the Latin Church it is the most abundant source of Christian civilization and the richest treasury of piety… we must not hold in low esteem these traditions of your fathers which were your glory for centuries

But I guess those popes and a council are just being impractical, right? :rolleyes:

[quote=LilyM]This is no longer the case at all - even plenty of seminaries now either don’t teach or don’t require the study of Latin for their students. Holding on to traditions at least to some extent is good, but we have to be careful not to become fossils.

Oh, and about priests and seminarians not knowing latin:

Code of Canon Law:

Can. 249 The program of priestly formation is to provide that students not only are carefully taught their native language but also understand Latin well and have a suitable understanding of those foreign languages which seem necessary or useful for their formation or for the exercise of pastoral ministry.

Sacramentum Caritatis:

I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant.

It’s is plainly disobedience to Canon Law.

I guess they’re just affraid of becoming fossils as well…

I think we are kidding ourselves if we think that everyone “knew” Latin. They could parrot the responses they needed to, but to really know the language would have meant classes in Latin. Those only happened in Catholic school.

you will hear it every week in this NO parish, check around your area.

I find that to be surprising because most universities in the USA require 2-3 years of a foreign language as part of the high school curriculum in order to be admitted to the university (or if a student lacks these courses, he may be accepted but required to take remedial classes). Sadly, though, if one does not use the language, it will be forgotten. I took 3 years of Spanish and do not remember much of it, since I did not use it.

No classes necessary; just open a missal.

Not true. I served as an altar boy in the pre-Vatican II days and I was humbled by those attending public schools who could recite the Gloria or Creed faster than I could. Even in college post-Vatican II there were more non-Catholics taking the same Latin courses as I.

Point being for hundreds of years scholars didn’t just learn Latin for a few years and then never use it - the majority of all works of a scientific or non-fiction nature were in Latin until at least 300 years ago or so.

That’s true. Even scientific names are still either Latin or Latin-based to some extent. There was a scientist who discovered a bug and called it Polychisme. He was actually thinking about a girlfriend. The pronunciation is “Polly kiss me”.:rotfl:

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