why Latin?

Why is the TOM in Latin instead of going all the way back to Aramaic?

The Maronite Church uses Aramaic and is in communion with Rome. We use Latin because we are the Roman Catholic Church and Latin is the language of the Church.

You are correct.
Pax et Bonum:bible1:

The Traditional Mass is in Latin because the language of Rome, this being the place of the Roman Rite, is Latin.

Latin is used in the Roman Church because Latin was the language of the Roman people “back in the day.” It is interesting to note that the original language of the Roman Liturgy was most likely Greek. Remnants of this can still be seen in the Roman Rite today with the “Kyrie Eleison.” But over time the Roman Church switched over to Latin because that is the language that people understood. Latin stuck and was used by the majority (not the entire) of the Roman Church until recently.

But when we look at the Church as a whole and include the Eastern and Oriental Catholic Churches we see that there are a wide array of languages that have been used. For example:

  1. The Byzantine Catholic Churches in both the Catholic and Orthodox traditions have always had a tradition of using a form of the vernacular, but Greek and Church Slavonic are considered the “original” languages of their liturgies depending on if one’s Church follows the Greek or Slavic recensions.

  2. The Coptic Catholic and Orthodox Churches use Coptic and Greek traditionally. Today you may also find Arabic and, in this country, English in their Liturgies.

  3. The Ethiopian and Eritrean Churches use Ge’ez, although I believe among the Ethiopian Catholics in this country English is also starting to be used.

  4. The Maronites traditionally use a dialect of Aramaic known as Syriac (West Syriac to be specific and if I am not mistaken). Although today you will mostly find Arabic and, again in this country, English, although parts of the Liturgy are still in Syriac.

  5. I’m going to lump the following together because I’m not sure what dialects of Syriac they use, but the Chaldean Catholics and Orthodox, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Catholics, as well as the Assyrian and the “Apostolic Church of the East” all use a dialect of Syriac, although I’m not sure which ones use East and which ones use West Syriac.

There are others as well, but these are the only ones currently popping to mind. All of these Churches are as old and venerable as the Church of Rome, and all deserve due attention from anyone interested in the languages traditionally used by the Church as a whole. It just demonstrates that even from the beginning of the Church there have been a multiplicity of languages in use. This has often led to misunderstandings between the particular Churches and some times those misunderstandings have led to a breaking of communion, but a multiplicity of languages is the reality from the Church’s foundation.

Just to be a bit more specific, the Maronites use a dialect of Aramaic known as West Syriac. In reality today, the Maronites use primarily Arabic, although elements of their Liturgy are still in Syriac. Here in the U.S. the Maronites will use more or less English, depending on what parish you visit, with some Arabic, and certain elements still in Syriac. Whether this is a good or bad thing is for the Ecclesial authorities to decide. I’m personally for the use of vernacular languages; others believe the vernacular diminishes our identity. :shrug: Again, that’s for the higher-ups to decide and is way outside of my pay grade.

(By the way: I’m canonically a Roman Catholic who has spent the last year worshipping at a Maronite parish and spent the five years before that at a Melkite Greek Catholic parish. Both of my children were initiated (baptized, confirmed, and communicated) in the Melkite tradition. I worked for several years at a company that produces books and videos on the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox traditions. Although I’m still learning, I’ve taken to studying the Maronite and other Syriac traditions so that I may help maintain and promote the uniqueness of the Maronite and other Eastern/Oriental Churches).

“Sabaoth” too, I believe.

But over time the Roman Church switched over to Latin because that is the language that people understood. Latin stuck and was used by the majority (not the entire) of the Roman Church until recently.

That it stuck had probably more to do with Roman law and Cicero and the adaptation of his moral code and grammar by the early church fathers, from what I’ve read. Also, because the monks preserved the Bible and the Missal in that language for many centuries.

It’s interesting that of all the languages you mentioned, Church Latin is the only immutable language in the West, spanning almost two thousand years.

Although I’m still learning, I’ve taken to studying the Maronite and other Syriac traditions so that I may help maintain and promote the uniqueness of the Maronite and other Eastern/Oriental Churches.

Cool. I should be doing the same, having a Maronite parish close by. It’s different and there’s lots to learn.

As does the Chaldean Church (as an FYI)

Sabaoh is Hebrew, so it falls into the same ‘class’ as the retention of the words Amen, and Alleluia.

Don’t forget the Armenians, who I assume use Armenian. Armenia was the first oficially Christian country (before Rome, even).

One of the popular songs by the Righteous Brothers was “Little Latin Lupe Lu” I don’t think Little Armenian Lupe Lu would have gone over as well!:shrug::smiley:

Not exactly true. There is certainly a tradition of translating the liturgy into the vernacular when doing missionary work, but the Greek liturgy is just as ancient and archaic as the Latin Mass. The Greeks don’t understand it. Likewise, Church Slavonic is now not understandable to the average Slavic parishioner. It was in the vernacular when it was translated roughly a thousand years ago, but once the services were set they stayed that way and eventually became a “sacred language” in the same way that Latin, Greek, Armenian, etc. did.

So if we were to be traditional Orthodox in this regard, as America is being evangelized it will be in common languages, and then we must never change the service books so that in a couple of hundred years we will have our own sacred form of English developing. Or we could speed things up and pick a form of English from abut 500 years ago to use today.

I don’t think using a form of English from 500 years ago would be quite the same thing, but it’s an interesting idea at least. :smiley: Personally I’d much rather see English-speaking Orthodox and Catholics agree on one translation in modern English and stick to that. But since there’s an almost innumerable amount of English translation in use in parishes out there, I highly doubt that will happen. :shrug: Heck, I’d even be happy of they decided on a translation using Shakesperean English (although that was considered rather vulgar in its day); just something to standardize things so that you would know what you were walking into from one parish to another.

From what I understand, at least among the Ukrainians, Church Slavonic is still understood (more-or-less), but not many can actually speak it, and certainly not without a great deal of study. I was, of course, aware that the Greek (Koine) used in the Greek Orthodox Liturgy is not understood by the modern Greeks.

One interesting thing to note is that the Romanian Orthodox actually have (or used to) a commission for updating the Liturgy regularly into modern spoken Romanian. It’s also interesting to note that the Romanians follow both the Slavic and the Greek recensions.

But what is the point of preserving liturgical languages at all within the Church today? I would say that the preservation of those languages - without excluding the introduction of vernacular languages - keeps us rooted in our past while enabling us also to move forward in current and future evangelization. Christ commanded us, after all, to “preach the Good News,” to “baptize,” and teach others all that He has taught us. We were not commanded to preserve a single language. So on the one hand the preservation of liturgical languages keeps us rooted in our particular identities as Roman, Byzantine, Syriac, Coptic, etc. Christians, while the introduction or opening up to the vernacular (in my opinion) enables us to take the Good News that has been given us and preach it in the world.

You are right, of course, although we use the Greek pronunciation. Hebrew pronunciation is tseb-aw-aw.

Still, it should have been retained in the Mass. The English translation (Hosts) is confusing at best and loses a lot of its power and beauty.

But it sounds nice to the ear, though most who speak Polish, for example, don’t understand it. But if you were to apply it to the liturgy, the language takes it to a different level of understandability. I can’t say the same for a barbaric language like English, though many would disagree with me.

To me, the word “host” is like you go to a party and the person who invited you is the “host”:shrug:

Yes, it has lost a bit of its ancient meaning. That use of the word “host” is a play on its original usage, which was the huge supply chains that fed armies whilst they marched to war.

Guys, look, Jesus Christ and the apostles never spoke Latin so why should we?

They didn’t speak English, either.

Then Pontius Pilate sure wasted his time having Christ’s inscription written in Latin along with Greek and Hebrew.

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