Why the reverence for Latin?


Maybe but to say one language is as good as another is misleading. I can write a prayer in COBOL and have a computer run it but that wouldn’t be from my heart. It doesn’t matter that I understand it; it’s not a prayer.



I agree, ProVobis. Praying from the heart is what we should be doing; not saying rote formulae. For me, learning my prayers in Latin combined my love of Latin and praying from the heart.



More than authenticity, there are some rhythmic signs in Gregorian notation that don’t exist in modern notation, so you would lose a lot in terms of interpretation, some subtle, some more obvious.

Plus, Gregorian is, surprisingly, much easier to read. The notes are more spread out on the 4-bar staff, easier on the old eyes.



In terms of music; one of my most beautiful moments of my life was when I met the Archbishop of my diocese during RCIA. The lady singer was singing either in Latin or in Spanish. Combined with the cathedral acoustics, it was a heavenly experience.

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Isn’t Gregorian notation specifically modeled for the human voice unlike the standard notation used in music?



Latin was never used?? You have a long way to go in your education. It is the root of most western tongues. The scripture were written or translated into Latin (Jerome) because of it universality and great care was taken to assure the message was related accurately. Catholics know it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Everyone else pretty much has no clue. You won’t catch a heretic or protestant giving the Catholic church the nod for compiling sacred scripture but they did and it went to Latin.

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:smile: COBOL :smile:



I don’t follow your logic here; why would a prayer written in COBOL not be a prayer, provided God understands it?



I think ProVobis’ point is a computer can be programmed with a prayer and that’s not from the heart.



Oh I see. I thought he (or another programmer) was the agent here, not the computer ‘reciting’ the prayer.



Computers can pray?



Lol… I doubt it



No but as I said I thought the human programmer was writing a prayer in a computer language. I didn’t see why God couldn’t understand a computer language as well as a human one.

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I think English is about 1/3 Latin derived. About 1/3 from a now-archaic form of French. About 1/3 from a Teutonic language which I think maybe was Old Frisian.



You may be hitting on something here. Do the ICEL people collect royalties AND get spiritual benefits every time an English Mass is said anywhere in the world?

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Do you mean ‘as an Anglophone’?

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Latin has value because tradition does. Just as we set aside certain special vessels made of special materials for sacred purposes, so was Latin set aside for sacred purposes. Most people would rightly be upset if a priest used a red plastic solo cup instead of a gold chalice for Mass because in our culture and tradition the gold chalice became associated with the sacredness of Mass and showed that what was being done with it was special. They would be rightly upset if the priest wore shorts and t-shirt instead of a chasuble, etc.–the special vestments set aside for a special purpose signify something special. And taking away the thing set aside as special and sacred, and replacing it with something more ordinary and mundane that does not signify this naturally makes the purpose seem less special and more mundane.

Likewise, Latin came to signify sacredness and a kind of timelessness. It symbolized that something special, sacred, worthy of reverence, and out of the ordinary was being done. Abruptly taking it away and replacing it with something more mundane that had no such significance at all will naturally reduce the sense of sacredness and reverence.

Has reverence at Mass and belief in what Mass really is increased or decreased since Latin was swept away? The answer seems pretty obvious to me.

This is what I call “unculturation.” Many cultures had or have customs, architecture, vestments, etc. associated with the sacred and holy that were deeply ingrained in the consciousness of the culture–when these these things were present, the people immediately recognized sacredness.

To help such cultures recognize sacredness in Christianity, the Church in the past often adapted such architecture, vestements, and other things that said to the culture loud and clear “this is sacred” (as far as was possible without falling into superstition or syncretism).

On the other hand, the opposite happened in the West in recent decades–we replaced things the culture has long held to signify sacredness and Catholicism generally with things from the culture that do not have such significance. We engaged in unculturation instead of inculturation. Discarding Latin is a perfect example of unculturation.

There are also practical reasons for having a common language in the Church (see the issues with translations at the recent synod). See more here:



Good point. When I was in the Philippines with my fiancé, we went to Mass. I tried following it; but with little knowledge of Bisaya, I had to rely on doing what I saw people doing. Kind of like I was back in my Protestant days, inquiring into the Church



Austronesian languages are huge world-wide including Indonesian and Malay - hundreds of millions with those alone. I think Bisaya is written as pronounced which gives it a substantial edge over Latin!



:thinking: True, written Bisaya is written like that.


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