Why the reverence for Latin?


I go to Mass (OF) in Gregorian chant twice a week, and I chant the Divine Office in Latin daily.

And even with that, I think your statement is nonsense.


I guess I’m lazy. I just go to this website:


While there were no doubt many, many martyrs who couldn’t speak Latin, there were plenty of martyrs who did speak it, and certainly the officials condemning them to death often spoke it, so Latin is a tie back to the Roman era and its persecutions.

I’d love to be able to speak Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic and so forth also, but Latin is currently the most accessible of those languages from a standpoint of its being taught in far more schools than teach Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic, and used for Church liturgical purposes. One connection to the origins of Christianity is better than no connection at all.


Nisi fallor, that site was set up by a frequent poster at CA.


Beautiful. A real labor of love, yes?


I use that to help set up my breviary when I’m lost. The format is exactly like that of the breviary. It introduced me to the EF office!


As I understand it the developer of the site has passed, RIP, and his sons have kept it going? Is that correct?


It appears that way. You may want to search laszlo to read some of his posts if they kept them.


I certainly don’t dispute the importance of Latin to the Roman Church, from a historical perspective. What I do dispute is that somehow praying in Latin is any more efficacious than in any other language. And while many martyrs are from the Western Church, many are also from Eastern Churches, both in communion with Rome and before the Schism, none of which would have spoken Latin, and many were even before the Canon of the Bible was established by the Church and translated into the vernacular of the day, Latin.

My main interest in Latin is both historical and practical. Practical, because it is necessary (at least for scholars) to understand much of Church doctrine that was written in Latin. Historical, because the Church has a rich treasury of Latin documentation, and in particular my main interest, a rich heritage of plainchant written in Latin that is so worth of preservation, especially in the Ordinary Form where it has been somewhat neglected outside of monasteries and Rome. Not only Gregorian chant, but also Gallican, Old Roman, Mozarabic, Ambrosian, Sarum, to name the better known ones.

And also practical as a base language from which all vernacular translations should flow.

But to suggest that a prayer is more efficacious in Latin as the post I was responding to did, is elitist and does a disservice to the universality of the Church which has now spread farther and wider than Western Europe and into many places where illiteracy is still prevalent but whose prayers are just as heartfelt as those of a Latin scholar, if not more so.


Well, to be fair, the poster didn’t say in the post you answered that the prayer was “more efficacious” in Latin. He just said we honor the martyrs and Jesus Christ by using a language that many martyrs spoke. That’s fine, if someone wants to see it that way. Of course there are many other ways to honor Jesus and the early Christian martyrs.

It’s the same as how I might sometimes wear a head covering to honor my Catholic ancestor women who wore them and by extension to honor God, since their purpose in wearing the covering was to honor God. I don’t think I’m any more holy or reverent with it on. It’s just a tie to the past for occasional use, and if one chooses not to wear it, that’s fine, one can pick another way to honor both Catholic forebears and God.


I think any prayer from the heart that invokes the intercession of the martyrs from any era will honour them.


To a certain extent, the history of the western Church is also the history of Latin. It’s the language in which Catholicism worshipped, thought, reasoned, and argued for most of its existence. When I worship in Latin, I feel truly Catholic (as in “universal”) not only in space, but in time–in my actions, in my thoughts, and in my words, I stand alongside my brothers & sisters in faith across the oceans AND across the centuries. The language makes me feel freer, less bound to a single age and a single region.

Even today, Latin can still sometimes be a useful buffer against the tyranny of the local: when attending a Latin Mass in Budapest last year, I was able to understand everything the priest said throughout the service (except for the Hungarian sermon, natch).


Fine and good but doesn’t musical notation, anatomy, periodic tables, etc transcend borders and make it more suited to understand the concept in the same way for everyone? Don’t we run into problems in converting meters to yards, for example? Do we say we have a universal measuring system? Spanish is acceptable in the U.S. but English is required for citizenship. Isn’t that elitist on the part of Americans?




I agree. That’s why we should all speak Latin all the time! :wink:

Jokes aside though, you’re right in principle: we should always be in the same mind-state. But that mind-state should be the religious one, not the secular one, nor should we aim for a compromise between the two. We mustn’t allow our religious minds to be secularized. We must go the other way: our secular minds must be infused by the religious spirit always. But this is a gradual process that unfolds individually for every believer. And as long as this process isn’t complete, it is safer to distinguish clearly between our religious mind and our secular mind than to attempt to adopt a mixture. In mixtures, the adulterating element (the secular mind) tends to win out.


I trust Jesus with my mind and have confidence that He is guarding my thoughts and my soul, even when I’m doing something strictly secular. Actually, for Christians, there is no such thing as “strictly secular.” ALL that we do and say should glorify God.

E.g., watching the Bears game today does not mean that I step away from my devotion to Jesus. By enjoying the game, cheering for my team, eating chips, etc.–I still have the Mind of Christ. (I probably won’t be able to watch the game because I work and I doubt we’ll be finished in time…oh well… When it comes to the Bears, I have little faith.)

I think it’s good to have reminders of our faith all around us–signs on the walls or our bulletin boards, a Bible sitting out, prayer cards or holy cards in our wallets, artwork, and for some, Latin and other ancient traditions. etc. But if we don’t have these things, Christ is still able to infuse our hearts with His purity and goodness.


Except that many seminaries do not teach Latin so even priests are not being educated in it.


If we are to be educated in Latin, it is best to do it early in life. Like preschool just like we learn a native language. It’s a struggle trying to learn it in high school and beyond.


I do agree but so many other things would also be better taught then. Unfortunately, there is insufficient time to teach all things at this age.

Teaching Latin would have an advantage in learning other languages and in other subjects, too. However, I do believe there is another way to do this.


Off topic, but here is the Our Father prayer rendered in Old English, Middle English, Modern English, and present day English:


Edited to add: The one thing about the Norman invasion to be thankful for, is that it seems to have begun the transistion of English from its Germanic form to Middle and Modern English. Imagine trying to follow the Mass in Old English.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.