Why We Should Promote And Use Latin

The Church clearly teaches that the Latin language should be used and promoted. By abandoning Latin, we have disobeyed the Church.

Why do I say this? Because of Veterum Sapientia. You can read this here:

Or you can listen to Father Z read it here: wdtprs.com/blog/2012/02/podcazt-127-veterum-sapientia-50th-anniversary-on-latin-in-the-church-wherein-fr-z-rants/

The Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia was issued by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1962. An Apostolic Constitution is one of the most important documents a Pope can issue; for this reason it is very authoritative and must be followed. Despite this, Veterum Sapientia has been ignored by many of our Shepherds.

I made this thread because I wanted to share Veterum Sapientia with Catholics who may not have heard about it. And I want to help all Catholics reclaim their identity. Latin is the official language of the Church; it is our language and we should use it!

Thanks for this!

I agree with you, the use of Latin is very important.


Fr. Brian Harrison in St. Louis MO offers a weekly Ad Orientem OF Mass in latin, with gregorian propers and everything. It’s pretty rad : )

*]Buddhists use Pali
*]Jews use Classical Hebrew
*]Muslims use Arabic
*]Hindus use Sanskrit

The other religions use their sacred languages. Why shouldn’t we use ours?

These non-vernacular languages unite believers with each other and with their history. Latin will do the same for us.

I am a Merchant Seaman and travel all around the world. There have been many occasions when I’ve attended Mass and couldn’t understand a word. If the Catholic Church still used Latin, I could worship anywhere in the world and follow using my Missal.

There are an estimated 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we all prayed in the same language? We may come from different countries and have different cultures but the Latin language would unite us.

The abbey I’m associated with uses Gregorian chant Latin propers and ordinary for the Mass (in the ordinary form); Lauds and Vespers are in Latin Gregorian chant.

Since I became an oblate 10 years ago I have obtained a working knowledge of church Latin (at least enough to chant it and read it fluently, but comprehension is some considerable distance behind my reading ability), joined a Gregorian schola, and joined the Gregorian Institute of Canada of which I am now a director.

The one thing I learned is that the Church has a huge and rich treasury of Gregorian chant, dating back 1000 years and more, in addition to other chant forms (Ambrosian, Mozarabic, Sarum, etc.)

If there is to be one, and only one reason to learn Latin, it’s to preserve this treasure, not as a museum piece, but as a living, working part of the liturgy. I’ve sung chant in recitals for the public, but it really only attains its full richness when sung in its proper liturgical context.

A second reason is international gatherings. I’ve attended a couple in Rome (and am heading to the World Oblate’s Congress next week in Rome). For large multilingual groups, Latin really does work much better.

The third reason is that while Latin is really only the vernacular of the past, it’s pretty much permeated the history of the Latin Rite Church.

However I am also a realist. It’s not realistic to expect Latin to be used everywhere, in every culture. The Church is expanding beyond Europe to places where languages are so different from European languages that Latin is indeed an obstacle. And in our own part of the world, it is really no longer taught except in higher academic circles. It’s unrealistic to expect Latin in every parish. In the past, it was taught in high school and everyone had at least an elementary notion of it. It’s no longer the case and we shouldn’t burden people with excess obstacles between them and God.

But Latin should be preserved and the laity should get at least some exposure. The mandate of our “flying schola” is to bring Gregorian chant to a different parish of the archdiocese every month during fall, spring and winter. We want to keep the laity in touch with their heritage. We aren’t welcome everywhere-there’s a lot of recent baggage in the Quebec church-but we go where we can. Moreover it should be preserved and studied in monasteries; we should all be grateful to Solesmes for their work on restoring chant in the late 1800s and continuing to study and perfect it to this day.

If you are interested in the Latin language heritage of the Catholic Church you should watch this episode of EWTN LIVE: youtube.com/watch?v=DxegQcoHyWU

The episode concentrates on the Family of St. Jerome, a group that is dedicated to promoting the Latin spiritual patrimony within the Church.

As JPII quoted Cicero,

“Non enim tam praeclarum est scire Latine quam turpe nescire.”

(For it is not so excellent to know Latin, as it is a shame not to know it.)

Will classes be provided by the Church for new converts, and those faithful that never had the opportunity to learn Latin? :slight_smile:

Personally, I would love to attend if they are offered at my parish.

The overarching good to it is the unity it provides in the Church as its most common mother tongue, and to make the Church disassociated with culture and be seen as timeless. It’s also an extinct language outside of its clerical use, which is helpful for much the same reason why the scientific community uses ancient Greek.

As a native speaker to a Romance tongue, we’re at quite a hand up with learning it compared to where the Church is growing fastest, but I’m sure those obstacles can be overcome.

An additional advantage relayed by Fr. Ray Blake (he is writing specifically about the TLM here but no reason it can’t apply generally to Latin-heavy liturgies):

*In many ways solemn celebrations of the Traditional Mass are actually more accessible than the Ordinary Form.

The entrance point for the Traditional Mass is simply an openness to beauty, or the transcendent, or even western culture, for the Ordinary Form as usually celebrated it demands at least a comprehension of a vernacular language, some grounding in scripture and the current ecclesiastical culture - by that I mean at its lowest level simply knowing the hymns, a being comfortable with, or lacking a prejudice against a particular musical style. The Novus Ordo as it is currently celebrated either draws people in or repels them, Benedict’s insistence on ‘correct’ translations of the Latin texts, the assertion of the ‘giveness’ of the Liturgy, was a reminder that the Novus Ordo had like the TLM an objective reality and was not supposed to be subjective as both its more liberal supporters and conservative detractors often claim. . . .

Even so I would suggest that the TLM, in its solemn forms offers to the unchurched a ‘worship experience’ which can be more profound and more easily comprehended, it invites the participants into the mysteries of Redemption, by down playing the initial response of intellectual comprehension it allows a much more visceral response. A Jewish friend and former parishioner tells of his conversion beginning with High Mass, Thomas Merton speaks of his conversion too beginning by a chance encounter with the mutter of the Mass, an important part of my own conversion was stumbling into a Paris Church and hearing the singing of Introit whilst the clergy ascended the altar steps to sing Mass amidst a cloud of incense. A Filipino former member of our congregation, arriving in London to work for someone near Harrod’s, with no English and as she admitted herself with no education found herself torn between a Filipino charismatic prayer group and the TLM (and the Lady Altar) at the London Oratory. The TLM, which for her like the boys at St Peter’s was the ‘New Mass’ with no cultural baggage at all won out.*


There are an estimated 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we all prayed in the same language? We may come from different countries and have different cultures but the Latin language would unite us. **

It is one thing to recommend Latin as the official language of the Church so far as its historical and teaching documents go. It is quite another thing to expect people the world over to profit from hearing an otherwise dead language at Mass every day.

If there is a language on course to become the uniting world language of Christians everywhere, it is certainly English rather than Latin, which is spoken by no nation as its native tongue (not even in Italy).Many educated Orientals and Africans now speak English, and there is no reason to believe that as the future unfolds, English will not become the first or second language of Christians throughout the world.

Not sure why you classify Arabic as non-vernacular. It is clearly the daily language of tens of millions in the mid-East, and per the U S Census is the 11th most commonly spoken language in the U S. My understanding of Classical Hebrew is that it is to modern Herbrew as Shakesperian English is to modern English - more formally structured and with certain special vocabulary usage, but clearly close to the daily spoken form. Some quick research shows that Sanskrit is one of the official languages of India, and while not widely spoken, it is being revived in parts of the Indian sub-continent. Pali is a dead language and liturgical only.

I wold think that if you were prepared to follow a Latin Mass in your missal, you could use your missal to follow along with a Mass in any other language that you didn’t understand, since you are familiar with what prayers are said when, and when specific actions occur in the Mass.

Finally, I disagree that forcing all the world’s Catholics to pray in the same language is a good idea or unifying. To require that people approach God using ritual language they did not truly understand would seem to make God unapproachable and distant, someone not to be invoked in the daily stresses and needs of life, but only through the formalism of ritual. Additionally, Latin’s European roots, structures, alphabet, and rules seem to carry with them a certain cultural imperialism that would be of questionable value to the faith formation and Christian growth of those from other cultures.

This is a curious argument. I hear it a lot and frankly don’t really understand it. Latin has not been spoken as a first language virtually anywhere since the the 8th century or so. Surely if immediate linguistic comprehension was essential to the Mass, someone might have noticed that fact before the 1950s.

Really, it is not necessary that we understand the Mass the way we understand a microeconomics lecture; it is not (or was not prior to the Pauline reforms) primarily didactic or catechetical or academic in nature but contemplative and devotional and above all *theophanic, *an encounter with the Word incarnate, an encounter which takes into account the full range of man’s sensual nature – not just hearing and interpreting but all his senses. A song is still beautiful even if I don’t understand the lyrics, and often its beauty is enhanced by that lack of intellectual understanding. That understanding in a sense enables me to conquer it, makes it mundane and un-mysterious, and if there is anything the Mass is, it is otherworldly and mysterious.

Vatican II recommended that some Latin be retained in the Mass. Apparently the Council fathers believed there would be some benefit to it.

IMO, perhaps this is the best reason for using Greek, Latin, and Hebrew in Christian worship.

Not to mention that the Eastern Churches have their own liturgical languages.

My own parish will be offering a Divine Liturgy in Church Slavonic(our liturgical language) by popular request. I’m looking forward to it and I wished we used more Slavonic every week, but I really wouldn’t want the whole thing in Slavonic every week.

I used to attend Divine Liturgy until we moved too far away :frowning: Some of the Ordinary was prayed in OCS each week, and the parts varied. With the bilingual book, it was easy to follow along and learn those prayers…

You mean they don’t want their mantras in vernacular? :smiley:

Now how many here would understand this Latin if not for the translation?
Seriously, how many here have the time to become proficient in Latin? It takes work and many years.

You can find a fun tutorial on Latin at mango and if you go through your library website it is free. mangolanguages.com/

But our “identity” is in Christ not any language. “Catholic”, after all, comes from Greek “katholikos” and means “universal”.

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