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Latin is the official language of the Church, knowledge of Latin may enable
to you read current and past Church documents without having to rely on
knowledge of Latin may open up a wealth of classical literature to you.
of Latin provides a tie to the past. Even the inscription on the Cross
was written in Latin (along with Hebrew and Greek).
is necessary to fully appreciate our rich Catholic heritage."
of Latin allows you to pray and sing in Latin - the same language used
by your Catholic ancestors and the saints!
Knowledge of Latin may be beneficial when attending the Traditional Latin Mass
(sometimes called "Tridentine" Mass). In this way, you may Mass
anywhere in the world in your "native language". [Note: Although
it may be beneficial to know Latin, you do not need to know Latin to
greatly benefit from this wonderful, reverent Mass.]
saints, and councils recommend Latin.
have shown a correlation between studying Latin and improved scores
on various tests.
of Latin may allow you to correspond with prelates and the faithful
in other countries (including the Vatican).
traveling, you will be able to read Latin inscriptions found in holy
many more benefits may be yours...
Did You Know...?
* The devil hates Latin (click
here for more information)
* Jesus also used a "dead language" for worship (click
here for more information)
* The Latin language is "beautiful & majestic" and has been praised
by popes (click
here for more information)
* The Second Vatican Council never called for the elimination of
Latin, nor was this desired by the Pope who called the Council (click
here for more information)
use of a single language allows us to pray "in one voice."
use of Latin protects Church dogma - "Dogma is
unchangeable and needs to be expressed in a language not subject
to change. A single change in words can imply a change in doctrine."
a universal language, it is not necessary to have separate Masses for
persons of varying nationalities (thereby segregating the congregation and
single language promotes unity both locally and worldwide. "But amid
this variety of languages a primary place must surely be given to that
language which had its origins in Latium, and later proved so admirable a
means for the spreading of Christianity throughout the West. And since in
God's special Providence this language united so many nations together
under the authority of the Roman Empire - and that for so many centuries -
it also became the rightful language of the Apostolic See. Preserved for
posterity, it proved to be a bond of unity for the Christian peoples of
Europe." (Pope John XXIII, "Veterum Sapientia", 1962 A.D.)
use of Latin is a sign of unity and safeguards doctrine: "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 Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)
Latin Language may be considered "immutable". "For the
Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to endure
until the end of time...requires a language which is universal, immutable,
and non-vernacular." (Pope Pius XI, "Officiorum Omnium", 1922
use of a universal language spares the Church the trouble and expense of
creating and constantly updating a multitude (hundreds and hundreds) of translations into the
vernacular. Note: Experience since the 1960's shows that this is an
expensive and daunting task, which has been plagued with errors (even serious ones).
Each translation may require at least one commission and may go through a
long approval process. Each new translation risks confusion, disunity,
error, etc. Each new translation may bring with it a high cost (including
high fees for experts). With
so many languages and translations, it also becomes difficult even to get
them approved, possibly leading to the use of unapproved translations.
Further, translations into "living languages" tend to become
obsolete as time goes by.
Latin language is majestic and concise: "Of its very nature
Latin is most suitable for promoting every form of culture among
peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies. It does not favor any one
nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all and is
equally acceptable to all. Nor must we overlook the characteristic
nobility of Latin's formal structure. Its 'concise, varied and
harmonious style, full of majesty and dignity' makes for singular
clarity and impressiveness of expression." (Pope John XXIII, "Veterum Sapientia", 1962 A.D.)
is fitting that Christ be praised universally by a united tongue."
is fitting that a universal Church use a universal language. "Since
'every Church must assemble around the Roman Church,' and since the Supreme
Pontiffs have 'true episcopal power, ordinary and immediate, over each and
every Church and each and every Pastor, as well as over the faithful' of
every rite and language, it seems particularly desirable that the
instrument of mutual communication be uniform and universal, especially
between the Apostolic See and the Churches which use the same Latin rite.
When, therefore, the Roman Pontiffs wish to instruct the Catholic world, or
when the Congregations of the Roman Curia handle matters or draw up decrees
which concern the whole body of the faithful, they invariably make use of
Latin, for this is a maternal voice acceptable to countless nations."
(Pope John XXIII, "Veterum Sapientia", 1962 A.D.)
Church is unchangeable and it is fitting for her to use a language that is
also "unchangeable". Note that when certain words in a language
change, this tends to cause division.
worldwide use of Latin gives us a universal bond: "In addition, the
Latin language 'can be called truly catholic.' It has been consecrated
through constant use by the Apostolic See, the mother and teacher of all
Churches, and must be esteemed 'a treasure...of incomparable worth.' It
is a general passport to the proper understanding of the Christian
writers of antiquity and the documents of the Church's teaching. It is
also a most effective bond, binding the Church of today with that of the
past and of the future in wonderful continuity." (Pope John XXIII,
"Veterum Sapientia", 1962 A.D.)
vernacular languages are used instead of a universal language, the Church
hierarchy tends to lose control.
use of Latin protects against heresy (note that vernacular languages are
subject to frequent changes of meaning).
universal language saves time and prevents people from being left out (e.g.
rather than forcing the Pope to address a dozen people in their native languages,
he can simply address them in a universal language - and this way no one is
a universal language, visiting prelates can say Mass in any parish with
makes sense that our priests should have to learn only one language rather
use of Latin "ties us together in a common culture" and unites us
with those who have gone before us: "It is without doubt
elevating and inspiring to offer [the] sacrifice [of the Mass] and pray in the very language
and in the very words, whose forcible yet sweet tones once resounded in
the mouths of the primitive Christians and our forefathers in the dark
depths of the Catacombs, in the golden areas of the ancient basilicas,
and in the sumptuous cathedrals of the Middle Ages. In the Latin
language of divine worship innumerable saints, bishops and priests of
all times have offered [the] sacrifice [of the Mass], prayed, and sung... Should not this
ancient Latin language of divine service, so venerable and hallowed in
its origin and use, be extremely dear and precious to us, so that we
would not for any price give it up or be deprived of it at the
celebration of Holy Mass?" (Gihr)
is fitting that Almighty God be worshipped in a majestic language.
"Since the Latin language has been withdrawn from daily life, from the
ordinary intercourse of mankind, since it is not heard on the street or in
the market-place, it possesses in the eyes of the faithful a holy,
venerable, mystic character... The celebration of this mystic Sacrifice [of
the Mass] fittingly calls for a language elevated, majestic, dignified and
consecrated; religious sentiment demands this" (Gihr). As one well-known Catholic convert has said, "The
vernacular has robbed the Mass of its majesty and mystery." (Brown)
use of a universal language allows us, the members of a universal Church,
to speak with one another ("without a common tongue, we cannot all
speak to each other").
a universal language, even the hierarchy of the Church will be divided and
unable to talk to each other.
use of Latin is a sign of historical continuity in the Church: "The use of the
Latin Language is, not metaphysically but historically, connatural to
the Catholic Church, and is closely connected even in the poplar mind
with things ecclesiastical. It also constitutes an important instrument
and sign of historical continuity in the Church." (Amerio)
Latin is used in the liturgy, the faithful can feel at home in every
Catholic church in the world: "As it is, the Latin
unites the Western Church together in one Catholic body with a union
which is that of a family or a household. Every Catholic is at home in
every Catholic church of the world. Moreover, the Latin keeps the whole
Church in union with the See of Rome, the source and principle of
Catholic unity." (Bishop
use of the Latin language in the liturgy contributes to a sacred atmosphere
and safeguards the purity of the doctrine by preventing heterodox
worldwide use of Latin the Church was an impressive sign to those outside
the Church. "It used to be a tribute to the Church that all her
children spoke the same language."
the Church has "gathered all nations", it is proper that she should
make use of a language that is universal and not tied to one particular
nation. "In her bosom we behold how the Holy Ghost has 'gathered all the
nations from out of the babel of tongues into the unity of faith.' Being
formed of 'all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues' she
constitutes but one family of God, one kingdom of Christ, a kingdom not
of this world, but exalted above every nation of the earth. Therefore,
it is proper that the Church, when celebrating divine worship, when
offering the divine sacrifice [of the Mass], should make use not of the language of
some one single country or nation, but of a language that is universal,
consecrated and sanctified. Thus, at the altar is a figure of the
heavenly Jerusalem, where all the angels and saints in unison sing their
'Holy, holy, holy' and Alleluia." (Gihr)
As one well-known Catholic convert has said, "The existence of a
common liturgical language of some kind is a sign of the Church's mission
to reverse the curse of Babel and to create a body of unity between the
peoples." (Dawson) Remember also that "The confusion of languages at Babylon was the expression of
God's anger." (Fr. Groenings)
Latin language lifts us up: "One virtue of Latin, perhaps the least, is that
it makes no attempt to get everybody talking: it is the language of Holy
Church, of God's priest, not 'my' language. And it is a language imposed
by the Mystery itself, the language of Pontius Pilate and of those who
being his contemporaries crucified the Incarnate Lord as our agents, the
language of the penitent Gentiles. It lifts us out of our complacent
English suburb and our self-sufficient century into that universal
moment in which man first acknowledged the divine Savior, the Son of the
Living God. The vernacular reverses the procedure. The whole change
has been made in concession to ourselves. The vernacular is the language
of our private prayers, the grammar of our private life. It accompanies
an extensive and potentially disastrous change of mind" (Mr.
Gregory, as quoted by Davies)
Latin language is especially useful for education. "In accordance with
numerous previous instructions, the major sacred sciences shall be taught
in Latin, which, as we know from many centuries of use, 'must be considered
most suitable for explaining with the utmost facility and clarity the most
difficult and profound ideas and concepts.' For apart from the fact that it
has long since been enriched with a vocabulary of appropriate and
unequivocal terms, best calculated to safeguard the integrity of the
Catholic faith, it also serves in no slight measure to prune away useless
verbiage. Hence professors of these sciences in universities or seminaries
are required to speak Latin and to make use of textbooks written in Latin.
If ignorance of Latin makes it difficult for some to obey these
instructions, they shall gradually be replaced by professors who are suited
to this task." (Pope John XXIII, "Veterum Sapientia", 1962 A.D.)
honest persons outside the Church admit that the use of the Latin language
"raises up the mind from everyday interests and into a language of
worship." They have even admitted that the use of Latin "shows deep insight into the human
here for more benefits of using Latin
Language (Topic Page)
Language Facts & Pronunciation Tips
the Latin Mass?
Catholic Tradition: Q & A
Traditional Latin Mass: A Brief History
Traditional Latin Mass vs. the Novus Ordo (New) Mass
of the Latin 'Tridentine' Mass
to Find a Latin 'Tridentine' Mass
The Latin Language
Latin Prayers & Other Prayers in Latin
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