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The Language of Liturgical Celebration: How Latin Could Serve as a "Bond of Un [Catholic Caucus]
Zenit.org ^ | March 11, 2011 | Uwe Michael Lang, CO

Posted on 03/12/2011 9:14:54 PM PST by Salvation

The Language of Liturgical Celebration


How Latin Could Serve as a "Bond of Unity"

By Uwe Michael Lang, CO

ROME, MARCH 11, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Language is not only an instrument that serves to communicate facts, which it seeks to do in the most simple and efficient way, but it is also the means to express our mind in a way that involves the whole person. Consequently, language is also the means by which we express thoughts and religious experiences.

Christine Mohrmann, the great historian of the Latin of Christians, affirms that "sacred language" used in divine worship is a specific way of "organizing" the religious experience. In fact, Mohrmann maintains that every form of believing in supernatural reality, in the existence of a transcendent being, leads necessarily to the adoption of a form of sacred language in worship, whereas radical secularism rejects any form of it.

In this connection, Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, explained in an interview to the Italian daily La Repubblic in July 2009 that "the use of sacred language is a tradition in the whole world. In Hinduism, the language of prayer is Sanskrit, which is no longer in use. In Buddhism Pali is used, a language that today only Buddhist monks study. In Islam, the Arabic of the Koran is used. The use of a sacred language helps us to live the sensation of the beyond."

The use of a sacred language in the liturgical celebration is part of what St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologiae calls the "solemnitas." The Angelic Doctor teaches: "What is found in the sacraments by human institution is not necessary to the validity of the sacrament, but confers a certain solemnity, useful in the sacraments to exercise devotion and respect in those who receive it" (Summa Theologiae III, 64, 2; cf. 83, 4).

Sacred language, being the means of expression not only of individuals, but rather of a community that follows its traditions, is conservative: it maintains the archaic linguistic forms with tenacity. Moreover, introduced in it are external elements, in so far as associated to an ancient religious tradition. A paradigmatic case is the Hebrew biblical vocabulary in the Latin used by Christians (Amen, Alleluia, Hosanna, etc.), as St. Augustine already observed (cf. "De doctrina christiana," II, 34-35 [11, 16]).

In the course of history a wide variety of languages has been used in Christian worship: Greek in the Byzantine tradition; the different languages of the Eastern traditions, such as Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Coptic and Ethiopic; Paleo-Slavic; the Latin of the Roman rite and of the other Western rites.

Found in all these languages are forms of style that separate them from the "ordinary" or popular language. Often this separation is the consequence of linguistic developments in the common language, which then are not adopted in the liturgical language because of its sacred character.

However, in the case of Latin as language of the Roman liturgy, a certain separation has existed since the beginning: Romans did not speak in the style of the canon or of the prayers of the Mass. As soon as Greek was replaced by Latin in the Roman liturgy, a highly stylized language was created as a means of worship, which an average Christian of Rome of late antiquity would have had difficulty in understanding.

A foundation

Moreover, the development of Christian "latinitas" could have rendered the liturgy more accessible to the people of Rome or Milan, but not necessarily to those whose mother tongue was Gothic, Celtic, Iberian, or Punic. Nevertheless, thanks to the prestige of the Church of Rome and the unifying force of the papacy, Latin became the singular liturgical language of Christianity, and subsequently one of the foundations of culture in the West.

The distance between liturgical Latin and the language of the people became greater with the development of the national cultures and languages in Europe, not to mention the mission territories. This situation did not foster the participation of the faithful in the liturgy, and that is why the Second Vatican Council wished to extend the use of the vernacular, already introduced to a certain degree in the preceding decades in the celebration of the sacraments (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy "Sacrosanctum Concilium," Article 36, No. 2). At the same time, the council stressed that "the use of the Latin language [...] should be kept in the Latin rites" (Ibid., Article 36, No. 1; cf. also Article 54).

However, the conciliar fathers did not imagine that the sacred language of the Western Church would be totally replaced by the vernacular. The linguistic fragmentation of Catholic worship was pushed so far, that many faithful today can hardly recite a "Pater Noster" along with others, as can be seen in international meetings in Rome and elsewhere.

In an age marked by great mobility and globalization, a common liturgical language could serve as a bond of unity among peoples and cultures, apart from the fact that the Latin liturgy is a unique spiritual treasure that has nourished the life of the Church for many centuries. Undoubtedly, Latin contributes to the sacred and stable character "which attracts many to the old use," as Benedict XVI wrote in his Letter to Bishops, on the occasion of the publication of the "Summorum Pontificum" (July 7, 2007). With the wider use of the Latin language, an altogether legitimate choice, but little used, "in the celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI, could manifest, in a stronger way than it has often up to now, that sacredness" (Ibid.).

Finally, it is necessary to preserve the sacred character of the liturgical language in the vernacular translation, as noted with exemplary clarity in the Instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments on the translation of liturgical books Liturgiam Authenticam of 2001. A notable fruit of this instruction is the new English translation of the Missale Romanum, which will be introduced in many English-speaking countries in the course of this year.

* * *

Oratorian Father Uwe Michael Lang is an official of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments and consultor of the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.



TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: brokencaucus; catholic; catholiclist; latin; mass
The use of a sacred language in the liturgical celebration is part of what St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologiae calls the "solemnitas."

Haven't we all wished for this?

1 posted on 03/12/2011 9:14:58 PM PST by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; marshmallow; ...

**Sacred language, being the means of expression not only of individuals, but rather of a community that follows its traditions, is conservative: it maintains the archaic linguistic forms with tenacity.**

Sacred Language Ping!


2 posted on 03/12/2011 9:16:01 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

I think it was an awful mistake to take latin out of the mass. I think it was an effort to increase ‘conversions’ along with the ‘folk’ masses etc. I think it was totally misguided.


3 posted on 03/12/2011 10:38:02 PM PST by Dudoight
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To: Dudoight

I’m thinking that this will bring people back to the church. Any thoughts there?


4 posted on 03/12/2011 10:39:38 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

I was an altar boy in my youth and studied Latin in HS. I knew that I could go to Mass in any Catholic Church in the world and understand everything but the sermon.

Then came Vatican II and its “progressive” ideas which turned the Mass into a hootenanny. That’s when I started going to non-denominational Bible churches.

If the Catholic Church goes back to Latin and gets rid of the guitars and drums, I’ll go back to Mass.


5 posted on 03/12/2011 10:44:20 PM PST by 43north (BHO: 50% black, 50% white, 100% RED)
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To: Salvation

bookmark


6 posted on 03/12/2011 11:45:31 PM PST by GOP Poet (Obama is an OLYMPIC failure.)
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To: Salvation

My daughter, NOT a lifelong Catholic, LOVES Masses in Latin.

Me too.

There is no good pedagogical reason not to start Latin classes in Kindergarten in Catholic schools, and there are good arguments in favor.


7 posted on 03/13/2011 3:58:37 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Mad Dawg

Purely from a linguistic point of view, Latin is a wonderful tool for understanding grammar and preparing kids for the learning of modern spoken languages. I think it helps them organize their linguistic brains, so to speak.


8 posted on 03/13/2011 4:07:31 AM PDT by livius
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To: Mad Dawg
"There is no good pedagogical reason not to start Latin classes in Kindergarten in Catholic schools, and there are good arguments in favor."

I started in the second grade...a little late apparently, but early enough so that I majored in Latin & Greek in college. I've never, ever, regretted it.

The Latin Mass is indeed beautiful and solemn and to the extent that the laity actually understands the prayers, it's a magnificent religious event and experience. If I were a Latin, it would be my chosen rite. I suggest, however, that the problem is more with the NO mass, rather than English. I remember the old Mass prayed and chanted in High Church English back in the 1960s. It was wonderful and everyone understood the Introit, the Collect, etc.

9 posted on 03/13/2011 6:09:26 AM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: Salvation; Kolokotronis

We must remember though, that Greek was the language of Sacred Scripture for all Christendom and remains the first official Church language. Latin is the second and Church Slavonic, the third.

I agree with Kolo, though, that the problem is less the choice of languages, and more the mutilation of the Liturgy into the NO feelgood mush that has been the practice, especially of the progressively theological (socialist/communist/community organizer/atheist), which has infected the Body of Christ. The Protestantization of the Latin Liturgy is paralleled by the Protestantization of Latin church architecture peaking in the 1990s. Look at that monstronsity in Los Angeles. The saying is that the floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops. I think that we have another deserving candidate.

Our good steward, exceeding his predecessor by almost unimaginable extent, is leading the Church in curing what it can, and excising what it cannot. The Ordinariates would not have come into being to the extent that they have, if the Church did not show every sign of being the last bastion of Christianity. The Christians left amongst the Anglicans and Lutherans are not just fleeing from, they are fleeing to. To God, not to the latest PC and fevered imaginings of men, which is really just about all that they have left. The trickle has started to turn into a flood. And not just to the Latin Church, but to the East as well.


10 posted on 03/13/2011 6:45:25 AM PDT by MarkBsnr (I would not believe in the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so..)
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To: Salvation

I think it might. It adds to the dignity, for me. I wish the latin would come back before I die.


11 posted on 03/13/2011 6:54:23 AM PDT by Dudoight
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To: Salvation

Amazing—like this is a new idea! “One, holy, catholic, and apostalic” used to MEAN one, universal language.


12 posted on 03/13/2011 9:49:36 AM PDT by Mach9
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To: Salvation

anything that prevents priests from ad-libbing at the altar is welcome.


13 posted on 03/13/2011 9:50:45 AM PDT by Oratam
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To: Salvation

My family and I went to a Latin Mass last month. Mixed reviews. My daughter, 12, loved it, fell right in with the chanting and the sound of the words. She wants to go again. My son and husband were mixed up and frustrated from trying to follow the English language handout that left something to be desired. They said they would not like to go back.

I’d like to go back occasionally. I followed it pretty well because I know the order of the mass really well from having been a church musician years ago, and I know some Latin roots from a Spanish linguistics class I had in college. I liked the music and the beautiful BELLS at consecration.

However, I missed our lively congregation, and its warm response to the priest, musicians and each other, like when we extend our hands and pray for our RCIA candidates every week, or smile as we greet each other before mass. The only congregational hymn at the Latin mass was the recessional, and hardly anybody sang, even though it was Holy God We Praise They Name, which is very singable and well-known.

By the way, I wore a headscarf, but my daughter chickened out on wearing one. About 1/4 of the women had covered heads. There was a nice sign out front with a guide for dressing modestly for church for men and women, both.

I think if they brought the BELLS back to the liturgy, that would go a long way to restoring the mystical, sacred quality of worship, with no worries about language. It’s an easy effective improvement that could be done right away.


14 posted on 03/13/2011 10:54:34 AM PDT by married21 (As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.)
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To: Kolokotronis
It's not the NO per se, but the poorly concealed notion of those who came up with it (and of similar people doing similar things in the Episcopal Church) that the laity are all fools and we must dumb down the rites for them. I think it perfectly possible to come up with a good, beautiful and liturgy in the vernacular, always bearing in mind that specialized topics in any vernacular have their jargon and terms of art, so the poor laity will have actually to think a little, be we never so colloquial. Dorothy Sayers has a plan of education which involves teaching little one's medieval Latin and, when they get to the argumentative age, they'll be ready to argue in it. Something like that anyway.
15 posted on 03/13/2011 11:44:13 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: 43north

**If the Catholic Church goes back to Latin and gets rid of the guitars and drums, I’ll go back to Mass.**

Don’t say ‘if’ say “When”!!!!!


16 posted on 03/13/2011 2:07:22 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: 43north

I think this will happen....we’ll be waiting with open arms to welcome you back.

check this out. http://www.chnetwork.org/


17 posted on 03/13/2011 2:09:13 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: 43north

I think this will happen....we’ll be waiting with open arms to welcome you back.

check this out. http://www.chnetwork.org/

Or watch the commercial here. http://www.catholicscomehome.org/


18 posted on 03/13/2011 2:10:56 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: 43north

I think this will happen....we’ll be waiting with open arms to welcome you back.

check this out. http://www.chnetwork.org/

Or watch the commercial here. http://www.catholicscomehome.org/


19 posted on 03/13/2011 2:12:03 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Comment #20 Removed by Moderator

To: 43north

You can’t fight protestantizing influences in the liturgy by going to a protestant church. Your sentiments about the value of decorum and solemnity in worship will be much more effective from within the Catholic community. Please come home.


21 posted on 03/14/2011 7:22:04 AM PDT by Romulus (The Traditional Latin Mass is the real Youth Mass)
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To: Kolokotronis; Mad Dawg; MarkBsnr; Salvation

“”The Latin Mass is indeed beautiful””

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9sIcQ5MAeM&feature=related


22 posted on 03/14/2011 3:37:42 PM PDT by stfassisi ((The greatest gift God gives us is that of overcoming self"-St Francis Assisi)))
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To: Mad Dawg; Dudoight; 43north; MarkBsnr; Mach9; Oratam; married21; Romulus

Paul VI posing with six Protestant theologians who were part of the commission encharged with writing the New Mass.

These Protestants were invited by Paul VI in order to make sure that nothing in the New Mass would shock Protestants. It is not surprising that the resulting Novus Ordo Mass has the flavor of Protestantism, the taste of heresy.

"It is psychologically, pastorally, theologically impossible for a Catholic to give up a liturgy that is the very expression and support of his Faith to adopt new rites conceived by heretics without putting his Faith in grave danger. One cannot imitate the Protestants indefinitely and not become a Protestant."(Abp. Lefebvre on the New Mass - Conference “From Luther’s Evangelical Mass to the Novus Ordo Missae," given in Florence on February 15, 1975)

23 posted on 03/16/2011 11:37:33 AM PDT by verdugo ("You can't lie, even to save the World")
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