Is Latin dead?



First thank you for the series on different rites. (Ways we worship, July 8, 2010) Usually I do not write responses to articles, but in this case I was disappointed with the feelings of the two priests in response to Latin in the Mass.

First I must say, I'm in my middle 50s and I only completed high school. I mention this only to note that I am not a scholar or professor that misses the loss of Latin. Up until I was 13, the Mass was in Latin and the priest faced a beautiful altar. People might think, well you don't know what is going on and how can you understand what is said? Maybe so, but the churches were packed on Sunday mornings. Well you know what, we did understand.

My grandmother, who only had an eighth grade education along with her St. Joseph Missal knew every part of the Mass in Latin, taught me to understand it. Then one Sunday, the beautiful altar was gone, the Mass was in English, all the statues disappeared and we stood for Communion. All we knew, it was coming from something called "The Vatican Council."

As I got older with a passion for history and also for learning the history of our church, I read several books on the history of our church and of the Mass. So, I am well aware that Latin came into the picture later in church history and that there was much more to the Council then changes in worship. But, Latin did become the language of our church, and was so for centuries.

We belong to the Roman Catholic Church, and its official language is Latin.

Well all that said, I am a Rhode Islander who tries to attend the Holy Name Latin Mass at least once a month, and I discovered and started several years ago to attend the 10 a.m. Sunday Mass at Sts. Peter & Paul Cathedral because they use Latin chant. Basically I believe the Mass should include both Latin and English. In other areas of the country Gregorian chant is being used with the English Mass.

The next step I am looking forward to is the new translation. It seems most people will favor it, some will not, and some could care less. I have always felt the Mass, in which we pray, worship and speak to God was poorly translated. So is Latin dead? Maybe, maybe not. It’s not buried yet anyway.

Ralph Quito

Riverside, RI