Friday, December 7, 2007

Latin and the Cultural Decline

An article which explores the connection between the Latin Mass and culture in general.
Latin was once more than just the language of the Mass. Latin underlay the entire culture of the Church. It was the language in which the popes wrote their encyclicals, the language used by philosophers and theologians, the language of Canon Law and Church documents, of St. Jerome's Vulgate Bible. Priests and religious from all over the world spoke to one another in Latin. The writings of the great Western saints and spiritual masters, the rules of religious orders, and the Western Church's vast treasury of hymns, poems, and prayers were all composed in Latin. Beneath it all lay the solid bedrock of Roman culture -- of Virgil, Juvenal, and Cicero -- which the Church had cherished almost as tenderly as her own offspring. Latin was the true language of the Church, a language that could always be relied upon to convey precise information because its meanings were fixed.


Anonymous said...

I have heard that the study of Latin has made a resurgence in high school. That was another cultural icon of education that was thrown out in the ‘60’s.

Anonymous said...

My public high school offered Latin as a foreign language. (I took French)
My dad took Latin as a language when he was in public high school during the 60s. He wishes he took something else though.
I heard some Latin during Lent during our weekly children's Mass. (I attended a K-8 parish school) All I remember now is the Kyrie. It would've been helpful, especially for the younger kids, if the priest had explained why he was using Latin for some of the responses during various times of the Mass.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, alaughland, I think learning Latin is helpful on many levels. Studying Latin was once part of being an educated person.

I agree, Elisa, it is helpful for the reason for Latin to be explained and slowly introduced, not just thrown at people. I think Our Holy Father has shown a lot of wisdom in how he explained the traditions of the Roman rite in the Motu Proprio. Of course, there are now so many blogs and resources on the internet that explain the Catholic traditions of the liturgy that if someone really wants to learn the basics of liturgical Latin, they certainly can.