Sacramentum Caritatis: Latin in liturgy

Sacramentum Caritatis: Latin in liturgy

Pope Benedict has some thoughts regarding Latin in the liturgy in Sacramentum Caritatis in article 62.

None of the above observations should cast doubt upon the importance of such large-scale liturgies. I am thinking here particularly of celebrations at international gatherings, which nowadays are held with greater frequency. The most should be made of these occasions. In order to express more clearly the unity and universality of the Church, I wish to endorse the proposal made by the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the directives of the Second Vatican Council, (182) that, with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, such liturgies could be celebrated in Latin. Similarly, the better-known prayers (183) of the Church’s tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung. Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant. (184)

I think the same endorsement of Latin for large, international gatherings for Mass should apply to any gathering of people who speak more than one primary language. I’m thinking here of parishes with large groups of multi-language groups, like my own where we have a large Spanish-speaking community. On major feast days we now have bilingual liturgies where we are constantly dividing up the prayers among English and Spanish, which sometimes results in half the congregation not know what is being said. How much better if we had a universal language of the Church in which to pray… Oh wait!

I had a friend in college whose parents had escaped Czechoslovakia under the Soviet rule in the 1950s and when they came to the West, not knowing the language or the culture, the one place they felt at home and could begin the process of assimilation was at Mass, which was wholly recognizable because in the Latin rite the Mass was the same everywhere in the world (at least in comparison to what we have now.)

Update: Fr. Zuhlsdorf notes an error in the translation from the Latin to the English. While the English version says, “...with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, such liturgies could be celebrated in Latin…” the Latin phrase is aequum est, which means “it is right, proper, reasonable.” The French translation is the equivalent of “it is good.” What the English translation of the document should say is, “such liturgies should be celebrated in Latin…” That’s a very big difference.

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  • Sigh…my mother and I were just discussing this yesterday. Every Holy Thursday we have to endure the bilingual liturgy. Why can’t they see this is an opportunity to illustrate the universality of the Church and give us back our Latin!?!

  • Because, Jennifer, we can’t have 2 languages: Latin & English.  It’s easier to ignore the fact that we have 2 languages: Spanish & English.  That’s different—it makes us feel trendy.

  • Domenico,
    Fr Z’s server dumped him off and his site is no longer online tonight.  So your link there is a dead link.