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REAL CLEAR RELIGION

Culture, Christianity, Catholic Dogma & The Death Of The West

Culture, Christianity, Catholic Dogma & The Death Of The West

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LATIN AND THE MASS: THE MORE DEAD THE LANGUAGE THE BETTER

Why is the Roman Catholic Church returning to the past, and the dead language of Latin by the liberalizing the Tridentine rite Mass? Because throughout history the use of Latin by the Church has served to maintain unity, preserve mystery and reverence, and protect against error.

"The Latin language is venerable on account of its origin and its antiquity; it is the language in which the praises of God resounded from the lips of Christians during the first centuries. It is a sublime and solemn thought that the Holy sacrifice is now offered in the same language...with the very same words as it was offered in times long past, in the obscurity of the Catacombs."
The Catechism Explained, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Spirago & Clarke (1927)

"There is also an element of mystery about the Latin tongue; it is a dead language not understood by the people. The use of an unknown tongue conveys to the mind ... that a mystery is being enacted. In the first centuries of Christianity a curtain used to be drawn during the time from the Sanctus to the communion to conceal the altar from the sight of the worshippers. This is now no longer done, but the use of an unknown tongue has something of the same effect, by inspiring awe..."
The Catechism Explained, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Spirago & Clarke (1927)

The use of Latin also protects the Church against error and heresy.

"The use of a dead language is a safeguard against many evils; it is not subject to change but remains the same all the time. Languages in daily use undergo a continual process of change; words drop out, or their meaning is altered as years go on. If a living language were employed in divine worship heresies and errors would inevitably creep into the church , and sacred words would be employed in an irreverent or mocking manner by the unbeliever..." The Catechism Explained, Spirago & Clarke (1927)

One can observe these "errors" all around us today. From the Catholic who speaks of a "meal" in reference to the Body and Blood of the Son of God, to the widespread neglect of our Lord in the Tabernacle, errors have increased since the introduction of the vernacular to be certain, and so often the origin of these errors is language based. One can clearly see how Protestantism continues to grow each day by division and disunity through language-- with each man interpreting scripture according to his own divinely claimed revelations. Ironically, this began with Martin Luther's rejection of not only the Church, but the rejection of the traditional language of the Church and his innovative addition of "sola" to create "sola fide".

"Another evil consequent upon [a change to the vernacular instead of Latin] would be a lessening of the respect felt for the holy sacrifice, as was proved at the time of the reformation, when the prayers of the Mass were, to a great extent, translated into German and English." The Catechism Explained, Spirago & Clarke (1927)

The respect for the holy sacrifice has indeed suffered from the attempt to make the liturgy more relevant to our times by the use of the vernacular. The birth and death by crucifixion of the Son of God to save repentant sinners from the fires of hell is a mystery that cannot be conveyed, or appreciated in worship services that are based on a "cult of personality" or mere songs and remembrance meals. The holy sacrifice of Jesus on the cross transcends time therefore our worship must transcend our times and even our language to avoid banality. Any attempt to conform to our temporal fads, or trends, or even to our individual languages, demeans the mystery of the cross, and undermines the reverence due a Holy and Almighty God. Worship which lacks reverence and mystery heretically transforms God into a sappy friend in the sky who provides us a meal for our bodies instead of our souls. God is deserving of a language reserved only for Him where the truth cannot be altered or spun.

Finally, haven't we all observed the problems that the vernacular presents in large cities where numerous cultures reside? There are different masses for immigrants from all over the world. The return of Latin would negate the need to set aside masses for each culture.