Latin Mass
Sancta Missa

Frequently Asked Questions

UNDERSTANDING LATIN IN THE LITURGY

1.  Why attend Mass in a foreign language?

As Catholics, Latin is the language of the Church. Latin is not foreign to the Church and the celebration of her liturgy. Today, much more attention needs to be given to instruction in Latin for laity, religious and clergy.

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2.  Do other religious use dead languages for their worship?

The Jews traditionally worship using the older form of Hebrew as a sacred liturgical language. And in like manner the Church today continues to revere Latin as her sacred liturgical language.

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3.  Why is the use of Latin in the liturgy important in the twenty-first century?

With the increase of globalization today, the use of Latin as a liturgical language is ever more crucial, especially in large cites where parishes are becoming more and more multi-cultural. Latin serves as a bond for Catholic worship, unifying persons from every nation in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, enabling them to sing and respond in common worship.

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4.  How did Latin become the Church’s official language?

In ancient times, Latin was the common language of law and business, just as English has come to be used in this way today. By the 5th century, as the Roman Empire fell apart, the Church emerged as a stabilizing cultural force, retaining the use of Latin as a means to unity.

Understand that the Latin language, as a dead language today, is not the national property of any one nation. As the Church is for “all peoples, tribes and nations,” (Rev. 11:9) it is especially fitting that the Church employ Latin as it official language.

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5.  Most of the faithful who attend the Traditional Latin Mass today did not grow up with it, so why do so many Catholics choose to attend it?

The magnificence and solemnity of the Traditional Latin Mass is attractive to increasing numbers of Catholics today, especially the young. The rich sensory experience of Mass in the Extraordinary Form, replete with a treasury of sacred music and art, reminds all that the Sacred Liturgy is a foretaste of the Liturgy of heaven we will celebrate in the New Jerusalem at the end of time.

Gregorian Chant is an integral part of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. It is a “poetry which sings on earth the mysteries of heaven and prepares us for the canticles of eternity” (Dom Prosper Louis Pascal Gueranger). Thus, when the faithful participate in the chanting of the Holy Mass, their hearts are raised up to the courts of heaven, as they sing with the choirs of the angels.

The quiet reverence that permeates the ancient form of the Mass fosters a deep inner silence enabling many Catholics to experience a profound spiritual participation in the Liturgy. The dignity and fixed structure of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form provides an atmosphere, which is most conducive to an encounter with Christ, who is both the Priest and Victim of the Mass.

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6.  As a newcomer to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, how will I understand the Latin texts?

As the Roman Mass in the Extraordinary Form is always in Latin, it is useful to have a translation of the prayers of the Mass to assist the faithful to participate. Thus, to better comprehend the Mass in the Extraordinary Form, many parishes provide a Booklet Missal that provides the Latin text, a vernacular translation, and a guide for the postures to be followed at Mass (i.e. sitting, standing, and kneeling). These Booklet Missals provide the text of the unchanging texts of the Mass (i.e. the Ordinary of the Mass). Some parishes may additionally provide the translation of the Proper of the Mass (i.e. the readings and prayers proper to a particular liturgical day) and a program of sacred music (i.e. the Gregorian chant, responses and hymns for a given celebration).

To order your own Latin-English hand-Missal visit the Cantius Webstore:

Roman Catholic Daily Missal - Leather Cover, 1962 juxta typica (typical edition) of the Missale Romanum

Roman Catholic Daily Missal - 1962 juxta typica (typical edition) of the Missale Romanum

1962 Missal - My Sunday Missal, Explained by Father Stedman

Booklet Missal
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7.  Where can I read the English translation of the ‘propers’ of Mass?

Una Voce of Orange County, California, provides the English translation of the propers at their website:
http://uvoc.org/Propers/Propers_2005/Propers_Calendar.html

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8.  Is everything at the Tridentine Latin Mass said in Latin or are parts of the Mass in the vernacular?

Every part of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Tridentine Mass) is in Latin (with the exception of the Kyrie eleison which is Greek). On Sundays and at certain Feast Days the Epistle and Gospel reading will be repeated in the vernacular at the time of the sermon, but are said first in Latin. The homily is in the vernacular. The Leonine Prayers after the Mass are also in the vernacular usually.

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9.  How can the faithful understand their Catholic faith if the Mass is said in Latin?

The Council of Trent (22, 8), strictly requires priests to explain frequently the mysteries and ceremonies of the Mass to the children in schools, and to adults from the pulpit. But as a matter of fact, it is by no means necessary for the people to understand every detail of the ceremonial of the Mass. "If," says St. Augustine, "there are some present who do not understand what is being said or sung, they know at least that all is said and sung to the glory of God, and that is sufficient for them to join in it devoutly." Remember the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest of all mysteries.

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