GUEST POST: “No more terrible Latin.”

From a priest:

I regularly use a limited amount of Latin in the OF at weekend Masses. Most parishioners really appreciate it, but after catechesis and so on a few just won’t give up their protest.
Last Sunday I preached on Otranto and mentioned that the words of consecration will be in Latin in honor of these special martyrs, as it was the language of their worship. After on of the Masses somebody wrote in the intentions book in the back of the church “no more terrible Latin.” It is amazing that even though 95% of the Mass was celebrated in English some people react so negatively towards the Latin. The bigotry is amazing; our sacral language has such a bias towards it. Has anyone ever said “no more terrible (insert language here).” We priests need to persevere in promoting the use of Latin in the OF, and also learn and celebrate the EF. We need to pray for the conversion of our faithful, so many of whom has lost all sense of Catholic identity. It is another reason for SP.  God bless, oremus pro invicem!

Ahhhhh Latin!

Aging-hippie liberals interpret everything within the Church still through the lens they formed during the anti-authoritarian civil-rights and anti-war protest movements.

When we try to uphold hierarchy and authority or rubrics or the older form of Mass or obedience to the Magisterium or decorum in liturgy and sacred music, an involuntary subconscious switch clicks in their heads. They take your faithful Catholic position of continuity to be an attack themselves and on Vatican II.

When they hear Latin, a buzz starts in their heads, their vision tunnels, their hands start to clench and unclench of their own accord.

When they see a biretta… when they see a cassock… when they see a Roman vestment… CLICK. BZZZZZZ.  The sweat breaks out….

Vatican II cannot, in their brain’s chemistry, be separated from the protest movements they have idolized until they are actually paradigmatic, iconic, even mythic.

The Council itself – in the received liberal interpretation – cannot ever be questioned or subjected to the authority of the letter of the Council’s texts, because they cannot separate their understanding of the Council from those movements of protest.

The events outside the Church in the USA in those days are completely fused with the event of the Council and certain post-Conciliar reforms.  They interpret everything they do through the lens of this combined and unassailable myth.

Reason #647886 for Summorum Pontificum.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, HONORED GUESTS, Liberals, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests, Our Catholic Identity, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Drill, Throwing a Nutty, Vatican II and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. VincentUK says:

    Is it possible that “no more terrible Latin” is a complaint about the priest’s reading or pronunciation skills in Latin, rather than against the use of that language at all?

    [Touché! Well… I guess that’s possible.]

  2. AngelGuarded says:

    What a great description of the Latinphobes. I am in the tail end of that aging hippie generation and I’ll be forever ashamed. By the grace of God, I saw the error of my ways. When I try to talk with my contemporaries, even practicing Catholics, their eyes do glaze over. One woman I know who is very active in the Church, said to me, “oh, Latin, that was then. We moved past that. I’m glad it’s gone” as she waved her hand dismissively. I just shut up. I was stunned. I treasure the few words of it I hear at Mass. I enjoy so much watching Mass on EWTN because of the Latin. It seems to be part of the Communist initiative to erase all beauty from our culture. I hope the next generation changes this sad trend. Thank you for the eloquent description, Father, it is spot-on.

  3. Darren says:

    We had a pastor at my parish not very long ago. He was primarily brought in because the parish was a financial mess (church, grade school, high school, cemetery) and he had experience fixing such messes. He also had celebrated the TLM once a month at his previous parish. He joined us in the summer… in October it was the 125th anniversary of the parish. He celebrated an extraordinary form Low Mass on the weeknight of that anniversary (in our modern 1993 church building).

    Come Christmas Mass, he wore a biretta… used some Latin, and overall people “seemed to” respond well. He often wore a cassock, and definitely was at least traditional-leaning if not very traditional. He got rid of the ugly modern statues of Our Lady and of Saint Joseph and replaced then with nice statues he obtained from a city parish somewhere that had been closed.

    Children who received their First Communion during his years received kneeling and on their tongue. I do bet many of the parents had some aweful comments about this, if they even cared at all.


    But, the attacks started coming in. One individual had a very vicious website he used to express all kinds of anger and hatred towards Father – calling for his removal, and he rallied some troops around him. The schools (especially the high school from what I am told) resisted his attempts to become authentically Catholic. I will say no more there lest someone recognize where I am speaking of.

    His use of Latin faded, his health suffered some… …after fours of fighting and having straightened out the financial mess with the help of many who did appreciate him, he was replaced as our pastor and he took some time in Rome with our bishop’s approval.

    Here was a good man who loves the church, loves tradition, did his best to bring more traditional practices to what is actuallty considered one of the more “conservative” parishes in my area, and he met with strong resistance from at least enough people to cause him all kinds of troubles.

    I bet they feel victorious since he left after 4 years and not the normal 6 or 12. Although I did not like everything he did (and I am sure there is noone about whom I will), I greatly appreciated so much of what he did that I was very sad when he left.

    We must pray for our priests, and when we some someone like this priest we had at my parish, pray seven times seven times harder, because he will need all the extra he can get!

  4. polycarped says:

    I am currently reading ‘The Desolate City’ by Anne Roche Muggeridge and so your observations here Fr Z are very timely and I would tend to think very much on the button! I would recommend this book to others as a reminder of how of VII was (and remains) de-railed by a revolutionary liberal interpretation which so many people refuse to recognise and shake off. Of course this book – like many others – should be read recognising that any account of what was going on in and around VII is to some extent coloured by the experiences and the tastes of the writer.

  5. APX says:

    Perhaps this priest would like to publicly thank the person who requested “no more terrible Latin” and assure his congregation that he will be practicing his Latin so that when he says the entire Mass in Latin, his Latin won’t be so “terrible.”

  6. Muv says:

    I don’t want to be inadvertently rude to the priest who wrote in, but the way we speak here (England), “no more terrible Latin” would more readily be interpreted in the way Vincent has read it rather than in the way Fr. Z assumed. Oh the joys of ambiguity.

  7. We have this problem at our church. They complain about Latin and then I quote Vatican II word for word. They tend to go quiet then.

    I find that quoting Vatican II word for word tends to stop quite a few liberals in their tracks.

  8. APX says:

    I find that quoting Vatican II word for word tends to stop quite a few liberals in their tracks.

    It’s too bad someone doesn’t write the book, “That’s Not Vatican II!: Vatican II Answers to Common Objections of Aging “Spirit of Vatican II” Hippies” and literally quote the Vatican II document that defuncts the objection.

  9. wmeyer says:

    This points up my own failing — I need to be entering into the book of intentions:
    “No more banal music.”

    The suffering and annoyance provoked Haugen, Haas, Schutte, et al, is certainly at least as great as anything suffered by people being exposed to Latin.

    And how about:
    “No more cell phones in the nave.”
    “No more piano, guitars and drums.”
    “No more noisy chatter in the nave before Mass.”

    So many worthy intentions….

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    “What Does Vatican II Really Teach?” Sounds like a moneymaking opportunity. You could quote the actual documents in Latin, show where the English translation is iffy when it is, and show the basic continuity of Catholic teaching. If the workload is difficult, you could divvy topics up among experts in various fields.

  11. Tony says:

    I agree that some of the stuff is ideological, but honestly, it doesn’t have to be. I think Roman vestments are extremely ugly and much prefer Gothic vestments. I am also an orthodox Catholic and would consider myself right-of-centre. Sometimes it really is just a matter of taste.

  12. Cafea Fruor says:

    I had the same thought VincentUK did. I love Latin, but I hate when priests butcher it either with horrendous pronunciation or with such speed that the drop syllables and what not. If that’s what the complainer meant by terrible Latin, then I’d be on board with the complaint.

  13. Dancing Ood says:

    I want to laugh slightly at the idea of anyone complaining a bit about a little Latin… I am a Protestant who may or may not end up converting (but at the very least I would consider myself a very pro-Catholic Protestant) who went to my first mass just a month or two ago. The Agnus Dei was in Latin, and while I didn’t know the musical setting they were using, I sat there mouthing along none the less. (This is the benefit of being a choir nerd.) But I find it intriguing that it didn’t put me off – despite my being a Protestant, yet the Catholics are up at arms about it at that church!

  14. Andrew says:

    I like to think of this in terms of “familiarity”. People tend to shun things that are not familiar to them. Latin is not just some high level academic or historical discipline. It is a language. It is understandable. And it needs to be experienced and gradually become familiar. When a priest is celebrating Mass in Latin he is not speaking in some incomprehensible code. Interestingly enough, Latinists, those who are trained in so called “classics” shy away from such approach. They prefer to talk “about Latin” in English, instead of talking Latin in Latin. I even suspect that most of them look down on efforts to make Latin a familiar, spoken, understandable tongue: it just doesn’t go with their speculative, grammar-nuances-splitting-speculative approach to Latin: they prefer the necrologist touch whereby Latin is a dead patient lying on the table while they cut it up with steel knives and check the body parts hidden under the various layers. This very website is a good example of that: try announcing an event where some professor will explain the intricacies of Latin grammar in English and see the enthusiasm of many. And then try to announce a lecture given in Latin and see the dead silence that will follow. For most of us Catholics, even the hard-line “trads”, English must be preserved as the ultimate point of reference while Latin is there just to be translated and explained in English. Beyond that, in and of itself, Latin is incomprehensible, useless, and unfamiliar.

  15. Tradster says:

    Yes, it would be charitable to believe the note referred to Father’s pronunciation rather than the use of Latin. However, common sense dictates that he (or, much more likely, she) is not familiar enough with Latin to recognize the quality of Father’s pronunciation.

  16. Random Friar says:

    I sometimes fall into placing the accent where Spanish does when the words are the same or very similar, which doesn’t always work. E.g., “-or” words (such as “Creator”). My Latin is more “Span-itali-latin.”

  17. Cafea Fruor says:

    Tradster, why exactly is it more likely a woman? What does gender have to do with knowledge of Latin?

    [You mean “sex”. “Gender” is a linguistic term that has everything to do with Latin.]

  18. VexillaRegis says:

    Tradster&Cafea: The persons who complain most about the use of Latin in our parish are men. Women tend to be more accepting.

  19. Cafea Fruor says:

    Vexilla: And all my Latin classes have either had more women than men, or at least an even distribution, so I know more women familar with Latin pronunciation than men who are.

  20. Lin says:

    I nearly fell out of my chair reading this! You described our pastor perfectly! Fortunately, being an aging hippie, he should retire in less than 4 years! Although, he insists the bishop needs him more than he needs the bishop!

  21. backtothefuture says:

    People like that should be never paid attention to.

  22. PatriciusOenus says:

    @ Cafea Fruor and Vexilla Regis:

    I understood Tradster’s sentence differently. I thought Tradster was suggesting it was probably a woman because of the passive aggressive nature of the note. I did not think he (or she) was remarking on the likelihood of a woman to know or like Latin. A man might (??) be more likely to say something nasty to the priest right after Mass if he is peeved. (I’m not suggesting Tradster or my reading of Tradster is correct.)

  23. Supertradmum says:

    We can get all excited about the aging hippie priests, but from where I am looking, there are not enough sems to take over those places. I would rather have an NO than no Mass at all. I have been having to listen to the old NO being said in an odd mixture of the new and the old at Tyburn, as so many of the Westminster priests simply cannot get it right. Also, blue jeaned priests…however, I am grateful for the Mass at this point.

    The replacements are simply not there, either in Europe or in America.

  24. HyacinthClare says:

    I had a tax client this spring whine about the Latin his new priests were working into his OF masses at his church. (My office is full of Catholic-stuff so these conversations start easily.) I said, “#1, that’s the Church’s language, and #2, the mass is about Jesus, not you.” I should have lost a client over it, but he stopped, stared at me, and said, “Good answer.” Then referred me to someone else he knew. I hope he slowed down the whining at his parish. Who knows what saying something will do?

  25. sw85 says:

    It may be reasonable to suppose the complaint was directed toward the priest’s pronunciation. [Uh huh. Surrrrrrre.] On the other hand, consider the facts on the ground. We know that Latin is not widely used in the Church in America so many people may go their whole lifetimes without ever hearing it. We know most people don’t know it, much less how to pronounce it. We know they have a culturally-inculcated hatred of it. And we know that ecclesiastical Latin is a simple enough language to pronounce that any priest who regularly uses it has probably familiarized himself with the rules sufficiently to do so proficiently.

    So it is more reasonable to suppose that the complaint was about Latin per se, that the complainer probably doesn’t know Latin well enough to offer a sophisticated critique of the priest’s pronunciation of it, and that the tortured construction of the sentence is epiphenomenal of their lousy upbringing, as is also evidenced by their gratuitous, passive-aggressive sniping in an inappropriate context.

    Keep up the good work, Father.

  26. Tim Capps says:

    I ran a quiz on my blog “Vatican II or Council of Trent?” So as not to give up the answers, I phrased them all in the negative, as condemned propositions such as: “It is not God’s will that everyone should come into the Catholic Church,” etc. The trick was that ALL were from Vatican II, even though they looked like they were from the Council of Trent :-)

    In reality, however, the novel style of Vatican II documents is part of the message. There is nothing so clear cut as that.

  27. Legisperitus says:

    And the absence of the replacements is the handiwork of the aging hippies. :(

  28. Tradster says:


    Thank you. You interpreted my remarks exactly how I meant them. In my experience it is the older women who have no qualms about complaining, especially passive-aggressive shots, when in their minds something or someone threatens “their church”.

  29. cdnpriest says:

    I started to introduce a bit of Latin (and Greek) into the weekday Mass (Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei), but did so very discreetly since I am not the pastor but only the assistant/associate. Most of the feedback I received from the people was positive. I did receive a few negative comments, but mostly from a few people of a certain generation (not youth, and not the extremely elderly).

    My experience in general has been that it is the clergy who are the most allergic to the use of Latin. And if you celebrate an entire Mass in the vulgar tongue and just have one or two short things in Latin, the clergy who hear about it will get all huffy and puffy about those few short things that you said in the Church’s lingua franca.

    I agree with Father’s comments: we need to pray for the conversion of our people and continue to celebrate Mass and the Sacraments reverently — and use the Extraordinary Form along with the Ordinary Form, if possible. But I would add that we especially need to pray for the conversion of the clergy. I say this with all due respect to my brother priests. Much of the time, they were simply taught bad theology in their seminary formation, and those theological biases have persisted with them to this day. What we need, in my opinion, is the conversion and the re-education of the Catholic clergy. This re-education could be presented as a type of “permanent formation” for the clergy.

  30. LarryW2LJ says:

    “It’s too bad someone doesn’t write the book, “That’s Not Vatican II!: Vatican II Answers to Common Objections of Aging “Spirit of Vatican II” Hippies” and literally quote the Vatican II document that defuncts the objection.”

    I’d buy several copies in less than a heartbeat. There are several LCWR types that I don’t see eye to eye with and I’d be more than eager to gift them with such a publication – all in charity, of course.

  31. majuscule says:

    I attend a small mission church where our NO Mass can be a little relaxed but not so much as to be abusive (it’s in a rural area and people tend to not dress up). A year or so ago our musicians started singing (chanting) the Kyrie (okay, not Latin but…) and soon after they went from Lamb of God to the Agnus Dei. No one has complained, but then our usual Sunday attendance is only 30 to 40. I have made a point to encourage them. They have also been introducing music that may be somewhat unfamiliar but is certainly more solemn than many of the songs everyone knows by heart.

    Our pastor filled in a few weeks ago for our usual priest. He came back the next two weeks, too, because he wanted to instruct our altar servers–three young men who are confirmation students. Last Sunday he had them using incense! He also chanted many parts of the Mass including the Gospel!

    One of our priests (who seldom came to our mission and when he did urged everyone to hold hands for the Out Father) is leaving and I am praying for an orthodox replacement. Maybe one who is familiar with the TLM. After all, we still have our altar rails!

  32. Supertradmum says:

    Legisperitus, no it is the Gen Xers who killed the vocations in the womb, and in the home by not forming their children to love God first.

    As to Latin done less than perfect, I am wiling to let priests say imperfect Latin while they are learning. Bless them.

  33. “What Does Vatican II Really Teach?”


    Can anyone imagine a more unlikely title for a successful blog?

    [As bad as WDTPRS!]

  34. Legisperitus says:

    Supertradmum: But what chance did Gen X have to learn how to love God properly? They were the offspring and victims of the liturgical revolution and it’s not fair to blame them for its effects.

  35. Charivari Rob says:

    When I saw Father Z’s headline, my first thought was “pronunciation”.

    It brought to mind memories of a priest in a parish in a neighborhood where I worked, and so would end up there on Holy Days. Father was a great priest, and the only nit I can conceive to pick is that he could not carry a tune or a tone to save his life. Very pleasant speaking voice – but nothing in the way of singing came out right.

    In context, I think it’s pretty save to assume that the parishioner Father Z’s correspondent was not talking about pronunciation.

    It is an interesting phrase, though. I will be interested in consulting an English teacher I know to see if its construction is indicative of some particular origin.

    I suppose I have to remember that it’s not prose, and that it’s not too strange in the context of ejaculatory prayer intentions. Still… Latin being the object (of the phrase) I think common American English usage would be “No more [object]” or “No more of this [modifier] [object]!”

  36. Angie Mcs says:

    Latin is, of course, another language, and learning it takes work. In my missal, I used to read the English side while thenpriest spoke in Latin. It was just easier. I could follow along and know what was being communicated without having to exert myself. Now I find that I am reading the Latin more and more and as I do so, I find so many words that bring me back to the origins of our own language, as well as other languages. It’s really fascinating. And spoken well, it’s so beautiful, My church recently had a guest priest who spoke Latin; it sounded like music and he spoke clearly and strongly. It took my breath away. Yes, some of the priests don’t speak well, mumble and do drop the words. They don’t sound comfortable. I think they need to practic more, just as if they were playing an instrument. And some people have a better ear for languages than others. As far as complaining parishioners, I wonder how much of their whining has to do with Vatican II and how much is just laziness or intimidation. I’m sure these people wouldn’t want to go back to school to learn a language either- but if they were to stop complaining and really listen, they’d understand why Latin is such a beautiful choice for our church.

  37. mike cliffson says:

    Queritur: ¿You cousins’ congregations got hiding expat Brits my generation as had Latin, (and it was horrible Latin, six years of Caesars Gallic Wars), at school , hence sang endofterm:
    “No more Latin
    No more French
    No more sitting on the hard school bench”?
    Or is it association with Latins as in Latin- American unamerican tacochompers? Or uptight anti- Italianism . Americanism ? Philistinism? Or is the horribleness the old pronunciation?
    Test with Kyrie eleison?
    I am gobsmacked. Descumbobulatum?

  38. Supertradmum says:

    The laity only have themselves to blame. Teach your children Latin at home. Help them with excellent series like that of Memoria Press. Stop blaming the clergy and take control of your own religious preparation for Mass.

    Latin must be restored and it is my opinion, in keeping with Fr. Z., that only the restoration of the Latin will create the remnant Church needed in the horrible times to come.

    By the way, read this….

  39. wmeyer says:

    They were the offspring and victims of the liturgical revolution and it’s not fair to blame them for its effects.

    Also not fair to leave them unchatechized. I continue to believe that one of the most pressing needs in the parishes is adult catechism classes.

  40. backtothefuture says:

    Just imagine what would happen if the novus ordo would be abrogated, and a return to the tlm. A chance for a schism, not that there already isn’t one going on per say.

  41. Supertradmum says:

    wmeyer, the adults do not want it. You do, but most do not.

  42. wmeyer says:

    Supertradmum, I know, only too well. Can’t force it, but at least the classes should be available. If they choose to stay away, well, free will is like that. ;)

  43. govmatt says:

    Our church has made it through Attila the Hun, the Great Schism, the Protestant Schism, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin; and watching all of the Middle East, North Africa and Spain be de-Christianized. We will survive aging hippies.

    That being said, while it may be uncharitable to write off the lost, please, fathers, focus on the youth. We (I’m 24 I can still pretend) crave history, tradition, and reverence. The fact that our parents (thankfully not mine but, generationally) took a sledgehammer to our piggy bank of grace doesn’t mean that, in putting the pieces back together, we learn exactly what it means to be Catholic. Rebuilding is rediscovering. Thank God that man is mortal. In a century those who have so wronged the Church will have long passed to His mercy.

  44. Panterina says:

    About the possibility that the parishioner’s remark was about Father’s pronunciation: I wonder if it was a case of Classical vs. Ecclesiastical pronunciation. Maybe it’s because I was taught the Ecclesiastical pronunciation in high school, but I could never stomach the Classical pronunciation.

  45. Giuseppe says:

    I like Latin to be perfect…and imperfect…and pluperfect…and future perfect…and present…and future. Moreover, Latin should be an imperative!

  46. Jim R says:

    Is it just me, or is it weird that only the Latin Rite seems to have many who hate the heritage of its language – Latin? Melkites don’t have any large number who hate Arabic. Maronites don’t have any large number who hate Aramaic. The UGCC doesn’t have any large number who hate Slavonic. The list goes on and on. What is the matter with us? How did we allow self-hating to become a normal part of being a Latin Rite Catholic? Yet, we all know that was one of the true fruits of the Spirit of Vatican II as presented to the faithful for so many decades.

    Latin is part of our heritage, just as Arabic is part of the heritage of the Melkites.
    Latin is beautiful – and beauty should never be disparaged.
    The greatest liturgical music ever written was written for Mass in Latin.
    The use of Latin unites those of different tongues into a common worship.
    Latin has a largely fixed meaning for its lexicon and thus is mostly immune to fluctuation in meaning.
    The documents of Vatican II expressly called for the preservation of Latin.

    Are there reasons to use the vernacular? Sure. But, that is no reason to disparage Latin and its advantages. And yet, it’s been going on for years.

  47. Jim R says:

    On a side note, I never could stand “waynie, weedie, weekie.” If Caesar actually used that pronunciation Gaul would still be in 3 parts. [Wrong.]

  48. catholiccomelately says:

    Our newly-arrived priest used some of the Greek/Latin texts of the Mass during Lent. It was wonderful to chant and to use the Church’s primary language in our worship, if only for a few weeks.
    My husband and I were both long-time Lutheran clergy who crossed the Tiber officially in 2011. Many members of our parish assume that we are Spirit of Vatican 2 types because we were Lutheran, but we wanted to leave Protestantism behind, not import it into the Catholic Church!

    So when several folks approached us, seeking allies in the anti-Traditional campaign currently underway in our parish, they were disappointed when we told them that we know most of the Mass in Latin already and love it.
    Several of them have not spoken to us since ……. especially after I started wearing a veil to Mass and Adoration each week beginning on Easter.

    God seems to be bringing to Himself many people who have found a home in His Church. These Spirit of Vatican 2 fans are dumbfounded by that ….. and I think your description of them is spot on, Father.

  49. Giuseppe says:

    Catholiccomelately, Do any Lutheran Churches still have a Latin Mass? I recall reading that the Lutheran Church used Latin or German or both for many years.

  50. Gregg the Obscure says:

    On a related note, I know folks of a certain age who get bent out of shape about Mass being said with everyone facing the same way. Most of the nonsense in liturgy would cease if the priest weren’t looking at the sinners in the pews and the folks in the pews weren’t looking at the sinner at the altar, but if all eyes were fixed on the Lord.

  51. SJF says:

    In our archdiocese, which is a well-known archdiocese in a western state, there is one Mass at one parish that is a Latin Novus Ordo (but with the priest facing the people and communion at the railing not allowed. The beautiful church has a magnificent rail that has not been touched since it was built.) This parish is run by an order of priests.

    When the new pastor arrived, he started dismantling aspects of the Latin Mass. When I met with him to discuss this, he said, and I quote, “No one is fed by the Latin (Novus Ordo) Mass!” He said he was deeply disturbed when he looked out from the altar during the Mass which had a choir and that “no one’s lips were moving during the Gloria! People must participate!” I was at that Mass. My lips weren’t moving, but I assured the pastor during our meeting that every ounce of my being was “participating” in the Gloria, and the entire Mass, despite the fact that my lips weren’t moving. He didn’t buy any of it. Now, he says the Latin Novus Ordo about once a month, and massacres the language to such an extent that he often switches into English. Sometimes I wonder if he’s doing it on purpose just to turn people off from the Latin Mass.

    (One other interesting note – the church is in the inner-city, and we get all kinds of people. The priests have to be very vigilant about people not consuming the Host immediately, and often have to run after them. One of the priests complained about this to me – he was concerned about desacration. I pointed to the rail, and said, “All of that would be solved if we had communion at the rail, on our knees, on our tongues.” His response? “We can’t have that.”

  52. Jim R says:

    I am so glad you made the point @Cafea, above, about the distinction between gender and sex. (OK a per peeve of mine!) Biological creatures are sexual: male and female. Gender is an artifact of many languages: masculine, feminine and neuter. The failure to appreciate that distinction is what leads many of the linguistically challenged to claim that Sofia is a goddess (milk and honey service anyone?). Sofia is simply the Greek word for wisdom and happens to have feminine gender. Much like “le livre” is French for book with masculine gender or “kniga” is Russian for book with feminine gender…but NONE of them have sex; they have gender. Gender and sex are completely different.

    It’s true that sexual beings usually take the corresponding gender: male/masculine; female/feminine – along with the applicable pronouns. However, most non-biological things in English take the neuter gender. A few holdovers, e.g., boat treated as feminine, are exceptions. This creates issues in translation where the uninformed jump at translating something like Sofia as “she” (which is the proper pronoun to use in Greek) rather than “it” (the proper pronoun in English) thus leading to the most idiotic assertions of the sex of God, the sex of God’s wisdom or God knows what else….

  53. chantgirl says:

    Panterina, a priest I knew had a terrible time when he first started to say the EF because he had learned classical pronunciation. So, when I decided to incorporate Latin into my homeschool curriculum, I went with ecclesiastical pronunciation because I figured it wouldn’t hamper their reading of classical Latin too much, and the greatest opportunity for spoken Latin is found within the Church. Besides, if some of them were to want to become priests or religious, they’d be that much more prepared. Now, if they decide to go into science, they might have to retrain themselves a bit.

    I have also noticed that when a priest desires to introduce some Latin to the Mass, it is helpful if he has a few nice young ladies to sing Mass parts in Latin for a little while before he starts to say any of his parts in Latin. People are less likely to rip into pretty young girls singing in Latin.

  54. jflare says:

    “wmeyer, the adults do not want it. You do, but most do not.”

    Sadly, I think that’s all too commonly true.
    I recall a few years ago, I mentioned the idea that we ought to encourage more Latin and more EF Mass in the Church to my father, now in his seventies. Partly because he’d been to seminary for several years, ’til just short of being ordained a deacon, I figured he’d likely embrace the idea. Not so! If the subject arises, he’s prone to emphasize how it’s the universal language of the Church that is universally misunderstood and disliked. I think he even grouched at me once about how I didn’t “get it” because I was only 37. I kept my mouth shut at the time, but wondered how old I needed to be to “get it”. Sheesh!

    Another occasion, I suggested to our choir director that the Church ought to arrange for adults to learn Latin. Though he tended to lean pretty traditional, he told me that such an effort wouldn’t work because noone would attend. A lady who happened to be nearby at the time also expressed her displeasure with use of Latin, saying that she didn’t understand a word of it. She didn’t respond very favorably when I quietly suggested we could always learn.

    Put mildly, I have noticed too that we Catholics seem to be about the only ones who really object to Latin for much of anything.
    There must have been some REALLY nasty folks around, raising a ruckus against English before Vatican II….

  55. Vecchio di Londra says:

    A true story:
    Overheard in an English monastery cloister, 1998. Two elderly monks conversing. One said to the other in a quiet, triumphal voice, ‘All that Latin – we managed to get rid of that, didn’t we!’ And the other says ‘Yes, we did,’ clapping his hands. I remember thinking, ‘But Latin is beautiful, particularly as a liturgical language. Why such hostility? Oh, I suppose they’re irritated because they couldn’t understand it. And it didn’t allow scope for woolly thinking.’
    Same monastery, the autumn of 2005: one of those monks (the other had since died) complaining ‘But look, we thought we’d manage to abolish the old Latin Mass, and it’s just going to be allowed again: that will just set us back.’
    And then came the obligatory anti-Ratzinger rant.
    And I thought, Hm, I wonder who are ‘we’ here. Doesn’t feel like I’m included.

    These were both kind men and very interesting minds. But what a terribly deluded blind spot.
    I pray for their souls frequently.

  56. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I have no stats as to sales, concert attendance, library borrowings, You Tube views, or what not, but there are surely tens, yea, hundreds of thousands, if not indeed millions, of people world-wide who delight in the use of Latin in ‘Early’ and ‘Classical’ Church music settings – Dancing Ood, as a self-described ‘pro-Catholic Protestant choir nerd’, is far from alone!

    How exactly does this coincide with what Fr. Z describes (and so many confirm)? Do the same folk often ‘flip switches’ between beautiful when ‘historical/cultural’ and intolerable when serious daily liturgical usage?

  57. JonPatrick says:

    I wonder if some of this resistance could be that for the last 40 odd years we have had a “comfortable” church where people could be “religious” yet still be “of the world”. Now things are starting to change, we see priests that take the faith more seriously and challenge their parishioners. Obviously this isn’t happening everywhere, but perhaps in enough places to threaten those that have gotten comfortable with Cafeteria Catholicism.

  58. jasoncpetty says:

    “somebody wrote in the intentions book in the back of the church ‘no more terrible Latin.'”

    You should copy Father Z and have people register before they can leave comments.

    Also, ‘no more terrible Latin’ might just be referring to the Mass in Spanish, which is really just terrible Latin if you think about it…

  59. FaithfulCatechist says:

    Grammatical gender is largely a linguistic accident and one shouldn’t infer anything into which nouns have which gender in any particular language. Current research suggests that the ancestor of both Latin and Germanic may have had a system based on animiacy/inanimacy, becoming masculine/neuter. The addition of a special class of nouns, largely derived abstract nouns, added yet a third declensional system which eventually gave us the three-gender system we are familiar with today. But as I said, with the exception of ‘animate’ nouns, assignment of gender is largely a grammatical accident. Even with animate nouns there are lots of such accidents. In German diminutives are neuter, for example. In Spanish sometimes a fruit is feminine (manzana, apple) while the tree is masculine (manzano, apple tree). Just don’t sit under the manzano with anyone else but me…

  60. Random Friar says:

    Trivia: The “Rosetta Stone” program uses classical Latin.

  61. Hey Everyone, as much as tooting my own horn deserves rotten fruit thrown at me, a few of you have said do a blog about that, the best being the WDVIIRS comment (someone should make those rubber bracelet things, patent it, and make a modest profit off that!) Well Fr. Z and a few of you gave me an idea. I’ll make it a long term project along with my other Latin Mass serving stuff and my work life. Perhaps you all have some ideas to contribute here:

    The blog was mainly devoted to Latin Mass serving, but has evolved since its inception. Comment moderation is on btw and I have rules, but I hope for some fun ideas.

  62. cathgrl says:


    Excuse me. I’m on the older end of Gen X and Roe v Wade came out when I was SIX! I learned about abortion by reading my mother’s Good Housekeeping magazines at age 8. I also received First Communion before First Confession. Has Gen X killed babies? Sadly, yes. Did they start it? HECK NO!!!!!!!

    And I never heard Latin at Mass until I was in my 20s and sought it out.

    Perhaps you’re confused about the time frame of Gen X. Typically, the years given for the beginning of Gen X are people born in 1963 to 1965 and ending in the early 1980s.

  63. anilwang says:

    APX says: “It’s too bad someone doesn’t write the book, “That’s Not Vatican II!: Vatican II Answers to Common Objections of Aging “Spirit of Vatican II” Hippies” ”

    Great idea! If you’re up for it, why not start?

    After that, consider: “That’s Not Catholic!: Catechism Answers for Cafeteria Catholics and Politicians” and “That’s Not Catholic!: Catechism Answers for anti-Catholics”

  64. Cafea Fruor says:

    No, Fr. Z., I meant what I said. I’m always particular about my diction. Yes, I fully understand the proper use of “sex” and “gender”, and I meant the concept of “sex” but chose the word “gender”, because too few people know the difference, and I’m tired of getting into discussions about the matter. Therefore, I’ve given in (in the same way as I’ve given in when people use split infinitives, “less” when the correct word is “fewer”, or “Enclosed please find”), as there are much bigger battles to fight. Even Merriam-Webster has given in and now lists “sex” as one of the definitions of “gender” (cf.

    [Too bad. Let’s use the words properly here. Dictionaries, as of 3rd Webster, are now prescriptive rather than descriptive. That doesn’t fly here.]

  65. Therese says:

    It’s wonderful to see the responses to this thread–thanks be to God, we are finally addressing what I believe is the heart of the resistance, the hatred of Latin that has severed us from our heritage. (I would say more, but I hesitate even here.)

  66. Muv says:

    Jasoncpetty – Spanish is just terrible Latin? Shame on you! It is Modern Iberian Latin, and every inch a man’s language, gritty and beautiful like the Castilian landscape. Girls are allowed to speak it too. I regularly pray in Spanish. The Hail Holy Queen is a joy.

    Tradster – As a member of the fair gender I am heartily miffed that you assume the offending words were written by a woman.

    I drifted into Tewkesbury Abbey earlier this week and managed to walk in during Sung Eucharist. The choir sang the Latin beautifully, and at the end of the Bidding Prayers came the Hail Mary and a prayer for ” religious leaders, especially Pope Francis.” If the Anglicans aren’t hostile to Latin and are praying for the Pope, perhaps if they joined us would they displace the ageing hippies?

  67. majuscule says:

    This is off topic but might pertain to the time when the Mass was in Latin. I was at our church this afternoon changing the colors to red for Pentecost. (Small church, Sunday Mass only.) Lately the preparations are done hurriedly before Mass so I was going to organize things as I took my time.

    In the closet I found a dozen or so surplices (yikes, what is the plural?) that were made in Japan of Sanforized™ cotton. (Our servers have been wearing albs for years. I betcha no girls ever wore these!) For our priest we have vestments from-who-knows-when…but one in particular looked very ’70s, sort of polyester feeling with designs printed on it. And a stole that didn’t but could have had a peace sign appliqued on it…lots of busy colors, dull felt-like material. (Most of these things were crammed into a corner of the closet. We do have some fairly new vestments.)

    But the best item was in a labelled bag (or I might not have known what it was). It was a linen amice with beautiful embroidery on it, probably done by hand.

    Our church was built in the mid ’50s and was probably furnished in part with items from the main parish church which was built in the 1880s.

  68. Hank Igitur says:

    Reintroduce compulsory Latin classes in all “Catholic” schools

  69. Catholictothecore says:

    “We can get all excited about the aging hippie priests, but from where I am looking, there are not enough sems to take over those places. I would rather have an NO than no Mass at all…The replacements are simply not there, either in Europe or in America.”

    Absolutely agree with you, Supertradmum.

    We can laugh, deride, snicker, all we want about the NO, EF, V2.etc…but times are coming when there will not be enough priests around to administer the sacraments. Last week, in one of the major dioceses of Canada, there was only one priest ordained. ONE. Gone are the days when there were 150-200 seminarians ordained every year to the priesthood. We must pray for more vocations to the priesthood.

  70. It is true. Every type of person seems welcome at the average parish church but the traditionals.

    They recently started playing drums at my church during Mass. I hated it. I would approach them about it but am powerless. I’m afraid they’ll say “well people with different talents should be able to contribute to worship” at which I will answer, “Well I have a talent for singing in Latin, do you think I can participate too?” NO

  71. frjim4321 says:

    “When they see a biretta… when they see a cassock… when they see a Roman vestment… CLICK. BZZZZZZ. The sweat breaks out….”

    I think it depends on community standards. Take your basic Midwest diocese in the USA where 50’s style clerical garb has not been used for half a century, and a 20-something newly ordained with virtually no life experience, socially inept, misogynist, most likely who participated in a covert parallel program of formation under the radar, is mincing around in cassock and biretta … it’s not going to be read very well by the people in the pews.

    I’d be the first to admit that it’s technically permissible to adopt such extreme fashions, but in general I think it makes the church look irrelevant … I think it hastens the attrition.

  72. Therese says:

    “They recently started playing drums at my church during Mass.”

    A tambourine was recently deployed at mine. Are they getting desperate? ;-)

  73. catholiccomelately says:

    Guiseppe, as a Lutheran I never heard of a Lutheran Latin mass being celebrated. In some Lutheran circles (called High Church) we all sang the Greek of the Kyrie, and the Agnus Dei was called the Agnus Dei, though always sung in English (don’t ask me why!) Many High Church Lutherans, like myself, loved chant, portions of the Mass sung in Latin by the choir (or at a concert), and the beauty of a dignified liturgy. Many of us cherished the long history of the Mass and appreciated our connections with the historic and current Catholic Church. We knelt at Confession, prayer, and the reception of Communion.

    But many Lutherans also were rigidly against Latin, any association with the Catholic Church, or any hint of classical vestments, statuary, or ritual (though how one can celebrate a weekly liturgy and the liturgical seasons without “ritual”, I don’t know!) Most of that was the holdover of Protestant contempt for Catholicism (which in my childhood was returned in kind by the Catholics!)

    Now Lutheranism in Europe and North America is largely moving toward (or already sold out to) the great Protestant Progressive movement, with idiosyncratic worship, partnered LGBT pastors, women clergy (I was one!), and very little connection with the traditions of the Church creeds, Councils, or traditions. And certainly no sense of Magisterium.

    One of the gifts of Lutheranism was its embrace of worship in the venacular; I believe it led to great swaths of evangelism and growth in the church ….. but one of its great failings was that having no common language led to a growing tendency to separate ourselves from one another and resist any thought of central authority. Among too many Lutherans today, not even our own founding theological documents (eg., the Augsburg Confession, or the Formula of Concord) are read, no less regarded as normative.

    There are still pockets of faithful Lutherans, many of whom are devoted to the Creeds and liturgical worship, as well as Scripture and the traditions of the early Church ………. but my husband and I left because we could no longer be ordained leaders of a church (ELCA) which so turned its back on our Catholic roots, heritage, and common expression.

    (Ask me another time about the burgeoning Lutheran commitment to the ordination of women beginning in the 1950’s …)

  74. Jack Hughes says:

    Fr Jim

    How condescending of you, I hope (next september)to be studying for a Mid-west Diocese, it is common practice for the seminarians to wear the cassock and whilst the older priests tend not to wear clerical garb in public it is something that the younger priests do.

    Now you may be interested that although I am a melancholic (and therefore prefer silent contemplation over rowdy parties) I am not socially inept, I have several years of life experience and have spent the vast majority of working life in a customer facing role. Now as for the charge of being a misogynist, any0ne who loves Our Lady is utterly innocent of that Charge.

    I was talking to an acquaintance on Divine Mercy Sunday and (bear in mind he is not a regular attendee of the TLM) he told me that in the future the vast majority of vocations will be coming from the Old Mass, if my experiences in England are anything to go by, then the Youth love Clerics who dress and act like Priests and the Old Mass.

    Sorry to burst your liberal bubble but the ‘reactionaries’ are here to stay.

  75. Supertradmum says:

    cathgrl, I am not confused. I have taught Millenials, the children of the Gen Xers, who got no religion what so ever at home, whereas the Gen Xers I taught got much more from their parents, even the rosary at home etc. Let us not quibble about generations, but be aware that the GenXers were much more apt to follow the culture than any other one before. They are the dual income and no kids or one or two kids generation. Most of my peers have four to ten or more kids. People my age formed the Latin Mass communities and the pro-life groups, not Gen Xers, who have, for the most part, contracepted and added to the hatred of the Latin Mass because they hate the authority of the Church.

    There is a one to one correspondence with hatred of authority and hatred of tradition.

    When we get to our particular judgement, God is not going to give us a pass if we have had bad clergy The responsibility of an adult Catholic is too stop winging and learn the Faith and absolutely pass it on to their children.

    I know many Millenials, who are much more religious and conservative liturgically than their parents. Some are in the seminaries and I have talked with this group at length. They love the Latin Mass and our small hope is in that tiny group of priests of the future. These young men and women tell me they are by far more religiously minded than their parents. The sems love meeting an older person with Faith, and want to be good, orthodox priests. But, barring those few, the laity must be strong in their own Faith and carry it on even without the sacraments, as in the days of Recusancy in England. This will happen sooner than you think. Very soon.

  76. jflare says:

    I agree to a fair extent that the reactions of we pewsitters will vary by community standards. I must sternly disagree with you regarding the merits.
    Remember that most of us below age 45 never learned much at all about various forms of clerical garb; we rarely saw priests use them during our youth. Even the garb worn for Mass tended to be the “elegantly simple” items that Vatican II allegedly encouraged. If most of us would see a priest wearing a cassock, we might know him to be a priest. I would say this would be a GOOD thing.
    I have worn uniforms of one sort or another for most of my life, most of them for reasons much less important than saving souls. I can’t imagine that I’d expect a priest to act less conspicuously, especially given the nature of the call you’ve followed.

    As to life experience, well, perhaps a newly ordained 20-something MIGHT spark some comment and agitation. ..Which might be precisely what a parish actually needs.
    None of us has ever really cared for correction, especially when it came from someone half our age. Even so, we don’t wait until a man has reached age 40 before we ordain him. Evidently we realize that the “old-timers” still need to be willing to listen to someone with less life experience.
    And if we should agitate someone in their 70’s with..whatever..that’s not always a bad thing. Yes, it’ll be more difficult for a 70-something to change very much. In many cases though, such a change MIGHT ultimately cause that 70-something to not wind up in Hell. Or, in better cases, perhaps a little suffering nearer the end of life might relieve that particular sinner of greater suffering in Purgatory.

    I know, some of this comes to speculation, as does some of the alleged benefit of using Latin. Ultimately though, if we intend that the Church shall regain the best of Her older discipline and practice, we’ll need to admit to ourselves that many will (strongly) resist changing again.

    It may not be fun, but I see no way around it except to accept the suffering.

  77. pelerin says:

    A few weeks ago I sat with a couple of holidaymakers in the Parish Hall after Sunday morning Mass. One of them asked me why the Mass had been in Latin. As usual the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Pater, Agnus Dei etc had been sung in Latin but being a Novus Ordo the rest of the Liturgy was in English. Being somewhat taken aback by the question all I could reply was that it was the language of the Church. I did think it sad that someone should ask such a question.

  78. The Masked Chicken says:

    ““It’s too bad someone doesn’t write the book, “That’s Not Vatican II!: Vatican II Answers to Common Objections of Aging “Spirit of Vatican II” Hippies” and literally quote the Vatican II document that defuncts the objection.”

    I have a better title:

    Vatican II-tifrutty: the real scoop about Vatican II

    Really, I would write the book, except I don’t know all of the objections, since the number of lunatic false adaptations seems to be limitless.

    The Chicken

  79. The Masked Chicken says:

    Of course, there might have been a missing punctuation mark or letter. The sentence might have supposed to have been:

    No! More terrible Latin.

    No more. Terrible Latin!

    No more. Terrible! Latin!

    No more terrible Latin?

    Non amore terrible Latin (obviously, recently off the boat).

    No more tearable Latin.

    No more. Terrible. Late in.

    There is terrible Latin, just not in the Mass. I mean, try translating this into Latin and see if it isn’t only a terrible approximation:

    “Yeah, man, I got wasted last night. The girlie-girl at the bar kept feeding me chips and beer until I got rolled.”

    Each language has it primary time and place. Latin, like the Church, just happens to be useful for talking about eternal things.

    The Chicken

  80. Kerry says:

    Ah, Latin. Would Pavoratti improve if he had gotten rid of that horrible, difficult to grasp, sung in Italian Pucinni?

  81. orthros says:

    Supertradmum, I historically love your responses but I’m genuinely puzzled about your Gen X invective here.

    Let’s be frank: Roe v. Wade was 100% a product of the Baby Boomers, the same generation that’s currently morally and economically bankrupting the future generations here in the States. I was born two days after Roe v. Wade and am smack-dab in the middle of Generation X. No doubt my generation is narcissistic, materialistic and amoral… but guess who they had as role models?

    While some Millennials are moving the right direction, the proportion of atheists and anti-theists in the under 30 camp is alarmingly high, much higher than the generations preceding it.

    Generations don’t have or avoid children, of course, so in the end each man must make his choice. But putting the onus on Generation X is almost hilariously laughable; we inherited a cesspool… what did you expect us to make of it?

  82. billy says:

    I’m sorry. I respectfully disagree. If the mass is in English it should be said in English. If its in Latin it should be in Latin. No mixing and matching. People have complaints about Latin because they don’t understand it, now before I get jumped on by people saying that congregations should learn Latin ask yourself just how practical that really is? I respectfully disagree with the posts here…..

    [So… you think you “understand” Mass when it is in English?]

  83. The Masked Chicken says:

    “No doubt my generation is narcissistic, materialistic and amoral… but guess who they had as role models?”

    No doubt Baby Boomers contributed, in their own way, to the modern moral morass, but it is too simplistic to blame everything on them, however, I see this trend in Gen-Xers and even more so in Millenials. It betrays a poor understanding of history. Most Baby Boomers weren’t even in puberty when Griswold vs. Connecticut was passed in 1965, which introduced the infamous, “right to privacy,” rationalization that ultimately empowered Roe vs. Wade. Contraception and abortion were in the wind since the Fifties as a mass societal concern (not merely personal and local). The Baby Boomers grew up in the exploding consumerism and nascent liberalism of the 1950’s, and early 1960’s. They inherited their traits from the WWII generation, but something similar happened after WWI, so this is a sociological phenomenon associated with global stresses of war combined with Modernism.

    It was not the Baby a boomers who pushed for the Pill. That had been going on since the late Fifties. They merely were conditioned to embrace it when it came to fruition. Once introduced, along with the darkening of sin, the false liberalization of morality from the lunatic interpreters of Vatican II, no-fault divorce (also a product stemming from the Fifties), etc., the moral slide was inevitable.

    This is not the faulty of Baby Boomers. It is the fault of war, as Mary mentioned at Fatima. The sin was already ripe. War was the fruit. The moral decline was the flower.

    The Chicken

  84. JonPatrick says:

    I agree with the Chicken. It is silly to scapegoat one or two generations for something (Modernism) that really goes back much farther, at least to the French Revolution. Contraception really got started with the Birth Control League and Margaret Sanger, and as early as 1930 the churches were starting to cave, starting with the Anglicans. Even before that, if you read some of the early essays by Chesterton for example you can see the seeds of society becoming unraveled.

  85. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Hank Igitur, I agree.

    Dear @Chicken, nomoreterriblelatin – that was great!

    Dear @catholiccomelately,
    One of the gifts of Lutheranism was its embrace of worship in the venacular; I believe it led to great swaths of evangelism and growth in the church.
    No offense, but where do you precisely see these great swaths of evangelism and growth in the Church in?
    In in my turn think that one of the gifts of Lutheranism, to an extent at least, were the beautiful (vernacular) hymns they introduced into Church service (let’s face it: for the Church at large as opposed to particular devotional groups, nothing will be shape-forming which is not present at the obliging Sunday Mass), which were accepted as Pray-Sing-Mass in Germany long before there ever was a liturgy reform. (The priest simply prayed his part, the people sang her part.) Which is why I, respectfully, don’t share the Gregorian-chant purism present among some commentators here. But I digress.
    So, I’d tend to accept that “A House full of Glory” (an anti-Protestant battlesong) owes, in style, to what is to a degree a Lutheran invention. And this is good because all good things are good; for the greater glory of God, and for the fun of it.

    But great swaths of evangelization, and growth in the Church as a result (not by antinomian reaction from the Counter-Reformation, which is debatable, but by the vernacular language): where are they?

    Generally as to learning Latin,
    a good way to make people learn Latin, short of obligation, is to make it obligatory to learn a foreign language with Latin being an equal option. Students will, in fair amounts, learn Latin if that means that they do not have to learn French. (Ne soyez pas insultés s.v.p., je ne refère que ce qui est le cas en Bavière.)

  86. Cavaliere says:

    I’d be the first to admit that it’s technically permissible to adopt such extreme fashions, but in general I think it makes the church look irrelevant … I think it hastens the attrition.

    Right… because back when priests tried to be so relevant by dressing like everyone else nobody left.

    So Fr. Jim, if young man who wants to wear a cassock is all those nasty things you commented, what is a young woman who wants to wear a traditional habit? Are they driving people out of the church too? Or are parents sending their children in droves to schools that are run by such outmoded sisters?

  87. maryh says:

    @frjim4321 Take your basic Midwest diocese in the USA where 50?s style clerical garb has not been used for half a century, and a 20-something newly ordained with virtually no life experience, socially inept, misogynist, most likely who participated in a covert parallel program of formation under the radar, is mincing around in cassock and biretta … it’s not going to be read very well by the people in the pews.

    Understood. That would be a pretty bad idea. So how about this?

    1. a 20-something newly ordained with loads of life experience, especially through growing up with one-third of his generation missing due to abortion, and half of his generation the children of divorce

    2. socially adept

    3. viewing women through his relationship with Our Lady and the Theology of Body: ie, with a level of respect virtually unknown outside the Catholic Church (in the US, at least)

    4. participated in a covert parallel program of formation under the radar, so he knows quite well the arguments that he will have to counter, and has demonstrated patience under adversity (besides – a covert parallel program of formation – how cool can you get? Thanks for that frjim4321)

    5. humbly accepting the cassock and biretta as a sign of his continuity with tradition and a help to his congregation in recognizing that he has been set apart as an alter Christi (is that the correct term?) so that he may be a special channel of grace by providing the sacraments.

    I do agree, that would go over much better in the pews. Actually, we can see that it already has.

  88. maryh says:

    @Imrahil Students will, in fair amounts, learn Latin if that means that they do not have to learn French.

    My experience in the US is the opposite. Most US high school used to include foreign languages, because most universities required at least two years of a foreign language. But people didn’t like to take Latin because it’s a “dead” language. They wanted a language they could speak with other people (which you can with Latin, but I digress).

    I agree that every Catholic school should require a certain amount of Latin. Besides being the language of the Church, it’s a great help with understanding grammar and the structure of language, and helps in understanding the meanings of words.

  89. chantgirl says:

    Funny that Hollywood thinks Latin is cool enough to use in movies like Boondock Saints, Event Horizon, and Tombstone. Hollywood also still associates Latin with Catholicism as is evidenced by any number of Gothic and exorcism related movies. Homeschooling Protestants are also increasingly teaching their children Latin. It only seems to be us Catholics who are running away from our heritage! Perhaps Kilmer’s Doc Holiday could be the poster-boy for an initiative to get high school boys to sign up for Latin. Throw in some gun-slinging skills when the boys take a break from grammar and the German and French classes would be empty.

  90. Late for heaven says:

    I appreciate the charity of those who try to mitigate the errors of the Boomer Generation. As a Boomer myself, I am grateful for your forbearance. However, I clearly remember the righteous indignation and slander and willful ignorance that I, we used when marching for abortion and defending a woman’s right to abortion and contraception. My “rights” kept me a cafeteria catholic throughout all the time we were raising our children.

    Today I look around me at the world we Boomers (and other generations) have wrought and can only think “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

    Yes, I was totally uncatechised and knew not what I was doing. And yet deep down, I knew.

    It was the Latin Mass that I attended as a small child that impressed upon me the reality of the Incarnation. I did not understand the Latin, nor the English translation in my little missal. But I understood that I was taking part in something transcendent and transfigurative. The remembered reverence of TLM eventually led me back to the Church. I am a revert who never technically left the Church. But I was a heretic most of my life. The use of Latin in the Mass has a terrible power, the power to inspire awe.

    Praying the Rosary is what led to my conversion. Mother Mary pray for us.

  91. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Tossing out some odds and ends, subject to correct, and welcoming any ‘arguing for truth’ (rather than merely forensic-dabate victory):

    Fr. John McHugh – about whom I know nothing beyond his delightful The Mother of Jesus in the New Testament (Darton, 1975) – concludes a detailed, lucid four-chapter argument (p. 254) , “the hard core of St Jerome’s theory stands, and with it the Roman Catholic and Orthodox (or, to those who prefer it, the ancient Lutheran and Calvinist tradition) of the perpetual virginity of Mary the mother of Jesus.” It would seem worth engaging the scions of the continental reformation(s) respecting various details of this “tradition” (as many, variously, on internet, for example, are in fact doing)!

    I am mindful of the Papal encouragement of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in their vernacular endeavours: non solus (re. Latin), sed etiam (re. vernaculars). And what (with a nod to Imrahil) of the generation of the Haydn brothers (followed up by Beethoven and Schubert)?

    What I am most used to in regular liturgical experience, is a Latin OF with vernacular lessons and intercessions and a printed parallel translation (always helpful, though not always equally satisfactory): is this so unusual? Is it not well worth pursuing (in combination with EF, and with a good translation)?

    frjim4321’s “mincing around” is obviously to be avoided, but ‘abusus usum non tollit’ – David Jones (that Anglo-Welsh convert who survived the mightmares of modern warfare) gives splendid evocations of that avoidance (so to put it) in his great poem Anathemata (difficult, but well worth the wrestle)!

    I think Jon Patrick is on target with, “if you read some of the early essays by Chesterton for example you can see the seeds of society becoming unraveled.” And I would add, think what R.H. Benson was extrapolating from, in Lord of the World (admired, as we have heard, by the Holy Father)! Try reading some of Dean Inge’s ghastly eugenic stuff…

    Re. FaithfulCatechist’s observations: Tolkien’s interesting play in the Silmarillion (etc.) re. the sun and moon and their relations to German(ic?) grammar and mythology make me wonder if there may not be more to it…

  92. Giuseppe says:

    Agree with mandatory Latin in Catholic schools. I had 4 years of Latin at a Jesuit high school, and not once did I ever learn a thing about the mass in Latin. Can you imagine that?

    I think schools can happily sacrifice a few weeks of Caesar in Gaul or in Rome in 2nd year Latin and introduce students to the text and translations of the 1962 Mass, memorization of the congreation responses and common prayers, exposition/benediction, and the Requiem Mass.

    This should be coupled with a Church Music History class that starts with Gregorian chant, Tallis/Byrd, then Bach (b minor Mass) and the Magnificat, the Vivaldi Gloria, the Mozart Requiem, the Beethoven Missa Solemnis, and Berlioz/Verdi/or Durufle Requiem.* All while tying this in with theology. How any student can graduate from a Catholic high school and not be intimately familiar with the Latin Mass, the theology behind it, and some milestones of religious music is beyond me.

    *I would add to the religious music requirement a study of Haydn’s Creation and Mendelssohn’s Elijah (both in English in the US or UK), Dialogues of the Carmelites, Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass, and some introduction to Messiaen (St. Francis or 3 Liturgies of the Divine Presence or an introduction to the Vingt Regards). For a wider music component, would add some classical symphonies and sonatas and some classic American standards to round out the program. Would also pair studies of Othello and Macbeth with Verdi’s versions, Aeneid with Les Troyens, Electra with Elektra, Faust with Gounod or Mahler 8, and let seniors (who wanted to) spend a year on the Rings (Tolkein and Wagner, with some bonus Star Wars thrown in).

  93. Tom in NY says:

    Our readers are strong on the religious reasons for studying Latin.
    Why would you have your student take Latin in non-religious schools?
    a) you’re speaking Latin (if you speak English) – William the Conqueror didn’t speak English, nor did his judges and ministers until about A. D. 1400 (Henry IV) – the government and courts of law spoke Latin and French; the original Magna Carta is in Latin. That’s why English has its Greco-Roman layer.
    b) Latin marks the student as a serious scholar
    c) the American Framers who went to the colonial “Big Nine” including Adams, Jefferson and Madison, studied Cicero, Caesar’s Commentaries, Civil War, Tacitus’ Annales ab excessu divi Augusti and Livy. They needed them to get their degree. They used them as examples of what to avoid as well as what to follow. Studying Latin is the American thing to do. See works by Melcher and Richard.
    d) Latin reinforces (or sometimes teaches for the first time) English grammar.

    Catholic schools who seek a strong academic “brand” can consider the above factors, as well as the Catholic (and Western) identity which Latin promotes.

    Instructors at all levels of Latin should have the students speaking Latin in class. First year students should (if they don’t resist) read in choro with the instructor, and can use dialogue late in the first semester. If the student hears it, speaks it and writes it, he/she will comprehend it. English to Latin makes the students’ Latin big and strong. Once they learn the third declension, they have a wide vocabulary.
    I think students can handle the Vulgate in the middle of second year (in the right school). Second through fourth year students should see a Latin class run like a History and English class. And they’ll read Caesar and Cicero when the other modern language classes are using textbook readings.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  94. Imrahil says:

    Dear @maryh,

    most universities required at least two years of a foreign language.

    Do I correctly understand “universities” as opposed even to colleges? Well, then, sorry, but that’s no wonder. Two years of one language and this in university, how could they ever come to the idea to learn a (semi-) dead language?

    Inadvertently and maybe in undue patriotism, I thought it natural that anybody who ever thought about college should have, previously and guaranteed by the high-school exam, have thorough knowledge of at the very least one foreigh language; and better two. In Bavaria it is two (English one of them), and three for those who chose no other specialization (such as natural sciences).

    Thorough means at least to see a movie without subtitles, and in case of English to read The Lord of the Rings without a dictionary (except for delight in the language and a desire to learn more of it).

    In fact it would be a rather sensible thing to do to learn Latin instead of two years of a living language – if only because of the little amount that can be learnt in two years at all.

    As I inadvertently take the Bavarian system for reference, and applied to the practical choices of its students, maybe some brief outline is in order. Students (of the university-qualifying sort of schools, who are not immune to a tendency to overlook all the others, which however learn at least some English) learn one first language starting in the 5th of (in my time – I will not speak of recent changes) 13 grades, one second in 7th grade, and for those with a language specialization, one third in 9th grade. All these had to be taken up to the 11th grade inclusively, and one afterwards in the final two years.
    Now when I had the choice between Latin and French for the 7th grade (a quite common state of affairs), Latin seemed to be on its way out for the very reasons you mentioned… but still at a stable rate of 1/3 of students. It’s reversed by now, curiously coinciding with the election of a Bavarian Pope, and has some rate of around 2/3 at this moment if I have the feeling right. Among a great load of students (let’s be frank about them too), “Latin or French” pretty much resembles “plague or cholera”, or, as those who have already had their Latin might say, between Scylla and Charybdis.
    Nevertheless the willingness to learn a second dead language pretty much is down, and those who go for the language specialization, the choice of Old Greek as a third language is quite rare. I did not choose so either, but it’s a pity.

    Dear @Giuseppe,
    your aim is quite praiseworthy, but nevertheless it has an odd touch to it I may be rather bad in explaining. In a Catholic school (and in any subject taught by any Catholic teacher at any other school), of course the religion must be put first and must permeate everything. But when it comes to coordinated teaching of certain knowledge, then the place where to teach these things is a quite different question, and it is religion class. There is some deeper meaning in teaching the three Rs with fairytales, fables and beautiful (with a touch of moralistic) stories about countryside and agricultural living (my mother had, from her own time, a textbook of such sort, and I always loved it), and not using Bible and Catechism (which from a theoretical standpoint quite well could be used). I’m no philosopher, but maybe it is along the lines of “giving a good natural basis” for evangelization, or so. Bible and Catechism, of course, must be taught; as must the Mass. But teaching Latin means giving a basis in what is called, I guess, the humanities; and this must, here, be put forward.

    If only because the Latin of the Mass, and of the Middle Ages, is so very easy to understand. Students may groan under all this translating, analyzing and finding the metra in the hexameters, and mostly because they are presented more difficult than they are (if you know some vocabulary to know where to begin). But they, too, get a delightful look on their faces when, in advanced studies (“Leistungskurs”, for insiders), for very few lessons, they get to read “Meum est propositum in taberna mori, ubi vina proxima morientis ori. Tum cantabunt laetius angelorum chori: Deus sit propitius huic potatori.”

    With music it is perhaps a bit different. (I’m of course heavily biased towards the way it was presented in my own school time.) European (which includes US) music (as I learnt in a very interesting course of music) developed rather directly from the chant of the Church, and therefore Gregorian chant (which is not the most difficult thing) and a thorough education in this development should be quite present in music class.

    Dear @Tom in NY, I tend to agree… with slight exceptions to the last paragraph. I’d rather not see the usual foreign-language style in Latin, with its endless discussions of school systems and political activity of the youth. The history of the Romans, too, belongs to history class. Latin studies exist for precisely one sense: to read the Latin classics. (And to understand Latin, including in the Mass, of course.) Hence first the Latin grammar must be taught, and then the Latin classics must be read.

    But… I’m again quite biased towards my own schooling… please cut the Caesar after a trimester, will you? Hint: students who are not interested in the topic may, here, have a point. And there are so many things to read. You mentioned Livy and Tacitus (which is difficult). There is Vergil (at least a step-into the Aeneis should certainly be a part of any Latin studies), Martial, Horace (some verse theory and practice beyond hexameter and distichon should be so too, after all there are some Sapphic stanzas in the Divine Office, aren’t there?). So should Seneca, or Lactance, or Sallust (De coniuratione Catilinaria, where we have one who is both a liberal and a traditionalist, who is independent and critical of Cicero, but who still affirms the decisive facts). If we go for Cicero, be sure to not only stick to In Verrem one to somewhere and In Catilinam, impressive as that is, but include the (imho, proto-Scholastic) De finibus at some point.

    Another observation. There are religious reasons for studying Latin; and one of them is that Catholicism, among other things, promotes for enjoyment and acquiring of knowledge, not necessarily of immediate applicability – for which Latin is both a symbol, and helpful because of the reasons you mentioned. Hence both these motivations – the religious one and the secular one – are, perhaps, connected in a Catholic.

    To excuse the excessive length, two observations:
    “Anyone is expert about education, for after all everyone has gone to school.” (common saying)
    “Everyone likes a discussion on education, because you can at any time turn it into a discussion on anything.” (Chesterton, roughly, quoted from memory)

  95. Tom in NY says:

    I was able to take three languages in high school – Latin, Greek and French. But students’ programs which permit this are now rare. American colleges and universities don’t often require two languages in secondary preparation, in contrast to continental European programs. Most Latin curricula in the States call for the Commentaries in second year and Cicero in the third. The Advanced Placement program wants a bit if Caesar and a lot of the Aeneid. Therefore, a fourth year of Latin will follow that outline.
    State language standards emphasize “real world” aspects of language study, as well as literary form. I do believe the cultural and historic aspects of Catiline’s conspiracy enrich Cicero’s rhetorical skills. And I did assign Sallust (in Latin) and Plutarch (in English) for reading about the conspiracy. Thinking about concentrations of force, engineering, training, alliances, politics and supplies all help understanding Caesar’s situation.
    Should American schools have more foreign language? I think so, but can I sell that idea to the school board with support of the parents? A district with many students who speak Spanish as first language requires 90 minutes English and Math each day in nearly all grades — and still faces a hard road to acceptable test scores in those areas. A second foreign language is squeezed out of the program. State governments don’t always have state-wide foreign languages tests.
    Salutationes tibi et omnibus.

  96. VexillaRegis says:

    The more languages you know, the richer you are!

  97. jflare says:

    Based on a debate I had with another (military) officer some years ago, I wound up contemplating the whole subject of what we should be doing with education. I wound up with rather unusual results. I decided that for the most part, the only people who REALLY NEEDED college at all would be doctors, lawyers, and priests, due to the scope of the roles they filled.
    I ALSO discerned that, if we intended to teach ANY foreign language, we ought to teach Latin and Greek, not the languages we require. Why? Because the modern-day languages we learn outside our own strike me as being essentially useless, but many works come to us from the ancient world in Latin or Greek.
    Therefore, we could readily dispense with Spanish, French, German, Japanese, or whatever, teach classical Latin and Greek–Ecclesiastical Latin in Catholic schools–and we’d be much better off in the end.

    Sadly, as mentioned elsewhere, getting THAT past the local school board probably won’t happen anytime soon, never mind the US Dept of Education! (Dang that centralized planning thing!)

  98. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    The year we were workng mostly on Cicero (parts of De Senectute and De Amicitia as well as Catiline) and some on Ovid, we also had a bit of Pliny the Younger (e.g., Vesuvius) – and some medieval Latin (from the Gesta Romanorum, if memory serves). It was certainly an enjoyable approach! Meanwhile, thanks also to recordings of settings of the Ordinary, and ‘Early’ odds and ends (Dufay’s Veni Creator, for example), I was eagerly looking around for services in Latin…

    So, I do like Giuseppe’s idea of formally attending to Latin and musical settings down the ages together. (In singing Latin, when we happened to in school choir, we got taught a ‘liturgical’ pronunciation as it differs from the historically-reconstructed pronunciation in Latin class.)

    As you and Tom in NY both note, one of the great problems is devoting sufficient time to learning Latin (or any language, though in varying degrees).

  99. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    What of attention to Latin Psalms, as existing practice, or idea to pursue (in school or at home)? So many Propers are ‘Psalm-based’, and the history of Psalm-settings is very rich. (And can be mnemonically helpful: I know some parts of some Psalms by heart thanks to a particular setting.)

    Are there, for example, good, handy interlinear Latin Psalters, off- or online, to help students (of all sorts and degrees) along?

    (And how much of an ‘issue’ would ‘old ‘and New Vulgate versions be, here?)

  100. Giuseppe says:

    @Venerator Sti Lot – It is much easier to learn a language when singing it. I think singing engages even more areas in the brain than those circuits involved in a second language.

    My high school Latin was
    Year 1 – grammar, sentences, simple paragraphs about Roman life and mythology
    Year 2 – advanced grammar and Caesar with a week of Ovid. This is the year that could have been markedly shortened (you only need to read a few chapters of Gaul or Civil to get the gist).
    Year 3 – Cicero’s Cataline 1, De Senectute, De Amicitia, and Pro Archia (a must read), some Horace and Catullus
    Year 4 – Virgil Books 1,2,4,6, plus the rest in English,

  101. Giuseppe says:

    @Venerator Sti Lot –
    This is the easiest line-by-line side-by-side Latin/English Psalm edition I’ve found.
    I love it.

  102. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Many thanks! It seems very clear and useful!

  103. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Tom in NY,

    thank you for your kind answer. A whole year on De bello Gallico? Well, the Latin is easy enough, but I won’t blame any student if the interest in the topic goes down.

    That said, when I said “read the classics” I meant reasonable reading. Certainly In Catilinam is not to be read as a study of rhetorical skill (only). Hint: students will find this boring. And with such assessments they are more often right than we might perhaps think… Of course we have to talk about the background.
    Though, but I digress, I’d prefer that we’d talk about the background in a sensible manner, and not in a modern manner. It is useful and necessary knowledge to know that Caesar wrote De bello Gallico in self-justification. This does, however, not mean that he lied them from first word to last, if only because truth is often rather easy to tell. If, on the other hand, a school is able to teach people that there are more than one side to Truth, and that versions may look quite differently without error or lie; but that still there simply cannot be any formal contradictions in truth and when there are in two accounts of facts, then the reason is error or lie, than it has taught much.

    Of course, the school board where the parents sit, is not the place to make for more languages. Parents naturally, and not without some right, want to pave the easiest way for their children. No, it is not those who issue the diplomas who must decide on what they are about; it must be the receivers of the diplomates, the universities, who say which diploma they want. (If it is not the State who decides on the entrance requirements to universities [colleges], as in Germany – it might, I guess, be argued this is not compatible with subsidiarity.)

    Dear @Venerator Sti Lot,
    I do not think it would in theory be problematic to devote sufficient time. There are 8 years in middle school and high school put together. And you can get quite a classical education Latin-wise by having in not even all of these years not even one lesson of 45 minutes per schoolday (plus homework).

  104. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Dear Imrahil,

    There are various places where Latin is only offered during six years of middle/high school, and then the amount of class-time can vary wildly – I have known those who had 8 hours per week (plus 8 hours of Greek), I had 5 hours per week (if I recall aright: it may have been less; with no possibility of Greek), I know young people who now have only 2 hours! How those responsible decide upon such things I do not know, but the more the better!

  105. APX says:

    Great idea! If you’re up for it, why not start?
    I have a philosophy paper due on Wednesday, and am currently in the process of acquiring two degrees and need to start my career (again). I have a little bit on my plate at the moment, but I have seriously thought of writing something on it. Unfortunately I have no credibility to write such a book right now.

  106. APX says:

    Oh wait. My bad. I forgot it’s the 21st Century now. I don’t need any credentials to write a book anymore.

  107. Cincinnati Priest says:

    Regarding the assumption that it is more likely the anonymous complainer was a woman than a man:

    * Hate to stir up a hornet’s nest / head down a rabbit hole, but I think this is based, not on any assumption about differing knowledge of Latin between the sexes or any other such factor, but simply the empirical likelihood that women complain to their priests about liturgical things much more than men do. As a pastor of several years, I could easily say that the number of complaints about things liturgical typically number in the ratio of at least 2:1, women:men (probably higher). There is also a strong generational correlation. Those in the 65-80 are the most likely to complain, far outpacing those older and younger. (The baby boomers are less likely to complain, I think, simply because they are less in attendance. When they are in attendance, they complain a lot as well, often with a sense of their “entitlement” being violated).

    This is not a value judgment, or “sexist” remark. It is is simply an empirical observation and demographic reality. Could be all sorts of potential explanations. (Women more likely to attend Mass than men, etc.)

    But despite the *political* incorrectness of stating the obvious, Tradster is *empirically* correct.

  108. Gratias says:

    With Benedict XVI retired we will have to fight for each bit of Latin. It is worth driving long distances for the Tridentine Mass. When you travel, check out Wikkimissa that lists Latin Masses throughout the world. Every time we attend makes a difference.

  109. Scott W. says:

    “a few just won’t give up their protest”

    Write this backwards on your forehead with a sharpie and underline “few”. That way, when you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror you can be reminded that the number of people with an active hostility to to Latin is shrinking, not growing.

  110. Johnno says:

    This letter is most likely from someone who just doesn’t want Latin, period, because it’s the Age of Aquarius or something. Here’s why…

    Any layman who could actually tell good from bad Latin is most likely someone who would absolutely love to see Latin make a return in any shape or form and encourage its usage. They certainly wouldn’t write something like that. The only exceptions would be grumpy old folks or priests who remember or were taught good Latin who don’t want any of this turning the clock back business. They’re hours ahead of schedule and they’re just waiting for you to catch up. Unfortunately for them the train’s arriving on another platform.

  111. The Masked Chicken says:

    Even graduate schools are scaling back on foreign language requirements. When i started, you had to pass two foreign language proficiencies or take courses. By the time I graduated, it was down to one. Heck, in musicology, you have to at least be able to decipher Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, and German.

    Of course, if the Mass could be written in Javascript, you might get some of the kids interested :)

    In Fortran:

    If x = Holyday,
    say Gloria,
    else 1st Reading

    The Chicken

  112. VexillaRegis says:

    Chicken: Haha! Leave the Javascript to the youth -I’d like some Latin and a cup of java, please!

    (who, apart from her wild Viking mother tongue(s) and English, has German, Spanish, Latin and Greek on her menue of languages.)

  113. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    The Masked Chicken wrote, “When i [shades of e.e.cummings? – or archy and mahitabel? :)] started, you had to pass two foreign language proficiencies or take courses.” When I started, it was one ancient (Greek or Latin) and one modern for a Master’s degree, and if you wanted to try to go on for a doctorate, a third in advance (ancient or modern). Reviewing Frederic M. Wheeler’s splendid Latin: An Introductory Course (a gift of my first Latin teacher, in the last year the school offered Latin!) and running into a nice selection from the Venerable Bede on the ‘unseen’ got me accredited in Latin. Teach Yourself Italian got me accredited in Italian (Pasolini on the ‘unseen’!). I also got through the German, and for good measure took the one-year ‘Cambridge’ intensive Greek course – which left us struggling with Plato by the end. But Old English was as good as another language (though I kick myself that it did not try Old Frisian when the opportunity arose…) But whether I am really rather than formally competent in any of those languages… (ahem!)

  114. jenniphd says:

    Several years ago my family attended the Bar mitzvah of a family friend. It struck my husband and me how intense the experience was for the young man, as he led the entire service in Hebrew. All of my Jewish friends have taught their children Hebrew so that they could lead their Bar and Bat mitzvahs. But this also has the consequence that they can speak to any other Jewish family all over the world. Why in the Church do we not feel similarly possessive toward our universal language? I am sure that it has to do with the culture of entitlement (Re: the sacraments), and I certainly do not pretend to know as many Jewish people as I know Catholics. But my family has had many discussions after that experience because it seems such a waste for Catholics not to embrace fully our universal language.

  115. PatB says:

    I hear plenty of mispronounced Latin from the altar. And sometimes the phrasing is ridiculous. I would certainly like to hear “no more terrible Latin.”

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