It’s no joke. The Devil hates Latin.

I have attended a couple workshops on exorcism.  I have spoken with exorcists.   Again and again I have heard – and said – how the Devil hates Latin.  This is more than a witticism.

Over at NLM I found yet another confirmation that the Devil hates Latin.    There is a piece about a talk given by the priest who was the inspiration for the movie The Rite.  Read the whole thing, but this is the part that most interested me:

However, he did explain that the Rite of Exorcism is only said in Latin. One reason is practical – there is no approved translation in English as yet. He gave another reason why he was so strongly in favor of the use of Latin in the Rite of Exorcism: “The Devil hates Latin, it is the universal language of the Church.” I asked him about this afterwards, and he repeated it, saying that his personal experiences as an exorcist who has performed many, many exorcisms have convinced him of this. He told me he had heard from exorcists who did exorcisms in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese (the only approved vernaculars for this Rite) that Latin was the most effective language.

And there are a lot of people out there, liberals mostly, who hate Latin.

What does it mean for the identity of Catholics in the Latin Church when they almost never hear any Latin and have even been led to disdain it?

Let’s all recite together the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel just to irritate the Enemy, and throw some Holy Water around while you’re at it:

Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in praelio.
Contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur.
Tuque princeps militiae caelestis,
Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo
divina virtute in infernum detrude.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Tom in NY says:

    Diabolus Pradam (non praedam) gerit, et latinam odit.

    Salutationes omnibus.

  2. lairdangusmcangus says:

    This makes me want to learn to pray my Chaplet of St. Michael in Latin!

  3. Allan S. says:

    And if you REALLY like annoying the Enemy, and have the time and inclination, have your PC play a .wav file in the background on a loop above normal human hearing – so that the fallen angels ‘of the air’ may be perpetually tormented, as they know all human language. Even better, use Morse Code which makes for a simpler binary audio feed.

    The St. Michael prayer, in Latin, in Morse:

    … .- -. -.-. – . / — .. -.-. …. .- . .-.. / .- .-. -.-. …. .- -. –. . .-.. . –..– / -.. . ..-. . -. -.. . / -. — … / .. -. / .–. .-. .- . .-.. .. — .-.-.- / -.-. — -. – .-. .- / -. . –.- ..- .. – .. .- — / . – / .. -. … .. -.. .. .- … / -.. .. .- -… — .-.. .. / . … – — / .–. .-. .- . … .. -.. .. ..- — .-.-.- / .. — .–. . .-. . – / .. .-.. .-.. .. / -.. . ..- … –..– / … ..- .–. .–. .-.. .. -.-. . … / -.. . .–. .-. . -.-. .- — ..- .-. .-.-.- / – ..- –.- ..- . / .–. .-. .. -. -.-. . .–. … / — .. .-.. .. – .. .- . / -.-. .- . .-.. . … – .. … –..– / … .- – .- -. .- — / .- .-.. .. — … –.- ..- . / … .–. .. .-. .. – ..- … / — .- .-.. .. –. -. — … –..– / –.- ..- .. / .- -.. / .–. . .-. -.. .. – .. — -. . — / .- -. .. — .- .-. ..- — / .–. . .-. …- .- –. .- -. – ..- .-. / .. -. / — ..- -. -.. — / -.. .. …- .. -. .- / …- .. .-. – ..- – . / .. -. / .. -. ..-. . .-. -. ..- — / -.. . – .-. ..- -.. . .-.-.- / .- — . -. .-.-.-

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  4. The Cobbler says:

    I’ll admit to wondering about Greek and Aramaic though.

  5. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Allen S is an example of why I visit these comments pages almost every day. :)

  6. lairdangusmcangus says:

    I wonder if it may be something intrinsic in the Latin language, rather than simply the fact that it is the common tongue of the universal church.

    Latin is above all a precise language, which is one reason why it has served the church so well over the span of centuries. One can hit a pretty small bullseye in Latin, while English tends to be rather more idiomatic and general.

    I have heard some exorcists (Malachi Martin and, I believe, Chad Ripperger among others) say that demons tend to be extraordinarily legalistic. [Yes.] They will seize on any loophole, any error of commission or omission in the ritual, in order to maintain their claim. The inherent precision of Latin makes this more difficult for them, I would imagine. [That’s part of it.]

  7. Dspauldi says:

    Indeed :)

  8. HighMass says:

    I believe this totally, just look what has happened to the Liturgy the last 50 yrs………..

    Have heard and read this before, again I believe it is true!

    Again Thank GOD for Pope Benedict and the Summ. Pontificium!

  9. iPadre says:

    I asked an older priest for a blessing one day and he gave it to me in Latin. He said: “Prayer is more powerful in Latin. The devil hates Latin.” I agree for many reasons.

  10. Will D. says:

    I must admit that I don’t get this. Why Latin, specifically? The Devil existed long before Latin was ever spoken, long before the Tower of Babel, for that matter. And, I wonder as The Cobbler does, why not Aramaic, the language Christ and the Apostles used when casting him and his cohorts out of people?

  11. adriennep says:

    This reminds me of the eerily prophetic 1907 novel by Robert Hugh Benson: Lord of the World. In it, the last Pope realizes the end is near and orders his small remnant Church to speak and write in Latin only. Check it out–written before World War 1, at that.
    (This is the same novel recommended by both Benedict XVI and Francis. . .)

  12. taffymycat says:

    since latin is not a current vernacular language it doesnt change and isnt subject to the slang of the day; it is universal and unchanging, totally befitting the Catholic church

  13. I have no problem believing the hatred the Enemy has for Latin, and in Latin’s efficacy in prayer. I must remember this and pray more often in Latin.

    And God understands Latin perfectly well.
    -Which is what a martyr of the Reformation said as she was being put to death by her torturers. As she faded, enduring her torments, she prayed in Latin and the tormentors demanded that she speak English. Was it St Margaret Clitherow?

    Perhaps, too, this has something to do with the understanding that when praying in Latin, it is for God’s ears, not only Man’s. This would enrage the Enemy who wants us to believe in our own importance. Kinda like how people today are led to believe that the words of the Mass are addressed to them, not to God the Father, shutting out God.

  14. Why Latin and not another language? I wonder maybe because it is the Church of Rome? There’s something to being ‘Roman’? The Faith would not have spread the same way without first the spread of the Roman civilization. God really meant for Rome to spread the Faith. hmmmmm…..

  15. Jacob says:

    I would like to recommend the book The Rite on which the movie is based. The movie is very much a product of Hollywood, with some parts good and some parts not so good. The book though is /excellent/ and I highly recommend it.

  16. lairdangusmcangus says:

    Pope Francis was influenced by The Lord of the World?

    That is a most encouraging and unexpected bit of information.

    Hnmmmm. I’ve never been accused of being overly optimistic, but I am coming to believe there is much more to this Pope than his benefactors ever realized…and that is a good thing!

  17. the little brother says:

    to Will D.
    Latin specifically because all language is vibrational sound waves, & has a physical effect on creation. I speculate the vibrational signature of Latin brings the immediate & real presence/signature of God.

    sorta like this:

  18. Gerhard says:

    Why Latin and not Aramaic etc. ? I suggest as possibilities (1) the reason is emotional rather than rational: evil is irrational and so is the devil, and he is a stewing mess of resentment and malice to the point of abject hatred; and/or (2) he cannot bear the voice of Our Lord and His beloved spouse; and/or (3) wounded pride: he absolutely hates that his intended victory over Jesus at Calvary, which he planned to achieve with his well-groomed lackeys of the Roman Empire, who primarily spoke Latin, was turned into his defeat, with Our Lord going on to make Rome His global headquarters and its language his Church’s official language. How the worm turns…the little creep just can’t stand it.

  19. Peter Rother says:

    I started reading “Hostage to the Devil” by Malachi Martin a few years ago. I put it down after the first couple of vignettes because it frightened me so. This is no ground for laymen to tread.

  20. majuscule says:

    Sometimes, especially when feeling afflicted I am compelled to pray in Latin.

    I attend a monthly TLM. Before Mass some of us recite the Rosary in Latin. We recently started praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet in Latin after Mass. (These days my daily Chaplet is always in Latin unless I’m praying with people who know it in English only).

    The Sunday we began the Chaplet in Latin, a family we did not know who had attended the Mass stayed on for the Chaplet. After Mass we talked out in front of the church and we found they were staying at a local retreat center attending the Cenaculum Familiae Sancti Hieronymi–a retreat for families where they speak only Latin! Read about this group here.

  21. Add my name to the list of those who have heard of such incidents.

  22. msc says:

    Although mostly a Latinist, I have to admit that Greek is a more precise language. Cicero certainly thought so. I presume the devil’s dislike of Latin simply arises from it being the official language of the Church. I knew a few WWII veterans who maintained until they died that they didn’t want to hear German. Since I fail in so many ways to be the Catholic I should, I’m happy that I can piss off the devil rather easily. Out of my interest in the language and my devotion to classical music, I knew all the main prayers and the text of the Mass etc. in Latin long before I became a Catholic and I still find it easier to say some in Latin than English.

  23. xraytango says:

    Any chance you could post a sound clip so I can make sure I pronounce the words properly?

  24. Philokalos says:

    xraytango, you can just pretend it’s Italian and pronounce accordingly. This is the pronunciation variously known as “Church Latin”, “Ecclesiastical Latin”, “Medieval Latin,” &c. My favorite name for it is “Italianate” or “Italian” Latin.

  25. PostCatholic says:

    Presumably he likes Klingon, Sindarin, Valyrian, Bocce and Lapine? Because they’re all fictional languages.

  26. adriennep says:

    Yes to Francis and Lord of the World–Even the Wikipedia article mentions his specific references to the book.

    Why Latin indeed. Our Lord God knew very well that those well engineered Romans would build the best infrastructure needed to spread empire, but their language as well. God could use pagan brilliance! Artifacts of Roman culture are gone. Yet Latin remains, thanks to the Church. It has been the language of classical and fully educated human beings ever since. And, sometimes, that can lead those souls back to the Church. Even the Protestants of modern classical education circles have to pause and ponder how those pesky Catholics got Latin right all these millennia.

  27. sw85 says:

    @ Will D.–

    I must admit that I don’t get this. Why Latin, specifically? The Devil existed long before Latin was ever spoken, long before the Tower of Babel, for that matter. And, I wonder as The Cobbler does, why not Aramaic, the language Christ and the Apostles used when casting him and his cohorts out of people?

    Liturgical Latin was never the vernacular, either of the common people or the educated classes: it was a language basically cobbled together by Holy Mother Church specifically for liturgical use. Hence it is, by its nature, sacred, having been created specifically for sacred purposes. Naturally, whatever is sacred is offensive to demonic ears.

  28. KevinSymonds says:

    Fr. Z., did you receive a copy of my book “Pope Leo XIII and the Prayer to St. Michael” yet?

    If not, I will request that one be directed to you free of cost.

  29. Glennonite says:

    Yes! What XT said, give us an audio clip of The Prayer to St. Michael! Come on, Father; you could do that! Please?

  30. bill.c7 says:

    I’d like to share an experience that may be related. The Ecclesia Dei group in Wellington, New Zealand arranged for the return of a regularly scheduled Sunday Latin Mass to St. Mary of the Angels, a center city parish. The Latin Mass had not been said in this church since about 1969 with one or two exceptions. I’ll preface the next sentences by saying that Wellington is a windy city.

    When the Sunday of the return of the mass arrived the priest and two altar boys began as normal, but in less than five minutes a giant gust of wind blew open a door and extinguished the candles on a side altar to our Lady. The smoke rose and set off the fire alarms which were incredibly loud. The priest continued despite the noise and flashing lights. A few more minutes past and the fire department arrived and two firemen went up to the altar and stopped the priest. After a minute of talking the priest announced that the church would have to be evacuated. That was that and we all left the church. At the time I remember thinking, that could not have been a coincidence, someone whom I won’t name must really hate this mass.

  31. Andrew says:


    You wrote: “I have to admit that Greek is a more precise language. Cicero certainly thought so.”

    I am not saying that I agree or disagree, but here is what Cicero wrote about it:

    “That’s what I think, the Latin language is not only far from wanting but it is surely richer than Greek.”

    Ita sentio … Latinam linguam non modo non inopem … sed locupletiorem etiam esse quam Graecam. (Cicero, de Finibus, Lib. I)

  32. Scripture says that all the gods of the Gentiles are devils (cf. Deuteronomy 32:17, Psalm 95:5, 1 Corinthians 10:20). I don’t know how much ecclesiastical Latin has in common with the Latin of pagan liturgy, but it makes sense that devils should hate and despise the language that the Church particularly wrested away from their worship and turned to the worship of the One True God.

  33. mo7 says:

    A practice I’ve developed lately when privately praying the Sorrowful Mysteries. When I get to the Crucifixion, I switch to Latin, to slow down, focus deeply and to accord it the fullest reverence I can.

  34. lmgilbert says:

    This is somewhat off topic, but Latin per se does not come up that often.

    There are some great texts for learning Latin, I will freely admit, and another great one is one the way, I know, but this is 2016. Where is the Ecclesiastical Latin equivalent of the excellent online program Fluencia? Through it I am learning Spanish and having a blast.

    For that matter where is the Church Latin equivalent of the Pimsleur approach, or any of the many other excellent language cd programs that give one a toehold in the target language? Nonexistent.

    Maybe someone could convince Pimsleur (et al) that there is a market for their approach, and that besides it would sell even as a novelty item and be great publicity for the company. Winnie Ille Pooh, anyone?

  35. majuscule says:

    Here is a page with links to audio files of prayers in Latin. The Prayer to St Michael is there.

    Or were people wanting the Morse Code Latin audio? (I think we could all tap that one out ourselves!)

  36. majuscule says:

    There is probably an easier way–I just used the first link I found for this…

    If you get the text of the Prayer to St. Michael in Latin and enter it on this page it will generate an audio file in Morse Code.

    But note–the complete prayer is too long. You have to split it up. It will only translate 250 characters at a time.

  37. Fr. Reader says:

    Recently a friend, priest, shared his opinion with me. He said that Our Lord should dislike Latin very much, because it was the language of the soldiers during the crucifixion, and other similar reasons (which is basically the opposite opinion as the one in this article). [Our Lord wouldn’t be that shallow.] Also recently I heard the opinion of a rector of a seminary (in front of his seminarians), in the sense that the problem of the Church in Europe basically was Latin. [“The problem of the Church in Europe was Latin”? That’s just plain daft.]
    I think many people have a strong prejudice against Latin, as something that is “the” enemy of progress; this language is the embodiment of all that was bad in the Church before (I wonder then what or who is the enemy of the Church today), it represents legalism, casuistic, immobility, fossilization, etc. This is particularly acute in people over 40 or 50. Some of them they might even get a bit angry or annoyed at the presence of anything Latin. [How sad that so many people lied to them.]
    In the place where I live, younger people, unless they are under the influence of such people, are more open, even curious about it.

  38. Vincent Uher says:

    If I may offer an opinion please, I believe that there is ample evidence that the evil one and his minions hate the three languages the Lord Jesus Christ spoke in his lifetime i.e., Latin, Greek, and Aramaic.

    Look at the world and one can see how the once dominant Greek language is greatly reduced not to mention the Greek speaking Byzantine Empire is no more. The evil one was certainly active in bringing that about.

    As far as Aramaic goes, even in our day Muslim terrorists seek to destroy the last Christian villages that speak Aramaic and regularly blow up Syriac speaking churches and monasteries. Is that not enough of a sign that the evil one and his minions are trying to erase all evidence of the Aramaic (Syriac) language and religion of Our Lord Jesus in the lands controlled by Daesh (ISIS)?

    It is also well known among Copts and Ethiopian Orthodox that during exorcisms the demons cannot abide the ancient Coptic language or the ancient Semitic language of the Ethiopian Church named Ge’ez. It seems that wherever Christ our Lord has filled the culture of a people and the Holy Ghost moves within the native language of that people that the evil one works overtime to suppress or destroy both the culture and language of that Christian people.

    I think it would be a grand thing in this oecumenical age to have a world gathering of exorcists from the ancient Christian churches at Assisi. We can call it the Great World Exorcism, and let each group exorcise the world according to their ancient liturgical language and liturgy. And let their be satellite exorcisms of cities and nations planned for the same time around the world.

  39. sw85 says:

    Recently a friend, priest, shared his opinion with me. He said that Our Lord should dislike Latin very much, because it was the language of the soldiers during the crucifixion, and other similar reasons (which is basically the opposite opinion as the one in this article).

    And, as is well known, Jesus sought to avoid his crucifixion and prayed that those who were crucifying him would be gruesomely punished.

    Personally I always thought the fact that Jesus’ sentence was passed by Latin speakers (at least native Latin speakers — on the ground, in the day, they might have been just as likely to be speaking Greek in public) makes it all the more fitting that his sacrifice should be offered in Latin.

  40. dans0622 says:

    And yet, isn’t it the case that some possessed people speak Latin without having any knowledge of it?

  41. Imrahil says:

    Following Dante and others who laid much focus on the praeparatio Evangelii by the city and state of Rome, the Breviarium which announces Christmas with the words “[…] ab urbe Roma condita, anno septingentesimo quinquagesimo secundo; anno Imperii Octaviani Augusti quadragesimo secundo, toto Orbe in pace composito”,

    well there’s that classic line:

    cred’ equidem: vivos ducent de marmore vultus
    orabunt causas melius, caelique meatus
    describent radio ‘t surgentia sidera dicent:
    Tu reger’ imperio populos, Romane, memento!
    Hae tibi erunt artes. – pacique imponere morem,
    parcere subiectis et debellare superbos.
    (Virgil, Aeneid 848-853)

    (So I believe: Let others lead living faces from marble.
    Let them hold better speeches in court, and the movement of heaven
    let them describe, with radius and all, and name stars arising:
    thou, o Roman, make sure to reign the peoples with command!
    That shall be art unto thee. – And equip a state peaceful with morals,
    spare those conquer’d, and fight down the proud ones until thou’st destroyed them.)

  42. germangreek says:

    Well, the first written public proclamation of Christ’s kingship, according to Sacred Scripture, was given in three languages: Hebrew, Latin and Greek. It would seem to me, then, that those would be the three languages that Satan hates the most.

  43. Latinmass1983 says:

    Tito Casini (Italian writer/poet) had this to say about the Latin language in 1967 in “La tunica stracciata,” which was a letter written to his Ordinary – the horrible Cardinal Lercaro:

    [To liberals, the sons and daughters of the devil] “Whether it pleases you or not, the truth is that the Latin language shows itself to have been predestined to become the “Catholic language” : this Latin language Virgil makes say, prophetically… “Behold God” (Ait: Deus! Ecce Deus!), and… this language… amidst so much noise and so many accusations of death, through the lips of Roman women, defended Him and [declared Him] innocent (“Nihil tibi et justo illi;” “Quid enim mali fecit iste?”)… and on Calvary, through the mouth of a soldier of Rome, shouted, for the first time to the world, His Divinity: “Vere Filius Dei erat iste!”

    So, it is settled then! If the devil hates Latin, it must be because God loves it!

    … what does this say about the language in which Holy Mass is celebrated ….?!?!

  44. How to learn to pray in Latin?

    One simple beginning is Ralph McInerny’s Let’s Read Latin: An Introduction to the Language of the Church whose 22 lessons in 135 pages lead one through the most basic prayers and readings. The first six lessons present the Pater Noster, the Ave Maria, the Magnificat, the Apostle’s Creed, the Salve Regina, and the Te Deum. Each lesson presents carefully just the Latin grammar and vocabulary (one phrase at a time) used in its particular prayer. So after less than fifty pages you know the most common daily prayers in Latin. After 22 lessons you’ve learned to read a number of scriptural passages and key patristic texts (e.g., Ambrose, Augustine, Aquinas). I was fortunate to run into this easy little book when I was just starting to learn some Latin. When a Latin teacher volunteered to conduct some Latin sessions for members of our local Latin Mass community, I showed her my copy of McInerny, and she immediately selected it as the text to use.

  45. lairdangusmcangus says:

    @Fr. Reader

    So true about the older generation being more averse (indeed, almost allergic!) to Latin. In my area, I often hear late 50-somethings and 60-somethings lament the fact that they “had to learn Latin” growing up in the Church. This is usually followed by a statement of how “lucky” we younger people are that the Church did away with all that during Vatican II…

    Mind you, I am entering my mid-40’s.

    As for the younger people being more open to Latin, well I suppose that is true. After all, they were not so afflicted with the spirit of modernism and Catholic self-hatred that flowed out of Vatican II.

    Of course the problem with younger Catholics is that we are victims of terrible catechesis; we are a people that has been cut off violently from our heritage. Most of us have never experienced a Tridentine Mass. Most of us know no more than a few words of ecclesiastical Latin and are too embarrassed to attempt to pronounce them openly during Mass. Most of us have never walked the Stations of the Cross or lit candles for our saints. We are taught that Confession is “required” only once per year and that all faiths are equal before God. Our devotional and sacramental life is virtually non-existant. The churches in which we grew up have no statues, no stained glass windows, no soaring gothic arches. They are sad, drab little monuments to brutalism, austere to an extent that would make even Calvin shudder. They are the physical embodiment of acedia.

    And the homilies…oh my goodness, the homilies. Our priest–a gifted preacher who was tapped by Pope Francis to be a Missionary of Mercy–preaches almost weekly about the importance of singing the songs out loud. He is convinced that this produces a spirit of active worship, and perhaps he is right. But I can’t help but think “what if he had the same enthusiasm for telling the flock to take up their Rosaries, to go to Confession, to catechize their children, to pray to their saints, to get to know the Blessed Virgin?” 9 times out of 10, the homilies one hears in a Catholic church are indistinguishable from what one would hear in any Protestant church. This is especially true when the Deacons preach instead of the pastor.

    Still, there are little green shoots here and there. I’ve noticed quite a number of “classical academies” sprouting up. The young men entering the priesthood *appear* to me to be more orthodox and faithful. We have a few new Catholic schools that are much more traditional than most. And, notwithstanding all of my complaints above, we “pack them in” each Sunday at our large, suburban home parish…

  46. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    The devils hates Latin because the Church loves it.

  47. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Latin specifically because all language is vibrational sound waves, & has a physical effect on creation. I speculate the vibrational signature of Latin brings the immediate & real presence/signature of God.”

    Hmm…sign language, semaphore, smoke signals – not all language involves sound? Also, does the pronunciation have to he in Church Latin or is Classical pronunciation good?

    The Chicken

  48. Olaf Haraldson says:

    Ego hodie in scholis meis hoc articulum discipulis legi. credo iis valde placere quid audiverunt et fortase maiore studio liguam latinam culturi sunt. Potestis mentes vestras fingere!? Nunc dum scribo, diabolum ipsum verbis meis latinis terretur! Tantum fuit sanctitas Ecclesiae ut aliqua lingua, quae sane antequam erat vulgaris et sicut quaecumque altera, sanctificata est. Omnibus nobis necesse est, hac de causa, discere hanc linguam gloriosam et praesertim eo modo Deo orare.

  49. JesusFreak84 says:

    I wonder what language is used when a priest of the Eastern Rites does an exorcism? AFAIK, old Church Slavonic has been 100% discontinued since Vatican II :( Heck, do any of the Eastern Rites even have a ritual for exorcism? I’ve no idea.

  50. monnica says:

    I know someone who, during a certain time of her life, could not mentally form a prayer in English before it was twisted into blasphemy. She knew some prayers or invocations in Latin and they were a blessed refuge at that time. She didn’t know any Latin swear words and the prayers could flow purely. Thank God for Latin.

  51. majuscule says:

    I’m the younger sister of a former altar boy. I remember him struggling to learn the Latin responses. I believe he also studied Latin in elementary school. (I didn’t because for various reasons I only attended Catholic school through second grade. He went through eighth.)

    Somehow the missal given to him as an altar boy fell into my hands. It was this mid-1950s missal that I used at the first TLM I was able to attend in 40 years. This was a low Mass and I surprised myself by being able to follow along generally and find my place again when I got lost. I’m speaking of the Latin pages. I did not bother with the English. Later I attended Latin Mass several times a week using the red booklet missal and realized after a year that I was not reading the English, just absorbing the Latin. Though now I read the English translation of the propers.

    To me, Latin is the language of the church. I hope it annoys the h*** out of the devil!

  52. Suburbanbanshee says:

    PostCatholic: As Tolkien pointed out, fictional languages and worldbuilding are exercises of our God-given, Adamic powers to name and to subcreate. The Devil hates that stuff. Of course, the Devil is not fond of any prayer in any language. When we call on the Lord, His Name hallows all tongues, and fulfils Biblical prophecy about the Gentiles.

    That said, the Irish filidh textbooks pointed out the special holy status of Aramaic, Greek, and Latin because of Pilate’s inscription.

  53. msc says:

    Andrew: I appreciate the reference. But throughout his works his desire to make Latin the equal of Greek as a language for philosophy and science is clear.

  54. Fr. Reader says:

    @lairdangusmcangus: “Of course the problem with younger Catholics is that we are victims of terrible catechesis; we are a people that has been cut off violently from our heritage.” Yes, indeed.
    @Fr. Z. Yes he said that: the problem of Europe was Latin, and he added “that is why the Church in the US does better”, because they use (or used, I don’t know) less Latin there. And when he said it, the Latin teacher of the seminary was also there. He was not very happy about the remarks.

    The devil hates. he hates Latin and everything else. That is what he does.

  55. The Cobbler says:

    lmgilbert, I’ve heard that one of the popular online language learning tools these days is volunteer-driven. I think it was Duolinguo, but I’d have to go see.

    Chicken, if you can translate the St. Michael prayer into smoke signals… well, you know what they say: “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

    Suburbanbanshee, I can’t help consider that the same reasoning must, on some level, extend to computer languages — being not only work of quite human ingenuity, but also designed (well, the good ones anyway) to model reality in order both to be more readily understood and to produce more useful results. Someone might object that computer languages are supposed to make computers run rather than to communicate, but I’d disagree; a computer program that doesn’t communicate its meaning to the reader and to the user is about as useful as dunking the computer in a bucket of water and seeing what shows up on the screen as it dies. Anyway, the real problem I have is that if I wrote an exorcism in C++ — something along the lines of “Christ.get_power().exorcise(demon);” — the compiler would complain about not knowing what Christ is. So we’re clearly going to have to evangelize the compilers before that will stand any chance of being effective…

  56. Charles E Flynn says:

    Are we to attribute the repeated delays in the publication of Father Reginald Foster’s book “Ossa Latinitatis Sola” to diabolical activity, or to “stuff happens, and then sometimes more stuff happens”?

  57. seattle_cdn says:

    There’s something to this, now that I hear the President is avoiding Scalia’s funeral, which I presume will be in Latin

  58. lmgilbert says:

    Although I may not be counted among the traditional or even among the orthodox after making this comment, the gifts of tongues is also great and would suffice. I have seen it used up close and personal to great and dramatic effect by Lutheran Pentecostal pastors. Perhaps it needs to be said that these were serious, mature men who knew what they were about.

    Besides that, it is more than unlikely that either Our Lord, the Apostles or the early disciples ever used Latin, yet He is the exemplar for Exorcists. If it were a question of getting the language right for maximum effectiveness, one would think that Aramaic would be the way to go, or Greek, the language of the New Testament. Perhaps Latin is the language of choice for Catholic priest/exorcists, because that is the only hieratic language that they know. It is a language whose use puts them in a more sacred realm because of their training, whereas the vernacular tongue is very humdrum and in their experience used mostly in the realm of the profane. In other words, the use of Latin increases the faith of the priest, and that is what makes the devils tremble. My guess, admittedly.

    Related, are we not in an increasingly absurd position with regard to the exercise of exorcism? If the life of a priest is supposed to mirror to the extent possible the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, there is simply an immense chasm between our theory and practice. The life of Christ during his years of ministry was one of preaching, teaching, healing and exorcising, but for the most part so far as I know the role of the average parish priest with regard to the exercise of this power is one of referring afflicted persons to the chancery. In the meantime, we have a number of sin industries who one would guess are generating the afflicted and possessed by the hundreds of millions. The gates of hell may not prevail against the onslaught of the Church, but to put this to the proof we should begin that onslaught at some point. A very widespread exercise of exorcism should be one of the weapons in our armamentarium, should it not?

    It cannot be, as the boat people from Viet Nam remarked with amazement when they first came to the United States, that there are no devils here. They are less dramatic, hide under a variety of diagnoses and for the most part suffer little priestly opposition. For my money the office of diocesan exorcist needs to be abolished, or rather multiplied to the entire presbyterate, and soon.

  59. Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus says:

    I perform 2-3 exorcisms a day for my diocese. Not only must I use the Rite in Latin I also interrogate the devil in Latin (and other languages: German, Italian, Spanish) since knowledge of languages one hasn’t studied is one of the preternatural signs (along with knowledge of secrets, aversion to the sacred, and superhuman strength).

    Of course, there are others, but those are the classic signs of preternatural presence.

    I use these languages as a diagnostic tool – but I use Latin to make the demon suffer (maybe it’s my pronunciation….).

    A very close friend who is also an exorcist knows no Latin but must use it for the Rite. It drives demons nuts to no end that he doesn’t even know what he’s saying but it’s nonetheless effective.

    I’ve often told him his Latin is so bad it makes me want to leave, too.

  60. Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus says:

    I should add that the devil hates Latin since it’s the official language of the Church and, therefore, has a sacrality that other languages do not enjoy.

  61. Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus says:

    Because Latin is the official language of the Church.

  62. Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus says:

    Because Latin the official language of the Church. Also, our obedience in using this language is blessed. If I were to do the official Rite in English the devil would know I don’t have permission and I’d be taken to the spiritual woodshed.

  63. Imrahil says:

    If the life of a priest is supposed to mirror to the extent possible the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, there is simply an immense chasm between our theory and practice. The life of Christ during his years of ministry was one of preaching, teaching, healing and exorcising,

    Well: simplifiedly said, it isn’t. The life of a priest is supposed to fulfil faithfully his consecrating rôle (“a priest is he who consecrates”, as St. Thomas is said to say somewhere). Hence the center of a priest’s life is not that which Christ did during the quantitative majority of his active life, but that which He desired with great desire before He did it one single time: celebrate the Eucharist. And after all, that still seems to be the actual case in our priests.

    >>In the meantime, we have a number of sin industries who one would guess are generating the afflicted and possessed by the hundreds of millions. […] A very widespread exercise of exorcism should be one of the weapons in our armamentarium, should it not?

    That’s a guess. “Sin” and “being possessed” are rather distinct things. And I think that the quite clear rules of the Church, which uses exorcism after making sure it is necessary, should be followed.

    [Which probably necessitates to have some more regular exorcists in our diocese than we currently have, at least in some countries such as Germany.]

  64. Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus says:

    Correct, sin and being possessed are very different things. Mortal sin is a handing over of our soul to Satan. What is unholy can never enter heaven. Only the Blessed Trinity can enter the soul.

    The devil can enter the body (in certain circumstances). All of the possessed people I work with must be in a state of grace for us to get anywhere in this ministry.

    So, yes, there is a difference. It’s much worse to commit one mortal sin that to be possessed.

  65. Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus says:


  66. I have not seen a reply to dans0622’s question: And yet, isn’t it the case that some possessed people speak Latin without having any knowledge of it?

    Thoughts? I have heard of this occurring as well, though my memory may be off–maybe Latin backwards?

  67. Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus says:

    Yes, some do. Most understand it among other languages they have not learned.

    There’s a gamut of intellect and abilities given the radical individuation of angels – each having its own nature and, therefore, different abilities.

    The depth of the possession (depending on many contingencies: how they got in, how long they’ve been in, what person’s moral life has been like before and after the possession, etc.).

  68. DonnaM says:

    Here is a link to the St. Michael prayer in Latin that is said very slowly so one can learn the correct pronunciation:

    [Wow… not. Fail.]

  69. DonnaM says:

    Try again, the link was there while awaiting moderation because I clicked on it to make sure it took me to the right YouTube ….it is audio.

    Copy and paste:


    Hope it works because it is good.

  70. lmgilbert says:


    Regarding the vocation of the parish priest vis a vis exorcism, did not Our Lord in Matthew 10: 5-8 send out the twelve throughout Israel instructing them, ” And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.”
    It is difficult to see how our bishops as successors of the Apostles do not share in this mission. To this you might respond, “Yes, and in respect to exorcism bishops still exercise this ministry, but primarily through specially designated exorcists.”

    Right, but would not Luke 10:17-20 indicate that this ministry should overflow more abundantly into the Church, for it says, “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. ”

    These were not apostles, still less priests, yet nevertheless the Lord gave them the power to exorcise. This would seem to indicate a fortiori that at least the presbyterate and probably the diaconate too ought to be trained, empowered and encouraged to exercise this ministry far more abundantly.

    As you say Imrahil, ““Sin” and “being possessed” are rather distinct things. Nevertheless that people are massively being led into deep sin would suggest that demonic possession, oppression, affliction are likely proportionally much more prevalent and more requisite of countervailing ministry.

    That a priest is primarily he who consecrates, which may perhaps claim an hour of his weekday, hardly derogates from the possibilities the Lord’s example offers for the rest of his day. Or, if it and other duties do preclude a ministry of exorcism, there are deacons. And are not laymen at Confirmation given access to the “gratiae gratis dei”? Of course, present Church thinking, discipline and procedures may forbid explorations in this direction, but if we are not going to be totally swamped there is surely good reason for the Church to reconsider many aspects of her restraint in this area.

  71. Imrahil says:

    Dear lmgilbert,

    “Yes, and in respect to exorcism bishops still exercise this ministry, but primarily through specially designated exorcists.”

    Good that you ante-quoted me, so I don’t have to say it in the first place. I quite agree with myself.

    Note that the successors of the apostles are precisely the bishops; and, again, the “times they are a-changing”, by which I mean: since Pentecost, the Church is in the world which is, in essense, the Kingdom of Heaven (sort of). Hence the time is different now from the years Christ went about preaching, when he was announcing this very Kingdom. (A preacher in a sermon I once attended made the, i.m.h.o., quite correct and precise remark that now, it’s properly speaking not “the Kingdom of the Lord is near”, but “the Kingdom of the Lord is here”.) Also, we may need the miracle for the sake of the Christian possessed; but not as a proof that Christ’s name powerful and that He has delegated to his ministers powers to exorcise effectively. That we know.

    Besides, even with the neglect of some bishops to exercise this important ministry, I’m rather sure that we have more than 12+72=84 exorcists right now in the world.

    That a priest is primarily he who consecrates, which may perhaps claim an hour of his weekday, hardly derogates from the possibilities the Lord’s example offers for the rest of his day.

    I was not talking about the Eucharist alone, but all that is connected with it (being the source and summit, etc.) or consecratory in itself, such as other sacraments, Divine Office, preparation of the Sunday Mass, prayer (prayer is about consecrating life…). Besides, the timetable of a priest is demanded by the Church according to her needs, and by the priest himself; there is no commandment to “model it according to the example of our Lord’s active life” (or for that matter, there isn’t anyone to model it on our Lord’s private life as a carpenter at Nazareth, either). We have some orders which do that, because they choose so, and maybe because they think (perhaps rightly) that such a model should not be lacking in the Church: but our Lord never said that all priests have to do just that.

    As for deacons, I think it was a wise action of the Church to restrict this somewhat terrible office to those best equipped personally, that is to priests, and some from among the more pious from them, at that.

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