Latin. @RobertSRoyal opines while Fr. Z rants. | Fr. Z’s Blog

Posted on 18 December 2017 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

You all know that I tend to bang on about Latin in our sacred liturgical worship.

Most of us belong to the Roman Catholic, Latin Church. The Latin Church.

Never using or hearing our language of prayer and teaching affects (defects) our identity as Catholics.

“But Father! But Father!”, some of you libs are snorkeling, “You’re just trying to perpetuate the oppression of the marginalized through your outmoded patriarchal tools of… of… oppression! It’s because of people like YOU that we have to put our guitars and tambourines down and sing the … the… that’s it … the Kyrie in Latin! Why? Because YOU HATE VATICAN II!”

You mean the Vatican II that required that our worship remain in Latin? That priests had to say their Office in Latin? That pastors had to teach people how to respond speaking and singing in Latin? THAT Vatican II?

Today at the increasingly valuable The Catholic Thing, Robert Royal has a piece which concerns the recent fluctus in simpulo about the translation of the Lord’s Prayer. In this insight piece he writes:


My far greater concern these days, however, is how much the English translations of prayers are sliding into what might be called a kind of emotional blur. [This is the age of sentimentality.] It happens at Mass. But I see it especially in Morning and Evening Prayer. You might not notice if you recite the Liturgy of the Hours in English. (I may be wrong about this, but I’m told there’s still no definitive translation.) [I believe it’s in production. Who knows when it will see the light of day. But… do I care? No, I do not. Guess why.]


Most days, I read those two Hours in Latin (again, just for personal reasons). But I’ll use the English when I’m pressed for time. The Universalis app is a convenient way to consult them both.


Going back and forth often brings you up short, because the Latin tends to speak concretely about sin, redemption, and mercy in a strikingly vertical way, much needed, in my view, at a time when much of our lives – even our religious worship – is markedly horizontal.


That’s very evident, especially in Advent. If any time of year reminds us that God “comes down,” metaphorically speaking, to become one of us while remaining the eternal second person of the Trinity, it’s now.


This blog began as my place to archive the articles on the translations of prayers for Holy Mass. Looking at the Latin and then seeing the poor excuse for the English that was foisted on the Church for so long, drove me to write the column “What Does The Prayer Really Say?” for many years at The Wanderer (bless them – give a gift subscription for Christmas). As the weeks and months and years of the column piled on, we saw the systematic removal of concepts not just from the horrific English ICEL versions of the Novus Ordo prayers, but from the Latin even before the loons got their paws on the originals.

Change the way we pray and, over time, what we believe will change. Lex orandi – Lex credendi. It is inevitable.

After decades of dreck, no wonder we are in the diminished, enervated state we’re in.

And.. NO… hearing an Agnus Dei sung at Mass every other month doesn’t cut it. Or, even better, having the Kyrie “in Latin” doesn’t do it either. That one never gets old.

Thank be to God we now also have Summorum Pontificum in force to act as both a rudder and a sea anchor in these stormy identity waters into which our barque has been purposely led by the steersmen.

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