You may have noticed that as we continue in the Season of Lent that we are using more Latin in the liturgy. Specifically, we are singing the “Holy Holy Holy” and the “Lamb of God” in Latin. I think that this fits with Lent very well since it is something that encourages us to concentrate a little harder, shakes us out of our complacency and reminds us of the universality of the Church. Still, I can understand why some people might have an initial dislike of the Latin and I would like to try to answer some of those concerns here.
Why do we have Latin in the liturgy?
Latin is the language of our Church and the language that the liturgy was originally written in. When we use Latin, it reminds us that we are entering into sacred time with God. We are used to the world being tailored to our convenience and what we want. But, when we enter into prayer, that time belongs to God. So, it is fitting that we use a language that helps us to step outside our normal lives and focus on the mystery on the altar. Furthermore, much great music was written in Latin that we should all enjoy.
Isn’t using Latin against Vatican II?
There is no part of Vatican II that discourages the use of Latin in the liturgy. In fact, the Sacred Constitution on the Liturgy states, “the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” and “steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.” The parts of the Mass we sing are the ordinary because they do not change between Masses and reciting them in Latin is exactly what the council calls for.
Does this mean that we are going back in time when the whole Mass is in Latin?
While I absolutely love the Traditional Latin Mass and all the many treasures it gives to the Church, there are no plans to change any Mass in the vernacular into a Mass in Latin. Even with the Ordinary parts of the Mass in Latin, the great majority of the Mass is still in English.
Where can we find the words of what we are singing?
They can be found in the Pew Missal on pages 26 (Sanctus) and 27 (Agnus Dei).