Tuesday, May 10, 2011

LATIN: "Cool, Dude!" Why Latin is Gaining Popularity Among Young Catholics

"YUCK!" said a young man who was looking at a magazine with liturgical ballet dancers. "GROSS! EWEY!!! That is, like, soooo dumb! Why do people go for that goofy stuff?"

I was listening into a conversation of a group of young catholics at a local University discussing the Sacred Liturgy. They, like many of their contemporaries, had found that there was a certain something, something Other (which is English for Sanctus), in celebrating the Latin Extraordinary Form of the Roman Catholic Mass. I celebrated the EF Mass as a University chaplain once a week the past two years, and the average age of those in attendance was usually 19 or 20.

Young people all over the world, including newly ordained young priests and bishops, young religious men and women, and not so young people are re-discovering the treasures of our faith. Pope Benedict XVI has personally encouraged young people to learn the prayers of the Church in Latin. Recently, with the publication of the YouCat, the Catechism for Youth, especially to prepare for World Youth Day, has an appendix with prayers in Latin. Why?

Pope Benedict XVI says: Learning their prayers "will help Christian faithful of different languages pray together, especially when they gather for special circumstances." Do you mean, Holy Father, like World Youth Day? Yes, every time the Pope has met with young people, he has asked them to pray with him in their mother tongue.

"Wait a minute, I thought that went away with Vatican II," you say? Nope. Latin still is and remains, the official language of the Church. As Pope Benedict said when the new Catechism of Vatican II was promulgated,

"Latin, for centuries the vehicle and instrument of Christian culture, guarantees not only continuity with our roots, but remains as relevant as ever for strengthening the bonds of the unity of the faith in the communion of the church."

Here in England, when Cardinal Hoyos celebrated what was the most high profile Latin Mass since 1960 hundreds if not thousands of young people flocked to enjoy the patrimony of the Catholic Church. On the occasion, the Cardinal was told by a local Catholic journalist:

"There is tremendous enthusiasm among younger Catholics for the motu proprio, that many Catholics are deeply grateful to the Holy Father for making the change and many younger Catholics regard this as an extremely exciting development."

Why do they like the usus antiquior Latin Mass? Some say its the silence, some say the holiness the right inspires, some say they like the stability in connection with the thousands of years in the past. Do you really want to know? Attend a Latin Mass in your area (US and Canada or UK) and find out.

The first Mass I ever offered was a Latin Mass (Novus Ordo) with my SOLT community in Robstown, TX . Here is the hymn to Our Lady which was sung at the end of Mass in Thanksgiving for her intercession in becoming a priest:

Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae,

vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.

ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae,

ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes

in hac lacrimarum valle.

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos

misericordes oculos ad nos converte;

et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,

nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.

O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.

P: Ora pro nobis sancta Dei Genetrix.

R: Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

Oremus. Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui gloriosae Virginis Matris Mariae corpus et animam, ut dignum Filii tui habitaculum effici mereretur, Spiritu Sancto cooperante praeparasti: da, ut cuius commemoratione laetamur; eius pia intercessione, ab instantibus malis, et a morte perpetua liberemur. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

P: Divinium Auxilium sit semper nobiscum

R: Amen


  1. I like the Latin language as well. Teach it to the young people. I made my entry in WIKIPEDIA in Latin, too.

  2. You mean you celebrate the EF Mass as well as blog?
    Come to Wales, Father Sam, we need you there :)

  3. i am currently living in hungary and i can't tell you how excited i get when responses are sung/said in Latin because then i can follow along!!! Universal language!