Latin liturgy

Latin liturgy

A Latin liturgy is a ceremony or ritual conducted in the Latin language. Generally, the term 'Latin liturgy' is used in conjunction with the Christian religion, and especially in association with a Catholic Mass, which may conducted in Latin or another language. If the Mass was conducted in Latin, it would be referred to as a Latin Mass.

The Traditional (as opposed to the Novus Ordo) Latin Mass is also referred to as the Tridentine Mass. However, the two terms are not interchangeable. The Tridentine Mass is so named because it is the form of Mass set down for the Church after the Council of Trent, a town in northern Italy, whose name in Latin is "Tridentum". The Council lasted from 1545 to 1563, with intermissions. In September of 1562 the doctrine of the Mass was determined. By decree of the Council, the actual reform of the Mass rite was left to the Pope, then Pius IV, and his successors.

The term Latin rite, or Roman Rite, is also sometimes employed to refer to one or more of the forms of the Latin liturgy. The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent Version, defines the Roman Rite as: "the manner of celebrating the Holy Sacrifice, administering Sacraments, reciting the Divine Office, and performing other ecclesiastical functions (blessings, all kinds of Sacramentals, etc.) as used in the city and Diocese of Rome. The Roman Rite is the most wide-spread in Christendom."

A liturgical form of this type generally has two components, a spoken and a musical element.

A translated segment of the Latin Mass (Novus Ordo but not the Tridentine) (the Introduction) follows:


Priest: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Congregation: Amen.

Greeting: (in Latin)

Priest: In nòmine Patris, et Fìlii,et Spìritus Sancti.

Congregation: Amen.

Priest: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Congregation: And also with you.

Priest: (in Latin) Gràtia Dòmini nostri Jesu Christi, et càritas Dei, et communicàtio Sancti Spìritussit cum òmnibus vobis.

Congregation: Et cum spiritu tuo.

Words of dissent

The language used in the liturgy has often been a source of spirited debate in the Church. Numerous books and homilies have been written to address this issue, and it is one that is still in contention for many Roman Catholic Christians. Opinions range from employing an all-Latin ritual, an all-Greek ritual, an all-local-language ritual, or even a mix of these languages.

The use of the Latin Liturgy began to see diminished use in the latter half of the twentieth century as the Church considered it more beneficial to conduct ceremonies in modern languages, so as to render the content of the liturgies more understandable by the congregations. However, many Churchgoers consider the use of Latin in the Church liturgy as having greater solemnity and inspirational qualities. The use of the Latin liturgy is currently experiencing a resurgence in many Catholic congregations, and various organizations are actively promoting this reform within the Church, such as Adoremus, Una Voce and the Latin Liturgy Association.

Many consider Latin to be the Church's traditional language of worship, and they espouse the use of this language in liturgy for various reasons. For example, they say that the consistent use of Latin in all countries, and across the centuries, can be considered a symbol of Church unity. Also, many consider Latin to be a sacral language, associated with the worship of God. The use of a sacral language is a feature of many world religions: classical Arabic in Islam, Sanskrit in Hinduism and Hebrew in Judaism. In addition, for many, the use of a sacral language lends solemnity and otherworldliness to religious proceedings; use of an original liturgical language can also be considered to overcome limitations of time and of place, linking modern-day worshippers with their earlier counterparts. Finally, the proponents of Latin liturgy say that the use of Latin further enhances the rendering of certain liturgical music of the Church, such as Gregorian chanting, which is also referred to as plain chant, or plain song.

No issues related to liturgical change have affected the Eastern Orthodox Church, which did not experience a reformation. There have been no councils to modify form and music. The Eastern Church still consistently uses the early Christian forms and includes the use of the Greek language consistently in its liturgical forms. This practice has contributed to a high level of uniformity in the liturgies offered in the Eastern Orthodox congregations.

Opinion of the pope

Regarding the parallel use of two liturgical languages in the Roman Catholic Church, the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger noted in a speech concerning the liturgy he gave in 1998 that, "the Council did ordain a reform of the liturgical books, but it did not forbid the previous books." His position is apparently to allow for both the new and the old liturgies to co-exist within the Church, with the approval of the Vatican, for he also went on to state that: "they will no longer be two opposing ways of being a Christian, but rather two riches which belong to the same Catholic faith."

He then encouraged fellow Roman Catholics to not be overly concerned or worried about the existence of the two parallel liturgies by stating that "Such anxieties and fears must cease! If in the two forms of celebration the unity of the faith and the unicity of the mystery should appear clearly, that could only be a reason to rejoice and thank the Good Lord. In the measure to which all of us believers live and act according to these motivations, we can also persuade the bishops that the presence of the old liturgy does not trouble or harm the unity of their diocese, but is rather a gift destined to build up the Body of Christ, of which we are all the servants."


Cardinal Ratzinger’s speech on the Liturgy, given in Rome on October 24, 1998.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent Version, The Roman RiteEgo Domini

External links


Cardinal Ratzinger's Speech on the Liturgy (full text):

Latin Liturgy Association:

Una Voce:

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Association for Latin Liturgy — The Association for Latin Liturgy is a British lay Catholic organisation which promotes greater use of Latin in the Mass. It was founded in 1969 by Dick Richens who was formerly a member of the Latin Mass Society. Unlike the Latin Mass Society,… …   Wikipedia

  • Liturgy of the Mass —     Liturgy of the Mass     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Liturgy of the Mass     A. Name and Definition     The Mass is the complex of prayers and ceremonies that make up the service of the Eucharist in the Latin rites. As in the case of all… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Latin Psalters — The Latin Psalters are the translations of the Book of Psalms into the Latin language. They are the premier liturgical resource used in the Liturgy of the Hours of the Latin Rites of the Roman Catholic Church. These translations are typically… …   Wikipedia

  • Latin Mass Society of England and Wales — The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales is a Roman Catholic society based in England and Wales that is dedicated to making the Traditional Latin Mass more widely available. It is affiliated to the international organisation Una Voce.The aims… …   Wikipedia

  • Latin Mass Society of Ireland — The Latin Mass Society of Ireland, founded in 1999, is a Roman Catholic society based in Ireland that is dedicated to the preservation of the traditional Tridentine Mass as one of the Church s liturgy and making it more widely available. The… …   Wikipedia

  • Latin — Infobox Language name=Latin nativename= la. Lingua Latina pronunciation=/laˈtiːna/ states=Vatican City speakers= Native: none Second Language Fluent: estimated at 5,000Fact|date=April 2007 Second Language Literate: estimated 25,000Fact|date=April …   Wikipedia

  • Liturgy of the Hours — in a monastery of Carthusian nuns. This article refers to the Liturgy of the Hours as a specific manifestation of the public prayer of the Catholic Church. For its application in other communions, see canonical hours. The Liturgy of the Hours… …   Wikipedia

  • Liturgy — • A Greek composite word meaning originally a public duty, a service to the state undertaken by a citizen Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Liturgy     Liturgy      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Latin liturgical rites — used within that area of the Catholic Church where the Latin language once dominated (the Latin or Roman Church) were for many centuries no less numerous than the liturgical rites of the Eastern autonomous particular Churches. Their number is now …   Wikipedia

  • Latin Literature in Christianity (Sixth To Twentieth Century) —     Latin Literature in Christianity (Sixth to Twentieth Century)     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Latin Literature in Christianity (Sixth to Twentieth Century)     During the Middle Ages the so called church Latin was to a great extent the language …   Catholic encyclopedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.