Whassup with the Latin Mass?
With the reaffirmation of the Tridentine Mass (that is, the way Mass was celebrated from the Council of Trent all the way up to 1963), there's a lot of interest in celebrating mass in Latin. In fact, when I was in the Seminary, I remember people wanting to have in Mass in Latin just for kicks. Some of the more conservative variety seminarians practiced pretend Latin masses in their free time. I know what you're thinking - get a life. Guys like that made me, the President of the Star Wars fan club, the coolest guy in the Seminary, and for that I give them my thanks.
But I can see the rationale behind it though - wanting to celebrate mass in Latin, that is. Worshipping in an ancient language gives one a sense of the mystical, a connection to a transcendent reality that is above and beyond history. There's something cool about worshipping in the same way that they have for hundreds, or even THOUSANDS of years. It connects us to something bigger than we are. By the way, that's why I tend to celebrate Mass using Eucharistic Prayer number 2 almost all the time: not because its the shortest, its because it's the oldest, going back to Hippolytus of Rome in 215 AD.
The Latin mass also provides us with universality in worship; we are connected with Catholics throughout the world, celebrating the same liturgy everywhere. An awesome prospect. It'd be nice to be able to go to France, Germany, Nigeria, Japan, wherever, and worship in the same liturgy we have here.
But it seems to me that Latin is an odd choice of ancient languages. True, Latin has been used in the church since Christianity’s earliest centuries, but it’s not the FIRST language Christians worshipped in. Those would be Greek or Aramaic, not Latin.
It seems to me that a much better choice for an ancient universal language to worship in would be Hebrew. After all, Hebrew is even older than Latin; our faith ancestors worshiped in Hebrew long before they did in Latin; the Old Testament was in Hebrew; God appeared to Moses, revealing his sacred name, in Hebrew; when Jesus prayed to his own Father, he prayed in Hebrew. He certainly didn’t do it in Latin.
So I think that if we should stray from use of the vernacular language, if anything, we should be using Hebrew, not Latin.
And I would suspect that anyone insistent on using Latin, in light of the above argument, is likely more motivated by nostalgia than by sound theology.