Pastor’s Letter, May 14

Brothers and Sisters,

One of the components of culture is language and literature. Our Catholic faith has produced the greatest literature in the world and the liturgy reflects this great heritage.

We may not read sections of the great novels of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy or Tolkien at Mass. We may not read the poetry of Dante or Shakespeare, but we do hear the great sagas and stories of Sacred Scripture. We hear the parables and preaching of Jesus in the gospel. These stories are the foundation of Western culture, and if we attend Mass regularly and pay attention to the readings we will be immersed in these great writings.

While we do not read modern or medieval poetry, we do hear the great poetry of the psalms and the Old Testament prophets. Poetry is also evident in the great classic hymns we sing and in the lyrics of the sacred music the choir sings.

Often the poetry is sung in Latin and we need to follow the translations in the worship aid.

Some have asked why we use Latin and Greek (in the Kyrie) in our worship. Why worship in a language no one understands? Isn’t that a hindrance to worship rather than an aid? 

Getting our brains (and tongues) around the Latin and Greek may require some effort, but it is worth it. What’s the point? There are four benefits to using Latin. First, it is the traditional language of the Church. When we open our minds and hearts to Latin we submit ourselves more deeply into the traditional mind of the church. Secondly, the use of Latin connects us with the worship of the ages. As Latin transcends different times and cultures, it lifts us beyond the circumstances and vagaries of our time. Thirdly, when we speak or sing a different language we transcend our own linguistic limitations. We experience the world and the worship at a different level. Finally, even if we don’t understand it word for word, we “get” what we are saying and singing, and we are entering into the meaning of the language in a deeper way.

While we have introduced some extra elements of Latin at the 10:30 Mass, those who are uncomfortable with Latin should be assured that there are no plans to expand the use of Latin to the other Masses, nor are there any plans to offer the Mass completely in Latin.

Father Chris Smith at Prince of Peace is very devoted to the Traditional Latin Mass and the Catholics who, for varied reasons, are committed to that form of worship are well provided for at Prince of Peace.

Your Pastor,

Fr. Longenecker