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Preserve some Latin words but offer Mass in vernacular Print
Letters to the editor
Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010 -- 1:00 AM

To the editor:

On Kenneth J. Wolfe’s article, “Latin Mass appeal” (Catholic Herald, February 11, 2010), I would like to make two comments.

When the language of the Mass was changed from Hebrew/Aramaic to Greek to suit the Greek worshipers, two Hebrew words were preserved: Amen and Alleluja. When later the Greek language yielded to Latin in Western Europe, three Greek words were preserved: Kyrie, Christe, eleison.

Now I and many Catholic worshipers think the time has come for the Latin language to yield to the many modern languages. To be just as smart and grateful to Latin as our ancestors in faith were smart and grateful to Hebrew and Greek, let’s preserve a few Latin words in the celebration of the Mass in modern languages.

There are several choices. My personal favorite is: Verbum Domini (said at the end of each of the three readings) and Deo gratias (replied by the people after each reading).

So we would end up with two Hebrew words, three Greek words, and four Latin words in the Mass — enough to show respect, veneration, and gratitude to our forefathers and foremothers in faith. And let Latin, like many other languages, pass away in peace . . .

The other comment will be very brief. Jesus said, “Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20 New International Version). The Greek words for “with them” are en miso (i) auton, which literally means “in the midst of them” or “among them.”

If we are aware of this stupendous reality, does it really matter whether the celebrant and the assembly face east or west or south or north and whether the celebrant faces the assembly or turns his back to it? The Pharisees of old used to fuss and fight about such minor matters and Jesus “blasted” them. Let’s not “irritate” Jesus today . . .

Frank J. Gilardi, Ph.D. in Greek and Latin, Madison