September 30 marks the Feast of St. Jerome, a Doctor of the Church and a master of the Latin language. Jerome was a complex man that history has not devoted nearly enough attention to — I could scarcely find many videos or approachable short biographies online to post here (though please do if you find any).
While hardly ideal, the Wikipedia entry about St. Jerome is a start, and of course there is the Family of St. Jerome society right here in Florida (see here). Try to spend a little time learning about St. Jerome, a man who changed history in many ways, particularly on his feast day. And feel free to share any thoughts here or on our Facebook Page.
What most people call the “Latin Mass” seems to have a bewildering number of names and many of them are imprecise for one reason or another. Perhaps surprisingly ”Latin Mass” is the least precise of all. But another label, Tridentine, can be used by some naysayers in a way that is downright troublesome.
Among the many names for it, calling the liturgy conducted in Latin and pursuant to the 1962 Missal the “Extraordinary Form” is certainly accurate since Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum formalized the term, along with the term Ordinary Form for the form of the Mass commonly seen today. Pope Francis seems to prefer calling the Extraordinary Form the Vetus Ordo, or Old Form, which lines up nicely given that the Ordinary Form is also called the Novus Ordo, or New Form. So, regardless of any possible connotations, the benefit of the labels Extraordinary Form or Vetus Ordo for the so-called Latin Mass is that they are precise, accurate and used by popes. Many, though, prefer to call the Traditional Latin Mass/Old Form/Extraordinary Form the “Tridentine Mass,” which, historically speaking, can be both right and wrong, and which is often a springboard to an increasingly common and often deliberate fallacy.
At the very edges of the culture you sometimes hear about how tradition is coming back. You hear how the John Paul II generation is coming into the seminaries, the monasteries, the parishes. You hear about how the Traditional Latin Mass is starting to pop up where you least expect it. You hear about how certain trends in architecture, literature and art are looking back to the great methods and styles of the past.
That’s not to say that the values of the past are returning to the popular culture. Two minutes on any television channel—or a peek at the poll numbers on just about any issue—tell you that Western Civilization is not only dying, it is cold to the touch. But somehow there is a warm whisper in the air saying that the popular culture that came along and changed everything is itself subject to the winds of change.
Proclaiming no knowledge of Ecclesiastical Latin myself, I thought I would say a few words about figuring out where on the web some resources are to even begin the task, of which I do have some experience.
Latin, so far as I can tell, is all about word endings. Noun endings change (declensions) depending on how they are used in the sentence (are they the actor or the thing being acted on, etc). Words around the noun change with the noun. Verbs change (conjugations) depending on whose action is being described (mine, yours, theirs, etc). In the end, instead of looking at the word order as you might in English, you make sense of who is who, and who is doing what, in a Latin sentence by looking at the word endings.
While Latin has many words similar to those in English, and pretty much shares an alphabet, which are great benefits, it represents a different way of expressing thoughts. Because of that, it seems to require a bit of knowledge of (gasp) grammar.
There appears to be no convenient Listen To Tapes In Your Car way of learning Latin (which probably wouldn’t work even if there was). There is only what there is, which is a mix of different resources and systems, some quite old. One method probably will work best for you, and you will need to figure that out a bit on your own. With this site, we hope we have done the preliminary task of putting most of those resources in one place for you to select from and work through. If you can find (or form) a local group for this purpose, all the better. If you can find some local experts to ask questions of, better still.
If this site only serves to put the initial resources and history in one place, for me that is mission accomplished. If it can talk a bit about our particular group’s experiences, what worked for us and what didn’t, all the better. If it, through submissions to be posted here by struggling students or experienced speakers, can grow into more, then that is the best possible outcome. What it will probably never be is a giant class, teaching one method.
It is instead a place for the curious to come and survey the task ahead of them, offering information and support. It is, in short, the website I could not find.
So take a look—I hope it helps.
Welcome to Ecclesiae Latina, a website dedicated to encouraging people to study and appreciate Ecclesiastical Latin, the living language of the Roman Catholic Church. The site aims to reach broadly across the web, posting materials and news to help inform people interested in the Latin the Church has used to communicate for nearly two millenia. In researching Ecclesiastical Latin we saw many sites for localized groups, and many sites selling products, many sites already filled with Latin, but few sites with pointers, support, community-building, and discussion for people just starting on this endeavor.
We are not experts on Latin, though we hope to attract some to our forums. We are not selling anything. There are many sites for both of these tasks. LatinaEcclesiae.com’s purpose is to celebrate and encourage the use of Ecclesiastical Latin in the modern age as a part of teaching and defending the great traditions of the Church. We aim to post, and encourage you to post what works and what doesn’t, to build a community of online Church Latin learners, wherever you might be.
The Help From The Web page has some videos and links from the internet concerning Ecclesiastical Latin and its surrounding history, including information about the Family of St Jerome, the Vulgate and other resources. Check all that out here.
This is a video filmed at Incarnation Catholic Church in Tampa to introduce people to the Traditional Latin Mass (the Extraordinary Form of the Mass) in the Roman Catholic Church. It’s a well-done introduction to it if you’re curious. See also the information site on the Traditional Mass on the Incarnation site as well as a listing for Florida ones here, if you’re curious enough to actually check it out.