The Latin, or Tridentine Mass was standard in the Roman Catholic Church for centuries, and grew out of the use of Latin in Rome as the vernacular. Before very long after the conversion of Emperor Constantine in 312, it had become more or less standardized in much of Western Europe.

The Mass was changed by the Second Vatican Council some 45 years ago, leaving many angry traditionalists in its wake. It is not hard to find many so-called conservative Catholics who find the trends in the Roman Church since Vatican II to be, pick your adjective, bad, ugly, and, worst of all, not traditional.

From my personal experience, the Latin Mass is a beautiful thing, and hymns sung in Latin, especially Christmas hymns, so much more inspiring. But, here’s my sticking point: if the Roman (or any other Christian) Church truly wished to take tradition back to our Savior, all liturgies would be conducted in His language: Aramaic.

Alternately, if traditionalists wished to conduct services in the language of the Apostles, would they not be in Greek?

The point? Tradition is a good thing, and, in the case of the Tridentine Mass, can result in a truly awe-inspiring experience of the risen Lord. But let’s not get wrapped up in our own linens, and lose sight of the essential purpose of the Mass: to join in the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

I’ve got it on good authority that He understands Latin, English, or any other language used to celebrate Him.

Merry Christmas, or, if you must, felix Dies Nativitatis.


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