More and more Catholics are longing for Latin, the language of scholars, Gregorian chant and the Mass.
Some say it's all part of the general trend back to the classics of Western civilization. All the Rev. Franklyn McAfee knows is that when he announced earlier this month he was starting up free Latin classes on Saturday mornings at St. John the Beloved Catholic Church in McLean, more than 70 parishioners packed the first session.
One parishioner, former federal Judge Robert Bork, a recent convert to Catholicism, got there early to ensure himself a seat in front of Marion Smedberg, a Latin instructor from Reston.
The others, fingering Latin binders with one hand and clutching coffee or a doughnut in the other, crammed their way into a small classroom to learn "Et cum spiritu tuo" ("And with your spirit") as a response to "Dominus vobiscum" ("The Lord be with you").
By the second Saturday, the class had moved to the parish hall for the more than 80 people who wanted to learn the ancient language. Their assignment: learn the basic prayers by March 1, the beginning of Lent. Starting March 5, the church's popular 10:45 a.m. Sunday Mass will be in Latin.
"I want to sell it," says Father McAfee, pastor of St. John's. "I want them to love it as [Pope Benedict XVI] has said they should because it's their tradition, their roots."
Fans of the rite, who include film star Mel Gibson, say the Latin Mass lifts the human spirit, evokes a sense of eternity and draws worshippers' attention to Christ...
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