It's official. The Catholic Knight is retired.  I'm hanging up the helmet and passing the torch. There will be no more articles, no more commentaries, no more calls to action. THIS BLOG IS CLOSED. I've spent a very long time thinking about this, I believe the time has come, and is a bit overdue.  I want to thank my readers for everything, but most especially for your encouragement and your willingness to go out there and fight the good fight. So, that being the case, I've spend the last several weeks looking for bloggers who are fairly active, and best represent something akin to the way I think and what I believe.  I recommend the following blogs for my readers to bookmark and check on regularly. Pick one as your favourite, or pick them all. They are all great..... In His Majesty's Service, THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

If Hebrew Can Be Revived - So Can Latin

(New Liturgical Movement) - Can Gregorian chant be reestablished as the primary and living musical language of Roman Rite Catholics around the world?...

...Let us compare that experience with another restoration attempt that began in earnest around the same time as that of the Solesmes monastery: the movement to restore Hebrew as the living language of the Jewish people. The analogy is not exact, of course, but comparing the two attempts can reveal just how much more a daunting task Jews faced in this undertaking than Catholics did in theirs. What the Hebrew movement sought was not merely the use of an ancient language in worship or song but the re-institution of a vernacular language itself....

....The first public and prominent call for the restoration of Hebrew came in 1879 with Elizier Ben-Yehuda’s article called “A Burning Question.” He did more than merely advocate. He was a great teacher who wrote the monumental Dictionary and Thesaurus of the Hebrew Language. His method was to combined medieval and ancient sources, drawing on both rabbinic and poetic Hebrew traditions, to forget a composite vernacular that would standardize language. New words were created out of Arabic words that had some semantic relationship to Hebrew. Many words stayed in the language but many were not used and fell out of favor.

Jews who already lived in Palestine had become speakers of the language, first in small family units that found others who would join them in speaking Hebrew in their own homes. The language moved into civic discourse in small cells, academic institutions, and finally in public life. There are informal reports of how the most passionate among them would find someone speaking some other language and say to them: “Jew, speak Hebrew.” And this was compelling in part because of the obvious need for an international language of Judaism in an area with a constant influx of immigrants from central and Eastern Europe. These people were inclined to continue to speak their own native language. But a unified tongue is a critical element of a unified people with a mission, in this case, the settlement of the Palestine under the Zionist idea. Other motivations for changing to Hebrew were the desire to renew Jewish culture and recapture grandeur that they had once experienced as a people in the very place they now lived.

In 1922, Hebrew was accepted as one of the official languages in Palestine. When the state of Israel came into being in 1948, there was no question that Hebrew would be its official language. It became the native tongue of anyone born and raised Jewish in this country, and remains so today. It can and did happen, and in an astonishingly short period of time: some 40 years from proposition to fulfillment of proximate goals and some 60 years until its complete realization....

...It was an effort very much like that of the Solesmes effort combined with the work of Pius X. Indeed, the chant tradition was not nearly as unused in the 1870s in the Catholic world as Hebrew was in the Jewish world. The Catholic was more modest in the sense that it did not seek to make Latin a living vernacular but merely a liturgical foundation for music at liturgy. It was and is eminently achievable. Progress was being made by mid century. Why it did not finally come to be realized in the same way is the subject of another post perhaps, but there is absolutely no reason to believe that it is a hopeless cause. We can take inspiration for the extraordinary triumph of Hebrew in our own times. What the cause needs more than anything else are passionate leaders at all levels of the Church who are willing to make great sacrifices to make this dream a reality.

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THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: So the burning question of our time is this. What are we going to do to bring back Latin?

The pope has commented about wanting to see Latin restored among young Catholics, so that they would all be able to communicate in a common language at World Youth Day. Indeed, Traditional Catholics have been wanting to see it restored in liturgy for decades. The Vatican has made it very clear that Latin is still the official language of the Church, and it is supposed to hold a high place in all liturgical celebrations, even those given in the vernacular.

We know what the clergy is supposed to do. Traditional Catholics will find great comfort in the rebirth of the extraordinary-form (Tridentine) liturgy of the mass. Priests who celebrate the ordinary-form (Novus Ordo) liturgy, are supposed to reintroduce small elements of Latin throughout the celebration, so as to remind Catholics of their Latin heritage. But what are we the laity supposed to do?

In short, the Church places no requirements on us to learn Latin. So there is no pressure. However, maybe it's time we lay people start taking matters into our own hands. Maybe it's time we take the initiative.

My children will be attending a school in which Latin is automatically taught as a second language. No, it's not a Catholic school. It's an Evangelical Protestant school of all things. By the time my kids graduate from high school, they'll no more Latin than the kids in the Catholic school literally just down the street. Go figure!

Maybe it's time we Catholic parents suggest our children all learn a "secret language." Just about every kid loves that - to be able to communicate with some friends while the rest of the world has literally no idea what they're talking about. But in order to learn the "secret language" (Latin), the parents are going to have to jump on board too. They're going to have to learn it themselves. Maybe we should have "Latin days" in which all members of the household only communicate in Latin.

Then of course there is always social interaction with other people who know Latin.  Suppose another Catholic family in town is doing the same thing.  We could arrange Latin parties, where only Latin is spoken in a sociable setting.  Of course there is always the Internet too, and this is where it gets interesting.  Suppose Latin-only forums and chat-rooms were set up, for people all over the world to communicate with each other in a common language.  

Finally, once these Latin networks are built over the Internet, the next logical progression is Latin tourism.  Latin-speakers could set themselves up on tourism exchanges.  Wherein you host a Latin-speaking tourist in your home for couple days, before he/she moves on to the next stop on the tour.  Likewise, you could do the same thing, in places like Europe and the Holy Land.  This sort of thing is already being done by those who speak the artificial language called "Esperanto," and esperantists (as they're called) enjoy a rich international network of friends and vacations spots.  This helps them save money, as that is the point of these tours.  They stay in people's homes for a night, or two at the most, at no cost.  People are treated as guests, and are given meals with the family.  This of course allows tourists to taste the real cuisine of the real people who live in these countries.  The locals know how to get to things quicker, and how to save money.  They share this experience with the tourist.  There is no reason why Latin-speaking Catholics couldn't do the exact same thing, with our tourism being based on religious pilgrimages.  

Just think of it.  You could meet up with a Latin-speaking family in Mexico.  They don't speak much English, and you don't speak much Spanish, but you both know Latin.  You could stay with them and journey together to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Or you could do the same with Lourdes or Fatima.  Then of course there is always the Vatican and the Holy Land.  The possibilities are endless, if only we seize the opportunity to revive this language in our own lives.  

So you're probably wondering where I'm going with this blog entry. Well, I'll tell you. I already use Latin almost every day. I work in medicine. If you've ever been in a courthouse, you heard Latin phrases tossed around like second nature. We see it every day. It's printed on our money. It's the language of law. It's the language of government. It's the language of medicine, and it's the language of other sciences. In other words, if you want to be successful in life, you're going to have to get to know some Latin.  We all want our children to be successful in life.  So wouldn't it be nice if your kids already spoke it - just for fun?