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.....
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Latin For A Whole New Generation
THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: So I took my four-year-old son to a weekday Latin mass a couple weeks ago. It was the first time he had ever gone to one. I chose the weekday mass because it was shorter - no homily - which might be more tolerable for a rambunctious young child. It worked out quite well.
So while I am struggling though my Latin-English Missal, trying to stay on top of the responses, my four-year-old boy kneels quietly next to me intently studying the whole spectacle. About ten minutes into the mass he leans over to me and whispers in my ear; "Daddy, are they talking in a secret language?" I loved his analysis because to a four-year-old a "secret" is something really special. Little boys love to have "secrets." So I replied quietly; "Yes son, that is the secret language. You know, the kind spoken by priests, alter servers and of course knights!" seeking to excite his imagination a little. Immediately his eyes lit up and he gave me a grin. About five minutes later he leaned over and whispered again; "Daddy, I want to learn the secret language?" I then assured him we would learn it together. He gave me another grin. As I continued to fumble through my Latin-English Missal, struggling to pronounce the words correctly and say them on time, I began to hear a little voice coming from right next to me, pronouncing strongly and perfectly "Et Cum Spiritu Tuo!" in response to the priest's "Dominus Vobiscum." I looked down in amazement, and my four-year-old son looked up at me with another grin. I couldn't believe it. Throughout the rest of the mass, I continued to fumble through the missal, while my four-year-old boy matched, and then surpassed, my Latin skills in the course of just 30 minutes. At first I thought he was a genius, and don't get me wrong because he is very smart, but then I realized that at this age a child's mind is like a sponge - especially when it comes to language. This is true with most children. What we adults must "try" to learn, children pick up naturally with ease. There are no mental constraints yet. Their brains are like a blank page, ready to absorb any and all new information, while our adult brains are cluttered with years of notes and scribble.
After mass my boy asked me what the "secret words" mean. When I told him he was even more excited. "Daddy, can I learn the secret language - please? I want to know more!" We've been learning it together ever since. He eagerly anticipates Latin mass every week now, and he says he wants to be an alter boy. I've been taking my son to the ordinary vernacular mass every week since he was an infant, but I've never seen this kind of excitement in him before.
At first I thought I would have to wait until he was at least six before I started him on simple Latin. I've since learned that I was wrong. He's only four and he already knows as much as I do. I only wish I could teach him faster. Lord knows he could easily handle it. Believe it or not, we'll be starting him in preschool this fall.
The moral to this story is that we shouldn't cut our kids short. We should never underestimate their mental capabilities. Just because they're children, doesn't mean they can't master subjects you might find difficult yourself. When it comes to the renewal of the Catholic Church, the Latin language plays a big role. We are already seeing a huge resurgence in the extraordinary-form Latin mass all over the world since the pope's motu proprio liberalizing it's use a year ago. In the years ahead, we may see the reintroduction of Latin to the ordinary vernacular mass as well - particularly in such places as the Eucharistic prayers, the Agnus Dei and the Sanctus. Pope Benedict XVI has stated that he would like to see Latin revived among the youth, so that they might have a common prayer language during World Youth Day.
Maybe it's time for you to consider taking up a new hobby with your kids. You could learn Latin together as a family. It's not hard, children usually pick it up faster than adults, and it enhances the Catholic character of your household. The image on the right is the packet my son and I are using. It's the beginner module for Christian Latin, and it's pretty easy to learn. You can get more Latin learning tools at The Knight's Armory HERE.