Latin is well adapted for the services of the Catholic Church, because it is both venerable and mysterious. The apostle Paul described this by saying, “…he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries” (1 Cor 14.2).
Latin creates a sense of sacred space and time to help focus on the sense of God’s otherness to us. The use of a distinguished language for prayer and worship instills the sense of awe and reverence that reminds us that we are worshipping and imploring the help of the Almighty God.
Why Pray in Latin?
Popes throughout history unwaveringly embrace and defend the Latin language. However, the Second Vatican Council allowed the use of vernacular languages at mass, and it was quickly abandoned by local churches, and pontifical universities in Rome, stopped teaching in Latin in 1967. Nevertheless, just two months after his elevation to the papacy, Benedict XVI declared that all Catholics should learn and recite the most common Catholic prayers in Latin. But why would the pope, Christ’s representative on earth, urge every Catholic person to pray regularly in Latin? And how does praying in Latin benefit you?
Latin is a Source of Unity
When you pray in Latin, you are praying in union with the rest of the Church in the same universal language the Roman Church has prayed for practically her entire existence. When praying in Latin, you are praying in the same exact words in the same exact language that countless saints, monks, and oblates have prayed throughout the ages and are being united with them through entering into that tradition they handed down and preserved faithfully throughout the centuries.
The use of the Latin language affords at once an imposing sign of unity and an effective safeguard against the corruption of true doctrine.” Pope Pius XII (Mediator Dei). The Latin language unifies all under one tongue thereby countering the havoc from the tower of Babel, and in a practical way it continues the gift of Pentecost by enabling people from all nations to understand the same message universally.
The Latin language was consecrated at the Passion by its mystic inscription on the Cross,
and was sanctified by the usage of nearly 2000 years, and it was thereby most closely interwoven with the primitive Roman Catholic liturgy (Gihr). (As to the other languages inscribed on the Cross: Greek is still employed in worship in certain Eastern Catholic Churches and is still retained in Western Church in the Kyrie; and Hebrew was the language of worship for God’s people prior to Christ.)
The Devil Hates Latin
Interestingly, there have been numerous reports from exorcists that Latin prayers are more effective in driving away the demonic. The Vatican’s chief exorcist, Fr Gabriel Amorth, who has performed well over 700,000 exorcisms, has repeatedly testified to this reality. Bishop Gemma, “one of the Roman Catholic Church’s leading experts on exorcism,” has said, “demons have a horror of [the Latin] language.”
Praying in Latin can help facilitate increased focus on the mysteries of the rosary as well as deepen meditation
In Latin, it’s Impossible to Doublespeak
“Latin is a precise, essential language. It will be abandoned, not because it is unsuitable for the new requirements of progress, but because the new men will not be suitable for it. When the age of demagogues and charlatans begins, a language like Latin will no longer be useful, and any oaf will be able to give a speech in public and talk in such a way that he will not be kicked off the stage. The secret to this will consist in the fact that, by making use of words that are general, elusive, and sound good, he will be able to speak for an hour without saying anything. With Latin, this is impossible.” Giovanni Guareschi (1908 – 1968), an Italian journalist.
To avoid Catacombs
“The day the Church abandons her universal tongue [Latin] is the day before she returns to the catacombs. ” ~ Pope Pius XII (a few days before his death).