“The use of the Latin language, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin rites… it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority… to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used… Even in the liturgy the Church does not wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters which do not involve the faith or the good of the whole community”
(Sacred Liturgy of Vatican II, 36-37)
“Since ‘the use of the vernacular may frequently be of great advantage to the people’ ‘it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used… one will therefore employ that form of participation which best matches the capabilities of each congregation“
(Instruction on Music in the Liturgy of Vatican II, 47)
We enjoyed the beautiful Latin rendition of the “Regina Caeli” during the Easter Season and the “Ave Maria” (Latin) and “Kyrie” (Greek) remain liturgical hymns that transcend the ages. We also sang the beautiful Latin texts of St. Thomas Aquinas on Holy Thursday (and daily at our adoration) and celebrated multiple languages at that service.
“There is nothing to prevent different parts in one and the same celebration being sung in different languages”
. As we continue to reflect on 50 years since Vatican II we look at language on Pentecost Sunday and are reminded of the importance of communication in general. The Liturgy continues to adapt according to the directives of the Successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him in different places and times. Seeking the participation of the faithful and with respect to the traditions of the past, the Church retains what is essential and adapts what is not according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Who our Lord promised to send for that guidance.
“Restrictions on the use of the vernacular were progressively lifted in the face of representations by hierarchies from all over the world, until by 1971 the use of vernacular in public Masses was left entirely to the judgment of episcopal conferences, to the judgment of individual priests for private Masses …”
(approved commentary in Vatican II documents)
The Holy Spirit continues to guide us in unity and legitimate diversity with grace and hope to find a better way amidst the fears and extremes found in the world. As Pope Benedict XVI expressed on Pentecost Sunday:
“The Church is never a prisoner of political, racial or cultural boundaries. She must not be confused with other States or with federations of States because hers is a different unity; it aspires to cross all human frontiers. From this, dear brothers and sisters derives a practical criterion of discernment for Christian life: when a person or a community close themselves inside their own way of thinking and acting, it is a sign they have distanced themselves from the Holy Spirit. Christians and particular Churches must always compare themselves, and seek harmony, with the one Catholic Church.”
In Christ, son of Mary,