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  1. CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Church Latin › cathen › 09019a
    • Characteristics
    • Origins
    • Elements from African Sources
    • St. Jerome's Contribution
    • Development in The Liturgy
    • Development in Theology
    • Present Position

    Ecclesiastical differs from classical Latin especially by the introduction of new idioms and new words. (In syntax and literary method, Christian writers are not different from other contemporary writers.) These characteristic differences are due to the origin and purpose of ecclesiastical Latin. Originally the Roman people spoke the old tongue of Latium known as prisca latinitas. In the third century B.C. Ennius and a few other writers trained in the school of the Greeks undertook to enrich the language with Greek embellishments. This attempt was encouraged by the cultured classes in Rome, and it was to these classes that henceforth the poets, orators, historians, and literary coteries of Rome addressed themselves. Under the combined influence of this political and intellectual aristocracy was developed that classical Latin which has been preserved for us in greatest purity in the works of Caesar and of Cicero. The mass of the Roman populace in their native ruggedness remained aloo...

    Classical Latin did not long remain at the high level to which Cicero had raised it. The aristocracy, who alone spoke it, were decimated by proscription and civil war, and the families who rose in turn to social position were mainly of plebeian or foreign extraction, and in any case unaccustomed to the delicacy of the literary language. Thus the decadence of classical Latin began with the age of Augustus, and went on more rapidly as that age receded. As it forgot the classical distinction between the language of prose and that of poetry, literary Latin, spoken or written, began to borrow more and more freely from the popular speech. Now it was at this very time that the Church found herself called on to construct a Latin of her own and this in itself was one reason why her Latin should differ from the classical. There were two other reasons however: first of all the Gospel had to be spread by preaching, that is, by the spoken word moreover the heralds of the good tidings had to cons...

    But even in this respect Africa had been beforehand with Italy. As early as A.D. 180 mention is made in the Acts of the Scilltitan martyrs of a translation of the Gospels and of the Epistles of St. Paul. "In Tertullian's time", says Harnack, "there existed translations, if not of all the books of the Bible at least of the greater number of them." It is a fact. however, that none of them possessed any predominating authority, though a few were beginning to claim a certain respect. And thus we find Tertullian and St. Cyprian using those by preference, as appears from the concordance of their quotations. The interesting point in these translations made by many hands is that they form one of the principal elements of Church Latin: they make up, so to say, the popular contribution. This is to be seen in their disregard for complicated inflections, in their analytical tendencies, and in the alterations due to analogy. Pagan littérateurs, as Arnobius tells (Adv. nat., I, xlv-lix), complain...

    After the African writers no author had such influence on the upbuilding of ecclesiastical Latin as St. Jerome had. His contribution came mainly along the lines of literary Latin. From his master, Donatus, he had received a grammatical instruction that made him the most literary and learned of the Fathers, and he always retained a love for correct diction, and an attraction towards Cicero. He prized good writing so highly that he grew angry whenever he was accused of a solecism; one-half of the words he uses are taken from Cicero and it has been computed that besides employing, as occasion required, the words introduced by earlier writers, he himself is responsible for three hundred and fifty new words in the vocabulary of ecclesiastical Latin; yet of this number there are hardly nine or ten that may fitly be considered as barbarisms on the score of not conforming to the general laws of Latin derivatives. "The remainder", says Goelzer, "were created by employing ordinary suffixes an...

    Hardly had it been formed when church Latin had to undergo the shock of the invasion of the barbarians and the fall of the Empire of the West; it was a shock that gave the death-blow to literary Latin as well as to the Latin of everyday speech on which church Latin was waxing strong. Both underwent a series of changes that completely transformed them. Literary Latin became more and more debased; popular Latin evolved into the various Romance languages in the South, while in the North it gave way before the Germanic tongues. Church Latin alone lived, thanks to the religion of which it was the organ and with which its destinies were linked. True, it lost a portion of its sway; in popular preaching it gave way to the vernacular after the seventh century; but it could still claim the Liturgy and theology, and in these it served the purpose of a living language. In the liturgy ecclesiastical Latin shows its vitality by its fruitfulness. Africa is once more in the lead with St. Cyprian. B...

    Wider and more varied is the field theology opens up for ecclesiastical Latin; so wide that we must restrict ourselves to pointing out the creative resources which the Latin we speak of has given proof of since the beginning of the study of speculative theology, i.e., from the writings of the earliest Fathers down to our own day. More than elsewhere, it has here shown how capable it is of expressing the most delicate shades of theological thought, or the keenest hairsplitting of decadent Scholasticism. Need we mention what it has done in this field? The expression it has created, the meanings it has conveyed are only too well known. Whereas the major part of these expressions were legitimate, were necessary and successful — transsubstantio, forma, materia, individuum, accidens, appetitus — there are only too many that show a wordy and empty formalism, a deplorable indifference for the sobriety of expression and for the purity of the Latin tongue — aseitas, futuritio, beatificativum,...

    Henceforth correctness was to be the characteristic of ecclesiastical Latin. To the terminology consecrated for the expression of the faith of the Catholic Church it now adds as a rule that grammatical accuracy which the Renaissance gave back to us. But in our own age, thanks to a variety of causes, some of which arise from the evolution of educational programmes, the Latin of the Church has lost in quantity what it has gained in quality. Until recently, Latin had retained its place in the Liturgy, as it was seen to point out and watch over, in the very bosom of the Church, that unity of belief in all places and throughout all times which is her birthright. But in the devotional hymns that accompany the ritual the vernacular alone is used, and these hymns are gradually replacing the liturgical hymns. All the official documents of the Church, Encyclicals, Bulls, Briefs, institutions of bishops, replies from the Roman Congregations, acts of provincial councils, are written in Latin. W...

  2. The Catholic Voyager: The glory of Latin, in the Church's words › the-glory-of-latin-in-churchs

    Jul 23, 2021 · The Latin language has a nobility and dignity which are not negligible (cf. Veterum Sapientia, nn. 5, 6, 7). We can add that Latin is concise, precise and poetically measured. (Cardinal Francis Arinze, “Language in Liturgy,” 2006) The Latin language has always been held in very high esteem by the Catholic Church and by the Roman Pontiffs.

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  4. How Did the Catholic Church Get Her Name | EWTN › catholicism › teachings

    The Creed which we recite on Sundays and holy days speaks of one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. As everybody knows, however, the Church referred to in this Creed is more commonly called just the Catholic Church. It is not, by the way, properly called the Roman Catholic Church, but simply the Catholic Church.

  5. The Eastern Rite Church - Catholic Education Resource Center › en › culture

    The Eastern Rite Catholics are part of the Roman Catholic Church, not the Orthodox Church. While the majority of Roman Catholics belong to the Latin Rite, the Eastern Rites provide a special dimension to our Catholic heritage and spirituality. The Second Vatican Councils Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches emphasized, The Catholic Church ...

  6. The Other 23 Catholic Churches and Why They Exist - Ascension ... › 2019/01/21 › the-other-23

    Jan 21, 2019 · The Latin (or Roman, but we’ll continue to refer to it as “Latin” from now on) Catholic Church is the largest of these twenty-four Churches, and is the only Western Church. The other twenty-three Catholic Churches are all referred to as Eastern Churches and have their own traditions and forms of liturgy, yet retain the same basic ...

  7. The Catholic Church still cares about Latin - CNA › news › 35856

    Apr 19, 2017 · The Church’s standard version of the Bible, called the Vulgate, is also in Latin. Apart from this very practical reason, he said, through Latin we are also able to be in touch with the vast...

  8. Is the Catholic Church the mother church? | › mother-church

    Apr 26, 2021 · The Roman Catholic Church claims to have originated with Christ and the apostles and is therefore the oldest church and “mother” or head of all other churches, especially those in the Protestant tradition. Sometimes Roman Catholics refer to their church as the “Holy Mother Church” or, in Latin, “Sancta Mater Ecclesia.” In fact, Catholics pinpoint the Diocese of Rome, specifically the Basilica of the Savior or St. John Lateran, as the official “mother church.”

  9. Is Pope Francis right about traditionalists who love the ... › faith › 2017/09/13

    Sep 13, 2017 · Latin became the language of the early Church because they lived in the Roman Empire, whose language (vernacular) was Latin. I grew up on the Tridentine Mass and was in seminary when Vatican ll ...

  10. Latin Mass Supporters React With Dismay to Pope’s Severe New ... › news › latin-mass-supporters

    Jul 16, 2021 · The Holy Father insisted that the liturgical reforms promulgated after the Second Vatican Council are “the unique expression” of the Roman Catholic Church’s liturgy.

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