Let me speak a little more on the Traditional Latin Mass, perhaps the greatest patrimony of Christian Europe. First, why Latin? Naturally folks wonder why anyone would pray in a “dead” language. In fact most world religions use a “prayer language.” If I may quote Wikipedia on the matter: “A sacred language, ‘holy language,’ or liturgical language is any language that is cultivated and used primarily in religious service or for other religious reasons by people who speak another, primary language in their daily life.” Thus Jewish people pray in ancient Hebrew; Muslim people pray in Classic Arabic; the Orthodox pray in Slavonic, Hindus pray in Sanskrit, and … Catholics pray in Latin.
But why? Because prayer is not merely a casual conversation. It is addressed to Almighty God, and a sacred language indicates that we are communicating with the Sacred. Latin is a kind of “linguistic veil” in the Sacred Liturgy that points to a mystery, a knowledge beyond the literal. Most people think that Vatican II did away with Latin, but the opposite is true. The Council encouraged a greater use of the modern languages but also that the people pray the essential parts of the Mass in Latin. People resist Latin in the Mass because they think we need to know the literal meaning of the words, but you don’t need to know the meaning of every word in the Mass. Prayer is meant to be mysterious, a communication with an infinite, and infinitely mysterious, God. He is always greater than we can understand or imagine. Latin helps us remember that we don’t know everything, even in English. For example, who understands the literal meaning of “this is my body,” or “love your enemies”? There’s always more to know, and the use of a sacred language keeps us in wonder.