Thanks to my parents taking us as children to Mexico to build schools for the poor, we were exposed to another language than English.
At that point of my life when I was trying to learn a little Spanish, a Portuguese priest friend of the family, (Father John Garcia, who worked with the Mission Band in Spanish in the San Francisco Diocese), would teach us a few Spanish phrases. I remember telling him that the Mexicans spoke backwards. What I meant was that they put the noun before the adjective instead of where we put the adjective first. Example: Latin Mass is in Spanish Misa Latina.
At Mora Catholic High School, my parents told me to study Latin. I did so for the first 2 years. Then when I was 16, our parents took us to Europe. I was again amazed at how many people there could speak English, Spanish, Italian and German.
We lived I year in Malta. In the Christian Brother School there, we had to study several languages. The friends we met in England and Italy were studying Latin and Greek. At this point, I learned Italian on a trip from Rome to the Italian Alps with Italian friends who could only speak Italian. With the little Spanish I knew, I was able to learn Italian. I was excited about learning Italian so I could speak Italian with my Grandparents who were from Abruzzo Italy.
I studied University in Ottawa Ontario Canada. There I learned French from the neighbors, which came in handy when skiing in Quebec. It was just interesting and helpful to communicate with other people who did not know English.
Later, when my brother went to Medical School in Rome (in Italian), (He also had studied Russian in College.), I would often visit him and travel around Europe. I was so glad to be able to speak with the common people in their own Language. It also helped to order food.
What I am getting at is that the more languages you can learn and speak the better. And this again applies to LATIN. We American are very small minded. We often expect everyone to know and speak to us in English. Thanks to the Catholic Lay missionary work with the poor my parents did, they exposed us to other languages and cultures. The world is much bigger than my little world, believe it or not.
The Catholic Church is everywhere in the world, believe it or not. That is what Catholic means: universal, present everywhere and containing all the Christian truth for all times. How wonderful that we have all races and languages in our Church.
Here is scientific proof of this. Google any place in the world (different Cities and Countries) and see if you find a Catholic Church. Now google the same places and see if you find the Unitarians, Lutherans, Methodist, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Church of Christ, Anglicans and Baptists. These groups are present in some parts of the world, but not everywhere where the True Catholic Church is. And that is why we are called Catholics.
Learning another language is difficult. But the reward is well worth it. When I traveled, I could ask directions in French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. I tried learning Greek, but that was too hard for me with its complex conjugations.
The way I have learned different languages was by studying and speaking it with the natives. A child learns their native language by being surrounded with it, not studying it. The brain has a subconscious faculty of picking up words and their meaning, (like absorption) and remembering them without having to struggle consciously very much. When learning another language it is could to be where no one speaks you language and it forces you to learn.
All this long dissertation is to encourage all of you bishops, priests, religious and laity who are trying to learn Latin as you discover the “Mass of All Ages” and the other Latin prayers. It is all worth it.
Many times I have felt like giving up on the Latin Breviary. But having prayed it daily for the last 10 months, I am slowly learning more and more latin. I am now able to pray Latin prayers out loud, so much easier. That goes for the Latin Mass prayers too.
When I first began, I struggled quite a lot with the pronunciation, because Latin (as all you already know) has so many syllables that each one has to be pronounced. A priest friend said once; “do not forget to pronounce ALL the Latin syllables“. We want to skip over them and get on with the next word.
So please do not get discourage in your slow progress of reading, understanding and pronouncing Latin. By reading the Psalms in Latin with the English translation to the side of it, little by little your understanding of Latin improves.
At my old age of 65, I do not memorize that fast anymore. But I am amazed that I keep on learning and memorizing more and more as I pray the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Divine Office in Latin.
Offer up all the pain that you are going through to learn Latin. By going through this sacrifice, you are better able to enter into the Sacrifice of Jesus in the Holy Mass and other holy prayers.
I have read, that being bilingual, helps you not get Alzheimer’s. But really, we do it out of love for God and to be able to serve all the wonderful traditional Catholic people who appreciate so much being able to be at the Holy Latin Mass. They are also appreciative for us priests being able to bless objects with traditional Latin formulas and absolve sins in the ancient language, and give them the Extreme Unction in Latin too.
Latin is still the official and universal language of the Catholic Church, believe it or not.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.