Homily for Latin Mass


John 14:23-26: Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. (gospel for Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit)

The earth has her many cultures, her many languages. To my mind, it does not make sense to speak of “culture” as something abstract, as if anyone could understand the idea of “culture” without having a commitment to one form of culture in particular. “Catholic culture” is not some abstract thing. Catholic culture is the way we try to live our lives, striving to obey God. And of course a Catholic culture is a “Culture of Life,” a culture that embraces the gift of life for what it is: something sacred, to be venerated with religious devotion.

We have our languages. No matter what vernacular language I try to say Mass in, there will always be plenty of people who don’t understand what I am saying. So having Mass in Latin is the “great equalizer:” no one understands.

The important thing is that we believe in Christ, in His promise to send the Holy Spirit. The idea that people who don’t speak the same language very well could actually make up a living spiritual family, working together, praying together, loving each other—that would be hopeless, if it weren’t for one thing: Jesus Christ, His Holy Spirit, His living Church.

People say that the international language is the language of love. That’s perfectly true, provided that what we mean by ‘love’ is: The Mass.

When people use the word ‘culture,’ my eyes generally glaze over immediately. Instead of talking about it, let’s just build our lives around the Mass.

Anyone who centers his or her life around the Mass really shares the same fundamental culture, the culture that we have all received as an inheritance. That is, being Catholic. Different vernacular languages are secondary; socializing is secondary. Praying comes first; praying truly unites. We have that in common. Hoc est enim corpus meum.

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