The Latin Mass Society offers an annual week-long residential Latin Course, and printed materials to aid independent study. Both are focused on the Latin of the Mass, the Ordinary and the Proper prayers and readings from the Vulgate Bible.
Anyone with unhappy memories of struggling with Caesar or Virgil at school can rest assured that liturgical Latin and the Latin of the Vulgate Bible are far easier to understand than the authors of the 'Golden Age' of Latin literature forced on schoolchildren. And for those regularly attending the Latin Mass, familiarity with the liturgical phrases will help enormously in understanding and remembering points of grammar and vocabulary. And while there are those who like nothing better than the convoluted sentences of the Aeneid, the Latin of the Mass has its own elegance, poetry, and a profundity unsurpassed anywhere in literature.
So who wants to learn or improve their Latin? Well, anyone who wants to dig a little deeper into the Catholic Tradition. Even a limited knowledge of Latin makes it possible to follow the liturgy, and understand some of the poetic force of the prayers of the Mass, which is never completely conveyed by a translation, and this degree of knowledge is not beyond anyone. For the more adventurous a fluency in Latin puts one on proper speaking terms with the Tradition, opening the door to its riches. Both for those who know no Latin, and for those who know some, this course is for you.
So what does this mean to you?
You don't have to be an Olympic Latinist to get the gist - knowing that 'hostia' means '(sacrificial) victim' will help (not, as ICEL translated it, 'sacrifice'); some people will recognise that from the hymns they sing at Benediction. Knowing that the '-imus' ending on a verb indicates 'we' are doing whatever it is - obviously offering something, in this case - is another clue. With a couple of school-boy memories like that you can see the beauty of the phrasing even if you can't translate every word.
This, an extract from the Roman Canon, is a wonderful piece of prose which has got to seen in the original Latin. Practically all the words have English descendents, the grammar couldn't be simpler. Isn't it just singing to you? Come on, you know you want to learn a bit more!
The first LMS Latin Course took place in 2010 alongside the Summer School organised by the St Catherine's Trust.
(The Chapel at Ardingly College, during Mass at the St Catherine's Trust Summer School and LMS Latin Course 2010.)
Students are divided by experience, into 'Beginners' and 'Intermediate/Advanced'.
The course focuses on the Latin of the Mass, with examples drawn from the liturgy.
Alongside an intensive course on the language, there are talks on Psalmody and Chant, the Missal, the spirituality of the Traditional Mass, the history of the texts, liturgical poetry, and Latin in Philosophy.
(Photo: the chapel at Ushaw College, during the Latin Mass Society Priest Training Conference there in 2010.)
Students on the course are able to attend all of the liturgy of the Summer School, which includes daily Sung Mass and Sung Compline, Benediction two or three times during the week, and daily Rosary.
(Video: the Offertory on the Feast of the Transfiguration, during the St Catherine's Trust Summer School and LMS Latin Course 2010.)
'a very good introduction'
'the course really got me into it'
'I feel immensely enriched by the course'
'I am encouraged to carry on'
Enquiries to the LMS Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Simplicissimus: An entirely new approach to learning the Latin of the Traditional Roman Missal: Read a sample unit here. Available from the LMS Office by phone (020 7404 7284), by post (cheques payable to 'LMS') or online below.