Does the use of Latin during Mass keep people from Active Participation at Mass?
Answer: No, it actually promotes proper active participation.
Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has strived to promote active participation of the faithful into the mystery of the Eucharist. One of the ways the Church promoted participation is by allowing Mass to be celebrated in the language of the people (Vernacular).
It is still dubious whether this change has allowed people to participate more in the Eucharist; however, it has never been the intention of the Church to eliminate the use of Latin from the Celebration of the Eucharist. Nor should it be implied that to promote active participation the Mass must be understood in our language. The Eucharist is not an experience that must be understood, as much as it is an experienced that must be lived.
Some people narrowly define participation as the ability to speak, see, smell, listen and touch things during the liturgy. Certainly the use of our sense experience opens the gates to the soul so that we may receive within the gift of grace that is being offered. All Sacraments are visible or perceivable signs of invisible and unperceivable grace. Furthermore, Pope Benedict XVI remindes us that “In fact, the active participation called for by the Council must be understood in more substantial terms, on the basis of a greater awareness of the mystery being celebrated and its relationship to daily life”.
To fully participate in the Universal Aspect of the Church, we cannot limit our experience or participation to our native language. Part of our experience is to listen and speak in the Universal Language of the Catholic Church: a Language that unites the Church in doctrine and worship. A language that transcends our limitations of time and space and unites us both with the geographical expansion of the Church and the historical presence throughout the centuries.
Pope Benedict XVI continues to challenge our definition of participation when he says that “Active participation in the Eucharistic liturgy can hardly be expected if one approaches it superficially, without an examination of his or her life. This inner disposition can be fostered, for example, by recollection and silence for at least a few moments before the beginning of the liturgy, by fasting and, when necessary, by sacramental confession”.
In conclusion, I invite you all to open your hearts to the experience presented before us. That the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is not limited to a particular language. That we have a great tradition to transmit to our young people: a worship experience where we can all speak the same tongue, all over the world, at least in worship. Language has divided people since the Tower of Babel. Language, I believe, will ultimately unite us to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ.