Sunday, August 12, 2007

dona nobis pacem

. . . whether English can now be said to have a common language of prayer at all.
— Ian Robinson, Who Killed the Bible?, 2006

In the Mass, simple statements translated into the vernacular don’t sound like ordinary talk; nor should they. Since grant us peace is not everyday English, why not say the Latin? What do we understand by grant us peace that we cannot learn to understand better by dona nobis pacem? For we can pray dona nobis pacem as we cannot pray grant us peace. Our very knowledge of English will forever make grant us peace sound foreign — not like us — whereas our lack of vernacular Latin makes our praying dona nobis pacem, learned by heart, come from heart, mind, and will.

Written for Catholic Carnival 132: Back to School We Go, hosted this week by Sarah in Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering. Please also read Joseph P. Swain, Liturgical Latin — Reconsidered.