The Three Sacred Languages

Jude Missa

When you attend the Traditional Latin Mass and owned a Missal Book as guide, you will notice that Latin is not the only language used in the Holy Mass. These languages are called the Three Sacred Languages or simply Sacred Languages. What are these sacred languages and why are they important to the Catholic Church including the Holy Mass? Let’s start by introducing these three languages.

What are the Three Sacred Languages?

  1. Hebrew – the Hebrew language is the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. They used this language until the Neo-Babylonian conquered the Kingdom of Judah. During this time, the Israelites learned how to speak aramaic. But the Hebrew language continued as liturgical language and literature. But, during the 19th and 20th Century, it became official langauge of Israel and now called “Modern Hebrew”.
  2. Greek – the Greek language is the official language of Greece and one of the oldest languages in the world. At the time of the Apostles, many Greeks accept our Lord Jesus Christ and become Christians. That is why most of the sacred scriptures are written in Greek. The Greek language is the first official language of the Church. During the time of the first christians, most Christians used the greek language in the Holy Mass.
  3. Latin – The Latin language is the official language of the Catholic Church. At the time of the Apostles, many romans convert to Christianity including the time where Saint Paul and Saint Peter the apostle teached about Lord Jesus Christ in Rome. During the reign of Emperor Constantine, the church still using the Greek Language. When Pope Saint Damasus ordered Saint Jerome to translate the Sacred Scriptures to Latin which resulted to Vulgate Bible and become its official book of the Church, many Greeks and other races learned the Latin Language until it became the Official Language of the Church. But after the fall of the Roman Empire in 6th Century, the Latin language has slowy changed. And these changes give birth to the new languages like the Romanian, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian. In Rome, the people are slowly starting to speak the Italian language. Though the people in rome speaks Italian, the Latin language didn’t die and remained as the official Language of the Church. In 1570, the Tridentine Mass was codified by Pope Saint Pius V which he gives every priest a mandatory to learn how to read, speak and write in Latin as it is become the official language of the Holy Mass. Until the Vatican II Council codifed the Novus Ordo Mas where the priest is allowed to use the vernacular language in the Mass.
How these Three Languages became Sacred Languages?

At the time of the Passion of our Lord, Pontius Pilate wrote the words “Jesus, King of the Jews” in three languages, the Hebrew, the Greek and the Latin Language. These words were written in a piece of wood and place it on the top of the cross of our Lord which was we known as the INRI. The Christianity is from the Jews but most of them didn’t accept our Lord. At that time, only the Greeks and the Romans who are previously pagans accepted our Lord as the Messiah and became Christians.

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