Report: Some 2nd Century Roman Christians Hated Latin Mass Because It Was Said In The Vernacular

August 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Libs & Trads

ROME–A letter written by an anonymous early Roman Christian was unearthed at the base of the Palatine Hills earlier this week, revealing that many Christians living in Rome at the time hated the Latin Mass because it was being said in the vernacular.

The letter, which scientists are dating back to the early 2nd century, reveals much angst and division in the early Church between those who believed it was acceptable to use the vernacular during Mass, and those that believed that Aramaic ought to have been the only acceptable language, as the use of it reportedly dates back to the first Mass said by Jesus Christ.

“The letter is absolutely remarkable,” said Eugene Cardoza, who headed the team that unearthed the letter. “It was written by a frustrated Christian to a friend, in response to an angry letter about the expanding use of the vernacular during Masses in Rome. “I think the most fascinating thing to learn was that while Christians were being persecuted by the government, they decided to squabble over language instead of coming together to fight for their right to religious freedom.”

Although only a portion of the letter has been found, what remains sheds much light on issues that faced more traditional circles of Christians in Rome. An excerpt of the letter found has graciously been translated by the Church’s Office of Linguistic Studies and has been transcribed below.

Dearest Brother,

Greetings be upon you, and upon you be greetings. May the peace and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom all good things come, bless you and your home. From your dispatch, I have learned the unsettling news that many of our brethren in Rome are irritated that some are beginning to use vernacular during the Lord’s Supper. I myself, in common with many others, was full of sorrow when your dispatch arrived with the unsettling news that the holiness and beauty of Aramaic has been usurped by Latin; for you have given me sad news that this new vernacular Mass is doing much dishonor to the traditions that have been passed down to us by the Lord and the apostles themselves. I, therefore, must admonish you to stay clear from those that uphold such scandal to the Supper of the Lord, and in all due diligence must inform you that this new order of the Lord’s Supper is an abomination at best. Though your private letter to me contained a somewhat slight expression of your angst, I can assure you that it gave me pleasure that you were grieved, for, by grievance you have proven yourself to the Lord. More importantly, you have proven yourself a true Christian, more Christian than Sixtus, for there is nothing in which I habitually find greater satisfaction and true holiness than in bitterness and hostility. I am overjoyed that you propose to write a letter to Sixtus in all capital letter and with an abundance of exclamation marks. I also write to inform you that in response to this news, I propose now to make bishop of you, as well as Alexander, Aurelius, and our beloved Lucias, whose minds I trust are in accord with our own. This, I shall do without the permission of Sixtus. For he, it seems, has fallen in to grave sin when he gave ear to a number of Jews to assist in reforming the Lord’s Supper during his meeting last month with fellow bishops in his territory. I shall  end this letter by telling you that our new “society” shall ever and always pretentiously look down upon those that…”