HY IS IT IMPORTANT to know Latin? I know that when some people read this phrase they will start to think of me as a strong traditionalist. It is not true. I am a realist. And being a realist, even a pragmatist, teaches us an important lesson: Latin is one of the foundations of western culture. The Catholic Church has grown in this culture for centuries, and moreover, the church was creating many of the features that make western civilization a bright example for all the world. Latin was one of the foundations of this civilization.
Now, what is the role of Latin in today’s liturgies? It has become one of the strong points in traditionalists’ agenda. I am sorry, but this is not fair. Latin is heritage for each one of us, because in this language are preserved treasures of art and faith. We need not be fanatics — and, of course, it’s also important to try to work for the implementation of good music using vernacular languages — but Latin must remain always as a model of synthesis, clarity, and elegance.
And why would we desire to lose millions of compositions that have used (and continue to use) this language? The problem is always to go from one extreme to the other. Latin and the compositions in Latin must always remain a model for sound compositions in vernacular languages. And still there is so much good material that can be used. Let us hope that one day there will be a serious meditation about what it really means to understand something in the liturgy, that is not a common gathering, but the revelation of a sacred mystery.
BOTTEGA • Aurelio Porfiri is where you can discover
many of Mæstro Porfiri’s compositions in PDF format.