Action Alert!

Catholic Dictionary




The use of the common spoken language of the people in the Catholic liturgy. It was authorized on principle by the Second Vatican Council, declaring that "since the use of the vernacular, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or in other parts of the liturgy, may frequently be of great advantage to the people, a wider use may be made of it" (Constitution on the Liturgy, I 36). In practice, within ten uears of the Council, the vernacular became the norm in the Roman Rite, and the use of Latin the exception. All translations had to be approved by the Holy See. To obviate difficulties about meaning, Rome declared that "a vernacular translation of a sacramental formula . . . must be understood in accordance with the mind of the Church as expressed in the original Latin text" (Instauratio Liturgica, January 25, 1974). (Etym. Latin vernaculus, domestic; from verna,native slave, probably from Etruscan.)