Pray the Breviary in Latin

All that said, an older Jewish man—a fellow cancer-radiation patient—sat down next to me on that bench. He produced his prayer book and began his prayers, slightly louder than mine and with the concomitant rocking back-and-forth which is unique to “Our Elder Brethren In The Faith” as St. John Paul II called the Jewish people.

Problem was, I was a bit nauseated from the radiation and the rocking back-and-forth on the part of the Jewish man was making the nausea worse. I turned my head to say something to him but when I did I looked at his prayer book: it was entirely in Hebrew.

I’m not sure why this surprised me as much as it did: all of my doctors from Sloan-Kettering were Jewish and one was a Hasidic Jew whose seven children assiduously studied the Talmud from a young age in the original language.

I felt like a bit of a fraud that day. Any idiot can pray in their native tongue. And given the panoply of televangelists, it seems like many idiots do. Moreover: our Church HAS an official language: Latin—hence the term, “The Latin Church.” True, in the Vatican itself the daily language is Italian, but all the official documents are in Latin. All of the official prayer-books, too, are published first in Latin, as are the Catechism, The Code of Canon Law, and of course, the Vulgate version of the Bible.


Anyone can learn the Latin psalms with a proper plan.