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The word tradition means simply a belief or behaviour in a society or culture which has symbolic meaning with its origins in the past. The past can be any amount of time. Having roast lunch on a Sunday or fish and chips on Friday are just two traditions that some families maintain.

There are often calls by members of the Catholic Church to return Mass to its form in Latin because this is the ancient tradition of the Church. However, the first language of the church was Aramaic, the vernacular of the first Christians who were Palestinian Jews. As Christianity spread, the Eucharist was celebrated in many languages and in the Mediterranean world it was mainly celebrated in Greek – Eucharist itself being a Greek word. Whilst it is by no means certain, the Greek was probably replaced by a form of Latin from the 3rd century onwards, though not the Classical version which died out with the Roman aristocracy, but a less refined version of the language.

However, as this version of Latin had not been used in Christian liturgies before this time, when the Mass began to be celebrated in Latin, words had to be adapted or imported from the Greek in order to express Christian ideas.

Hence today, we still sing the Kyrie (Greek) and Hebrew phrases such as “Alleluia” and “Hosanna” have been preserved in the liturgy.

It was the Second Vatican Council that returned the Mass to the original tradition of Christianity which allowed for people to worship God in a language they understood.

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