Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Former Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura
From the earliest ages of the Church, the Latin language, as the universal language of the Church, has served as a most providential instrument of unity in faith, worship, and discipline. Whoever wishes to understand deeply the most important texts of the Magisterium, of the Sacred Liturgy, and of Canon Law must have knowledge of Latin as a key to knowing those monuments of the living Tradition as it has reached us today, in an unbroken and organic line, from the time of the Apostles. Latin, noteworthy for its nobility and clarity, has always provided a single language for the Church alive in so many different cultures employing so many different languages. For that reason, the Roman Pontiffs, including most recently Pope Benedict XVI, have steadfastly insisted on the necessity of the knowledge of Latin for students of the Church and, above all, for seminarians and priests.
With all of the above in mind, news of the inauguration of the Veterum Sapientia Institute in the Diocese of Charlotte in North Carolina has brought me great joy and encouragement. It is a wonderful sign of the vitality of the Apostolic Tradition in our own time. I most highly commend His Excellency, the Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis, Bishop of Charlotte, Father Jason Barone, Dr. Eric Hewett, Dr. Nancy Llewellyn, and all who are working with them in the inauguration of the Institute. At the same time, I ask that Our Lord, through the intercession of His Virgin Mother, abundantly bless the Institute and make it most fruitful for the good of all in the Church. In accord with the intention of Pope Saint John XXIII, expressed in his Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia, may the Institute which bears the name of the same Apostolic Constitution be the vehicle by which “the ancient and uninterrupted use of Latin be maintained and, where necessary, restored” (“ut vetus et numquam intermissa linguae Latinae retineatur consuetudo, et, sicubi prope exoleverit, plane redintegretur” [Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol. LIV, p. 132]).”
Abbot Philip Anderson
Superior of Clear Creek Abbey
The adventure of Western Civilization, especially within our Catholic Christian culture, has ever sought to elaborate the concepts and words capable of expressing the noble aspirations of man in quest of God. The eminent scholars and educators of the Veterum Sapientia Institute are here to help a new generation of students enter into this high purpose and fully appreciate its language of wisdom and love through the study of the greatest authors of antiquity. I am sure we will see wonderful things emerge from this new educational enterprise.
Dr Peter A. Kwasniewski, PhD
Liturgical Scholar and Writer
The Veterum Sapientia Institute is exactly the kind of response that John XXIII’s apostolic constitution should have brought forth across the world, in every nation and diocese, when it first appeared and long after. We may gratefully recognize it as one more sign of a gradual reawakening to the value and indeed the indispensable role of tradition, in determined opposed to the dangerous cultural amnesia of recent decades. To be steeped in the mother tongue of the Western Church, or to learn the mother tongue of the Eastern Church, is to enter that much more into possession of the great and timeless sources of our liturgy, our theology, our law, our poetry — in short, our entire heritage. There is no flourishing tree without a mighty root system, and what roots are for trees, ancient languages are for Christianity. We have every reason to believe that the VSI will play its part in the great program to which all Catholics are called to contribute: Instaurare omnia in Christo.
Very Rev. Chrysostom Baer, O.Praem.
Prior of St. Michael's Abbey
Fr Dylan Shrader, PhD
Pastor and Theologian
Almost nine years ago, I sweated over buying plane tickets. Should I pay extra for the ability to cancel? I was considering traveling halfway across the country for a conference called Veterum sapientia. If I went, it would be my first time at a spoken-Latin workshop. The famous Fr. Reginald Foster would be there, and it was billed as a somewhat Catholic event. I loved Latin. I loved reading it, hearing it, and occasionally writing it. I wanted to speak it, but there were only dead ends. As a parish priest in the midwest, I was the best Latinist around, which wasn’t to say I was even that good, just that Latin wasn’t on anybody else’s radar.
I bit the bullet and bought the tickets. I even convinced my brother, living in Ohio at the time, to meet me there. I told myself at the time, “This is it. This is the Latin camp you always wanted to try. Now you will have gotten to do it once in your life.” It had been so hard to make room in the parish schedule to be gone even for a week, that I had to make a promise like that to myself, to give myself permission to indulge in something that seemed like a mere personal hobby, that no one around me cared about.
And then I went. And Veterum Sapientia blew me away. Of course I was shy. I’m very shy anyway, but the fear of speaking Latin for the first time made it much worse. Several times I forgot completely what I had said a few words in, butchered the sequence of tenses, and, naturally, didn’t know the words for the most basic items of ordinary use. It still blew me away. The non-judgmental, encouraging environment, and the pedagogy! My whole study of Latin had been the familiar grammar-translation method, with Jenney’s and Wheelock’s. Whatever else I had was inconsistent and on the side.
Most of all, at Veterum Sapientia that first time, I realized that there were other people in the universe who cared about this language. Maybe I wasn’t alone. Maybe I wasn’t so crazy. So I resolved that I would go each year, no matter what. That barring a true disaster, I would leave my parish and make the trip. One year that meant getting up at 1:00am for a flight. Other years it meant leaving a half-day early because I couldn’t get coverage for the weekend Masses. But, no matter what I had to do, I went. And so I have gone to the conference every year for now 8 complete years.
In that time, Veterum Sapientia has only gotten better–and more Catholic. I have become a committed Veterum Sapientia evangelist, and I have seen how helpful it can be. As the world of secular Latinity increases and Church Latin decreases, we need movements like this to reverse the trend. The addition of further workshops, the partnership with the seminary in Charlotte, and now the launch of the expanded Veterum Sapientia Institute, are all going to bear fruit for the Church of 2030, 2040, and beyond. The effective, friendly, Catholic learning environment that VSI creates is unmatched in the United States right now. To anyone who is on the fence about trying this out, I say Duc in altum!
Sr Mary Micaela Hoffmann, RSM
Although I had studied Latin before, the Veterum Sapientia Latin Immersion Workshop was a whole new experience. The workshop aimed to create a weeklong bubble of Latin in order to let us learn by listening and communicating in Latin, as we might learn any other language. As you might imagine, this was at times challenging, especially for a rusty Latin student—try carrying on table conversation while trying dredge out of your memory Latin words like ‘last year’, not to mention the perfect of disco, all the while realizing that you never learned the word for ‘cup’, and can’t remember how the number ‘two’ declines! In spite of this, by the end of the week, I was carrying on simple conversations in Latin. Speaking also gives you an opportunity to use some of those first and second-person forms that you might otherwise ignore—such as ‘vocāris’ or ‘loquebāmur’. The teaching methods at the seminar were excellent, and used a bit of sign language, gestures, written words, pictures, activities, and other methods to help our memories and to accommodate varied learning styles. While some classes were held in common, we also spent part of the day divided into groups according to our proficiency level, allowing everyone to improve their skills, wherever they might be starting from. One of the tenets we learned in the introduction was to remember ourselves “inter amicos”, and this was certainly true. Everyone tried to help one another learn, with a lot of patience for the beginners!
I would recommend the seminar for those who want to deepen their knowledge of Latin and to learn not only to read, but also to listen, understand, speak and write it themselves.