Sunday, 29 July 2012

Day for Life

I am glad that my PP ignored the guff from Eccle's Tonsquare and reminded us that today was about praying for an end to abortion, euthanasia and similar evils. It reminded me that I had intended to post a few more thoughts on the topic. 

If, as I take to be axiomatic, the battle against abortion and other evils associated with it is primarily a spiritual battle, we should take care to think about it primarily in spiritual terms.

As I have said before, the Devil attacks life at its weakest stages because he is a coward.  But it is worth considering what else we know about him. 

We have it on the best authority that he is a liar and the father of lies. and that too is reflected in his onslaught on humanity waged via abortion.

Off the top of my head, I can think of 4 lies at the heart of the abortion business (I am sure there are more):

Lie no. 1: The unborn child is not a human being (or variants of this lie: eg is not endowed with the same rights as born human beings etc)

Lie no. 2: Abortion will make everything the same as it was before for the mother; ie as though she had never been pregnant.

Lie no. 3: Abortion is a medical procedure.

Lie no. 4: Abortion is necessary to ensure women’s rights and freedoms.

Each of those is demonstrably untrue, and the fact that the abortion industry is built on lies is one of the reasons that it is so disastrously damaging, not just for the unborn children who are killed, but also for their mothers (and fathers and others) and also for the medical and other staff involved. And Satan laughs.

If my supposition is correct, that it is primarily a spiritual battle, then we should be fighting primarily with spiritual weapons: at one level, truth and charity; and at another level, prayer and fasting. I will come on to this in my next post...

In the meantime, here is a passage from Gaudium et Spes which Ttony highlighted over at the Catholic Reading Group as being a fantastic summary of a truly Catholic pro-Life position:
“Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator.” (Gaudium et Spes, §27)

Liturgical Latin: The Salve Regina and Participles

There are four great Marian antiphons with which we should all be familiar.  Traditionally, one of these is sung at the end of Compline (as well as other times, of course, ad libitum).

They are the the Alma Redemptoris Mater (Advent - the Feast of the Purification), the Ave Regina Caelorum (Purification - Holy Week), the Regina Caeli (Easter - Pentecost), and the Salve Regina (Pentecost to the end of the [Church’s] year).

As ever, I recommend you learn these by heart, and the best way is to sing them.

We have already learned the Regina Caeli, during Eastertide, so today we shall look at the Salve Regina:

Here is a recording:

And here is the text, with an over-literal translation underneath: 

Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiæ,
Hail, Queen, Mother of Mercy

vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
our life, sweetness and hope, hail.

ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevæ,
to Thee we are crying, exiled children of Eve,

ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
to Thee we are sighing, lamenting and weeping,

in hac lacrimarum valle.
in this valley of tears.

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra,
Come then, therefore, our advocate, 

illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
those, thine eyes of mercy, towards us turn;

et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
and Jesus, blessed fruit of Thy womb,

nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
to us, after this exile, show.

O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.
O clement, O pious, O sweet Virgin Mary.

℣ Ora pro nobis sancta Dei Genitrix.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God

℟ Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.
That worthy we may be made of the promises of Christ.

Oremus. Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, 
Let us pray. Almighty eternal God,

qui gloriosæ Virginis Matris Mariæ corpus et animam, 
who the glorious Virgin Mother Mary’s body and soul

ut dignum Filii tui habitaculum effici mereretur,
didst cause to be a worthy dwelling place, 

Spiritu Sancto cooperante præparasti: 
by preparing it with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit;

da, ut cuius commemoratione lætamur; 
grant, that we who rejoice in her commemoration,

eius pia intercessione, ab instantibus malis, et a morte perpetua liberemur.
by her pious intercession, from present evils and from eternal death may be liberated.

Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum.
Through the same Christ our Lord.

I think that is fairly self-explanatory - a few new words for your growing vocabulary, but nothing, I think, that needs further explanation (if you are up to speed with what we have covered so far) , apart from gementes et flentes: lamenting and weeping.  These are Participles.  

Participles are verbal adjectives. They have some features of verbs and some of adjectives. But they are most basically a type of adjective.

As adjectives, participles can modify nouns or pronouns, and they can sometimes stand alone (as "substantives"), with the modified noun or pronoun implied.

As verbals, participles can take objects, and  can have tense (i.e., refer to past, present, or future) and voice (i.e., indicate that an agent is "actively" doing something or "passively" receiving some action).

Here, therefore, they are plural present participles, with the pronoun 'we' implied by the context, in particular the second person plural verb 'suspiramus;' that is 'we are sighing, [we are] lamenting and weeping.'

For more on the principle of participles, see here.  For more on the form of participles, see here.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Succumbing to temptation

OK, my friend the Part Time Pilgrim has tempted me, and I have fallen.  I should be doing something else, but cannot resist the temptation to comment on the BBC’s reporting of the Scottish SSM decision, here and here.

For a piece of classic BBC objective reporting, it deserves a special honour.

Note, for example, in both cases, the wording:  become the first part of the UK to introduce gay marriage.  Clearly, that is simply a statement of fact, carrying no implication that the rest of the UK will or should follow suit.  Clearly.  No assumptions, still less overtones of approval, built into that one.

Read on: The announcement was made in the wake of a government consultation which produced a record 77,508 responses. But the BBC doesn’t mention what those responses said.  Could it be because they oppose the proposals, and that is not the approved line?

In the reactions piece, we find that the vast majority of comments quoted are pro the change - strangely not remotely reflecting the proportions of the views of Scots themselves when consulted (2:1 against).  No agenda there, then, is there?...

And as the Part Time Pilgrim added: 'I also note that "others" are in favour of changing the law, but only the Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland are against.'

That strange subterranean vibration is Lord Reith spinning in his grave.

Oh, I forgot...

As my regular readers are both well aware, I am a huge fan of the BBC, bastion of unbiased and objective reporting.

One of the things I often notice with amusement is the way in which their estimates of crowd sizes can give clues as to their editorial objectivity.

Pro-Life marches are always remarkably insignificant, and normally there is a comment about US violence somewhere in the blurb, too; whereas pro-abortion demos are large and invariably peaceful.

A while back, during the Jubilee celebrations, I saw this on the BBC news www site, which seemed to sum up the ability of BBC subs to estimate crowd sizes...

The caption reads: Crowds, more than 10-deep in places, struggled to get a clear view of the proceedings.

Is that how you would have captioned that picture on that occasion?  If not, what does it tell you about the views of the person who did?

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Liturgical Latin: Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei

I was not sure what to post this week, but given the focus of this series is meant to be Latin in the Liturgy, I thought we could look at the Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei.

As ever, I encourage you to learn these by heart, if you don't know them already.

Here are some recordings:

Sanctus: William Byrd, Mass for Four Voices

Benedictus: William Byrd, Mass for Four Voices

Agnus Dei: William Byrd, Mass for Four Voices

Actually, after those sublime pieces, anything I can say feels like gilding the lily...

Still, here are the texts:

Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus Dominus Dei sabaoth.
Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts.

Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.
Full are heaven and earth of your glory.

Hosanna in excelsis.
Hosanna in the highest.

Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in excelsis.
Hosanna in the highest.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

I am not sure there is much new here, grammatically.  Note the imperatives miserere and dona (we have met some before). Therefore, I will take this opportunity to invite any questions on anything which we have covered so far which is not clear; and also suggestions on what you would like me to cover next (though I reserve the right not to oblige!)

Saturday, 21 July 2012

False Gods of Our Time 2: Politics

Politics is essential, of course.  As man is made to live in community, we must have ways to organise and govern ourselves, and that is the essence of politics. In particular, it is the art of recruiting people to a particular point of view or programme of action, in order to advance it.  
It is potentially a noble art, and has indeed had many noble exponents. It is also, when corrupted, potentially very evil, but that is not the aspect I wish to focus on here.

Rather, as with my previous post on Choice, I wish to consider the problems that arise when we elevate politics from being something important to being the only important thing.

I think there are at least three types of problem that arise from this:

One is that people start to see everything through political lenses.  Thus we read of issues in the Church being of the right or of the left.  That is usually a flawed analysis, which not only oversimplifies ecclesiastical issues, but also reduces theological discussion to politics.  The C of E’s current discussions around ‘women bishops’ are enmired in politics, for example.  Likewise social issues are debated at an incredibly superficial level along almost tribal political lines: private education is ‘bad’ if you are on the left, and ‘good’ if you are on the right - often with no pause to consider what education is meant to be, what the Church teaches us about it, and what kinds of private and state education we are actually comparing.  Further, any idea proposed by political opponents is automatically seen through a prejudicial mist of suspicion, with an eye to making political capital out of presenting it in as unsympathetic light as possible, regardless of any real merit it may have.  That then leads to all the dishonesty of spinning that has helped bring politics into serious disrepute.

A second is that people start to behave from political motives when spiritual motives are required.  I have come across a number of instances recently, particularly in discussions re abortion and euthanasia, where some things are deemed unsayable or undiscussable for fear of the way in which those with a different agenda might manipulate the debate.  I would rather that the criterion we use is truth. If some truths are open to misunderstanding, there is a second-level question about how to put them across, but to say we should not say something we know to be true because it may be used against us strikes me as wrong-headed.

The third is that people get so attached to political theories and indeed political causes or alignments that they treat religious and moral issues as secondary, where they should be primary.  Thus they end up doing all sorts of harm in the pursuit of political goods: they attach themselves to (and justify themselves by) the notion that a mandate from the people justifies a whole programme of action, when it is just as likely to be an expression of fed-upness with the other scoundrels.  So we get disastrous policies for the most vulnerable in society, such as children in need of adoption, in pursuit of some sort of political ideology; we are witnessing the progressive destruction of the institution of marriage as a result of a number of policies, each seemingly benign in intent, and so on - because the big moral questions have been obscured by the political questions.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Tragic News...

I had planned to spend the afternoon reading Gaudiem et Spes, and then writing this week's Latin Class.

Alas, Mrs T had other ideas, and I have spent the afternoon helping Bernie to paint Dominique's room.

So, tragically, there is no Latin Lesson today.

I may get one posted during the week, or if not, hope to do so next weekend at the latest.

I recognise that is a severe disappointment to so many of you: console yourselves by re-reading the previous ones for your revision, and seeing how many of the prayers you are meant to be memorising you can actually recite - and translate!

Friday, 13 July 2012

False Gods of Our Time: 1 Choice

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.
I have been mulling over, for the last few weeks or more, the various false Gods we have sought to set up in place of the One True God.

In particular, I am thinking of things such as choice, democracy, politics, equality and so forth.  Clearly these are not evil; indeed they are good in and of themselves.  But when we make a god of any one of them, we corrupt the good that it represents, and ourselves.

Let’s start with choice. (I may pick off the others in future posts - I seem to remember promising someone a post on the heresy of politics a while back).

Choice is clearly a good: it is a gift from God, which enables us to choose the good, and thus conform ourselves to Him and fulfil our nature and our destiny; or not, of course.  For so great is our God that He really allows that.

But problems arise when we elevate choice from a good to the good.  The most obvious example is the elevation of a woman’s right to autonomy to include the killing of a child.

That gives us a clue to one of the problems of individual choice: my choice may constrain someone else’s.  With abortion, that is extremely clear, but consider the choice of a couple with kids both to go to work.  That choice, when multiplied up and down the land effectively denies the choice of other parents for one of them to stay at home to raise their children.  The reasons are not just the economic ones (two-income households drive up the cost of housing etc) but also the social ones: it becomes less socially acceptable to be a full time mum (or dad), and much more socially isolated.  The old support network of mums via coffee mornings etc has largely disappeared.  So my choices affect others, and not always in obvious ways.

Sitting behind all this is a philosophy that all freely-chosen autonomous choice is ipso facto good, or more specifically, good for that person. That is the philosophy behind Carl Rogers’ work - the back drop for all non-directional counselling, which has now become such a dominant philosophy that even pro-life groups adopt it, when they know that, in truth, there is a good choice or a bad choice to be made...

That way madness lies, in fact, and Rogers (according to his friend and associate William Coulson) was bordering on the loss of his own personality by the end of his life.

The most extreme example of choice being deified which I have encountered is in the thinking of William Schutz, who believed that we choose everything in our lives: including our accidents, our illnesses, our death - and our parents...  

Nutty?  Perhaps.  But extremely influential, and his understanding of group dynamics (including the tools he developed FIRO, FIRO-B, FIRO-S etc) is widely used in corporate life.

Most insidious, therefore, is the way in which my choices may affect me.  For of course any choice made, by definition, limits my successive choices. The choice to indulge my appetites rules out the choice for ascetism; the choice to hurt another rules our the choice to be charitable, and so on.  And these choices, over time, form (or deform) my character. So the choice to treat Choice as an ultimate good is a choice to deny God - and ultimately to destroy myself.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Credo and the Perfect Tense

For your revision, recite the opening of St John's Gospel, and then write out the imperfect tense of a verb of your choice...

Today we are going to move on to the Creed, and the perfect tense.

Here's the Creed (nb you really should know this by heart!):

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem,
I believe in one God, the Father almighty,
factorem coeli et terrae,
maker of heaven and of earth,
visibilium omnium, et invisibilium.
of all things visible, and invisible.
Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum,
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
Filium Dei unigenitum.
Son of God only begotten.
Et ex Patre natum ante omni saecula.
And of the Father born before all ages.
Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero.
God from God, light from light, true God from true God.
Genitum, non factum, consubstantialem Patri,
Begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father,
per quem omnia facta sunt. Qui propter nos homines,
by whom all things were made. Who for us men,
et propter nostram salutem descendit de caelis.
and for our salvation descended from the heavens.
Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto
And was incarnate by the Holy Spirit
ex Maria Virgine. Et homo factus est.
of the Virgin Mary. And was made man.
Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato,
Crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate,
passus, et sepultus est.
suffered, and was buried.
Et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas.
And he rose on the third day, in accord with the Scriptures.
Et ascendit in caelum, sedet ad dexteram Patris.
And he ascended into heaven, he sits at right hand of Father.
Et iterum venturus est cum gloria,
And again he is going to come with glory,
judicare vivos et mortuos,
to judge the living and the dead,
cujus regni non erit finis.
of whose kingdom there will be no end.
Et in Spiritum Sanctum Dominum, et vivificantem,
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and lifegiver,
qui ex Patre Filioque procedit.
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Qui cum Patre, et Filio simul adoratur
Who with the Father, and the Son together is adored
et conglorificatur, qui locutus est per Prophetas.
and glorified, who spoke through the Prophets.
Et unam, sanctam, catholicam, et apostolicam Ecclesiam.
And in one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum.
I confess one baptism for remission of sins.
Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum.
And I expect the resurrection of dead.
Et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen.
And everlasting life to come. Amen.

Most of the vocabulary here is easy to grasp, I think, with the fairly literal translation underneath.  One point of interest is filioque.  I don't mean because of the controversy it represents, but linguistically.  The point being that -que is a suffix added to filio, and means and.  The other famous example, of course is SPQR Senatus Populusque Romanus (The Roman Senate and People).

So let us continue our study of the Latin verb.  Here are some of the verbs found in the Creed:

Credo, expecto, sedet, procedit: are all regular verbs in the present tense; the first two in the first person (I believe, I expect) and the remaining two in the third person (he is sitting, he proceeds).  So these should look like familiar forms to you by now.

Confiteor is an oddity.  It is the first person singular present tense of a deponent verb; that is verb which has a passive form, but an active meaning (in this case, I confess).  For a more usual use of the passive form, we have:

adoratur, conglorificatur, each of which is the third person present in the passive voice: ie he is adored, he is glorified with, (as opposed to the active, which would be adorat: he adores, glorificat, he glorifies).  We may come onto the passive voice more fully eventually...

facta sunt, erit finis, locutus est are tenses made with an auxiliary verb (to be) similar to the English forms: they were made, it will finish, it was spoken. 

judicare is an infinitive: to judge.

resurrexit, ascendit

Resurrexit is the third person singular of the perfect tense of resurgere: to rise again

Here is the complete perfect tense:

resurrexi - I rose again
resurrexisti - you rose again (singular)
resurrexit - he, she or it rose again
resurreximus- we rose again
resurrexistis - you rose again (plural)
resurrexerunt - they rose again

Likewise ascendit, from ascendere - to ascend.

ascendi - I ascended
ascendisti -  you ascended (singular)
ascendit - he, she or it  ascended
ascendimus -  we ascended 
ascendistis -  you ascended (plural)
ascenderunt -  they ascended

In fact, these endings,   -i, -isti, -it, -imus, -istis, -erunt are the same for the perfect tense (active voice)  of the regular verbs of all conjugations.

So that's your homework for this week: to learn these and find other examples in the liturgy, if you can.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

In principio and the imperfect tense

For your revision, translate:

Introibo ad altare deum

ædificabo ecclesiam meam

et portæ inferi non prævalebunt adversus eam.

Et tibi dabo claves regni cælorum.

Incidentally, I have just discovered at site that teaches Latin based on the Vulgate.  It is worth a look (but don't desert me!)

For ourselves, we are going to look at the beginning of the Last Gospel of the EF, that is the opening verses of St John's Gospel.

You will need to learn this by heart, as well, but I don't know of a good musical setting, as it is spoken by the Priest at Mass.

In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. 
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word.

Hoc erat in principio apud Deum. 
The same was in the beginning with God.

Omnia per ipsum facta sunt: et sine ipso factum est nihil, quod factum est. 
All things by Him were made: and without Him was made nothing, which was made.

In ipso vita erat, et vita erat lux hominum: 
In Him was life, and life was the light of men:

et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt.
and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness could not comprehend it.

So why are we looking at this?  One reason is that it (and the following verses) is one of my favourite passages, both for poetry and theology, in the Bible.

But more practically, it gives me an excuse to introduce the imperfect tense. 
In fact if only has one imperfect verb, erat, but it does mention it many times!

Erat is the third person singular of the verb to be: he, she or it was.

Here is the whole of the imperfect of esse: to be

eram        I was
eras         you were (thou wert) singular
erat          he, she or it was
eramus   we were
eratis       you (plural) were
erant        they were

Which reminds me, we never looked at the present of esse.

sum        I am
es            you are (thou art) singular
est           he, she or it is
sumus    we are
estis        you (plural) are
sunt        they are

(famously, of course: antequam Abraham fieret, ego sum: before Abraham was made, I AM)
But I digress.

What I really want to look at is the imperfect tense.  As in so many languages, to be (esse) in Latin is an irregular verb.  Here is a regular imperfect:

1st conjugation (-are) 

Amare - to love

amabam     I was loving
amabas       you (s) were loving
amabat       he, she or it was loving
amabamus we were loving
amabatis     you (pl) were loving
amabant      they were loving

And you wil find that the imperfect of all regular verbs, end in the -bam, -bas, -bat endings.

So a simple rule of thumb, for regular verbs,  is: to form the imperfect tense, remove ‘-re’ from the infinitive,  and add the relevant ending above. However, if the verb is in the fourth conjugation (-ire), you will need to add an ‘-e’ before adding the relevant ending, as follows:

Audire: to hear

Audiebam  I was hearing, (and so on)

That's all I have time for tonight, but should be enough to keep you going for a week!