Soliloquy in an International Cloister

Watch your step as Brother Lawrence takes you inside the monastery walls of a five hundred year-old international order. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wish you had ignored your hormones and joined the monastery.

My Photo
Location: Rome, Italy

29 November 2012

Andomray oughtsthay onay atinlay

Pope Benedict XVI recently created the Pontifical Academy for Latin, whose job is to promote a wider and better knowledge of Latin in the Church and beyond. I wish them all the luck in the world, but frankly I think the effort is doomed. Progressives in the Church suspect that this is just another step toward reintroducing the Latin Mass and further undoing the changes of Vatican II. Traditionalists may have been happy with the move, at least until its new President, Cardinal Ravasi, suggested that although they like the Latin Mass, they don't know the language very well. That won't exactly endear him to their hearts.

I was actually a little put out when they changed the language of the Mass from Latin to English. I was learning to be an altar server at the time and had studied hard to learn all the Latin prayers. Suddenly, just before my big debut, I had to re-learn the prayers in English. It annoyed me that I had wasted so much time studying something that I would never use.

Since I had thoughts of becoming a priest, I was told that I would have to study Latin in high school. After studying it for two semesters, the requirement was dropped. Burned again. I should have continued to study it anyway because a knowledge of Latin is useful in so many ways, even today. At the time, however, after realizing that "hey, pulchra puella" wasn't a very effective pick-up line, I decided to cut my losses.

The Cunning Linguist was a good Latinist, and he taught me the meaning of a few common Latin phrases, such as:
"in loco parentis" = "my dad's an engine driver"
"Sic transit gloria mundi" = "Gloria Mundi fell sick on the bus"
"semper ubi sub ubi" = "always wear underwear"

I'm sure Cardinal Ravasi would be impressed.

I, along with most of my peers, am ambivalent about this renewed interest in Latin. Twice bitten, four times shy. The younger brothers are enthusiastic about learning and using Latin, but I doubt that most of them have the dedication to learn it well. I think it is time for the Vatican to face the fact that Latin's day has come and gone. Sic transit gloria mundi, after all.