Category Archives: Church Latin


Deep Scars of Thunder is the third book in R.A. Lafferty’s Tetralogy In A Green Tree. Only the first book and some chapters of the second have been published. The rest might not see print for decades. One reviewer of the first book in the series writes :

“My Heart Leaps Up” is a semi-autobiographical work by the great Catholic novelist R.A. Lafferty. Set between 1920 and 1928, it deals with a group of Catholic schoolchildren in Tulsa, Oklahoma—though, in true Lafferty fashion, these children also represent the eternality of the Church. Unlike most of Lafferty’s work (which fits uncomfortably within the science fiction and fantasy genres), this is a work of mainstream fiction. There are strong fantasy elements, but they fall more under the heading of “magic realism” or tall tale than under fantasy proper. As such, newcomers might find “My Heart Leaps Up” to be more accessible than more outlandish novels like “Fourth Mansions” or “Arrive at Easterwine.” (Though, truth be told, the book is only as “easy” as you make it; scratch the surface, and it is as complex, disturbing, and finely-tuned as anything in the man’s oeuvre.) In fact, I can imagine that with the proper distribution and promotion, this novel could have helped to establish Lafferty as a major American novelist. Frustratingly, “My Heart Leaps Up” is only the first installment of a much longer series. The other volumes—“Grasshoppers and Wild Honey,” “Deep Scars of Thunder,” and “Incidents of Travel in Flatland”—were written but have yet to be published. Hopefully we will see those books someday. But incomplete or not, “My Heart Leaps Up” is still an impressive work by one of America’s very greatest, though least known, writers. “My Heart Leaps Up” was originally published in the 1980’s as a series of five chapbooks, each containing two chapters apiece. The first two chapters of “Grasshoppers and Wild Honey” were also published in the early 1990’s. You should still be able to obtain these books at their original prices, so beware any used booksellers offering them for exorbitant amounts.

* * *

That great theologian, Perpetua Linneen O’Donovan, saw the new situation almost at once, and she cast it in a series of parables .

“There was once a large and happy family, each of whose members understood all the others perfectly,” one of her parables went. “There had never been such perfect understanding in the world since Pentecost Morning. In fact it was still Pentecost Morning going on in clarity and grace from one end of the world to the other. Chinese people and Tagalogs, Goanese and Nigerians, people from Belgium and Bolivia, from Austria and Australia, from Lithuania and Lebanon, from Greece and Germany, from France and Frisia, from Moravia and Mauritania, from Spain and Somiland, from Mexico and Madagascar, all understood each other perfectly, especially when they met for the wonderful morning supper that was the central act of the world.

“‘How can this be?’ the enemy asked. ‘The words are in a tongue called dead, and the running translation of them is hardly glanced at now and then. They are understanding each other outside of the bare language. Maybe there is a way to queer that understanding.’ The enemy thereupon launched a great campaign so that each should say the morning supper in his own tongue: and in the most effete and trivialized words possible. And the campaign was a success, and the people jabbered in their six hundred and sixty-six different tongues. They all understood the words they jabbered, inasmuch as words stripped down and then stripped down again can have much understanding left in them. But they didn’t understand the other six hundred and sixty-five jabbers, and they didn’t understand anything that went deeper than the jabberings. So they lost it all, by being overly concerned with the tongues that were not tongues-of-fire. They lost it completely. They wrote the end to Pentecost and to Pentecostal understanding.”

“It is a good parable, Perpetua,” Monica Sheen said. “’We understand it in all the intricate depth of it, and the words you use do not matter much.” Perpetua had been speaking about the new movement and attack on the Church, from outside and from on the fringes of the Church, to have the Mass said in the vernacular tongues. And she understood correctly the intent behind that movement.

“There is a further parable,” Perpetua said. “There was a man who enjoyed good health, exuberant health, wonderful health, spectacular health, he and all his household. But one day a Medical Hit Team came and nailed a quarantine sign on his door. The sign declared all that household sick unto death. ‘You must have the wrong address,’ the householder said. ‘This is our house and the address of it is Number One, Central Avenue. And there is nobody here suffering such sickness as to call for quarantine or other drastic measures.’ ‘We really don’t pay much attention,’ the leader of the Medical Hit Team said. ‘We figure that everybody is sick, and when we are on a ‘hit’ there is just no way we can miss. Ah, boys, lets just give him a couple of shots to cure that stubbornness in him. And let’s do the same to all his family. ‘I am not sick, I am not sick,’ the man still insisted. ‘OOOF! What poison did you shoot me with? Rather I should say that I was not sick. I am now.’ ‘Ah fine,’ said the hit chief. ‘Now let’s just lay him down and start taking things out of him. He’s got dogmaitis, and the false health that goes with it. Let’s start pitching those things out of him. The hit team worked that man over pretty thoroughly then. And in a very little while they had him down where he was on the balance between life and death. ‘How do you feel now?’ the hitsters asked the householder. ‘Not very good,’ the man said, ‘but if you’d just put back in me a few of those things you took out, maybe—’ ‘What we have taken out is taken out forever,’ the Captain of the Hit said.

“But it is to ourselves that the Hit Teams are coming, to take drastic liberties with our health, when our health itself is at its most exuberant and its most nearly perfect.”

“It is a good parable, Perpetua,” James Tyrone said. “Councils have always been called when the Church was very sick. The life of the Church has several times been saved by them, but always at great expense. Something vital is always given up to save the life, but in most cases it is the question whether the Council or the sickness was the worse. But now, when the Church is in such exuberant health, why should the dangerous expedient of a Council be visited upon her? There is a great misunderstanding somewhere. Or a great subversion. Who are these giggling creatures whetting axes and hatchets so noisily in the wings?”

They were all talking about the Council which the New Pope had said that he intended to call. They were all alarmed, because he had used all the code words and trick phrases of all the trick enemies of the Church in making the announcement.

“But the Church Herself cannot fail, nor can the Pope, nor can the Holy Ghost,” Beatrice Belle pointed out.

“But all three come very near to failure, again and again,” Perpetua insisted. “They put themselves to the test, and they put us to the test. Then let us respond in good faith to an attack that is in the form of riddles, all of them on the face of them in bad faith. This will come out all right finally, as it must. But we are obliged to take such steps as we can, to see that it does come out all right. We are among the effectors.”

Thereupon some of them formed the ‘Let-It-Alone-Dammit-Society’. They would try to prevent the dismantlers from dismantling the Church and the World.

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THE REVEALING APPENDIX to our forthcoming study of the Rhemes-Douai Bible of 1582/1609-10.

In the Appendix to our forthcoming study of the Rhemes-Douai English Catholic Bible of 1582/1609-10 we have discovered a critical diminution in the original Latinate-English Lexicon of the Rhemes 1582 New Testament through one of its later so-called “Revisions”. We have confined the word-list to the Apostle’s Epistles for they are the especial wellspring from which the Church draws her doctrines, liturgy and language. We at Hunted City feel that the data contained within the Appendix should be made available now rather than later for we know not what city we will be in tomorrow but “If our Lord will: and, If we shall live, we will do this or that.” The list is by-no-means complete. Some words of repeated occurrence are left out. In a subsequent edition we will preserve the original spellings of the Rhemes edition in the word list rather than modernizing the orthography.

Vulgate – Rhemes – Challoner Appendix.pdf (1 mb)


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Giles of Viterbo on ROME as the continuation of ISRAEL and thus the converging point of ALL RELIGIOUS HISTORY.

Taken from Giles of Viterbo: A Reformer’s Thought on Renaissance Rome by John W. O’Malley, S.J. Source: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Spring, 1967), pp. 1-11 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Renaissance Society of America.

For Giles the most significant artistic endeavor was the decision to glorify anew the basilica dedicated to the Prince of the Apostles, and he eloquently extols the idea of raising the new church ‘up to the very heavens,’ ad coelum usque. Giles wants to see the new basilica so constructed as to be ‘a most magnificent edifice, that God might more magnificently be adored,’ magnificentissimus esset locus,… tit Deus magnificentius adoretur.

The full impact of Giles’s enthusiasm for the new Saint Peter’s is not realized until it is seen in relationship to the Roman character of the Christian Church. Spiritual though Giles would have the Church be, he did not want to disembody it. As a matter of fact, there is in his thinking a rather paradoxical contrast between the Church conceived as with-drawn, eremitical and ‘spiritual,’ and the Church conceived as ‘Roman,’ i.e., as divinely committed to a particular city and as the providential continuation of the empire.

Giles exults in the Roman character of the Church. He feels that this aspect of the Church’s reality demonstrates it to be the continuation of Israel and thus the converging point of all religious history. He delights in contrasting Rome with Jerusalem and the hill of the Vatican with the hill of Sion, and he regards the Roman Church as the superb fulfillment of all that was promised in the ‘Synagogue.’ Rome is, in a word, the ‘the holy Latin Jerusalem,’ sancta latina Ierusalem, the holy city par excellence.

“… Legi Evangelia, gens Hebraeis, Europa Asiae, Roma Ierosolymae, et Sion monti praeponitur Vaticanus.”

Giles is clear, nevertheless, on what the single historical fact was which demonstrated Rome’s claim to be the center of the religious world. Rome was the site to which Peter and Paul came, and it was hallowed by their preaching and martyrdoms. Rome thus participated in Peter’s primacy and was the heir to his bequest of sanctity and sound doctrine.

Giles seems to have pictured a series of concentric circles of divine predilection radiating out from Saint Peter’s tomb: from the tomb to the Vatican, from the Vatican to the city of Rome, from Rome to Etruria, from Etruria to the rest of Italy, and from Italy to the whole world. Giles thus arrives at a practical identification of the Church with the empire, especially with the empire in its idealized form as embracing all mankind.

But perhaps more telling than the comparison of Church with empire is that of Saint Peter’s basilica with the Temple of Solomon: the former is even now rising to new magnificence on the hill of the Vatican and will endure forever, just as the empire and Church will endure forever, whereas Solomon’s Temple did not even last until the end of the Old Dispensation.

Rome was, in every sense of the word, the focal center for Giles’s thought on Church and reform. Around Rome, or more precisely, around the Vatican, or more precisely still, around Saint Peter’s basilica the whole rest of the world turned. Rome, corrupt and meretricious though it might be, was the spiritual center of the universe around which all mankind – Christian, Jew, pagan, and Turk – soon would be gathered in the great gathering of all peoples, the plenitudo gentium, which would be the hallmark for the apocalyptic consummation of history in the tenth age of the world, the fullness of time, the plenitudo temporis.

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Henry Edward Cardinal Manning’s English Translation (1875) of Pope Boniface VIII’s Bull UNAM SANCTUM (1302)

Taken from The Vatican Decrees in their bearing on Civil Allegiance. By Henry Edward Archbishop of Westminster. New York : The Catholic Publication Society. 1875

We are bound to believe and to hold, by the obligation of faith, one Holy Church, Catholic and also Apostolic ; and this (Church) we firmly believe and in simplicity confess : out of which there is neither salvation nor remission of sins. As the Bridegroom declares in the Canticles, “One is my dove, my perfect one, she is the only one of her mother, the chosen of her that bore her :” who represents the one mystical Body, the Head of which is Christ ; and the Head of Christ is God. In which, (the one Church) there is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. For in the time of the Flood the ark of Noe was one, prefiguring the one Church, which was finished in one cubit, and had one governor and ruler, that is Noe ; outside of which we read that all things subsisting upon earth were destroyed. This also we venerate as one, as the Lord says in the Prophet, “Deliver, O God, my soul from the sword : my only one from the hand of the dog.”

For He prayed for the soul, that is, for Himself ; for the Head together with the Body : by which Body He designated the one only Church, because of the unity of the Bridegroom, of the Faith, of the Sacraments, and of the charity of the Church. This is that coat of the Lord without seam, which was not rent but went by lot. Therefore of that one and only Church there is one body and one Head, not two heads as of a monster : namely, Christ and Christ’s Vicar, Peter and Peter’s successor ; for the Lord Himself said to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” Mine, He says, generally ; and not, in particular, these or those : by which He is known to have committed all to him. If, therefore, Greeks or others say that they were not committed to Peter and his successors, they must necessarily confess that they are not of the sheep of Christ, for the Lord said (in the Gospel) by John, that there is “One fold, and one only shepherd.” By the words of the Gospel we are instructed that in this his (that is, Peter’s) power there are two swords, the spiritual and the temporal. For when the Apostles say, “Behold, here are two swords,” that is, in the Church, the Lord did not say, “It is too much,” but “it is enough.” Assuredly, he who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter, gives ill heed to the word of the Lord, saying, “Put up again thy sword into its place.” Both, therefore, the spiritual sword and the material sword are in the power of the Church. But the latter (the material sword) is to be wielded on behalf of the Church ; the former (the spiritual) is to be wielded by the Church : the one by the hand of the priest ; the other by the hand of kings and soldiers, but at the suggestion and sufferance of the priest. The one sword ought to be subject to the other, and the temporal authority ought to be subject to the spiritual power. For whereas the Apostle says, “There is no power but from God ; and those that are, are ordained of God ;” they would not be ordained (or ordered) if one sword were not subject to the other, and as the inferior directed by the other to the highest end. For, according to the blessed Dionysius, it is the law of the Divine order that the lowest should be guided to the highest by those that are intermediate. Therefore, according to the order of the universe, all things are not in equal and immediate subordination ; but the lowest things are set in order by things intermediate, and things inferior by things superior. We ought, therefore, as clearly to confess that the spiritual power, both in dignity and excellence, exceeds any earthly power, in proportion as spiritual things are better than things temporal. This we see clearly from the giving, and blessing, and sanctifying of tithes, from the reception of the power itself, and from the government of the same things. For, as the truth bears witness, the spiritual power has to instruct, and judge the earthly power, if it be not good ; and thus the prophecy of Jeremias is verified of the Church and the ecclesiastical power : “Lo, I have set thee this day over the nations and over kingdoms,” &c. If, therefore, the earthly power deviates (from its end), it will be judged by the spiritual ; but if a lesser spiritual power trangresses, it will be judged by its superior : but if the supreme (deviates), it can be judged, not by man, but by God alone, according to the words of the Apostle : “The spiritual man judges all things ; he himself is judged by no one.” This authority, though given to man and exercised through man, is not human, but rather Divine—given by the Divine voice to Peter, and confirmed to him and his successors in Him whom Peter confessed, the Rock, for the Lord said to Peter : “Whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”

Whosoever therefore resists this power that is so, ordered by God, resists the ordinance of God, unless, as Manichæus did, he feign to himself two principles, which we condemn as false and heretical ; for, as Moses witnesses, “God created heaven and earth not in the beginnings, but in the beginning.” Moreover, we declare, affirm, define, and pronounce it to be necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

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A 17th Century English Translation of THE CREED OF ATHANASIUS

Whosoever will be saved, it is needful before all things that he hold the Catholic faith.

The which unless each one shall keep whole, and inviolate ; he shall without doubt eternally perish.

And this is the Catholic faith, that we worship one God in Trinity ; and Trinity in unity.

Neither confounding the persons, nor yet separating the substance.

For there is one person of the father, another of the son, another of the holy Ghost.

But the God-head of the father, and of the son, and of the holy Ghost is one, equal glory, co-eternal Majesty.

Such as the father is, such is the son, such is the holy Ghost.

The Father increat, the Son increat, the holy Ghost increat.

The Father immeasurable, the Son immeasurable, the holy Ghost immeasurable.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal, the holy Ghost eternal.

And yet not three eternals, but one eternal.

Like as there are not three increat, nor three immeasurables ; but one increat, and one immeasurable.

Even so the Father almighty, the son almighty, the holy Ghost almighty.

And yet not three almighties, but one almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the holy Ghost God.

And yet there there is not three Gods, but there is one God.

So the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the holy Ghost Lord.

And yet there are not three Lords, but there is one Lord.

For that even as we are compelled by Christian verity to acknowledge each persons severally to be God and Lord : even so we are forbidden by Catholic Religion to say there are three Gods or Lords.

The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten.

The Son is of the Father alone ; neither made, nor created, but begotten.

The holy Ghost of the Father, and the Son ; not made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

There is therefore one Father, not three Fathers ; one son, not three sons ; one holy Ghost, not three holy Ghosts.

And yet in this Trinity nothing is before, nor after, nothing greater or lesser ; but the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.

So as throughout all, as is above said ; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

He therefore that will be saved, let him so think of the trinity.

But necessary it is unto eternal salvation that he faithfully believe the incarnation also of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The right faith therefore is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.

God he is of the substance of the Father begotten before all worlds ; and man of the substance of his mother born in the world.

Perfect God, and perfect man ; of a reasonable soul, and human flesh subsisting.

Equal to the Father according to Godhead ; less than the Father according to manhood.

Who although he be God and man, yet not two, but he is one Christ.

One not by conversion of God-head into flesh, but by taking of manhood into God.

One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.

For like as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man ; so God and man is one Christ.

Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead.

He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father almighty, from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

At whose coming all men are to rise with their bodies, and are to render account of their own deeds.

And they which have done good shall go into life everlasting ; but they which have done evil, into everlasting fire.

This is the Catholic faith, which unless every one shall faithfully and firmly believe, he cannot be saved.

Transcribed by E.T.H. III from The Primer, or Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to the Reformed Latin ; with like graces Priviledged. At Antwerpe, Printed by Balthasar Moret. 1658.

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RAPHAEL ALOYSIUS LAFFERTY’S Burlesqued Black Mass in his book Past Master

In R.A. Lafferty’s Past Master, Thomas More is brought from 1535 to 2535 to save a “utopia” based upon his work. As Thomas finds out more about Astrobe, he begins to feel like a science fiction writer who lives in his own sour joke of a world. Judith Merril writes of Past Master:

“It is a minor miracle that a serious philosophical and speculative work should be written so colorfully and so lyrically. There is, happily, no way to categorize the book: it has elements of science fiction, of pure fantasy, of poetry, of historical fiction; it is sharply critical and marvelously gentle; very serious and irrepressibly funny; profoundly symbolic and gutsy-realistic by (unexpected) turns. A first-rank speculative work.”

The following extract is an hilarious episode lampooning, one might surmise, the liturgical changes happening in 1968 when the book was written. This scribe highly recommends delving into the Lafferty canon for his Catholic imagination is on par with Dante or Shakespeare.

___But one thing seemed to be lacking on Astrobe, and it puzzled Thomas.
___“Where do the people attend mass?” he asked as he stood in the middle of golden Cosmopolis.
___“They don’t, Thomas ; they havn’t for centuries,” Paul told him. “Oh, there are a very few who do sometimes. I do myself on occasions, but I am a freak and usually classed as a criminal. And in Cathead there has been a new appearance of the thing, along with other oddities. But not one person in ten thousand on Astrobe has ever attended.
___“Are there no churches at all, then?”
___“In Cathead and the Barrio and the feral strips there are a very few that might still be called by the name. Such buildings as remain in Cosmopolis and the other Cities are under the department of antiquities. Some of them have period statuary that is of interest to the specialist. While mass itself cannot be found in any of them here, the replica can be played on demand.”
___“Let us go to one of them.”
___After groping about in some rather obscure streets that Paul knew imperfectly, they found one. It was quite small and tucked away in a corner. They entered. There was the sense of total emptiness. There was no Presence.
___“I wonder what time is the next mass.” Thomas said. “Or the mass that is not quite a mass. I’m not sure that I understand you on it.”
___“Oh, put in a stoimenof d’or in the slot, and push the button. Then the mass will begin.”
___Thomas did. And it did.
___The priest came up out of the floor. He was not human, unless he was zombie human. He was probably not even a programmed person. He may have been a mechanical device. He wore a pearl-gray derby hat, swish-boy sideburns, and common green shorts or breechcloth. His depilated torso was hermaphroditic. He or it smoked a long weedjy-weed cigarette in a period holder. He began to jerk and to intone with dreadful dissonance.
___Then a number of other contrivances arrived from somewhere, intoning in mock chorus to the priest, and twanging instruments.
___“For the love of Saint Jack, what are those, Paul?” Thomas asked in bewilderment. “Are those not the instruments described by Dante as played in lowest Hell? Why the whole thing has turned into a dirty burlesque, Paul, played out with unclean puppets. Why, Paul why?”
___“Oh, it had really turned into such a thing before it died, Thomas. This is what the Church and the Mass had become when it was taken over by the government as a curiosity and an antique.”

___Well, the replica mass ran its short course to the jerking and bawling of the ancient ritual guitar. At sermon time was given a straight news-broadcast, so that one should not be out of contact with the world for the entire fifteen minutes.
___At the Consecration, a sign lit up : “Brought to you Courtesy of Grailo Grape-Ape, the Finest of the Bogus Wines.
___The bread was ancient-style hot-dog rolls. The puppets or mechanisms danced up orgasmically and used the old vein needle before taking the rolls.
___“How do you stop the dirty little thing?” Thomas asked.
___“Push the Stop button,” Paul said. “Here, I’ll do it.” And he stopped it.
___“Why, I wonder how it all came about,” Thomas said. “That snake on a stick, is it meant to be the Christ? Is that leering whore holding the deformed monkey meant to be the Virgin? A dirty little burlesque, a dreary bit of devil worship. But even dirty burlesques are not made out of nothing. Had the mass really fallen so low?”
___“So I have read, Thomas. It fell to just this low estate before it became ritually frozen.”

More Praise for Past Master :

“Marvelously inventive…. Profound wit and high adventure are urged on by the Lafferty madness that till now we have only seen in his short stories. The vision is peppered with nightmare: witches, lazarus-lions, hydras, porche’s-panthers, programmed killers that never fail, and a burlesqued black mass. One hears of black comedy? There are places in PAST MASTER where humor goes positively ultraviolet.” – Samuel R. Delany

“I read it in one sitting; I couldn’t put it down. Lafferty has the power which sets fires behind your eyeballs. There is warmth, illumination and a certain joy attendant upon the experience. He’s good.” – Roger Zelazny

“Lafferty’s first full-length work is an event. As with everything the man writes, the wind of imagination blows strongly, with the happy difference that in a novel he can reach full gale-force, Lafferty defies categorization; his work is unlike anyone else’s. This is a great galloping madman of a novel, drenched in sound and color.” – Harlan Ellison


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MONUMENT TO ST. HIERONYMUS from the Preface to the Vita Malachi of Reginald of Canterbury (1050-1109)

Interpresque sacer fuit hostis et hostibus acer
Dogmatis ac fidei nostrae pacis requiei
Illum vesanus pavet hostes Iovinianus
Arrius et Photinus, Origenes atque Rufinus
Non abiit immunis quem tu, Ieronime, punis.
Tu pestes rabidas verbi mucrone trucidas.
Omnes lascivi, nebulones atque nocivi
Te destestantur, metuunt et amara precantur.
Lubrica te tellus, iuvenes cunctusque popellus,
Teque proci matrum, te matres teque theatrum
Urbes et vici, portus tibi sunt inimici.

Te posuit lumen sapientia, dans tibi flumen
Quo flueres vivo felix septemplice rivo ;
Nempe tuo vivi septem de pectore rivi
Insimul emanant qui languida pectora sanant.
Et cibus est menti doctrina tui documenti
Palladis ad cenam cupienti scandere plenam.
Tu iam duxque viae, tu fons splendorque sophiae
Monstrans namque viam cupidus potare sophiam.

(A translator of holy writings was he and a terrible foe ;
To the foes of our faith, of our creed, of our peace and our rest, a merciless goad ;
The wild Jovinian feared him fully
As did Arius and Phontius, Origen and Rufinus.
He goes not unscathed, whom you, Jerome will punish.
For the sword of your tongue disembowels pestiferous beasts.
All the lascivious, the crass, the harmful detest you :
They fear and call down curses upon you.
The sinful world, youth, and the shadowy people,
The wooers of wives, bad mothers, theatrical fools,
The ports, the cities and towns all repulse you.

Wisdom holds you up as light, granting you eloquence
Wherewith, in sevenfold stream, you happily gleam :
From your heart seven living rivers flow,
Curing the hearts of the languid.
The knowledge of your wares is a food for the mind ; a banquet
For one desiring to approach the full table of knowledge.
You are a guide, and a leader on the way ;
You are a fount, and the splendor of wisdom
Lighting the path before those desirous of devouring wisdom.)

Taken from A Monument to Saint Jerome : Essays on Some Aspects of His Life, Works, and Influence edited by Francis X. Murphy, C.SS.R. New York, 1952.

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A devowte invocatyon and prayer of all the blessed names of our Lorde Jesu Chryste as we find them written ✠ in holy scripture.

Omnipotens ✠ Dominus ✠ Christus ✠ Messias ✠ Sother ✠ Emmanuel ✠ Sabaoth ✠ Adonay ✠ Unigenitus ✠ Via ✠ Vita ✠ Manus ✠ Homo[✠]usion ✠ Salvator ✠ Alpha ✠ et Omega ✠ Fons ✠ Origo ✠ Spes ✠ Fides ✠ Charitas ✠ Oza ✠ Agnus ✠ Oius ✠ Vitulus ✠ Serpens ✠ Aries ✠ Leo ✠ Vermis ✠ Primus ✠ Novissimus ✠ Rex ✠ Pater ✠ Filius ✠ Spiritus sanctus ✠ Ego sum ✠ Qui sum ✠ Creator ✠ Eternus ✠ Redemptor ✠ Trinitas ✠ Unitas ✠ Clemens ✠ Caput ✠ Otheotecos ✠ Tetragrammaton ✠

Ista nomina me protegant et defendant ab omni adversitate plaga et infirmitate corporis et anime, plene liberent et assistant michi in auxilium.

Ista nomina regum, videlicet Jaspar, Melchior, Balthasar. Et duodecim apostoli Domini nostri Jesu Christi : quorum nomina sunt hec. Petrus, Paulus, Andreas, Jacobus, Philippus, Jacobus, Symon, Thadeus, Thomas, Bartholomeus. Et quattuor evangeliste, quorum nomina sunt hec. Marcus, Matheus, Lucas, Johannes : michi assistant in omnibus necessitatibus meis : ac me defendant et liberent ab omnibus periculis, tentationibus et angustijs corporis et anime : et ab uniuersis malis presentibus, preteritis et futuris, me custodiant nunc et in eternum. [Amen. Oremus.]

O Domine Jesu Christe in tuam protectionem me indignum famulum tuum N. (vel famulam tuam N.) hodie et omni tempore committo in protectionem angelorum et archangelorum : in protectione apostolorum et prophetarum, martyrum, confessorum et virginum et in protectionem omnium sanctorum tuorum tali commissione qua commisisti sanctam virginem Mariam, matrem tuam, sancto Johanni evangeliste in cruce, taliter me indignum famulum tuum N. (vel famulam tuam N.) hodie et omni tempore custodire, benedicere, protegere et salvare digneris : a subitanea et improvisa morte et ab omni fantasmate diabolico et ab omnibus hostibus malis visibilibus et inuisibilibus. Amen. [Pater noster. Ave.]

Transcribed by E.T.H. III from Horae Eboracenses : The Prymer or Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary, according to the Use of the Illustrious Church of York with other Devotions as they were used by the Lay-folk in the Northern Province in the XVth and XVIth Centuries published for the Surtees Society. London. 1920.

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Growth and Character of Liturgical Latin

from the Introduction to Legendo : A Simple Approach to the Latin of the Liturgy (1945) by Vilma Gertrude Little. Copies of this “gem” of a book are available at Ecclesiastical Latin.

¶ ONE of the most striking of the facts which emerge from a study of the unfolding of God’s plan for the salvation of the human race is the extraordinary manner in which personalities or institutions that are to play an important part in that plan are prepared and led up to by a long chain of circumstances stretching maybe across thousands of years. Nothing is improvised, nothing is left to chance, but slowly and patiently each instrument is shaped and fashioned for the end to which it is destined.

¶ Nowhere perhaps is this fact more apparent than in the growth of those three languages: Hebrew, Greek and Latin, which figured in the official title above the Cross of our Saviour. In that three-fold inscription we may witness the drawing together of the three great forces which were to stamp our faith with an unmistakable and indelible seal. Here we have the mysticism of the Hebrew soul, the philosophical clarity of the Greek mind, the sane unemotional balance of the Roman genius for organization and preservation, by means of which that same faith was to spread all over the civilized world. The language of each has left its mark and that language reflects the character and history of the people who evolved it. 

¶ Thus Hebrew is a veritable epitome of the history of God’s dealings with his Chosen People. Against that background of wonder and mystery, of dark cloud and of fiery flame the language developed, a language permeated by the all-pervading, yet unseen presence of God. This atmosphere of awe and mystery is still further emphasized by the fact that the ancient Hebrew script did not provide for any representation of the vowel sounds. These sounds, formed as they are by an emission of breath, are, so to speak, the life and soul of a word. As such they were considered sacred, an emanation of divine life itself, and any attempt to represent them by signs would be a sacrilege. Therefore the full sense of the sacred writings had to be handed down by oral tradition, and it was not until long after the first translations into Greek that a system of vowel points was evolved. This fact alone would account for much that is obscure and hard of understanding in the Scriptures, especially the Psalter, the great book of Hebrew religious poetry which has become the most precious heirloom of the Christian Church, the vade-mecum of generations of her children and the training school of her great contemplatives. Thus it is no exaggeration to say that the role of the Hebrew language in the preparation of the Gospel is to drive home the conception of the inscrutable mystery of God, a conception vitally necessary for a right attitude towards our faith.

¶ While the contribution of the Hebrew was an awareness of mystery, that of the Greek was a sense of light. Whereas the one stands with veiled eyes before the God whom he passionately adores yet cannot look upon and live, the other, serene and detached, seeks to contemplate Him in his essence as eternal truth. Throughout the development of Greek thought one characteristic stands out clear: the will to give a rational account of things as they are, the search for truth that is never sacrificed to mere beauty or emotion. The course of their history, the circumstances of their environment shaped a people whose eager, questioning minds gave to their language a clarity which reflected back upon their philosophical thought. For while it is true that thought must precede speech it is no less true that speech once formed, exercises an influence on all future thought from which it is almost impossible to escape. It has been said: “The success and endurance of any systematic construction of truth, be it secular or sacred, depends as much upon an exact terminology as upon close and deep thinking itself.”

¶ If this be conceded who will deny the importance of such a language as Greek during the early centuries of the Christian era? It was an era of great possibilities and of still greater perils. Men’s minds were being swept along by the irresistible force of the new doctrines and conceptions that Christianity had brought; and the need for clear definitions of the truth, as a safeguard against possible misinterpretations was becoming more and more pressing. Then the contribution of a language capable of being moulded to the clear expression of vital truths was of incalculable assistance to the infant Church. Indeed at the very gateway, so to speak, of our Faith we encounter the untranslatable LOGOS with which St. John opens his Gospel, where stripping the term of the vague metaphysical significance given it by Alexandrian philosophy, he identifies it with the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, thus enshrining for all time in a single word the Catholic belief in Christ as the substantial utterance, in time and eternity, of the MIND of God.

¶ Again it is well known how the insidious Nestorian heresy was routed by a single word when the people of Ephesus ran about the streets shouting Theotokos! Theotokos! for in that one word the great truth of the two Natures in one Person was crystallised and made safe for future generations of the faithful. Thus it was that the fundamental doctrines of our holy religion were, so to speak, nailed down and held fast by a phraseology that centuries of Greek philosophical thought had made possible. 

¶ Yet, in spite of this it was not Greek that, in God’s providence, was to become the liturgical language of the West and the mouthpiece of Christ’s Vicar on earth. It was essential that neither of the influences which had contributed to the formation of the Christian mentality should oust the other. The deep sense of awe and mystery, the conviction that our God is a hidden God transcending all our efforts to comprehend Him must ever be strong in the Christian mind. Existing alongside this conviction is the consciousness, which is one of the glories of the Catholic mentality, that though the conception of God transcends our understanding, yet it does not contradict the exigencies of our reason which finds its most satisfying activity and its highest dignity in the study of his divine attributes.

¶ So when the great fundamental dogmas had been defined and a terminology evolved to be the criterion of future speculation on the Christian mysteries, we see the advent of another great force which was to preserve and propagate that which divine providence had allowed to be made clear, and from this point the two streams destined to aliment the Church’s spiritual life continue to flow, no longer apart, but mingling their waters in the mighty aqueduct of the Roman tongue.

¶ It would be well to fix that idea in mind: the power of Rome and the language of Rome destined to preserve and propagate the Church’s doctrinal teaching. One cannot, of course, affirm that they were so predestined, but in the light of history it certainly does look as though divine providence had watched in a special way over the forging of an instrument which was to play such an important part in the economy of the world’s salvation.

¶ No doubt you have read some Roman history and you know something of the people who evolved the language which was to become our Christian mother tongue. Two characteristics especially stand out clear. They were great builders and great legislators. They built those straight firm roads along which the Gospel message was carried to the ends of the world, as it was then known; roads that have become both a symbol and a household word. The familiar saying: “All roads lead to Rome” really means what it says, for, as at that time every road that could really claim to be such did indeed lead back to the city whence it had come, so it is always true to say that any way not leading to a centre cannot claim to be a true road but is merely an aimless track. The Roman road therefore appears to us a type of Our Lord who claimed to be the Way, the true road leading to the only true centre of things.

¶ This people too excelled in building bridges, of which they apparently grasped the symbolism since they united the office of bridge-builder and the priestly function under the one title of Pontifex, here again symbolical of Christ, our Pontifex Magnus, the great Bridge-builder who was to bridge the deep gulf that separated man from God. They built also those wonderful aqueducts to carry the clear sparkling water which never fails to remind one of that water of life which Our Lord claimed to have brought. Finally, when we recall that the Romans were the great legislators who laid the foundations of our modem law systems, our thoughts instinctively turn to Christ, our true Law-giver.

¶ All these characteristics and activities have left their impress on the language, fitting it in a remarkable manner for the part it was to be called upon to play. It is a language which has all the solidity of rock. Whether the style be rugged and massive, or chiselled and highly polished it always retains a certain hardness which does not admit of frills or loose ends. Its closely-knit sentences are straightforward and logical, balanced and measured like well planned architecture; their structure is such that judgement must be suspended until all aspects have been viewed so that the final decision as to its meaning is possible only at the end. It thus prevents hasty opinions and helps to form a far-seeing mind. It is both precise and concise, incapable of being translated without losing something either of its force or its meaning.

¶ Developing along these lines, by the time such a language had reached its zenith its native hardness had petrified in a style that was clear and cold as ice; its balanced periods aimed more at perfection of form than at depth of thought; it had lost the human touch and become rhetorical and often artificial. But with the advent of Christianity a new soul was infused into the stony form, new words and expressions were coined to give utterance to new truths. Without losing any of its essential qualities, it began to live again with a higher life than it had ever known.

¶ Here then we have a body prepared as it were to enshrine the soul of the Church’s doctrinal teaching, thereby preserving it from change and corruption. What this fact means and has meant to the purity of Catholic dogma we can scarcely estimate, and we can only lift up our hearts in deep thankfulness that such a safeguard has been given us. Through it we can identify our Mass of to-day with the Sacrifice of primitive Christianity to an extent which would never have been possible had there been no fixed liturgical language or one so loosely constructed as to admit of a variety of conflicting meanings; for twist and tum our translations as we may, to suit the changing fashions of our vernacular speech, the solemn dialogue between Celebrant and People still remains the same, still sends up the same words of praise and petition now as through the ages. Thus the continuity of our faith is vindicated by the continuity of the very words in which that faith’s most solemn mystery is enshrined: Lex orandi, lex credendi.

¶ What Mass in the vernacular would mean we dare not contemplate. Apart from the loss of unity of language, visible sign of the unity of faith, how much of its inner spirit would be lost or wrongly interpreted. What subtle shades of meaning might be overlooked. Take one instance only among many that might be cited. Four times before the Consecration the Priest turns to his flock crying out to them: “Dominus vobiscum: The Lord with you!” There is no verb, yet who does not grasp his message? “May Our Lord be with you; yes, I promise you He will soon be with you.” Once again after the Communion he turns and greets us with the self-same words into which, for those who have followed the Sacrifice to its logical conclusion, a fuller meaning has now been infused. Dominus vobiscum: “The Lord with you! He is with you now; I have fulfilled my ministry and given you Him whom my four-fold greeting promised.”

¶ How could such a delicate touch ever be rendered in any other tongue? A translation must either forgo the time-honoured formula or sacrifice a subtle shade of meaning that is not even expressed but simply understood. And so in many other instances, as soon as an attempt is made to render the liturgical text in any other tongue there is the risk of introducing a thought or an idea which is not in the original, or of taking away a shade of meaning that is there though maybe not always perceived. The same applies to the rare instances of obscurity or uncertainty in the Latin text. Such, wherever it occurs, is almost always traceable to that original Hebrew element of mystery. Here the liturgical text is content to fix and preserve the mystery rather than attempt to elucidate it by a guess at the meaning as any vernacular rendering must do if it is to be acceptable. And the humble, patient soul will often gain far more from a sentence that apparently makes no sense than from a polished gloss from which the mystery has departed. When the time has come for such obscurities to be cleared up, then the voice of Authority, guided by the Holy Spirit, will speak. In the meantime the Latin text stands like a faithful sentinel, guarding the sacred deposit.

¶ This brief introduction will have served its purpose if it spurs you on to take a greater interest in our venerable liturgical tongue and helps you to realize its fitness for its high vocation. Further acquaintance will convince you that this is no dead language, but a speech more truly alive than any other. In the daily round of Mass and Office it is used all over the civilized world and there is no reason why we Catholics of the West should not become as familiar with it as our medieval ancestors were, especially as our facilities for learning are greater than were theirs. Indeed it ought to be a cause of profound shame for any Catholic who is able to read to be ignorant of his spiritual mother-tongue. To acquire it is no superhuman task if only people will apply to it the same principles of commonsense which they do not hesitate to make use of in other departments. Those false prophets who gloomily assure us that an understanding of the language of the Church is far beyond the capacity of “Everyman,” and that therefore it is a waste of time trying to teach him, seem to forget altogether that every Catholic has received the Holy Spirit, master of the gift of tongues. Has this Spirit then lost the power He manifested at Pentecost? Or should we not rather believe that He can and will enlighten the understanding and sharpen the faculties of those who, solely from supernatural motives, beg for help in their efforts to acquire a knowledge of their Christian mothertongue? Who knows if the response to such a petition might not be far greater than one could have expected? The Holy Spirit will not be deaf to any request concerning the needs of the Church, and surely the most urgent need to-day is to arouse in the Catholic consciousness a vivid sense of belonging to a Kingdom which transcends the limits of nationalities. The bond of a common language should be one of the most powerful means of achieving this. 

¶ Let us then hold fast to this our birthright, handed down to us English Catholics in an unbroken tradition from St. Gregory the Great and St. Augustine of Canterbury; let us cherish this noble privilege of a common Christian tongue, bond of union between all Catholics of the West. In it we shall find a strong defence against the organized forces of evil, as well as a deepening of our spiritual life.

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