Archive for August 2007

Bad Greek Puns and my Meeting with the Goddess

August 31, 2007

I am taking Greek 101 this semester on top of my Latin.  I figured that if I were ever to learn the language, I might as well do it while I have Catholic University’s outstanding classics department at my disposal.

On thing that any linguist will tell you is that you need to look for little tricks to help you remember things.  For instance, to remember the English translation(s) for the Latin word, cupiditas, cupiditatis, I noticed that the English words form the word ‘clap’:  cupidity, longing, avarice, and passion (oh yeah, and desire; I guess my acroynm should be ‘clap’d’ or something.) 

So here I am, studying my Greek, the first declension nouns in particular.  For whatever reason, the forms would not stick in my head.  But then, Hermes came to me in a new pair of Nike’s and took me to a goddess (the very same goddess Parmenides spoke to!)  She had been on the decline since she met with Parmenides.  At first everyone seemed to appreciate the wisdom she gave to Parmenides.  She was invited to all of the best parties.

Unfortunately, many people became unsatisfied with her arguments.  Those who did agree with her about motion being an illusion just stood around all day, so she fell out of favor and on to hard times.  She tried writing philosophy books, and she became a very successful philosophy writer.  Unfortunately, she soon learned that being a successful philosopher means that you earn just enough money to buy a pack of cigarettes every week.  She then thought she’d try to work as a goddess in the pantheon of New Age deities, but her application was turned down because New Agers much preferred to just make up their own gods and goddesses rather than worshipping anything real.

I felt sorry for her, and I gave her a few food coupons.  I then asked her if she had any advice for me, a lowly Greek student trying to learn the first declension endings.  Just as with Parmenides, she gave me a cryptic answer, but one with much wisdom:  “I own ice, [jerk]!”  After a few minutes of pondering, I realized the wisdom of her words.  Incidently, the plural endings of the first declension are -ai, -wn, -ais, and -as.  w’s are pronounced like long o’s, and everything else is pronounced as it would be pronounced in English.  So when you say the endings quickly, you say, “I own ice, [jerk]! 

The goddess then offered me a Coke.  At first I thought I would accept, but then I realized that I was having so much fun with nouns that I chose to decline!   


An Article on Mother Teresa

August 24, 2007

I just finished reading a very interesting article on Mother Teresa.  I was aware that Mother Teresa lived through a very dark night in her spiritual life, but recently revealled  correspondence between her and her spiritual directors showed just how great the night was.  To the article’s credit, it does mention John of the Cross’ spiritual doctrine, if only in passing.  Just as much–or more–time is devoted towards sources which mock modern day theists because some of their greatest saints had unbelievable doubts, often about whether or not God existed.

I find such opinions to be interesting, for they show an ignorance of Christianity and its history.  The early Church worshipped its monks and ascetics who gave up worldly goods and sought purification through mortification.  The Church of the middle ages claimed saints that voluntarily begged for their food and owned nothing.  John of the Cross speaks about the purifying role that suffering plays in a person’s spiritual growth.  In all centuries, we honor our martyrs, who gave their lives–often joyfully–for the sake of the Church.  And today, Mother Teresa and her Missionaries give up wordly possessions to help the poorest of the poor.  Other saints–St. Francis and St. Therese of Lisieux, for instance–suffering periods of doubt, feeling as if God wasn’t nearby. 

Maybe it’s just me, but I have come to expect that behind the great saints exists a suffering soul:  the greater the saint, the greater the suffering.  We suffer so as to emulate our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered and died out of love for us.  The saints follow Christ, purifying themselves of a love for all earthly things in order to prepare their hearts for the only Good that can satisfy.

So why is the modern mind so shocked by Mother Teresa’s intense doubts and sufferings?  Why do the atheists quoted in the article foam at the mouth, saying that Mother Teresa demonstrates that if the greatest saints cannot believe, then no one can believe (of course, maybe its a rhetorical question to ask why a Hitchens would foam at the mouth, since such things come standard with the militant atheists.)  Let me just guarantee my readers:  the path to holiness has not changed.  The only thing that has changed is the modern human mind which rejects Christ and His Church.  Our saints have suffered, do suffer, and will evermore suffer until the end of days.  In fact, lesser Christians such as myself wish that God would grant them the grace to accept greater sufferings while simultaneously realizing that they are too weak to handle such trials. 

Mother Teresa’s suffering comes as a surprise only to those people who think Christians choose faith to make life easier, or to get a quick emotional high, to those who know not the basic claim of Christianity that salvation comes through the narrow way, the way of the Cross.  Mother Teresa is a saint not only for her exceptional work among the poor, but because she persisted in faith even through her trials.  She is exceptional because she had faith and walked confidently through her darkness, hoped through her own dispair, and loved though she felt not loved. 

Goodbye, St. Louis

August 17, 2007

I flew back into DC today.  Already, I know that I’m going to miss quite a few things, listed in no particular order.

1.  Inexpensive food and beer. 

2.  Schlafly’s beer.

3.  Being able to run at night without fearing for my life.

4.  Daily Cardinals’ games.

5.  Going to my home parish for Mass.

6.  Family, friends, and the other St. Louis seminarians.

7.  Clean air.

8.  Watching Star Trek: Voyager on a daily basis.

9. Imo’s and Cecilwhittakers’ pizza.

10.  Having a bit of free time which is not taken away by homework and papers.

A Debate on Summorum Pontificum

August 15, 2007

Recently, I was doing a translation of the new Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum to brush up on my Latin in prepartion for a major Latin exam I must take this semester en route to my masters degree.  I got stuck because I missed a verb, and so I looked for the unofficial English translation online.  In the process, I found a discussion about the implemenation of the norms laid out in the document on this blog, run by a Fr. Zuhlsdorf.  I normally would never bother discussing such things, but I found the material important enough to throw my dog into the fight.  Follow this link to see the discussion.

EDIT:  I will keep my Rule:  I will not respond anymore in that thread because it exceeds my three post limit.  However, I think a joke is in order to sum up the comments of my illustrious interlocutor:  What’s the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist?

You can negotiate with a terrorist.