Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Speaking of and in Latin

Out and about for the summer between my first and second years of theology, I have heard the idea kicked about that Catholic Seminarians don’t get Latin like they used to. When I hear older priests talk about having to converse at table entirely in Latin, I have to agree. Still, Latin is the language of the Church and a solid Catholic theological education, like the one available at St. Paul Seminary, has little Latin phrases woven throughout. Here’s a sampling from the first week or so of class:

Salus animarum suprema lex: “The salvation of souls is the supreme law [of the Church].” Though not an exact quote, this idea appears in the last canon of the Code of Canon Law, the law for the Catholic Church throughout the world. When it came up in Basic Ecclesiastical Law Class, and even today, the thought encourages me. All the rules and regulations, liturgies, prayers, chapels, merciful works, vestments, education, blogs, and (gahh) meetings aim at eventually getting me saved. As a scholar, I realize there’s some debate about the precise details of “salvation”, but I tend to fall back on what strikes me as the common (and common sense) definition: getting to heaven. I pray that I will see all the loyal blog readers there.

Mundus reconciliatus, ecclesia: “The world reconciled, that is the Church.” This comes from the works of St. Augustine and captures what my Ecclesiology (study of the Church herself) Class describes as a “great” definition of the Church. Like Christ, the Church has human and divine aspects. Though clearly of this world, she is also radically different from this world because she has been reconciled, reformed, and saved. Incidentally, I included the comma in the phrase because it was included in my notes. I’m not sure if that was in the original, but I highly doubt it. Punctuation, on the whole, seems to be a rather recent innovation. In any case, I will claim it as mine since I would never presume one of greatest early Christian writers utilized a comma splice.

Deus providebit: “God will provide.” This line is quoted by Cardinal Ratzinger in his work God is Near Us which I am reading for my Eucharist class. The man who has become the pope meditates for a few pages on the story of Abraham obeying God’s command to sacrifice Isaac. When Isaac asks, perhaps already a little uneasily, “Where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”, Abraham replies that “God will provide.” That, according to the Cardinal, is an example of the sort of trust Christians ought to live: following God even when we don’t understand.

Mysterium aquae et vini est: “It is the mystery of the water and the wine.” OR “The mystery is of the water and the wine.” OR “There is a mystery of water and wine.” This sentence comes from my Basic Ecclesiastical Latin course. I had to translate it as part of our drills for the last class. Because these practice sentences lack the context of a larger work, a precise translation is a bit difficult. Oh well. Deus providebit.


Anonymous said...


Is Latin required, per canon law, at SPS, yet?

Anonymous said...

For the answer, see my recent post: Serran Steak Fry.

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