Helping you with Latin in the Novus Ordo

I attend a Novus Ordo Mass (that is, the Mass in the vernacular) almost daily on campus at Notre Dame. I do love it when Latin is used in the liturgy, either in chant or in the parts of the Mass which remain the same weekly. Pat Archbold recently wrote an article titled, “7 Things to Restore the Sense of Sacred Your Pastor Could Do Tomorrow.” His suggestions are returning to an ad orientem Mass (thus having the priest and congregation face liturgical East together instead of the priest facing the congregation), using Gregorian chant and polyphony (recommended by Vatican II in Sacrosanctum Concilium), etc. 

Another one of his suggestions was to use Latin for the parts of the Mass which remain the same week-to-week. I think this is a good idea and so I wanted to help do my part for anyone interested in implementing this. Thus, I’m going to start a series of posts where I give the Latin and English of the Novus Ordo line-by-line, then provide grammatical explanations for anyone interested. The grammar of the Mass in Latin is simple. Ecclesial Latin is not Cicero. I’m not going to provide pronunciation help, but you can easily find this online. The best way to get down the pronunciation is just to do it, however. 

I also want to mention that I am allergic to liturgical politics, so this is not my way of siding with “traddies” or with “new-agers.” I just love the Mass, I love Latin, and I think both the TLM and the Novus Ordo  can be celebrated reverently. If a parish were interested in using Latin and my explanations helped them, all the better. 

As it’s always wise to begin with the beginning, let’s look at the Introductory Rites of the Mass in Latin. The parts the priest says are regular, the response of the congregation is in bold. 

In nomine Patris et Filii                  In the name of the Father and the Son 

et Spiritus Sancti                           and the Holy Spirit. 

Amen.                                           Amen. 

First up: you already know at least one Latin word here and it’s the only word the congregation has to respond with, so you’re set. 

For anyone with a bit of Latin under their belt: 

nomine is an ablative neut singular noun from nomen and means “name.” In is a preposition and with the ablative means…well…”in” (among other things, but we’re only worried about it here).

Patris – genitive masculine singular from pater. The genitive case is often used for possession, so it makes sense here that we use it. We’re beginning the Mass “in the name of“.  If the word for “Father” is in the genitive case, can you guess what Son (Filii) and Holy Spirit (Spiritus Sancti) are in? That’s right, genitive. The endings don’t look the same because they’re all different declensions (i.e. groupings of nouns in Latin). Pater is third, Filius is second, and Spiritus is fourth. The different declensions utilize different endings. You don’t need to know that to hear and understand these words in the Mass, however. 

Then is said: 

Dominus vobiscum.                                    The Lord be with you. 

Et cum spiritu tuo.                                   And with your spirit. 

Dominus is a nominative masculine singular noun meaning “Lord” or “the Lord.”  Nominative nouns are the subjects of sentences. Dominus is related to English words like “Dominion” and “Domicile” (think of someone being Lord of their home). 

Vobiscum should really be thought of as two words, vobis + cumCum is a preposition that means “with.” It is often affixed to the word with which it is translated into English so that it looks like one word. You can see the same word in your response “Et cum…” (and with). So what of vobis? It means “ya’ll” (I’m privileging my North Carolinian upbringing – when I teach Latin at Notre Dame, I make the students translate second plurals as “ya’ll” since English doesn’t really have one).  So Vobiscum means “with you (all).” 

Et is just the word “and.” It’s not the only word in Latin that means “and”, but it’s frequently used. 

Spiritu is the same word we saw in the opening, except in a different case (there Spiritus). Here it is ablative masculine singular. It means “spirit.” 

Tuo is a possessive adjective that goes with “spirit.” It simply means “your.” Easy, right? If you know any Romance languages, you probably already recognized this as “your” (think of Spanish “Tu” or the Italian “Tuo/Tua”). 

One more part: 

Kyrie eleison.                            Lord, have mercy. 

Kyrie eleison.                         Lord, have mercy. 

Christe eleison.                        Christ, have mercy.

Christe eleison.                     Christ, have mercy.

Kyrie eleison.                           Lord, have mercy.

Kyrie eleison.                        Lord, have mercy.

Oremus.                                  Let us pray. 

If you have ever recited the Kyrie and thought, “This is some funny sounding Latin”, you were onto something, because this is Latinized Greek. If you attend the TLM, you’ll know that each of these is said three times, but only once here in the NO. In the Greek, the phrase is Κύριε ἐλέησον.

If you have Greek, you’ll recognize Κύριε as the vocative (the case you use in direct address) of κύριος – the Greek word for Lord. Remember the Latin for this? Dominus. So you’re directly addressing the Lord here. Likewise, Χριστέ (Christe)  is the vocative of χριστός (Christos). 

ἐλέησον is the 2 singular aorist imperative of the verb ἐλεέω or its later form, ἐλεάω. Either way, you’re imploring God to be merciful. 

The only actual Latin is what the priest says afterwards – oremus. This means “Let us pray.” It is a 1 plural (so “We” or “Us”) subjunctive (a hortatory subjunctive, if you’re into these things) from oro, orare. You may recognize the infinitival form of the verb (orare) from the famous Benedictine motto ora et labora (Pray and Work). The subjunctive is used here because the priest is exhorting us to pray. 

That seems like enough for one post. I’ll continue to write more and try to get most of the Latin used in the Novus Ordo explained. 

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Feast of St. Dominic, Founder of the Order of Preachers

St. Dominic, historically speaking, is an interesting figure. Or, rather, the lack of history surrounding him is interesting. Unlike many religious orders which seek to emulate their founder, the Dominicans are less interested in becoming an alter Dominicus. He was born, gave us the Order of Preachers, poured his life out for the sake of others, and went on to his eternal reward.  Nevertheless, we do know a few things. He was born in Castilian territory around 1171 (though possibly as late as 1173). Before his birth, his mother received a vision of a dog leaping from her womb with a torch in its mouth, setting the world on fire. This signified that St. Dominic would go out and set the world on fire with his preaching. He was brought up to be a priest – his education having been the responsibility of his uncle, an archpriest. He first founded a community of women (who had converted from being Cathars to Catholics and were thus distanced from their families) in Prouille in 1206, and finally the Order of Preachers in 1216. He was known to spend long nights in the chapel, weeping and asking God, “What will become of sinners?” He died on August 6th, 1221. His feast on the traditional calendar is August 4th and on the new calendar is today, the 8th. So this week is doubly blessed by St. Dominic’s presence.

Fanjeaux Dominic

My favorite story about St. Dominic comes from Jordan of Saxony’s Libellus de principiis Ordinis Praedicatorum (Book on the beginning of the Order of Preachers). Dominic had traveled to Fanjeaux, a town in France which was a known Cathar stronghold. Public disputations with the Cathars were common.  Jordan writes:

 

24. One day a famous disputation was being held at Fanjeaux and a large number
of the faithful and unbelievers had gathered. Many of the former had written their
own books containing arguments and authorities in support of the faith. After
these books had been inspected, the one written by Blessed Dominic was
commended above the others and unanimously accepted. Accordingly, his book
and that produced by the heretics were presented to three judges chosen with the
assent of both sides, with the understanding that the side whose book was chosen
as the more reasonable defense should be regarded as having the superior faith.

25. After much wrangling, the judges came to no decision. Then they decided to
cast both books into a fire and, if either of them was not burned, it would be held
as containing the true faith. So they built a huge fire and cast the books therein.
The heretical book was immediately consumed by the fire, but the one written by
the man of God, Dominic, not only escaped burning, but, in the sight of all, leaped
far from the fire. For a second and a third time, it was cast into the fire, but each
time it leaped back and thereby openly testified to the truth of its doctrine and
the holiness of the person who had written it.

 

A humorous addition: https://thejesuitpost.org/2014/04/whether-the-society-of-jesus-is-greater-than-the-order-of-preachers/ 

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2 Peter and the Transfiguration

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ.Transfiguration_by_Feofan_Grek_from_Spaso-Preobrazhensky_Cathedral_in_Pereslavl-Zalessky_(15th_c,_Tretyakov_gallery).jpeg

Οὐ γὰρ σεσοφισμένοις μύθοις ἐξακολουθήσαντες ἐγνωρίσαμεν ὑμῖν τὴν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δύναμιν καὶ παρουσίαν ἀλλ’ ἐπόπται γενηθέντες τῆς ἐκείνου μεγαλειότητος. λαβὼν γὰρ παρὰ θεοῦ πατρὸς τιμὴν καὶ δόξαν φωνῆς ἐνεχθείσης αὐτῷ τοιᾶσδε ὑπὸ τῆς μεγαλοπρεποῦς δόξης, Ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός μου οὗτός ἐστιν εἰς ὅν ἐγὼ εὐδόκησα, καὶ ταύτην τὴν φωνὴν ἡμεῖς ἠκούσαμεν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ ἐνεχθεῖσαν σὺν αὐτῷ ὄντες ἐν τῷ ἁγίῳ ὄρει.

For we followed not craftily devised myths when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were made eyewitnesses of his greatness. Receiving from God the Father the honor and glory, such a voice was brought upon him by the majestic glory, “This is my beloved Son – this is the one in whom I am well-pleased.” And we heard this voice borne from Heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1.16-18)

 

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Trinitarian Questions and Mormon Accounts of the “Great Apostasy”

I’m currently reading some essays from a book titled Standing Apart: Mormon Historical Consciousness and the Concept of Apostasy.  Each essay is written by a different author and covers a different subject. I have long been interested in the Latter Day Saints and particularly their concept of the “Great Apostasy” – i.e., the idea that early Christianity fell almost immediately into decline and (as it typically goes), with the death of the last Apostle, Christianity ceased to have a priesthood or authority. This decline narrative isn’t unique to the LDS, but the way they employ it is interesting.standing-apart

One of the essays I have read is by Lincoln Blumell, a professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University. He notes in his essay that:

it may be noted that the term Trinity (Grk. τριάς; Lat. trinitas) is not used with any technical meaning, as it would be in subsequent centuries, to define and circumscribe the relationship existing among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (“Rereading the Council of Nicaea and Its Creed,” p. 197)

He points to Clement of Alexandria in the footnote and admits that Clement does use the phrase ἁγία τριάς  in Book IV of the Stromateis, but there it refers to the trinity of “faith, hope, and love” from 1 Cor 13.13. This is true indeed. However, Clement also uses the phrase in Book V of the very same book to discuss the actual Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The opening of the 14th chapter of the 5th book indicates that Clement is going to demonstrate how the Greeks borrowed heavily from and misinterpreted Hebrew wisdom. He writes,

τὰ δ’ ἑξῆς <προσ>αποδοτέον καὶ τὴν ἐκ τῆς βαρβάρου φιλοσοφίας Ἑλληνικὴν κλοπὴν σαφὲστερον ἤδη παραστατὲον.
Now it must be shown with greater clarity the Greek plagiarism of the philosophy of the Barbarians (Hebrews).
Then, in 5.14.103, Clement writes:
οὑκ ἄλλως ἔγωγε ἐξακούω ἤ τὴν ἁγίαν τριάδα μηνύεσθαι. τρίτον μὲν γὰρ εἶναι τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα, τὸν υἱὸν δὲ δεύτερον, δι’ οὗ “πάντα ἐγένετο” κατὰ βούλησιν τοῦ πατρός.
I understand it [the subject of the passage from Plato] to be nothing other than the Holy Trinity, for the third is the Holy Spirit, the second the Son, the one through whom “all things came to be” according to the will of the Father.
Dr. Blumell’s footnote, quoted in part below, seems misleading:
Similarly, Clement of Alexandria is the first to use the phrase “holy trinity/triad” (ἁγία τριάς) but has it refer to the attributes of “faith, hope, and love” when discussing 1 Corinthians 13:13.
Clement indeed does use it to refer to the triad found in 1 Cor 13, but the footnote seems to imply this is the only time he uses it. This is clearly wrong, as demonstrated here. Perhaps this isn’t the sort of “technical language” Blumell is discussing, but I’m not sure exactly what he means by the phrase. Clement refers to the Word being God repeatedly throughout his works, though he does distinguish Him from the Father. However, every good Trinitarian does. Blumell makes another point here that seems unclear – he says that many of the Fathers in the second and third centuries “regarded Jesus as subordinate to and distinct from the Father.” (p. 197). With respect to subordinationism, it is true among some, though not as many, I think, as often stated (e.g. I think Origen’s “subordinationism” is totally overblown in the secondary literature). But as said above – every Trinitarian today thinks the Word is not the Father.
At any rate,  I’m not trying to impose a post-4th century Trinitarianism on the 2nd century, but it’s not as dire as Blumell is making it out to be. There is reference to the Trinity long before Nicaea and the word is used to discuss the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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Homilies on the Transfiguration for the Feast of the Transfiguration

This is what we celebrate in our feast today, then: the divinization of nature; its change for the better; the displacement and ascent of what conforms to nature, towards what is above nature. (St. Andrew of Crete, On the Transfiguration of Christ Our Lord, PG 97.932)

 

Tomorrow, August 6th, is the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I wanted to suggest, were you looking for something to read on the Transfiguration, Fr. Brian Daley, SJ’s recently published, Light on the Mountain: Greek Patristic and Byzantine Homilies on the Transfiguration of the Lord, published by St. Vladimir’s in their Popular Patristics Series. Fr. Daley translates 25 homilies spanning from Origen (d. 254) to Gregory Palamas (d. 1359).  Other notable authors include one of my favorites, Andrew of Crete (whose works exist in no critical editions as of yet – hint hint for anyone interested), Leontius of Byzantium (a figure on whom Fr. Daley did his D.Phil thesis at Oxford), Cyril of Alexandria, John Chrysostom, and someone else near and dear to my heart, John of Damascus.

Just for due diligence, Fr. Daley is a professor of mine at Notre Dame and I worked as his TA last year. Even if he were not, however, I would recommend the volume. I read his similar volume on the homilies on the Dormition of Mary and was there introduced to Andrew of Crete. I think this volume has a comparable value in that it introduces one to Christian writers who may have been previously unknown.  So, go read them!

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Research Languages

I have, in an earlier post, pointed out a resource I consider very helpful in learning and practicing modern research languages (French, Italian, German, etc): http://www.duolingo.com. Another practice I use is to read the Bible in these languages. As an undergraduate, I was completely opposed to using materials which I knew in English to study foreign languages. I promised if I ever was asked to teach Koine Greek, we would only use Josephus or Philo – I didn’t want those future students of mine to get off too easily. Granted, this probably assumes that students would know the Bible well enough to recognize it and this is assuming a lot.

I’ve changed my mind a bit, or at least relaxed my philosophy. There are a lot of benefits to studying a language with materials which you know in English.

I’m reading through St. John’s prologue this morning in German (in the Hoffnung Für Alle translation) and I noticed that 1.6-7 is not exactly what the Greek says. The Greek reads:

Ἐγένετο ἄνθρωπος, ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ θεοῦ, ὄνομα αὐτῷ Ἰωάννης· οὗτος ἦλθεν εἰς μαρτυρίαν ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτός, ἵνα πάντες πιστεύωσιν δι’ αὐτοῦ.

And there was a man, having been sent by God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, in order to witness concerning the light, in order that all men might believe in Him.

The German translation, however, reads as such:

Gott schickte einen Boten, einen Mann, der Johannes hieß. Er sollte die Menschen auf das Licht hinweisen, damit alle durch seine Botschaft an den glauben, der das Licht ist.

God sent a messenger, a man called John. He was meant to point out to men the light so that all men might believe in Him who is the light.

You can see the differences – in the Greek, St. John the Baptist is the subject of the sentence (Ἐγένετο ἄνθρωπος – “There was a man”), but in the German translation I’m using, God becomes the subject (Gott schickte – God sent).  It’s not as though German does not have the passive voice – the translators very well could have written, “Ein Mann war schickten” (A man was sent), but chose not to.

My point in writing this short post is to point out that it’s fun to read these familiar texts in other languages because it’s not always the exact equivalent of what you’re used to. Not only did I get the benefit of reading the German, but because of the oddity, I thought for awhile about German passive construction. Win-win, really.

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Augustine, Donatists, and “Israels”

I am currently revising a paper I hope to send off for publication soon on Augustine’s homilies on 1 John and the Donatists.  The Donatists had arisen after persecutions in N. Africa and the crux of their theology was about purity. Had one’s Bishop turned over the Scriptures (or some other holy books – cf. the letter of Mensurius to Secundus of Tigisis where he admits he only turned over heretical books, not Scripture – CSEL 53.74) or relented in their faith during Roman persecutions, they were considered ritually impure, and thus all sacramental efficacy had been removed from them. They were no longer able to baptize, to confect the Eucharist, etc. (cf. Cyprian’s Epistula 67 – the Donatists weren’t inventing this whole-cloth). 

 

The Donatists had a militant wing called the ‘Circumcellions’ – so named because they hung out circum cellas (around the shrines of the martyrs). Augustine, after having cited Mt. 7.16 (“By their works you will know them.”), writes in his 10th Enarratio en Psalmos: 

uideo plane mira opera, quotidianas uiolentias circumcellionum sub episcopis et presbyteris ducibus circumquaque uolitare, et terribiles fustes Israeles uocare.

 

Indeed I see incredible works, the daily violent acts of the Circumcellions conducted everywhere under the leadership of their bishops and priests – and they call their terrible clubs, “Israels.” 

 

That is, the Circumcellions would “educate” their Catholic foes with these cudgels which they called “Israels.” Possidius, Augustine’s often-ignored biographer, records in the 12th chapter of the Vita Augustini that Augustine had almost been ambushed by these Circumcellions, but had, by providence, taken a different road and thus their ambush was foiled. Augustine also mentions this in a recently-discovered work, Contra Paganos (§45). Possidius himself had not been so lucky and was beaten by them, though he survived. 

At any rate, I can’t but help see this as a little bit of humor on the part of the Donatists that they called their weapons “Israels.” I think it also demonstrates a couple of things: 1) Theology matters. Accounts of early Christianity which downplay this (and there are more than a few) seem to miss the point. Theology was so pervasive that even when making a joke, the Donatists turned to Scripture. 2) The ancients had wicked senses of humor, just like moderns. 

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