St. Peter Damian, Omnipotence

Brandon’s post on St. Peter Damian inspired me to hobby translate the opening chapter of de divina omnipotentia (Spade’s translation, which Brandon links, skips over large swaths of text).  An enjoyable diversion, and an excellent precursor text for St. Anselm’s treatment of divine attributes in Proslogion!  I plan to go back to format and clean-up later, probably to set up a text for teaching St. Anselm in the future.  Still draft-y, but voici:

Who is snatched alone from the gales of the sea’s surge, while he sees still that a net endangers between the cliff and the rocks, between between threats and swelling heaps of waves, is inhuman if he does not deplore his allies laboring in distress.  I therefore, dismissed from the episcopate, rejoice that I am as one exposed on the sand; but that you by winds and blasts are ground, and bob among the gaping maws of the sea, I sigh not without fraternal compassion.  He errs, father, he errs, who pledges himself at the same time to be a monk, and to abandon care.  How wickedly he merits, who presumes to desert the monastic cloister that he may be hale to bailiff the soldiery of the world.  The healthy fish is plucked from the waves, not that he may live for himself, but that he may feed others.  We are called, we are drawn; but that we may live for others, let us die to ourselves; the hunter loves the stag, but that he may make it food for himself; he pursues the goat, he slays the hare; but, that he himself be well, those things nothing.  Men also love us, but not for us; they love for their own selves, they desire to turn us into their delicacies.  And while we describe them, small marvel, in exteriors, what repudiation do we give them other than our monk, who hides inwardly? Continue reading St. Peter Damian, Omnipotence

St. Anselm/John of Fecamp, Oratio XXVII (for priests)

Oratio XXVII

Ad Christum

Cum sacerdos corpus Christi et sanguinem in manibus tenet, tenensque dulciter recordetur quos dolores in cruce pro nobis passus est.

Dulcissime, et super omnia desideranda desiderande et suavissime Jesu Christe, adesto supplicationi meae, et intende voci orationis meae (Psalm 5:3), et per tuam magnam misericordiam emunda ab omni inquinamento peccati animam meam, ut dignus possim accedere ad servitium tui altaris, digneque tractare mysterium corporis et sanguinis tui.  Fateor, dulcissime Domine, coram omnipotentia tua me nimis esse culpabilem, et multa mala fere per singulas horas facientem, et tamen de ineffabili bonitate tua non desperantem.  Bonus es tu, Domine, et in bonitate tua doce me justificationes tuas (Psalm 119:68), ut eas intelligendo, easque, sicut decet, jugiter operando, mundo corde mundaque anima possim recipere mysteria tua.

O Sweetest, [and To Be Desired above all things to be desired], and Gentlest Jesus Christ, attend to my supplication and hear the voice of my prayer (Psalm 5:3), and through Your great mercy wash out my soul from every defilement of sin, that I may be worthy to approach to the service of Your altar and worthily conduct the mystery of Your Body and Blood.  I confess, Sweetest Lord, before Your omnipotence, that I am exceedingly culpable, and doing many sins nearly every hour, and yet not despairing of Your ineffable goodness.  You are good, Lord, and in Your goodness teach me Your ways (Psalm 119:68) that by knowing them and, as it fitting, constantly doing them, with clean heart and clean soul I may be able to receive Your mysteries. Continue reading St. Anselm/John of Fecamp, Oratio XXVII (for priests)

St. Anselm/John of Fecamp, Oratio XXV (for priests)

Oratio XXV

Prayer 25

Ad Christum

To Christ

Cum sacerdos multum timet ne officium altaris, quod gerit, magis et noceat quam proficiat; et quod consilium de hac re capiat.

When the priest greatly fears lest the office of the altar, which he conducts, harm him more than it profits; and what counsel he may take in this matter.

Dulcissime et benignissime Domine Jesu Christe, altissimi Patris altissime Fili, qui cum eodem Patre tuo, et Spiritu sancto universitatis Creator existis; cui nota sunt omnia antequam fiant, tu nosti insipientam meam, nosti et quam infirma sit et fragilis anima mea; et eius peccata atque delicta a te non sunt abscondita.  Te vero Creatorem meum esse recognosco; et omnia, quae mihi ad praesentis vitae necessitatem sunt, administrare fateor: fecisti ergo me, cum tibi placuit, et tandiu in hac vita ero, quandiu tibi placuerit; nec quousque tibi placeat, ulla vis me hinc expellere poterit.  Et quia de hac re certissimus sum quod ita sit, hoc super omnia immensam bonitatem tuam deprecor, ut qualitercunque mihi eveniat, dum vivo, saltem de me bonus sit finis, omnibusque iniquitatibus meis per veram poenitentiam dimissis, ad visionis tuae gloriam pervenire valeam, propter quam me creasti.

Sweetest and Most Benign Lord Jesus Christ, Most High Son of the Most High Father, Who with the same Father of Yours and the Holy Spirit do exist as Creator of the universe; to Whom are known all things before they come to be, You have known my foolishness, you have known also how infirm and fragile is my soul; and its sins and delicts are not hidden from You.  You, truly, do I recognize as my Creator; and all things which are for me a necessity of the present life, I confess to administer: therefore You made me when it pleased You, and I will be in this life for just so long as it pleases You; nor however long it be pleasing to You will any power be able to drive me hence.  And since in this matter I am most certain it is so, this I implore above all things, the immensity of Your goodness, that howsoever it should befall me while I live, at least for me may the good be my end, and do You remit all my iniquities through true penitence, that I be hale to arrive at the glory of Your vision, on account of which You have created me. Continue reading St. Anselm/John of Fecamp, Oratio XXV (for priests)

A Benedictine Joke

How can you tell the difference between a Benedictine and a Dominican?  A Dominican thinks the Latin word conversatio means “conversation” [insert sarcastic guffaw].

In a Benedictine author like St. Anselm, if you see conversatio it should almost certainly be translated in light of the Benedictine promise of conversatio morum, or “daily conversion of one’s life.”  This is made a little trickier by the fact that St. Benedict’s use of the word would be something of an archaism by the time of St. Anselm, but we are going to trust his grounding in the Rule.

So when a Dominican author copies a Benedictine author’s use of conversatio, now how should we translate it?  The standard use of the word by the time of Aquinas is simply “conversation” as we would use the term.  See opening joke of this post: my English translation of St. Thomas’s prayer gives “discourse” where the saint has conversatio.  He’s only a Dominican, right?

But he is lifting directly from St. Anselm’s prayer, another way in which the Abbot of Bec exerted enormous influence over the scholastic era.  Here’s the side-by-side: Continue reading A Benedictine Joke

St. Anselm Oratio VIII

(scroll to bottom for  unbroken English)

Oratio VIII

Prayer 8

Ad Deum

To God

Deus inaestimabilis misericordiae, Deus immensae pietatis, Deus conditor et reparator humani generis, qui confitentium tibi corda purgas, et accusantes ante conspectu divinae clementiae tuae ab omni iniquitatis vinculo absolvis, virtutem tuam totis exoro gemitibus, ut secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum de omnibus iniquitatibus meis, de quibus me accusat conscientia mea, puram mihi coram te concedas agere confessionem, veramque ex his omnibus et condignam mihi tribuas poenitentiam, quaecunque peccavi in cogitationibus pravis, in consensu malo, in consilio iniquo, in concupiscentia atque delectatione immunda, in verbis otiosis, in factis malitiosis, in visu, auditu, gustu, odoratu et tactu.

God of inestimable mercy, God of immense piety, God the Preserver and Repairer of the human race, Who purges the hearts of those confessing You and absolves from every bond of iniquity those accusing themselves before the sight of Your divine clemency: Continue reading St. Anselm Oratio VIII

St. Anselm Oratio IA (Draft)

St. Anselm’s Oratio Prima is a long prayer.  This will take a while to get up and probably should be split into parts.  I think each Amen signals the end of one composition and the beginning of another, giving us 3 prayers.  I’ll publish as 1A, 1B, and 1C with text and maybe some comments.

Scroll to the bottom for unbroken Latin, followed by unbroken English.


First Prayer


To the Holy Trinity

Adesto, sancta Trinitas, Deus unus omnipotens, Pater et Filius et Spiritus sanctus, qui non mortem, sed poenitentiam desideras peccatorum, me miserum et peccatorem fragilem et indignum a tua non repellas pietate.

Do Thou attend, Holy Trinity, One God Omnipotent, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, Who desirest not the death but rather the penitence of sinners, and repel me not—me, a wretched and fragile and unworthy sinner—from Your [piety]. Continue reading St. Anselm Oratio IA (Draft)

St. Anselm Oratio V (Draft)

Experimenting with a different layout:

Oratio V

Prayer 5

Ad Deum

To God

Ad obtinendam cordis compunctionem in oratione

For obtaining compunction of heart in prayer

Ignosce Domine, ignosce pie, ignosce et miserere, parce ignorantiae meae et multae imperfectioni meae.

Forgive O Lord, forgive tenderly, forgive and have mercy, spare my ignorance and my great imperfection. Continue reading St. Anselm Oratio V (Draft)

St. Anselm, Oratio IX: Translation Draft

Here’s the Latin text of one of St. Anselm’s more famous prayers, Oratio IX Ad Deum:

Omnipotens Deus, et misericors Pater, et bone Domine, miserere mihi peccatori.

Da mihi veniam peccatorum meorum, cavere et vincere omnes insidias, et tentationes et delectationes noxias, perfecte mente et actu vitare, quae prohibes, facere et servare quae jubes, credere, sperare, amare, velle quod et quantum et tu scis et vis, compunctionem humilitatis et pietatis, discretam abstinentiam et carnis mortificationem, ad te amandum, orandum, laudandum, meditandum, ad omnem secundum te actum et cogitatum, puram, sobriam, devotam mentem, veracem et efficacem mandatorum tuorum notitiam, dilectionem, facilitatem et effectum, semper, Domine ad meliora cum humilitate proficere et nunquam deficere.

Ne commitas me, Domine, voluntati meae, nec humanae ignorantiae, aut infirmitati, neque meis meritis, nec ulli alii quam tuae piae dispositioni.

Sed tu ipse clementer dispone me et omnes cogitatus et actus meos in beneplacito tuo, ut fiat a me, et in me et de me, tua semper sola voluntas.

Libera me ab omni malo, et perduc me in vitam aeternam.



I use the Penguin Classics translation of this prayer to start many of my classes.  Lately I’ve had the impulse to create my own translation of this prayer and the others of his that I use.

Before I toss out the draft (below), note the insanely long second sentence as given by Migne.  I think this has to be taken as a list or inventory, but I have not settled on a format that best expresses this.  I considered setting off the items of the list with hyphens, and may try that in another draft.  Any format relying on spacing or page layout can’t show up well in wordpress without me using a picture, sadly.

Here’s what I have for now, field-tested with my students but once: Continue reading St. Anselm, Oratio IX: Translation Draft

God’s Lack of Experience

The hits just keep on coming: just recently I officially entered old age by throwing out my back picking up my son in the middle of the night.  Instead of bouncing back in a day or three, here I am doing therapy 3 weeks later to regain my full range of motion.  On top of everything else, it’s meant no chance to compose my thoughts.  Sleep is better than writing; c.f. Maslow.

For those of you who don’t know what a bad lower back feels like, may God continue to richly reward you.  It really is everything my older male friends warned me about: an indescribable, indefeasible, infantilizing pain.  Trust me: you don’t want to know first hand.  Unless you are looking for a shorter stay in Purgatory…

But my griping dovetails nicely with a question one of my Form III students posed last week while wrapping up Anselm’s Argument (The Argument, not one of his many others).  I’ve heard it many times before but his variation stuck with me because I didn’t answer it as well as I could have/should have.  I blame being rooted to a chair.

Namely: if God doesn’t learn, die, lie, fail, suffer, and the like, aren’t there things He doesn’t know?  Doesn’t this make him incapable of sympathizing with us who do, and therefore loving us? Continue reading God’s Lack of Experience

Furioso Friday: Benedictine Edition

For this week of St. Anselm, God has so ordained things that two of my hobbies–Orlando Furioso and the Rule of St. Benedict–converge.  In his super-subversive Canto XIV, Ariosto lets us know what he thinks about the Benedictine monasteries of his day (XIV.75-95)

As the siege of Paris is about to go down, God tears a page out of Juno’s playbook and sends Alecto St. Michael the Archangel down to earth to make sure things play out according to divine plan.  “Michael!  Go find Silence and have him help the Christian reinforcements arrive undetected!  While you are at it, send Discord into the Muslim ranks to sow chaos.”

So–hmm?  Where’s an Archangel Defender of Paris to find Silence these days?  A moment’s thought by that pure intelligence reveals the answer: a place of prayer, naturally, where vows of silence prevail.  To a Benedictine monastery we go!   Continue reading Furioso Friday: Benedictine Edition