St. Anselm Oratio 1C (Draft)

Oratio Prima, Continued:


O lux beata Trinitas, et principalis unitas, auge in nobis fidem, auge spem, auge charitatem, libera nos, salva nos, justifica nos.

O Light, Blessed Trinity and Original Unity, increase in us faith, increase hope, increase charity, free us, save us, justify us. Continue reading St. Anselm Oratio 1C (Draft)

St. Anselm Oratio IB (Draft)

Oratio Prima, Continued:


Immensam misericordiam tuam, misericors Deus et miserator, iterum exoro, remitte mihi omnes lubricae temeritatis offensas, ut anima mea benignitatis tuae dulcedine repleatur, et concessa venia plenae indulgentiae, quidquid pro proprio reatu delibui, totum per ineffabilem pietatem tuam dele et absterge.

Your immense [mercy], O [Tenderhearted] God and [Giver of Mercy], once more I extol; remit to me all the offenses of my deceitful temerity that my soul may be replete with the sweetness of You [benignity], and with a granted permission of full indulgence, whatever on account of my own guilt I besmear, the whole thing through your ineffable [piety] erase and scrub off.

Nec sit a me clementiae tuae longinqua miseratio, sed quidquid tuae voluntati contrarium, fallente diabolo, et propria iniquitate atque fragilitate [0856D] contraxi, tu pius et misericors ablue indulgendo.

Nor be far from me the [mercy] of your clemency, but whatever I have covenanted against your will with by the deceiving devil and on account of my own iniquity and fragility, do Thou [Pious] and [Tender-hearted] wash away by indulgence.

Sana vulnera, cunctaque remitte peccata, ut nullis a te iniquitatibus separatus, sed semper hic et 245 ubique defensionis tuae auxilio munitus, tibi Domino semper valeam adhaerere, et perpetuae gloriae quandoque portionem percipere, quam oculus non vidit, et auris non audivit, et in cor hominis non [0857A] ascendit quae praeparasti diligentibus te (I Cor. II, 9). Amen.

Heal wounds and all sins remit, that separated from you by no iniquities, but ever here and everywhere fortified by the aid of your defense, to You the Lord ever may I be hale to adhere, and to perceive some day a portion of your perpetual glory, which eye hath not seen and hear hath not heard, and into the heart of man arisen what Thou hast prepared for those loving you (I Cor 2:9).  Amen.


See 1A for notes on piety and benignity.

Misericors is very commonly rendered merciful but he’s played a synonym game by pairing it with miserator.  If we keep it simple, that would be “merciful and merciful” and that’s, uh, not a great translation.  He does the same thing with misericordia and miseratio, “mercy and…mercy.”  So we dig deep and try to draw on the etymology: misericors and misericordia touch upon feeling or sentiment, and hence “tender-hearted.”  Miserator is just putting an agent-ending on miserum, so it fun it should be rendered “Mercy-er.”  Perhaps merciful makes more sense here, but I would like to use something active or agent-oriented.  Hence Giver of Mercy…but now miseratio needs to be mercy leaving something awkward for misericordia.  Sigh.  Everyone: just learn Latin.  Srsly.

Contraxi here is literally to enter into a contract with, I think.  That makes fallente diabolo the indirect object, the partner of the contract…but I am not sure it is legit to do that in the ablative.  Syntax is neater with fallente diabolo as ablative absolute, but then sense is a little rougher.  This definitely needs a re-work.

Teaching Badly: Change

Back in the saddle after allowing the blog to quiesce for a few weeks.  With the fall term starting up at St. Anselm’s, it’s time to start writing about teaching again.

Change is an important element in facing each new school year.  Things that didn’t work the previous year have to be improved or removed, whether that is an approach to discipline or a topic or an assignment.  Some topics grow stale over time, sometimes because the teacher has lost interest in them; they have to go.  And sometimes it’s just important to do something new, for your sake and the sake of the students.

This is a bit of a scary thing: I spent so many years early on just trying to figure out what worked and holding on to that.  What if I change things now and screw it all up?  What if a class goes badly?  What if a whole week is lost?

Quelle horreur!  Get over it (and yourself) and do something new.  You are not the pinnacle of the educational experience, no matter how good you are.  You’re not risking perfection here; you are risking your pride.

So what am I doing differently this year? Continue reading Teaching Badly: Change


How to say “tree” in Scriptural Hebrew

sorted by Strong:

249 ezrakh (bay tree; means “native”)

363 elan (Exclusive to Daniel; Chald/Aramaic)

424 ala (terebinth, oak, elm, other strong tree; Absalom)

730 erez (cedar)

815 eshel (tamarisk tree; Abraham and Saul)

1265 berosh (fir or cypress; often paired with erez/cedar)

1612 gephen (vine, vine tree)

1918 hadas (myrtle tree)

2132 zayith (olive tree; Noah)

6086 ats (generic, ubiquitous, means both the living thing and anything you can make out of it)

6196 armown (chestnut, plane tree, tree stripped of bark; Gen and Ezekiel)

6851 tsaftsafa (willow tree; Ezekiel ONLY)

7416 rimmon (pomegranate)

7574 rethem (juniper or broom tree; Elijah)

8247 shakad (almond tree; rare; Aaron’s rod)

8384 te’en (fig tree; prophets love this one)

8410 tidhar (pine, boxwood, elm; Isaiah ONLY)

8558 tamar and 8560 tomer (palm or date tree; RARE: Judges and Jeremiah)

8598 tappuach (apple tree; Song of Solomon)

So that’s 20, and not exhaustive (I just ran “tree” through Strong’s).  But some observations: Continue reading Trees

Exile of the Soul

Whenever your consideration wanders from these things to lesser and visible things, whether in search of knowledge or something for practical use, or to do your duty in administration, you go into exile.  You do not do so if your consideration concentrates on these higher things, so that through them it seeks what is above.  To consider in this way is to come home.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, On Consideration V.1 (Classics of Western Spirituality translation)

toties peregrinatur consideratio tua, quoties ab illis rebus ad ista deflectitur inferiora et visibilia, sive intuenda ad notitiam, sive appetenda ad usum, sive pro officio disponenda vel actitanda.  Si tamen ita versatur in his, ut per haec illa requirat, haud procul exsulat.  Sic considerare repatriare est.

My more slavishly literal translation:

So often does your consideration wander, as often as it is deflected from those matters to things inferior and visible, things to be regarded for notice or to be sought for use or to be disposed or done for your office.  Yet if it [your consideration] so dwells on these [lower] things, so that through them it seeks those [higher things], by no means is it far off in exile.  To so consider is to come home.

What Makes Us Human

Final exam grading time.  Among other things, it means I get treated to a parade of students telling me that passions are what make us human.

My knee-jerk reaction to this, always manifesting in a red pen correction, is that passions make us animals.  Passions are the sense appetite responses to objects; we share them with everything from box turtles to lions.  It’s the rational soul that makes us human: our difference that specifies us out from the seething mass of animality.

The turn of phrase, I’ve come to realize, is an interesting shibboleth.  Because my students are not comparing us to animals.  They are comparing us to machines.  We are machines that feel.  It’s a Copernican Turn, leaving behind the living world for the artificial as our model for self-reflection.

My internet crush James Chastek has been posting on this stuff for ages and ages, better than anything I could ever do.  But here’s a thought that I’ve been kicking around since the last time I made this correction on an exam: it’s also a way to capture our difference from angels.  We are angels that feel.

This is a throw-away post so I’m not going whole-hog on the Aquinas, but keep this note posted for a while so I can think about it later: should we think of moving up the ladder of being as adding something, or subtracting something?  Coarctation ain’t just river in Egypt!

St. Bernard on Pride: Steps 7-8

So you’ve tumbled down six steps of pride and have reached the fullness of contempt for the brethren–your fellows in whatever community is yours.  Things started out small but grew through habit until your inner self was completely hollowed out.


On the surface, things look ok.  Better, in fact–left only with appearances, you cultivate an admirable facade so that you will be praised by those around him.  Most dreadfully, you have come to believe their ill-gotten praise.  No one is so deceived by your facade as you.

Now what? Continue reading St. Bernard on Pride: Steps 7-8


The Great Commonwealth of Virginia has apparently been struggling to register births for a few years now.  The solution my leaders have hit upon is delightfully Orwellian.

A brief explanation: the two or three days you spend in the hospital at the birth of a child are filled with visits from all manner of health care providers and paper-pushers.  Oh, the paper-pushers!  Paper, paper, everywhere, and not a drop of ink!  At the hospital you get paper telling you your baby is alive, paper telling you your baby can hear, paper telling you how to put your baby in a car seat, and on and on.  Oh, and you get a baby.  Two, if God is having a laugh. Continue reading Bureaucracy

Monastic Humor 2016

A Real American Hero has created one of the gems the internet was made for.  As I laughed over it with my office mate, I realized that it is disturbingly similar to the things we normally discuss in the office.  How meta!

I wish I could just past the whole thing here, because I wish I could take credit for it.  Alas, clicky for the good times: from last year’s April Fools, monks discussing how to create their illuminated oddities.

(a few of them are Arabic, so the title is a bit misleading)