Tag: Latin


LATIN and GREEK posted in Eleison Comments on March 23, 2024

Good education is not far to seek – 

That which is tried and tested? – Latin and Greek.

The value of the pre-Christian classics in Catholic education is a disputed question. For instance one famous anti-liberal Catholic of the 19th century, Monsignor Gaume, argued that the classic authors in Latin and Greek are too impure to be usable in Catholic schools, but that would seem to be an exaggeration. For purposes of education at the natural level there is too much real value in the Latin and Greek classics for them to be absolutely spurned. The Greek and Latin classics are the products of intelligent and serious men who have thought a good deal about life and who present, by the gift of God, much truth concerning life and human nature. True, the impurities are scattered all around but they are not the centrepiece, rather a sideshow. An outstanding example would be the Aeneid of Virgil which maintains such a high moral level, that it was consulted widely at the height of the Middle Ages for its lofty vision of life. 

In brief, the Christian society is supernaturally superior to the society of the ancient classics, but that old classic society is far superior naturally to degenerate modern society. From the standpoint of education, it is especially easy to argue for the all-round superiority of Latin and Greek, as opposed to an education in modern languages or the modern sciences. A good education will provide both discipline for the youngsters’ hearts and minds, and culture for their souls, and history for their lives. Latin and Greek alone provide all three, Latin providing the practice of the basics, and Greek their theory. 

DISCIPLINE: Latin is an extremely logical language, requiring much thought to disentangle: subject, verb, object, and so on. There is discipline also in learning Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Computing and Technology, etc., but everything there is material, determined, inhuman, precisely and proudly abstracting from anything spiritual, free or human. And what the youngsters can no longer longer learn in school, or from their grandparents or even parents, they have to pick up in the gutter, from Hollywood or the Internet or their smartphone, etc. Lucky if they have just one sports coach who is human! In the spiritual wasteland of a “scientific” education, how much influence for good such a mere coach can have. 

CULTURE: When it comes to educating and forming the hearts and souls of the youngsters (hearts and souls they do have, with imperious needs), then the “sciences” enumerated above are simply non-starters, while the modern languages are a second best, because all modernity since the “Reformation” and its culture are more or less stained with apostasy, with war on God. Of course Latin and Greek culture are not free of original sin, but they are uniquely free of the Reformation and all its consequences, presenting a simpler and purer vision of the basics of human nature and life. A great help for youngsters to know. 

HISTORY: Latin and Greek culture are embedded in the history of all Western civilisation as it is now too late for the culture of any other language to be. Latin and Greek were two of the three languages nailed to the Cross of Our Lord. Greek was the language of the New Testament. Rome was soon the centre of the Church. “History is the master of life” is a wise old proverb, and to learn Latin and Greek is necessarily to learn some Greek and Roman history. In 1984 George Orwell wrote, “Who controls the past, controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” So whoever controls our schools today, controls our future. These people are presently hard at work, discounting Latin and Greek, making history start with World War II, which is much more easily manipulated than ancient history. What does that tell us about modern education? It is no good. It is shaping sheep for the Antichrist. 

Kyrie eleison 

Extrarchal Cogitation

Extrarchal Cogitation posted in Eleison Comments on December 13, 2008

“Archa, archae” is the Latin for “box.” Thinking outside the box is not a popular activity – who wants to be shaken out of their comfortable mental routine? – but circumstances may soon force it upon all of us. It may not be a bad idea to get a little used to it sooner rather than later. Here are some considerations of an American, James Kunstler, who is not afraid to cogitate extrarchally!

The recent succession of massive bailouts by the USA government of mega-banks and mega-corporations TBTF (too big to fail), he says, is no better than injections of embalming fluid into the walking dead. Worse, the corresponding fabrication of trillions of dollars out of nothing virtually guarantees hyper-inflation in anything from six to eighteen months. But if the dollar is destroyed, how will the USA pay for imported oil? And without oil, what happens to our whole oil-based way of life?

Moreover, with the collapse of the debt pyramid, what happens to the whole fantasyland, built like most everybody’s houses and cars, on credit and debt? People will have to get back to real as opposed to virtual activity. Back to the distribution of property and growing of food as before the arrival of petro-agriculture. Back to the land, or social chaos! We must start thinking – outside the box – of alternate energies in place of oil, of production instead of consumerism, of localism in place of globalism.

Mr. Kunstler recognizes that a “zombie disease” has “eaten away our brains,” but he still puts his hope in a young generation of Americans realizing what an opportunity to rebuild is offered to us all by this meltdown, and he hopes that a revived American people will set its shoulder to the wheel. I wish I shared his hope, but the whole question is religious, and the closest that he gets to mentioning the Lord God is when he comments that “the meltdown is building straight into the Christmas holidays”!

Yet as the Psalmist says, to build the city without God is to build in vain (Ps. CXXVI). And, as Our Lord says, “He that gathereth not with me, scattereth” (Mt. XII, 30). All the suffering that lies in wait for us next year will be allowed by God for one supreme purpose, to help us to save our souls for eternity. If the collapse of our gimcrack paradise on earth merely makes us want to build a solid paradise on earth, he may have to increase the dose of suffering until we get the point.

Kyrie eleison.

Juvenal Again

Juvenal Again posted in Eleison Comments on November 29, 2008

Last week “Eleison Comments” drew attention to the remarkable (in a pagan) natural wisdom in matters spiritual of the Roman satirist Juvenal, who was in his prime about 100 years after Our Lord was born, but who is not known (as far as I can discover) for any contact with the Catholic religion then rising in Rome.

A first lesson drawn from the passage concluding the Tenth Satire was that grace is in line with that God-given nature of ours from which Juvenal was working. Grace is only out of line with our fallen nature, which fell with Adam and has ever since been flawed with original sin in all of us, making all too easy the succession of our personal sins. On this sinful nature, as sinful, grace does make war, but only to heal and elevate that God-given nature which necessarily underlies the sinful nature, as some apple necessarily underlies the rot of any rotten apple. That Juvenal with no apparent help from grace could write so well not only of human rot but also of the underlying nature refutes the dreadful heresy that there is nothing in human nature which is not rotten.

A second lesson for our own times was that the ancient pagan satirist who promoted natural sanity even without any notion of supernatural grace, was a better man than the mass of apostate post-Christian pagans who are today rotting and rooting out both nature and grace. Similarly, to one who visited a week ago the Washington DC Museum of Modern Art, the current exhibition of ancient artistic pieces from pagan Pompeii offered much more for the human heart and mind than did all the modern exhibits put together.

A third lesson, accentuated by modern times, might be the value of reading the classical Latin authors, such as Juvenal. When it comes to the learning of Latin, some pious souls argue that Catholic youth should be immersed rather in the abundant Latin texts of the grace-filled Church Fathers than in pagans like Juvenal. True, the Church Fathers are stainless where pagan authors are always more or less stained, but precisely because the Fathers are filled with grace, surely they cannot in the same way testify to that God-given nature in us which is prior in being, not in value, to God-given grace. Does not this nature need today all the help it can get?

Kyrie eleison.