Wednesday, September 4, 2013


My hip "selfie" after the colonoscopy!

This morning I went to the Augusta Endoscopy Center at 6:30 AM for a colonoscopy. Anyone who knows of this procedure, knows one must strip to an open back gown for it. So I went dressed in shoes with no socks, shorts and a shirt with no undershirt. I looked far from a priest, although most who worked there knew I was one. I was home by 8:00 AM and all went well and the colon looks marvelous, just marvelous. I was also told not to drive, drink alcohol or sign any contracts all day today. But they didn't tell me not to blog!

But I digress.

When I got home, I watched on Turner Classic Movies, The Bamboo Prison released in 1954. It was about the Korean War and an American prison camp in the north. It was about an American who feigned being a communist sympathizer so as to get privileges and be able to spy for the USA.

In the movie the communists had their own plant or spy amongst the prisoners. He took on the character of a Catholic priest and wore his cassock in the prison camp. But of course he wasn't even a Catholic let alone a priest, which interestingly enough, the script of the movie alerted the audience that not only wasn't he a priest, he wasn't Catholic. I guess the producers of this movie didn't want to offend Catholic sensibilities of the 1950's!

Eventually, this cassocked faux priest learned that the American who was feigning to be a communist sympathizer was actually a spy. The faux priest and the faux communist sympathizer were in a jeep together and the American spy knew something was up and didn't really think the priest was actually a priest. So, he said to the faux priest that he had had Latin in school and said some Latin phrase, but my anesthesia from my medical procedure has given me amnesia as I write this, so I don't recall what the phrase was. The spy was trying to see if the faux priest knew Latin. Then, and I do recall this, the spy said, "What is mea culpa mean?" And of course the faux priest didn't know, so the spy sped up the jeep, then slammed on the breaks making the faux priest go on top of the hood of the jeep with his gun and the spy was able to wrestle him and then strangle him to death and throw him down a ravine.

After he killed the faux priest he said, "You don't even deserve a burial" and departed.

But my point is that the priest who wasn't wore a cassock in a prison camp and I, the priest who is, wore shorts and a shirt to the endoscopy center. Should I feel guilty? He wasn't a priest and he wore a cassock. I am a priest and I wore shorts and shoes with no socks to boot, get it, to boot. But I digress.

And on top of that, it was presumed in this 1950's movie that all priests would certainly know Latin and any priest that didn't would be a communist sympathizer spy.

But if this faux spy priest lived today, that faux priest could not have been tripped up with not knowing the Latin, because most priests today don't know it, not even "mea culpa."

So the moral of this story is, real priests don't wear cassocks, but do celebrate the EF Mass and thus do know Latin and thus won't be strangled as a communist sympathizer and thrown down a ravine and the American spy won't say, "he doesn't even deserve to be buried."


Templar said...

I think you might still be sedated Father.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That's what you call "Drug induced" I think I got a contact high just reading it.

Gene said...

Duuuude!! Like wow, man, that Versed is some good ....

BTW, You mean Priests that don't know Latin and don't celebrate the EF are NOT Communists??!! LOL!

Henry said...

Surely, your displaying that shocking photo of yourself proves that you should have been cautioned against blogging today.

Seriously, don't you really doubt that there's a priest in this country who doesn't know what "mea culpa" means? But how about something more difficult, like "Pater noster"?

But then even Southern Baptists know about "them Catholics" saying their Aves and Paters while mindlessly fingering their beads, so how about some something really challenging like "Confiteor Deo omnipotenti" or "Gloria in excelsis Deo" that might truly stump some of your incorrigibly Novus Ordo presbyters.

rcg said...

This post was written dis orientem.

Anonymous said...

Oh, the HUMANITY! My EYES.......!

Marc said...

There is a very common misconception amongst the populace, Catholic and otherwise, that priests still know Latin. I find it sad that priests, for the most part, don't know Latin, especially that proper to the Liturgy.

Anyway, I can understand not wearing clerics to a medical procedure. On the other hand, if you had been, maybe someone in the hospital would have sought you out for Confession given the nature of such an environment...

John said...

The prep and anticipation of procedure are the worst part of the whole thing. (I have no cute Latin or ecclesiastical references.)

Glad to hear the good report from your doctor.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I was at a clinic not hospital, changed immediately into the open back gown. Should I hear confessions in that????

Henry said...

Marc, one can well imagine a priest not trying to wear a cassock while undergoing a colonoscopy. or demanding a BLACK open-backed gown for it.

However, I recall one of our TLM priests playing in the diocesan tennis finals. When his name was announced for the championship match, he sprinted onto the court wearing his cassock as usual, which--to wild applause--he proceeded to strip off to reveal his black shorts and black tee shirt.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Please tell me his name isn't Father Chippendale!

Henry said...

No, not Fr. Chippendale. (Are you serious?)

Back to Latin, we (or at least some of us) frequently refer to the assumed ignorance of today's priests. But I just thought back over the last 11 or 12 local diocesan priests of all ages--about half and half TLM-sometimes and OF-only priests--who I've heard celebrate Mass in the past 4 or 5 years. And every single one has used at least some Latin--if only the occasional Sanctus and Agnus Dei--in at least some of their Masses.

Marc said...

I was imagining a scenario wherein you were waking through a hospital to get to a room where you then changed into a gown. That sort of scenario might have lent itself to someone asking to confess.

I thought that was clear from the context of what I wrote, but apparently it wasn't!

At any rate, I stand by my statement that I can understand not wanting to wear clerics to go to a medical procedure. For those afraid of going to confession, it might lessen the tension of the event if the confessor was wearing a medical gown, though. So maybe you should consider that for the future...

Anonymous said...

Technically, I don't think Mirror Shots qualify as selfies, actually. The selfie is a pic taken at arm's length.

Gene said...

I thought a "selfie" was a mortal sin...

I would imagine that confession in the colonoscopy environment would lend itself to probing questions and
dark revelations. This is a deep subject...

Pater Ignotus said...

Unless a priest was an academic, his ability to use Latin outside of mass or other rituals was very limited, if not nonexistent.

Although systematic and moral theology were taught using Latin textbooks, many seminarians had access to translations and used them in their studies.

Our seminary rector, a highly intelligent man with a PhD, showed us one of the texts he saved from his seminary days. The English translation of the Latin was written between the lines in the book and he said that all of their Latin texts had such translations.

Most of us can recite from memory some Latin hymn or prayer, but that does not constitute a knowledge of the Language.

Anon friend said...

Good grief! A bit of much-needed comic relief until PI weighed in!!!

Anonymous said...

Pater Ignotus, when my father (then and lifelong a Methodist, as was I in nonadult years), who had had two years of Latin in high school six or seven years previously, was a graduate student in history at the University of Illinois in the mid-to-late 1920's, he sought the assistance of the Catholic chaplain (the author of the apologetical "The Faith of Millions") in the translation of material in Latin relevant to his Master's thesis on Michael de la Pole. I had always taken this as an indication that priests of the Latin rite knew Latin more than merely being able to cope with the missal and breviary. I recognize, of course, the pertinence of your stories of "scraping through," of interlinear translations of popular manuals, etc.

- Ancil Payne

Gene said...

When I was in junior high, Latin was still a required subject at my school in the eighth grade. When we were called upon, we had to stand by our desks and recite or do verb declensions. I still remember our first memory verses:
Florus to Hadrian:
"Ego nolo Caesar esse
Ambulare per Britannos
Scythicas pati pruinas."

Hadrian to Florus:
"Ego nolo Florus esse
Ambulare per tabernas
Latitare per popinas."

A rough translation of which would be, "I do not want to be Emperor, to travel through Britain
To suffer Scythian frosts. "
"I do not want to be Florus, to travel through taverns, To lurk among cheap dives."

I took one quarter more of Latin in college and, being a literature, philosophy, and theology student, that has served me well. However, I still only do "get by" Latin. I wish Latin would be brought back for a lot of reasons but, since the government schools are barely teaching English, I am sure that is a forlorn hope...

John Nolan said...

In Evelyn Waugh's novel 'Unconditional Surrender' Guy Crouchback is serving in the British military mission to Tito's partisans in Croatia when he learns that his wife has been killed in a V1 raid on London. He scrounges some rations and takes them to the priest in the nearby village:

"Facilius loqui Latine. Hoc est pro missa. Uxor mea mortua est."
"Nomen?" (Guy hands the priest a slip of paper with her name on it).
"Cras. Hora septem." (The priest holds up seven fingers).

This little transaction is observed by a communist sympathiser who thinks it suspicious, and the priest ends up being arrested and executed. However, the exchange is an interesting one. Guy, even had he not been a Catholic, as an educated Englishman would have at least a basic knowledge of Latin. He can safely assume that the priest was Latin-literate, even though his ability to converse in Latin would probably be limited.

The Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, who was trained in the early 1950s, said that after using Latin for twelve years in junior and senior seminary, you actually thought in the language. He was arguing that since this is no longer the case, calls for more Latin in the liturgy were misguided.

I had five years of Latin at school, but as a undergraduate reading history I admit using a crib for medieval Latin (and cribs weren't easy to get hold of - the news that someone had discovered a translation of John of Wurzburg in the library of the School of Oriental Studies spread like wildfire).

By the time Pater Ignotus was ordained I suspect the study of Latin had become unfashionable. I have talked to middle-aged priests who were actually discouraged from learning Latin, and I know of a monsignor and Protonotary Apostolic, ordained in 1970, who can't even pronounce Latin, let alone understand it, which is pretty disgraceful - even Anglican choristers are taught the Italianate pronunciation.

St John Vianney struggled with Latin and was nearly refused ordination on that account. Not everyone finds foreign languages easy, but a one-year course should enable a diligent student to read the Missal and Breviary with reasonable facility. It would seem that at last seminaries are taking Latin more seriously, and an increased interest in the Old Rite among seminarians and younger priests is helping. The anti-Latin ideologues (ironically many of them were good Latinists themselves) are thankfully a dying breed.

By the way, a cleric wears clericals. He does not use his confreres as articles of clothing!

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon - None of the senior priests I have spoken with, all trained in the 50's or 60's, used Latin for anything but liturgy and ritual.

Now my brother-in-law, an ex Trappist who was published in Blackfriars Journal, and my uncle, who was a Marist (FMS) brother for 72 years, were both good Latinists.

When we gathered at our mother's house for Christmas, Uncle Eugene and Anselm would repair to the dining room in the afternoon for a good game of SCRABBLE in Latin. And their scores were impressive!

I had one year of Latin in high school and was taught by a Brazilian Salesian. THAT made for some interesting accents. I can read/pronounce Latin well. But with an unfamiliar non-ecclesiastical text, my understanding would be poor.

The study of Latin wasn't just unfashionable, it was unnecessary.

rcg said...

Unnecessary? I bet one communist wished he knew "mea culpa" about now. Seriously, without at least ramen tardy Latin, Greek, and Low German I don't think the average English speaker truly knows what he is saying.

John Nolan said...

"The study of Latin wasn't just unfashionable, it was unnecessary".

Well, if a priest didn't mind being completely deracinated from the patrimony of the Latin Church, or wasn't curious to know what that Collect actually said, as opposed to what ICEL 1973 told him it said; if he had no ambition to study Canon Law, or to appreciate Gregorian Chant, then I suppose a study of Latin might well be regarded as unnecessary from a purely utilitarian standpoint, despite the clear requirement of the Church that her priests should know it.

A Catholic priest ignorant of Latin is as deficient as a rabbi ignorant of Hebrew or an imam ignorant of Arabic.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - The patrimony of the Church is not one language or another. The Church could have been just as much Church had we ended up speaking Arabic or Chinese. Like bread and wine after the consecration, Latin is an accident.

I know what a Collect says in English, and for a parish priest that is entirely sufficient. Were I a scholar or a linguist or a translator, there would be a need for me to know what the original said.

A very small percentage of priests study Canon Law beyond seminary and the great majority of those do it in their native language. They also practice the law in the native languages.

The Church requires many things of all its members, but those expectations are not always met.

Hebrew is the original language of the Hebrew scriptures and Arabic is the original language of the Qur'an. If a priest should know scriptural language, it should be Hebrew and Greek.

Gene said...

The knowledge of Latin and its use at Mass and in various written documents of the Church is unifying and clarifying and has provided historical continuity to the Church and Catholic worship. The discontinuance and discouragement of its use is another egalitarian effort to de-construct Catholicism. Latin is precise, elegant, and theology should be.

Also, when lawyers speak or write in Latin, they get to charge more...

Marc said...

I threw a little Latin into a pleading yesterday. I don't get to charge more for it though.

My understanding of canon law studies is that a couple years of Latin is required. I understand Traditional priests learn Latin to understand the Mass, Church documents, and the Breviary, which is quite a bit.

I haven't ever formally trained in Latin, although I have picked up some along the way reading the Breviary. I would venture to say that learning it is not only important for priests in terms of knowing the language of the Church, but to properly order their thinking as it seems such knowledge would benefit logical thinking skills.

Gene said...

THE NOX was lit by lux of Luna,And 'twas a nox most opportuna
To catch a possum or a coona;For nix was scattered o'er this mundus,
A shallow nix, et non profundus.
On sic a nox with canis unus,
Two boys went out to hunt for coonus.
The corpus of this bonus canis
Was full as long as octo span is,
But brevior legs had canis never
Quam had hic dog; et bonus clever.
Some used to say, in stultum jocum
Quod a field was too small locum
For sic a dog to make a turnus
Circum self from stem to sternus.
Unus canis, duo puer,Nunquam braver, nunquam truer,
Quam hoc trio nunquam fuit,If there was I never knew it.
This bonus dog had one bad habit,
Amabat much to tree a rabbit,Amabat plus to chase a rattus,
Amabat bene tree a cattus.But on this nixy moonlight night
This old canis did just right.
Nunquam treed a starving rattus,Nunquam chased a starving cattus,
But sucurrit on, intentus
On the track and on the scentus,
Till he trees a possum strongum,In a hollow trunkum longum.
Loud he barked in horrid bellum,
Seemed on terra vehit pellum.
Quickly ran the duo puerMors of possum to secure.
Quam venerit, one began
To chop away like quisque man.
Soon the axe went through the truncum
Soon he hit it all kerchunkum;
Combat deepens, on ye braves!
Canis, pueri et staves
As his powers non longius carry,Possum potest non pugnare.
On the nix his corpus lieth.
Down to Hades spirit flieth,
Joyful pueri, canis bonus,Think him dead as any stonus.
Now they seek their pater's domo,Feeling proud as any homo,
Knowing, certe, they will blossom Into heroes, when with possum
They arrive, narrabunt story,Plenus blood et plenior glory.
Pompey, David, Samson, Caesar,Cyrus, Black Hawk, Shalmanezer!
Tell me where est now the gloria,Where the honors of victoria?
Nunc a domum narrent story, Plenus sanguine, tragic, gory.
Pater praiseth, likewise mater,Wonders greatly younger frater.
Possum leave they on the mundus,Go themselves to sleep profundus,
Somniunt possums slain in battle,Strong as ursae, large as cattle.
When nox gives way to lux of morning,Albam terram much adorning,
Up they jump to see the varmin,Of the which this is the carmen.
Lo! possum est resurrectum!Ecce pueri dejectum,Ne relinquit back behind him,Et the pueri never find him.
Cruel possum! bestia vilest,How the pueros thou beguilest!
Pueri think non plus of Caesar,Go ad Orcum, Shalmanezer,Take your laurels, cum the honor,Since ista possum is a goner!

John Nolan said...

PI, we didn't end up speaking Arabic or Chinese. Latin was the language of the Western Church from the 4th century onwards and therefore has a claim, along with Hebrew, Greek and Old Church Slavonic, to being a sacred and liturgical language.

Yes, you probably now know what a Collect actually says (and the authors of the Novus Ordo, despite their faults, did restore a lot of ancient ones) since the reformed ICEL actually went to the trouble of translating them.

I imagine that you and I are about the same age. It's somewhat ironic that I was required to have a qualification in Latin in order to read history at university, whereas you were not required to have such in order to be ordained a Catholic priest (actually you were so required, but your seminary directors saw fit to ignore it).

Gene said...

The above poem is an anonymous poem, probably written by some bored but clever Latin student. It is entitled, "Carmen Possum." The title did not print. Sorry.

Anonymous 2 said...

And I thought you had just made it up, Gene.

Either way, it proves that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

In a similar vein, some Oxford wits wrote (in the 1920s I believe) that when Caesar landed in Britain in 55 B.C and saw the ancient Britons waiting to fight him on the beach, he said in a loud voice “Veni, vidi, vici.” The Britons, not understanding Latin of course, heard it as “weeny, weedy, and weaky” and were so crushed by this apparent taunt that they surrendered immediately.

Gene said...

I thought it was because they were too preoccupied with their 'oars to fight. They were told not to bring their 'oars with them, but every soldier has to have his ' fact, it is nearly impossible to keep the men from their 'oars.

Remind me never to enroll in a course in European history that you are teaching...LOL!

John Nolan said...

The best macaronic poem, since it goes through all the declensions, is that penned by AD Godley when the first motor buses appeared on the streets of Oxford in 1914.(NB the English pronunciation of Latin must be used in order to make it rhyme).

What is this that roareth thus?
Can it be a Motor Bus?
Yes, the smell and hideous hum
Indicat Motorem Bum!
Implet in the Corn and High
Terror me Motoris Bi.
Bo Motori clamitabo
Ne Motori caedar a Bo -
Dative be or Ablative,
So thou only let us live -
Whither shall thy victims flee?
Spare us, spare us, Motor Be!
Thus I sang, and still anigh
Came in hordes Motores Bi,
Et complebat omne forum
Copia Motorum Borum.
How shall wretches live like us, Cincti Bis Motoribus?
Domine, defende nos
Contra hos Motores Bos!

Anonymous 2 said...

Actually, the ancient Britons didn’t need their oars but the Romans did bring theirs with them. I understand they caused quite a row.

Gene said...

Well, I understand they kept their oars in an oar house. They must have been pretty sturdy oars because the oar house was always full of seamen. A well-used oar might go for a good price. The ancient Brits and Romans behaved themselves with their oars, for the most part. However, at a later date, Russian sailors began to show up at the oar houses, using a great deal of bad language and swearing freely. This was such an historic problem that a song has even been written about it. You've heard "The Vulgar Boatmen?"