That Latin was no more difficile/Than to a blackbird 'tis to whistle. Butler
Contrary to what others have written us in the last week, the Readers are definitely not opposed to aspiration. Indeed, aspirations, when accompanied by genuine achievement and hard work, lead to greatness in every arena of human endeavor. We do, however, object to abject failures or elementary successes shamelessly promoted as signs of a noble aspiration fulfilled. That's why we work hard to demythologize Dannie and Tony Baloney's fictional narrative that they embody the best traditions of the pre-Vatican II Church.
As a matter of principle, we don't have a problem with any priest's aspiring to match the highest standards of the past. And if he worked diligently to acquire the body of knowledge, skills, comportment, and ethos of pre-conciliar clergy, not only would we applaud him on the way, but we'd support him materially. Then, when he demonstrated after years of effort that he'd met or surpassed the standards, we'd be the first ones to laud and publish his achievement. Our enthusiasm would be honest, for it would be founded on the objective evidence of his performance and manner of life.
Above all else, such an aspiring cleric would inhabit entirely a Latin world of the mind. On all religious and liturgical questions, he would think in Latin and reflexively prefer Latin authors over those who write in the vernacular. He would mutter his personal prayers in Latin and strive daily to perfect his Latin composition. In reading Scripture and preparing a homily, he would exclusively use the Vulgate, never a translation, so that he could elucidate for the faithful the precise meaning of the text upon which he is preaching. In a nutshell, Church Latin would be his second nature.
One of our chief criticisms of the cult masters is that it's evident they don't live in a world totally informed by the Latin language, yet they (and their self-interested supporters) struggle to pretend they do. That may have been their aspiration 40 years ago, but, as our work has proved, they've failed to realize it. (These men just don't have the right stuff to begin with: it's not in their DNA.) It's important for the laity to know that without a complete Latin frame of mind, no cleric can ever claim to equal the best of the best of the pre-Vatican II Church, to being the real thing. Without complete mastery of the Church's Latin culture, it's all monkey see, monkey do. Like seeing a simian leafing through a newspaper, it's amusing to watch, but altogether a sham.
Most decent traditional priests know how far short of the mark of Catholic excellence they have fallen. While cleaving to the standard of the past as guide to their betterment, they are too conscious of their limitations -- and too honest -- to assert parity. They also realize that no sede today, especially an American sede, can hold a candle to the remarkably gifted, carefully selected, and generously trained priests of the past. (For such a cleric, we must look to South America and Europe.) Knowledgeable clergy outside the SW Ohio-Brooksville cult laugh themselves silly at Dannie's, Cheesy's, and Donnie's hollow self-promotion. The cult masters are demonstrably not the equals of the clergy of yesteryear, and that inequality starts with the non-Latin world they inhabit.
To the many we've already assembled on these blog pages, let's add yet another sparkling example of Dannie's alienation from the Catholic Latin world of the past:
On March 10, "One Hand" delivered a sermon on "Mass Math" to the pitiable, little cultling children. Preaching on the text of Mt 18:22, Dannie begins, "Lord, how many times should I forgive my neighbor if he offends against me? Up to seven times? No, up to seven times seventy times." A few minutes later he returns to the numerical expression, but this time it's changed to "seven times seventy" or "490 times."Already we hear the Close Loyalists of Dannie (CLODs) roaring that we're nitpicking over a small discrepancy between the expressions. We want assure them -- and our many fans -- that's not our aim here. Furthermore, we aren't quibbling over the fact that the initial quotation is a paraphrase of the Gospel text. Dirtbag Dan was simply adjusting his language for the unfortunate cult kiddies. No problem with that. You've got to keep your audience in mind.
No, our point is that if you were a Roman Catholic priest rooted in Latin, you could never say that the number of times our Lord commanded St. Peter to forgive an offender is 490.
By all means, we can see how an educated Protestant minister, with his faithful adherence to the Greek, might come up with that figure. The numeral in Mt 18:22 presents a well-known textual problem, and the form of the numeral as found in the standard Greek editions of the New Testament has duly elicited comment from standard scholarly reference grammars of New Testament Greek (v.g., Blass-Debrunner, Moulton, Robertson, Zerwick). In addition, we know that many translations note that the Koine figure may be rendered either "seventy times seven" or "seventy-seven times."
But we're not talking about Protestants or even Catholic clergy who ground themselves in the Greek text and the scholarly literature about it. Truly traditional Catholic clergy, even if they are competent in Greek, are different. They stand firmly rooted in the Latin Vulgate. In the case of Mt 18:22, they don't need to search outside the text. For, while there may be some doubt about the exact translation of the numeral in the Greek Matthew*, there is none whatsoever in the Latin: The Vulgate unambiguously reads septuagies septies, the numeral adverb meaning "seventy-seven times."
We'd agree that the TAN Douay-Rheims edition's "seventy times seven times" (the same as in the very first edition except for the archaic orthography) is so slavishly literal as to cause confusion in a modern reader. And we know that the Haydock edition of the Douay reads differently, printing "seventy times seven," like the King James version, and glosses the verse with "i.e., 490." Accordingly, we must infer that Dim Dannie has used in his sermonette two very different quantities, drawn, apparently, from different Douay editions without his even realizing the quantities are different!
(What a pea-brain! That kind of textual cluelessness probably deserves a separate post. These guys are not only ignorant, they're slow on the uptake as well.)
If Dannie did represent pre-Vatican II excellence as the cult PR insists he does, he would have first gone to the Latin text of St. Matthew, ignoring all translations. Finding septuagies septies, he would have instantly known without question that our Lord commanded Peter to forgive his brother up to 77 times, not 7 X 70 times (= 490). Seventy-seven times is the figure he should have told the cringing traddie tykes. If he had consulted the Haydock Bible (and we suspect he did), then he would have known not to accept either its figure or the annotated computation for the mathematically challenged.
But as we all have seen, Dannie cannot in any way be equated with the clergy of the past. His ignorance permanently impedes him from attaining the Latin outlook that adorned so many of the pre-Vatican II clergy. If he doesn't have Latin, then he can't possibly possess in full the other necessary characteristics of a Roman churchman. Latin is the gatekeeper to the traditional faith. Without its perfect mastery, everything else you see is a tawdry façade. What we have in Tradistan is the mindless and awkward aping of tradition, not the real thing: it only looks authentic for a second.
* The problem arises from the Greek numeral printed in critical editions of the New Testament. The absolutely literal translation of hebdomēkontákis heptá is "seventy times (hebdomēkontákis) seven (heptá)." The Greek adverbial for "seventy-seven times" is hebdomēkontákis heptákis, but grammarians and textual critics -- considering the allusion to Gn 4:24 (lit. in Heb.: "If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy and seven") -- regard heptá as a scribal abbreviation for heptákis.
However, in the Vulgate there's no such textual ambiguity. The Latin clearly reads "seventy-seven times." The Jesuit Zerwick has a nice summary of scholarly opinion in this matter (translation by J. Smith, S.J.; transliteration ours for those who don't read Greek):
159. (Héōs) hebdomēkontákis heptá (Mt 18, 22) is not «seventy times seven» , but «seventy seven times» ( = hebdomēkontákis heptákis) as the Vulgate rightly translates it here and in Gen 4, 24, where the LXX has the same imperfect expression. Since the Genesis text deals with vengeance, and Matthew's with forgiveness, it is very probable that the Gospel text intentionally alludes to the OT one (Moulton)...In confirmation, we find in Robertson, "Moulton considers rightly that the passage in Genesis settles the usage in Matthew." Blass-Debrunner notes the "peculiar" Greek numeral in Matthew should be read "'seventy-seven times' (not 'seventy times seven')..." This is by far not the only instance where modern scholarship confirms the correctness of our Latin Vulgate.
Isn't it a crying shame that the malformed cult masters of Tradistan have neither the training nor the brains to mine its riches?