About Me

My photo
I am a medievalist and an adjunct college instructor in the humanities at Union College. My research includes medieval theologies of history, text/image relationships in visionary and mystical texts, and the writings of the twelfth-century Doctor of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen. I am also a translator of medieval Latin and German texts, especially as relate to my research. My translation of Hildegard's Book of Divine Works is available from Catholic University of America Press here. I completed a Master's in Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame in 2010, a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany in 2008, and a B.A. in Classics and German at Boston College in 2007.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

De sancta sexualitate

When I read today Kara Jesella's article on CNN.com's Health section on the female orgasm ("The Big O: Fireworks? Or is your sex life less than explosive?"), I was most dismayed that she seemed to accept out of hand the assumption that the modern trend to have multiple sexual partners out of wedlock is not only acceptable but considered "healthy" and "liberating". It is not the so-called "repression" of abstinence before marriage that is wreaking havoc both physically and emotionally on our modern sexuality; rather, it is the disrespect with which we treat our sexuality, which we see no longer as a sacred gift from God to be shared only in the tightest bonds of human erotic love, that is, in holy matrimony, but as just another of the tools of selfish "individual expression".

A full understanding of one’s sexuality can only come through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom and in whom all things were made and are, therefore, understood. In this context, one comes to understand that one’s sexuality is not some independent department of the self; rather, sexuality is inextricably bound up in the whole being of body and of the soul. The modern idea of "sexual liberation" is deeply flawed because it lacks the central focus of creatured sexuality: Christ.

A new sexual revolution is needed to correct the degrading and dangerous excesses of the old; a second revolution to recontextualize sexuality within its complex relationship with the body, with the soul, and ultimately, with Christ; a spiritual as much as physical revolution to renew the sexual bond in which man and woman become one flesh, both physically and spiritually, a bond which must be found within the setting of the marriage covenant, its license signed and sealed not by the official at City Hall but by the supreme magistrate, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Der arme Heinrich, ll. 163-232

Here is the next installment of my translation of this poem. If you are interested, the full Middle High German text can be found here, and an online knowledge database can also be found here.

Any and all feedback is requested and welcomed.

Introduction & lines 1-132
Lines 133-162

A bit yet took he of good cheer
For yet a comfort did appear:
165 For oft to him it had been said
That this same sickliness so dread
Was very varied and diversed
And sometimes curably reversed.
And so a many were the kind
170 Of hopes and thoughts about his mind.
He thought himself, that he could be
But curable, just possibly,
And set he out without delay
To seek advice at Montpellier,
175 The counsel of the doctors there.
But quickly he became aware
Of nothing more than deep despair
That never would he health repair.
This news took he not happily
180 And to Salerno journeyed he
And sought there too for healing’s pow’r
The wisest doctors’ art to scour.
The master whom he found there best
Forthwith gave answer to his quest
185 A strange, remarkable story
That curable indeed were he
Yet ever would remain uncured.
He said: “How can that be? Your word
And speech is quite impossible.
190 If cure there is, so shall I heal:
Whate’er on me will be enjoined
Of hardest work or cost and coin,
So that I trust to bring about.”
“Now give ye up such hoping stout,”
195 The master then yet answer gave,
“In this way is your sickness grave:
(To what avail to tell you this?)
A remedy belongs to this
Through which you could again be healthy.
200 But yet there is no man so wealthy
Or of such mind of strong intent
That he could make th’ achievement.
So sickly will ye e’er remain,
But God to be a doctor deign.”
205 Then poor Sir Heinrich answeréd:
“Why leave ye me so dejectéd?
Indeed have I wealth’s greater part:
Unless ye would your master art
And your own doctor’s oath forsake,
210 And even more refuse to take
My precious silver and my golden,
I shall make you to me beholden,
That gladly will ye cure my ill.”
“‘Tis not an hindrance of my will,”
215 Said yet the master in reply,
“And were there of such cure supply
That one could find it bought or sold
Or that one could by giving gold
Or any other means attain,
220 I would not suffer you to wane.
But none of this can sadly be.
So of my help and aid must ye
Be of necessity denied.
A virgin must ye have, a bride,
225 That is, a fully nubile maid
Whose will indeed were fully staid,
That she for you would death’s way go.
‘Tis not the people’s custom so,
That any, willing, would it do.
230 Requir’d be nothing else thereto
Except the heartblood of a maid:
‘Twould be your ailing’s only aid.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Der arme Heinrich, ll. 133-62

Here is the next batch of lines from my continuing efforts to translate this poem. An introduction, together with the first 132 lines, may be found here. If you are interested, the full Middle High German text can be found here, and an online knowledge database can also be found here.

Any and all feedback is requested and welcomed.

And when the dear Sir Heinrich poor
First hit upon that fact so sore,
135 That he the world did horrify,
As all they do who likely lie,
Then did his bitter suff’ring mark
Him diff’rent from Job’s patience stark.
For Job the Good did suffer it
140 With patient resolution fit,
When he the torment underwent
For peace of soul and betterment
The gross disease and dishonour,
Which from the world he did endure:
145 Rejoice did he and praisèd God.
But sadly did poor Heinrich not
In any manner likewise act:
So sad was he, and joy he lacked.
His soaring heart now stopped and sunk,
150 His floating joy now drowned and drunk,
His arrogance now had to fall,
His honey changèd into gall.
A dark and louring thunder quake
Did in the midst of his day break,
155 A darksome shade of cloudy night
Hath blotted out his sunny light.
Quite heavily did he lament
That he so many honourments
Had to forsake and leave behind.
160 Accursèd, damnèd, and maligned
Oft was that day, beshrewed of mirth,
That day whereon did lie his birth.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Congratulations to The Boston College Observer

At the annual Editors' Conference of the Collegiate Network over the weekend, The Boston College Observer (whose Catholic Issues Editor I am) was named CN's 2006 Best Paper! The Collegiate Network is a consortium of over 100 conservative campus publications across the nation, and is supported by National Review.

Congratulations, Observer!