About Me

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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.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

De Sacra Liturgia

My friend, Donato, passed this blog post on to me, and I would like to share it with you, becuase it hits the nail on the head--it is exactly how I feel when I go between my home parish during the holidays and St. Mary's Chapel while I am here at school. It is also exactly why I continue to say even at St. Mary's "And with thy spirit," "Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof, but speak the word only and my soul shall be healed," and "We do not presume to come to this thy table, O merciful Lord...grant us therefore gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink His Blood, that we may evermore dwell in Him, and He in us," etc. (albeit under my breath)--for me, the words of the Novus Ordo (or at least, the ICEL translations of it) are talking to my neighbor, whereas the words of the Anglican liturgy are talking to God.

You will note that I have never been a staunch proponent of the restoration of the Tridentine rite, for I was raised in the vernacular. I have only come to appreciate the Latin Mass in recent years, and only because I am now a trained Latinist; it is not an experience I would recommend for any who are not prepared to engage the Latin. At the same time, I am very dissatisfied with the ICEL's Novus Ordo. For me, the appropriate language in which to talk to God is Elizabethan English and sometimes Latin--but that's because that's how I've been raised. For others, a modern English idiom is more appropriate--but it should not be an everyday language; the language of the liturgy, the language with which we speak to God, should be elevated and extraordinary.

The worst thing, however, about the Novus Ordo is not the rite itself but our attitude toward it--the "let's get this thing over with so we can get on with the rest of our lives." Every word of the Mass, it's every action and every moment, should be said, performed, and experienced with the utmost attention and care; we should lovingly caress the words with our mouths, and meditate upon them in our hearts, so that "the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart may be always acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:14).

The liturgy is not a place for individual innovation; rather, it is a place for communal obedience and submission to God. Indeed, the liturgy is not about ourselves, nor even about the community of individual men and women of which we are part; rather, the liturgy is about the community of man and God; it is about stepping outside of the boundaries of our daily lives and entering into an extraordinary place of holiness; it is about witnessing the eternal sacrifice of our Lord, who gave His Body and Blood to us in payment of our debts to the ineffable Creator, this sacrifice made once and for all on Calvary, yet every day renewed and fully present to us in the sacrifice of the Mass upon God's altar. The Mass is not about us--it is about Jesus Christ. Let us never forget that every time we enter the sacred space of a church or chapel where is reserved the Blessed Sacrament, we enter into the presence of God--we enter a realm which far surpasses the rest of the world around us in beauty, in tranquility, and in treasured wealth. And when we enter that space to witness the renewal of that sacrifice, we witness an event, real and wholly present in both time and space before us, that far surpasses in enormity and magnificence even the greatest of human deeds.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Cursus pro Vita

As many of you know, I will in Washington, D.C. this weekend to attend the Students for Life Conference at Catholic University and to take part in the annual March For Life on Monday. When I return, I will, of course, offer my thoughts on the weekend here on my blog. At this time, however, I simply ask your prayers for a safe and productive time in Washington.

Almighty Father, Who art the author of peace and lover of concord and Who knowest every child in the womb; Pour forth, we beseech Thee, the strength of Thy awesome love into our hearts and into the hearts of all thy people, born and unborn, that we, marching under the banner of Thy rigtheousness, may in Thy holy Name promote and protect that beautiful mystery of Life in which Thou hast by Thy grace created us; Through Jesus Christ Thy Son Our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in unity with the Holy Spirit, ever One God, world without end, Amen.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

DaH ll. 543-662: Thou wilt yet to us both bequest...

After waking her parents with her tears, the girl is scolded by them, but she will not be silenced. Her impassioned plea, however, is met with her mother's heart-wrenching response (mothers: keep the tissues handy for this one). If you are interested, the full Middle High German text can be found here, and an online knowledge database can also be found here. Also of note is the odd numbering at the end of the passage: it's the result of a new manuscript that was found after the original critical edition had been established; rather than renumber the poem (which would cause havoc, since all of the old references are keyed to the old lines numbers), the editors simply added the lines in as a, b, etc.

Once again, any and all feedback is requested and welcomed.

Introduction & lines 1-132
Lines 133-162
Lines 163-232
Lines 233-348
Lines 349-458
Lines 459-542

They turned about to her to see
And said, “See here, what troubleth thee?
545 Quite foolish art thou in excess,
That on thy self such great distress
Of such lament thou didst impend,
Which no man can bring to an end.
Why willst thou not us sleep allow?”
550 So they began to scold her now:
What good to her were such lament
Which no man could yet then prevent,
Avert, abolish, or defeat?
So thought they that the maiden sweet
555 Again was silenced and was still.
Unknown to them then was her will.
So answered them the maiden bold:
“As hath my lord the story told,
So can one heal quite well his pain.
560 Forsooth, ‘less ye will me restrain,
So am I good to be his cure.
I am a maid, my will is sure.
Before I see him cease to live,
I will my life first for him give.”
565 Then were by these words and review
Her mother and her father, too,
Dejected, saddened, and distraught.
His daughter he bid and besought
That she would leave her story’s word
570 And promise only to her lord
That, which for him she could secure,
For this could not be done by her.
“O daughter, thou art but a child,
And thy grand promises are wild
575 And in this matter far too grand.
This canst thou not achieve as planned,
As hast thou here to us portrayed.
On death hast thou thine eyes not laid.
Whene’er the time is come for thee,
580 That from it there no freedom be,
Thou must succumb to death’s long reign,
And couldest thou it then attain,
Thou would’st yet rather keep life whole:
Ne’er would’st thou come in worser hole.
585 Now close thy mouth, this speech be gone!
And if thou wilt from this time on
E’er more this utterance allow,
It shall be felt upon thy brow.”
So he believed that then was she
590 By both his threats and ev’ry plea
To silence brought: but he could not.
His daughter answered him this lot:
“Howe’er young be I, father mine,
Retain I yet the insight fine,
595 That I the pain from teller’s breath
Well fathom that the body’s death
Is sharp, severe, and quite intense.
Whoe’er yet then a long time hence
Should live with hardships light or fell,
600 For him it, too, is not so well;
For when he struggleth here along
And beareth in his old years long
With great distress his body slow,
Then must he death yet undergo.
605 Then if his soul is lost, forlorn,
So were he better left unborn.
Up to this point have come my days,
For which I will e’er God give praise,
That I can now my young life give,
610 That I might life eternal live.
Ye ought not now my task to still.
For both myself and you I will
Thereby exceeding good collect.
Alone can I us well protect
615 From harm and suffering and pain,
As shall I now to you explain.
We have now goods and honour’s side:
This doth our lord’s intent provide,
For ne’er caused he us injury
620 And ne’er from us took property.
So long as he should stay alive,
So shall our situation thrive.
And if we let him die away,
So must we perish and decay.
625 I will protect him for our sake
With this pure act, which I shall make,
By which we all are saved from woe.
Permit me this: it must be so.”
Her mother spoke with crying raw
630 When she her daughter’s staidness saw:
“Remember child, my daughter dear,
How great my pains and how severe,
Which I have suffered for thy sake,
And let me better reward take
635 Than have I heard thee here explain.
Thou wilt mine heart sever in twain.
Subdue a bit for me thy call.
Yea, wilt thou thy salvation all
Against God and for us remit?
640 Why dost thou not recall his writ?
Yea, bade he, ordered, and he taught
That mother and to father ought
One render love and honour earned,
And promised, too, this in return,
645 That soul’s salvation would there be
And life on earth of long degree.
Thou would’st thy life, as sayest thou,
For both our joy give and allow:
Thou wilt yet to us both bequest
650 A life of deep distress unblest.
Thy father and I happily
Live when ‘tis for the sake of thee.
652a What good to us are goods and life,
652b What good are worldly pleasures rife,
652c When thou dost not with us remain?
652d Thou ought not bring us grief and pain.
Yea, should’st thou, lovely daughter mine,
Be for us both our joy divine,
654a Our love without sharp suff’ring’s care,
654b Our eyes’ refulgent, brilliant flare;
655 Be of our lives a dear delight,
Among thy kin a flower sprite,
In our old age the staff of love.
But if thou lettest us above
Thy grave of thy transgressions stand,
660 Thou must from grace of God’s right hand
Be e’er cut off and disavowed:
For both of us this earnest thou.
662a If, daughter, good wilt thou us be,
662b Then thou should’st from thy story flee
662c And thy intent for our Lord’s grace,
662d The story which I’ve heard thee trace.”

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Der arme Heinrich, ll. 459-542

After Heinrich's lament to the farmer and his wife, the daughter reacts (more tears). If you are interested, the full Middle High German text can be found here, and an online knowledge database can also be found here.

Once again, any and all feedback is requested and welcomed.

Introduction & lines 1-132
Lines 133-162
Lines 163-232
Lines 233-348
Lines 349-458
What with her father he had shared,
460 That heard the maiden pure and fair,
Because that girl so very sweet
Had of her lord most dear the feet
Lying across her lap with care.
Once could indeed and well compare
465 Her innocent child’s quality
To the kind angels’ purity.
Of his story took she good heed
And marked and noted it indeed:
Ne’er left it from her heart, its deep,
470 E’en ‘till she went that night to sleep,
When at her father’s feet she lay,
Her mother’s too, as was her way.
When both had fallen into sleep,
Many a sigh and gasping deep
475 She from her inner heart outpoured.
For the sharp suff’ring of her lord
So great was her sorrowful pain
That from her eyes did break a rain
Upon her sleeping parents’ feet.
480 So them awoke the maiden the sweet.
And when they felt the wet tears fall,
Awoke they and began to call
And ask her what was happening
And of what kind of sorrowing
485 She could so secretly lament.
To tell them was she hesitant.
But when her father made and set
A very many pleas and threats,
That she must answer them quickly,
490 She spoke: “Ye should lament with me.
What more can do us harm greater
Than on account of our master,
That we should lose him to the grave
And with him sacrifice and waive
495 Both good honour and our demesne?
And we shall ne’er receive again
Another lord of such good weal
Who may with us as doth he deal.”
They spoke: “O daughter, right hast thou.
500 But not a bit us helpeth now
Our sorrow and our great lament.
Dear child, of this be thou silent!
‘Tis us as painful as to thee.
But sadly yet now cannot we
505 Come to his aid in any way.
‘Tis God hath taken him away:
Had any other soul this done,
He would from us our curse have won.”
Thus did they then her voice detain.
510 That night despondent she remained
And all the day that followéd.
Whate’er anyone other did,
Ne’er left this from her heart, his plight,
Until she went in the next night
515 To sleep as was her custom's way.
When she had down her body laid
In the old place in bed she knew,
Prepared she yet a bath and drew
It from her weeping eyes’ outpour:
520 Because in secret hid she bore
So deeply in her heart’s recess
The greatest and utmost goodness
That e’er have I of child heard fame.
What child would, too, e’er act the same?
525 To this herself committed she:
Should she again the morning see,
That she her life in one accord
Would give for the sake of her lord.
Then at this notion was she made
530 Of easy heart and cheery grade
And had no more a worry’s bane,
Except a fear that did her pain:
If she would to her lord confess,
That he would draw back in distress,
535 And when she should then to all three
Her plan reveal, that in them she
Would find no ready tolerance,
That one would not it countenance.
Therefore was her distress so great
540 That was her mother by its weight
And was her father roused to light
Just as on the foregoing night.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Der arme Heinrich, ll. 349-458

This next batch has some tear-jerking, at least on Heinrich's part. If you are interested, the full Middle High German text can be found here, and an online knowledge database can also be found here.

Once again, any and all feedback is requested and welcomed.

Introduction & lines 1-132
Lines 133-162
Lines 163-232
Lines 233-348
Her service was good and benign.
350 And when Heinrich, poor and maligned,
Three years in that place had remained,
And God his body had much pained
With great suff’ring of soul and life,
Now sat the peasant and his wife
355 And the maiden, their daughter young,
Of whom I’ve you already sung,
By him in their activity
And did their lord’s suff’ring pity.
Lament caused them a great distress:
360 Because they feared his death’s progress
Should greatly them harm and molest
And should completely them divest
Of property and good honour,
And that of a stricter temper
365 A single other lord would be.
They long did think and so deeply,
Until that very farming man
In such a way to ask began.
“My master dear and lord,” spoke he,
370 “And may it with your favour be,
I would like most to ask you this:
Though in Salerno there exist
A many master doctors smart,
How cometh it, that they no art
375 For your infirm and sickly pest
Could offer, counsel, or suggest?
My lord, this doth my awe excite.”
Then gave Heinrich, the woeful knight,
Deep from his heart a heavy sigh
380 With bitter pain and woe, a cry:
Then spoke he with such sorrow’s quake
That his words with the sigh did break:
“I have this shameful dishonour
Deserved from God, quite well and sure.
385 For well thou sawest then before,
That wide and open stood my door
To pleasure, that most worldly sin.
And that no man among his kin
His wishes more than I could fill:
390 And that was quite impossible,
For I completely had my way.
Then I of Him no heed did pay,
Who had that same life wishful giv’n
To me by His great grace in Heav’n.
395 And so then stood the heart of me,
As do they all, the fools worldly,
To whom their minds expostulate
That they honour and great estate
Could without God have and achieve.
400 So, too, my fool’s hope me deceived,
Since I took little note of Him
By grace of Whom the honour’s trim
And great estate I did posses.
When this, my pride, much in excess
405 Seemed to the high Gate Keeper hard,
The happy gates to me He barred.
Alas, I come through them no more:
My foolishness from me that tore.
God hath in vengeance on me laid
410 A sickness of such pitchèd grade,
Which no man can correct or save.
Contemnèd now am I by knaves,
The noble men no heed me show.
Who seeth me, how’er be low,
415 Yet lower still must I then be.
His scorn to me clear maketh he:
He casteth eyes away from me.
Now clear it is e’er first with thee
Thy loyalty true, which thou hast,
420 To wit, thou lettest my pale cast
By thee and from me ne’er flyest.
E’en though thou me not eschewest,
Though but to thee I’m no one dear,
Though on me hangeth thy life’s cheer,
425 Thou would’st well bear my death’s oppress.
Now whose unworth and whose distress
Was in the world e’er more deplored?
Before this time I was thy lord
And I am thy poor beggar now.
430 My dear, dear friend, now earnest thou,
And, too, my bride and with thy wife,
Because of me eternal life,
For me, though ill, thou lettest stay.
To that which thou hast bid me say,
435 I tell thee gladly what was wrought.
While at Salerno, I could not
A solitary master find
Who to himself my cause would bind
Or even dare to undertake.
440 For that by which I should partake
Of healing – my disease’s cure –
Must be a thing of such nature
That in this world no single man
With any means procure it can.
445 None else but his was me expressed,
But that I must a girl possess,
That is, a fully nubile maid
Whose will indeed were fully staid,
That she for me would life depart
450 And one would cut right to her heart;
And nothing else were for me good
Except that maiden girl’s heart blood.
Impossible to great degree
That any for the sake of me
455 Now gladly would death undergo!
So must I shameful torment’s woe
Endure ever unto my end.
That God would it to me soon send!”

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Der arme Heinrich, ll. 233-348

Now that the semester is over and I'm on break, I've had plenty of time to catch up on the translation, so the installments will be coming long and fast in the coming weeks. If you are interested, the full Middle High German text can be found here, and an online knowledge database can also be found here.

Once again, any and all feedback is requested and welcomed.

Introduction & lines 1-132
Lines 133-162
Lines 163-232

Now dawned it Heinrich pitiable
That it were quite impossible
235 That anyone could one supply
Who would for him willingly die.
So was from him that comfort ripped
In hope of which he had there tripped;
And from that very moment’s bane,
240 No thought of cure did he retain,
Of hope not e’en a single part.
At this the sorrow of his heart
Became so powerful and great
That ‘twas of all for him the weight
245 That he must long persist to live.
Return’d home he began to give
His assets and his own estate,
As his mind did deliberate
And wise advice did him present,
250 Whither his wealth might best be spent.
He began with wise donations
To enrich his poor relations;
To strangers poor aid, too, he lent,
That God His mercy might consent
255 To save his soul and make it blest:
To Holy Houses fell the rest.
So did he yield and abdicate
All of his former rich estate
Except a single farmer’s lands:
260 He thither fled from social bands.
This woeful, wretched circumstance
Bore not just his lamenting glance:
For him did all the land give moan,
Wherein that cursèd knight was known,
265 And, too, in foreign lands the cry,
Which knew him by repute’s reply.
The one who first and even still
Did this cleared farmer’s parcel till –
He was a peasant farmer free
270 Who ne’er did struggle with any
Oppressive, heavy hardship great,
Such as is other farmers’ fate,
Who worse were ruled and masteréd
And whom their lords hat not sparéd
275 From tax and ev’ry levy grave.
Whate’er this farmer freely gave,
This seemed sufficient to his lord:
And more, his lord did guard afford
That he hath suffered no distress
280 From foreign powers, or duress.
And so there was par to his pitch,
None in that land, not one so rich.
Retired he to the farmer’s board,
The poor Heinrich, the peasant’s lord.
285 Then of whate’er he had him spared,
How well it now was him repaired
And what delight from it received!
For very little him aggrieved,
Whate’er for his sake he endured.
290 He was loyal, of purpose sure,
That willingly he suffered yet
The burden and the trouble’s sweat
Which fell to him to undergo:
He tended him in comfort so.
295 God to the farmer by His grace
Had giv’n a pure life by his place.
A well-worked body hard had he
And a well-working wife sturdy,
And children had he too, handsome,
300 Which joy indeed of man become,
And had, or so I’ve heard it sung,
Among them one, a maiden young,
A child, her age of eight [twelve] years bright:
She could behave in manner right
305 According to affection’s way.
Ne’er wished she then to go away
Even a foot’s breadth from her lord.
For his favor and his kind word,
So served she him e’er ev’rywhere
310 With her affection’s kindly care.
She was so charmingly fair, too,
That she would be well fitted to
The Emperor’s very own child
In her excelling beauty mild.
315 The others had the sense of mind
That they in proper measure’s kind
Well could at distance from him stay:
But she, she flew in night and day
To him only and ne’er elsewhere.
320 She was his occupation fair.
She had so much her heart’s kindness
With that child-like and pure goodness
Devoted e’er to her lord’s care,
That one would always find her there,
325 Sitting attentive at his feet.
With much activity most sweet
She e’er attended her lord’s right.
In her he, too, took great delight,
By any means with which he could,
330 And what became the maiden good,
Becoming to her children’s play,
Of that her lord to her conveyed.
‘Twas of great help, that also she
Accustoméd so easily.
335 He won for her, whate’er for sale:
A mirror and hairs’ ribbons’ tails,
And whate’er children should delight,
A belt and rings for fingers slight.
Attending brought he her to grow,
340 That she became close to him so,
That he called her by name his bride.
The maiden good let him a stride
Remain in solitude never:
He seemed to her completely pure.
345 Howe’er strongly they might move her,
The gifts child-like and immature,
What made her love it all the more
By God’s gift was a sweeter core.