Friday, November 04, 2005

Light From the Rosary (Conclusion)

Light From the Rosary (Conclusion)

Light From the Rosary (Part 1)
Light From the Rosary (Part 2)
Light From the Rosary (Part 3)
Light From the Rosary (Part 4)
Light From the Rosary (Part 5)
Light From the Rosary "back cover"

Conclusion: Ten and Twenty
Since I am occasionally a poet as well as a lunatic, I mean a computer scientist, I would like to show you a nice little limerick I once found. (Note: I did not write it!)

+ 3·Ö4)
÷ 7
+ 5·11
= (9^2) + 0

Which, like the limerick on "Salisbury" which Chesterton enjoyed, really has to be translated to be appreciated:

A dozen, a gross, and a score,
Plus three times the square root of four
Divided by seven
Plus five times eleven
Is nine squared and not a bit more.

[Note: Here is the limerick as reported by Maisie Ward:]

There was a young curate of Salisbury,
Whose manners were halisbury-scalisbury:
He went cycling to Hampshire
Without any pampshire,
Till his Bishop insisted he walisbury.

To construe the verse, you must know that the Bishop of Salisbury, by an old medieval usage, still signs himself Sarum, and that the postal version of Hampshire is Hants.

There was a young curate of Sarum
Whose manners were too harum scarum:
He went biking to Hants
Without any pants,
Till his Bishop insisted he wear 'em.
[Maisie Ward, Return To Chesterton, 144]

I mention this because one of the very strange things about English is that it has synonyms for certain numbers. We call the ten Hail Marys a decade, which of course is from the Latin, and so is "dozen" for 12, and even "gross" for a dozen dozens. But "score" for 20 is English. And there does not appear to be very much numerological use of 20, at least in the Bible. Obviously it is twice ten, and ten has its own special significance. To the Greeks, ten was mystically enshrined in the word pistiV meaning faith or trust, and it also has Biblical significance in the ten Commandments and the ten plagues of Egypt. Moreover there was a strange mathematical connection which our Lord hints at in His comments about the fruitfulness of the Word of God, which yields fruit in one hundred or sixty or thirty fold (Mt 13:8) – for these numbers are ten times 10, 6, and 3 which are all triangular numbers (look at the arrangement of bowling pins to understand this word!)
Now people that like to play with numbers like to look for patterns – this does NOT make them numerologists, just as people that like to look at the Zodiac are not therefore astrologers. And of course there are four Gospels and four Living Creatures in the Apocalypse (Rv 4:6-8) and now there are four sets of mysteries of the Rosary.
But there really is something interesting in seeing a certain repetition of this three in odd places. And one of the oddest has just been revealed, now that there are twenty mysteries. For there is an interesting place where the number three is related to the number twenty – and it has been known for only about fifty years.
That relation is hidden within a very sophisticated code. The code is arranged to reduce the likelihood that an error will corrupt the message. It is also arranged so that the frequency of use of symbols in the message is paralleled (when possible) by the number of symbols used to encode that message. And there is this curious fact: the coding symbols come in groups of three, and, except for a special "punctuation mark," there are exactly twenty message symbols.
What is this code? It is called the genetic code, and it is the way in which DNA sequences are translated into proteins (which are sequences formed from the collection of twenty amino acids). A sequence of three DNA components (which are called "bases": A, C, G, T) stands for one of twenty specific amino acids (or else it is the punctuation mark indicating the end of the sequence).
Now, as I mentioned at the beginning of this essay, there is this verse in which Jesus links the words light and life:

Again therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying: I am the light of the world. He that followeth me walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (Jn 8:12)

To follow Christ – to study Him – will result in the possession of both Light, the ultimate message-carrying entity of nature, and Life, which is the ultimate message incarnate. With the addition of the mysteries of light, John Paul II has revealed the Rosary to be based on an "alphabet" of twenty mysteries – paralleling the twenty amino acids which constitute the "alphabet" of life.
It is thus, in the Twenty Mysteries of the Rosary, at the junction point of molecular biology, computer science, and Catholicism, that we get the first faint hint of the profound earthquake of truth from the Eternal Poet, Who inspired John to write:

"The Word was made flesh."
`O LogoV sarx egeneto.


At 07 November, 2005 03:28, Anonymous Second Best said...

Perhaps you've already seen Thomistic limericks?


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