Saturday, December 17, 2005

Eight more days: O Sapientia

Come, O Wisdom!

December 17: Eight more days: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem,
fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

(translation from Fr. Britt)

O Wisdom, that proceedest from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end mightily, and sweetly disposing all things, COME and teach us the way of prudence.

(another version)

Wisdom, O holy Word of God,
you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care.
Come and show your people the way to salvation.
(The circle circumscribing an equilateral triangle around the eye stands for the Godhead; the seven flames emanating are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit - "I will ask the Father and He will send another Advocate" - the large central one at the bottom is "wisdom". But the Word is also called Wisdom.)

"Get wisdom, get understanding." [from the book of Proverbs]

But how is wisdom to be gotten?

As I mentioned in my prelude to these seven days, wonderful details have been written about these seven antiphons. But I wish to meditate on the hints they reveal about the role of Rome in Salvation History.

And, since you are most likely sitting in front of a computer as you read this, I will call your attention to that most amazing gift of Ancient Rome which sits just in front of you.

I mean the twenty-six capital letters on your keyboard, which (except for the J and the U and W) have been in use for over 2,000 years. Here they are: look at them:


I don't have room, or the background, to explain the entire history of this most amazing gift. But we must note several points: It is not the Greek alphabet (though most of those symbols are Greek letters also!) - but there is no "chalice or great saturn" as GKC called the capital Psi and Theta, and no Omega, no Pi, no Sigma, no Gamma, no Xi... Nor are there the Aleph and Beth and Gimel and Daleth, of the Hebrew - written, moreover, from right to left.

It is a strange thing to think, too, that the Latin tongue, still in use by the Church, serves as a universal language: not only indeed for the Church, but for the Law, for Medicine, and for Science. Granted, few write their doctoral dissertations in Latin now. But so it was for well over a thousand years. And Latin is still the basis for many terms in these fields - even for ones in more distant realms, such as the hilarious "multiculturalism" which cannot but bow to Rome, and exalt her high above other civilizations!

Indeed, with the computer age, and ASCII or any other character set, this Roman gift has become even more strongly bound to the important field of communications. And communication is somehow linked with wisdom - for it reaches "from end to end"... And it was not a picture or a pictogram or hieroglyph which was to be the distinguishing symbol of Jesus the God-Man: no, it was the Word - and the word is the essence of communication.

A note: lest it seem that I slight Hebrew, may I point out the very strange truth that the Hebrew word typically has THREE consonants which form a "root" - and so the very language has a trinitarian character! Moreover, the Watson-Crick "Genetic Code" has been show to use three letters of DNA to indicate each amino acid to be built into the protein. Nor do I slight Greek, for as I said many of the Latin letters are Greek ones: but also almost as many words are still used even in this electronic and technical age! "...we have to go on using the Greek name of amber as the only name of electricity because we have no notion what is the real name or nature of electricity." [GKC, The Common Man 170]

But one more point about Latin: when I read about the martyrs of Rome, I think how they would laugh in their pain if they would be able to see the characters and language of their persecutors preserved primarily by the Church! Indeed, not just the city (where the Vatican is, and all those churches built on top of or inside pagan temples) and the Roman garments (which the priest wears to offer Holy Mass) but the very tongue of the Romans is now the martyrs' spoils of victory!

"Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter, not the smallest part of a letter, will pass away..."

"The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."

Come O Wisdom.


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