Thursday, July 5, 2007

Ite ad Google

Memories of our spring community days speaker Nathan Mitchell keep coming back to me. Unfortunately it's just that one line he used, "Ite ad Google," as he referred to the ease of finding the art pieces he was using in his power point presentations...they were all drawn from google images. "Ite ad Joseph" was the phrase I knew well, back when Catholics of every educational persuasion had Latin phrases slipping off their lips with ease. I'm reading a very witty real-life account of a journalist's year covering the Vatican, When in Rome. In one chapter he relates a day visiting, as he calls him, "the only man in Rome who really speaks Latin." This priest is the reference for all things Latin, for everyone---for official documents and everyday questions from Vatican personnel. The priest contends that Latin for Catholics was akin to Hebrew for Jews. They were proud of it, felt special because they knew some of it, and with its loss lost something unique that helped glue the Catholic community together. He makes an interesting point, but I'm not sure I could go that way if it meant abandoning the vernacular. Some of the translations are certainly more functional than moving, but the ones that are first rate, are just that: first rate. The best translations not only allow us to understand the words easily, they move our souls, give us visual images---without google's help---that make our encounters with the God of scripture and liturgy, true encounters of grace. (When in Rome is by Robert Hutchinson.)