Letters to the Bishop

Sacred Language

Your Excellency:

Doubtless you’ve read about the old days when our country was dotted with one-room schoolhouses.  Well, good bishop, I am a one-man school staff: principal, teacher, tutor, and sometime janitor.  My two classrooms—one doubles as a breakroom and study hall—I rent from a local Presbyterian church.  My students, home-educated teenagers, sit weekly at my seminars in Latin, history, and literature and then depart for home, where, depending on the requirements of the seminar, they complete four to six hours of study.  Having previously taught in college, prison, public schools, a private school operated by renegade nuns, and another for middle-school girls founded by a minister who enjoyed dressing like a nun, let me assure you that, comparatively speaking, teaching home-schooled teens the intricacies of Vergil or the primitive beauty of Beowulf is pure bliss.  My students misbehave, when they do misbehave, in the innocuous manner of their grandparents when young: chewing gum in class, sending a note to a friend, skipping their homework.

But lingua Latina, not my students, has hold of my thoughts today.

Last year, in the spirit of the Solemnity of Pentecost, various parishioners commemorated the day when all in the crowd could understand the preaching of the Apostles by offering up, during the Prayers of the Faithful, petitions in 12 languages ranging from Tagalog...

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