Thursday, December 1, 2011

I'm optimistic about Fr. James Martin, SJ

                                                              Fr. James Martin, SJ

I've mocked him many times, but Fr. Martin's blog post today at America gives grounds for hoping that Fr. Martin is a budding traditionalist.   Why?  Because he's a natural grammarian.  And why should this occasion optimism?  Consider this definition of "grammarian" from Robert Kaster's Guardians of Language: The Grammarian and Society in Late Antiquity:

"[In late antiquity, the] grammarian was, first, the guardian of the language, custos Latini sermonis, in a phrase of Seneca, or 'guardian of articulate utterance,' in the description of Augustine. He was to protect the language against corruption, to preserve its coherence, and to act as an agent of control: thus, early in his history we find the grammarian claiming the right to limit the grant of citizenship (civitas) to new usages. But by virtue of his command of the poetic texts, the grammarian's guardianship extended to another, more general area, as guardian of tradition (historiae custos). The grammarian was the conservator of all the discrete pieces of tradition embedded in his texts, from matters of prosody (to which Augustine refers in his characterization), to the persons, events, and beliefs that marked the limits of vice and virtue."

Fr. Martin's grammarian instincts display themselves in his concern for the correctness and purity of the new translation of the Novus Ordo.  I'm hoping that those same instincts will eventually extend to a concern, on the part of Fr. Martin, for the preservation of tradition generally.  Once that happens, well, it will be interesting to observe.

St. Ignatius Loyola, pray for us.

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