Spirits and Ghosts

For years, I have used “Spirit” when I make the Sign of the Cross:  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”.  My reasoning was simple:  Spirit is the most direct translation of the Latin “Spiritus”.  Seemed to me like I was on solid footing.

In my reading, I became aware of a consideration that I had never pondered. In modern English, “Spirit” can mean a being without a physical body, which is the intent of the word when we say “Holy Spirit”.  But it can also be used for feelings, attitudes, ideas, and the like.  “School spirit”.  “The spirit of the times” .  “Get in the holiday spirit”.  You get the idea.

The word Ghost, however, in English, always means a being which transcends physical reality in some way.  It is clearer, less ambiguous.  And so, upon reflection, I have changed my practice.  When I make the Sign of the Cross, I now say “Holy Ghost”.  I think these little differences are important because it helps root us in a better idea of WHO the Third Person of the Holy Trinity really is, and He is NOT an idea, a feeling, or an attitude.

And so my journey continues.

Clothing profiles

There’s been a lot of talk about “hoodies” lately, and I would like to make an observation.

Some 2 decades ago, the Unabomber used a hoodie to keep himself from being easily identified on security cameras.  They have been used for that purpose by countless people countless times since then, if not before then.

If you choose to let your race be identified with articles of clothing that are commonly used in such ways, then you are going to have to get used to the idea that people are going to profile your loved ones who choose to wear such clothing.  Baclava-wearing people on my property at night might be in a position where their race will remain unknown until disclosed by the coroner.  I’m Catholic, and our faith allows self-defense.  Kyrie, eleison.


Today’s Gospel:
Douay-Rheims Bible + Challoner Notes

Gospel According to Saint Luke | Chapter 16
The parable of the unjust steward.

[1] And he said also to his disciples: There was a certain rich man who had a steward: and the same was accused unto him, that he had wasted his goods. [2] And he called him, and said to him: How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship: for now thou canst be steward no longer. [3] And the steward said within himself: What shall I do, because my lord taketh away from me the stewardship? To dig I am not able; to beg I am ashamed. [4] I know what I will do, that when I shall be removed from the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. [5] Therefore calling together every one of his lord’ s debtors, he said to the first: How much dost thou owe my lord?

[6] But he said: An hundred barrels of oil. And he said to him: Take thy bill and sit down quickly, and write fifty. [7] Then he said to another: And how much dost thou owe? Who said: An hundred quarters of wheat. He said to him: Take thy bill, and write eighty. [8] And the lord commended the unjust steward, forasmuch as he had done wisely: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. [9] And I say to you: Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity; that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.

Dave’s thoughts: When we sin, we are poor stewards of the riches of Grace put into our care by our Loving Heavenly Father. Once done, all we can do is our poor efforts to recover what we have squandered, but the fullness of the debt can only come from Him, from whom everything comes. We must do what we can, but it is never enough, only Grace through Christ and His Sacrifice can restore us to friendship with the Father.

When we think of this parable, we often think of “debt” in worldly terms.  But in the eternal realm, debt is death.  We cannot owe and live.  We must have every bit of debt to God the Father Almighty paid in full.  A debt of sin is an infinite debt, that can only be repaid from an infinite source of Grace, and that Source is Christ.  We must pay all we have, we must do what we can, but it is never enough, there is only one act of infinite value… the Sacrifice of Calvary, which we re-present every time we “do in rememberance of Him”.

Just what IS the difference between “Socialist” and “Communist”, anyway? Liberation theology, does it connect?

“The difference between a Socialist and a Communist is that the former lacks the power to coerce”.

Occasionally, I can be pithy, too.

Liberation theology is based on the idea that if Aquinas could base a systemic theology on the Greek Classical philosophers, they could base one on Karl Marx.  We thought liberation theology was dead… but I’m not so sure.

Latin words in English, and vice versa, and all puns are always intended.

I drive a Ford Focus these days.  Great car, very easy on gas, fun to drive, and there’s a very thriving community online of people who love these cars.  I got corrected for saying “Focuses” (the person said “that’s Foci” in a very condescending way). Of course, being the former student of a certain Father K. K., SJ and friend of Fr. Z, as well as a frequenter of the Mass of Pius V, the Mass of All Ages, I have more idea what correct Latin is than the person doing the correcting.  Here is what I am posting:

Focus, Foci would be a second declension (masculine) noun in Latin.


Nominative – Focus. The subject noun of a sentence is nominative. Example: Focus currus Ford est” – “Focus is a Ford car”. Car is being used as an adjective here, not a noun, so it uses the same case as what it is describing, the Focus.

Genitive – Foci. Genitive is possessive or indicates origin or a quality: Example: “Rota Foci est” – “The wheel is the Focus’s”

Dative – Foco. Dative is the indirect object. Example: “Cletus dedit rotam unam Foco” – “Cletus gave a wheel for the Focus”. Notice how not only did the word for Focus change, but the first declension noun “rota” (used as a direct object) changed to rotam (accusative case – as did the adjective for “a” or “one” wheel, una change to unam, matching what it was describing, the direct object).

Accusative – Focum. The accusative case is for the direct object of a sentence. Example: “Cletus posuit Focum in stabulo” – “Cletus put the Focus in the garage”.

Ablative – Foco. The ablative is most often used for prepositional objects, like stabulo (“stable”, substituting for modern word “garage”) in the example above.
Example: “Cletus ferri rotam in Focus” – “Cletus carried a wheel in the Focus”.

OK, now we do PLURAL, more than one. We start all over!

Nominative – Foci. Example: “Foci curri Ford sunt” – Focuses are Ford cars”. Notice two things: The verb “est” (he/she/it is) becomes “sunt” (they are) and we aren’t declining the noun/adjective Ford anywhere, since it is a modern English word. That’s just the way some latinists do it. There might be purists who would translate “Ford” into “Vadum” (2nd decl. neuter) which is the Latin for the place one would ford a river (and a likely etymology for Henry Ford’s last name). I don’t bother with those things.

Genitive – Focorum. Example: “Rotae Focorum sunt” – “They are Focuses’ wheels”. Literally, “Wheels are from (of) the Focuses”.

Dative – Focis. Example: “Cletus dedit rotis Focis” – “Cletus gave wheels for the Focuses”.

Accusative – Focos. Example: “Cletus posuit Focos in Stabulo”. You can see that Cletus’s garage is getting full.

Ablative – Focis. Example: “Cletus ferri rotas in Focis”. Cletus carries wheels in Focuses”.

So, if I was to say, “I am going to wash both of my focuses” and one would correct me to say “I am going to wash both of my Foci”, well, such a one would be on shaky ground.

I’m thinking we should use English plurals on words that have been brought in to the English language.  Focus.  Focuses.  Unless you want to open up your morphology, let it be, or at least, leave me be.

It’s hard to be humble….

Humility.  Webster’s defines it as “the state of being humble”.  Yeah.  Thanks, Webster.  I know so much more now than I did before!

Basically, the dictionaries say that humility is to lack an inflated opinion of one’s importance or rank.  The Catholic Encyclopedia says, more or less, that to be humble is to be submissive or lowly.  I can’t find the definition I learned years ago in college (perhaps in ethics class?) that defined humility as understanding who you are and what your authority is — with accuracy, neither over- or underestimating your importance.  You’ve all probably guessed by now why I’m wrestling with this word.  It is often-repeated since Wednesday about 2:30 Central US time.  We have a humble man as Supreme Pontiff.  I get that.

I’m impressed by Francis in many ways.  He’s a servant leader, obviously (what I think most mean by “humble”).  I pray that he finds the humility to set aside his own inclinations and perform his duties, and wear his Pontifical Regalia and Vestments with dignity and aplomb.  Lets remember that these things are designed to give glory to our Lord. Maybe the most humble thing to do is to obey the Master of Ceremonies and wear what has been worn by the majority of one’s predecessors in the Holy See.  I know it would go a long way towards setting a positive example of dressing “up” for the Worship of our Lord and God; one that is sorely needed in a “wear your jammies to Wal-Mart” culture.

I’m willing to bet that his Holiness is humble enough to do just that.

Nothing means something…

One of the concepts that people have a difficult time grasping is the concept of nothingness.  Humans are dimensional beings, specifically, four-dimensional beings.  We live in three physical dimensions plus the dimension of time.  But we have a difficult time imagining more than three (what would that LOOK like, how do we imagine it) and we can’t fathom zero, either.  And that very difficulty leads to the “nothing” problem.

Nothing means something… and that something is nothing.  I’m not doing double-speak here, but rather “means something” is to say that nothing is a very significant concept.  Nothing as an idea, as concept, is very important when we are speaking of cosmological events like “the Big Bang”.  Nothing, in this sense, is very specifically nothing.  There is no dimension.  There are no laws of physics, no gravity, no vacuum (because there’s no dimensionality to give “space” to a vacuum).  There is nothing.  A friend uses this analogy… nothing is NOT like a bank account with a zero balance.  NOTHING is no account, no bank, no banking system, and no concept of a banking system.  I hope that help you understand, that when we speak of the “beginning” of space time and it coming from nothing, we mean nothing.  A complete lack of being or existence.

Now, when you hear that the big bang might have been triggered by (whatever), you know that person is ignoring the true meaning of nothing, because nothing can’t do anything.

Put in your Blu-Ray of “Sound of Music” and listen to Maria’s song “Something Good”.  She sings “nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could”… it really is just that simple.

**UPDATE** Here’s a nice pithy quote:  “I started out with nothing and I have most of it left” (Unknown).