Doing Our Part

An op-ed piece in today's New York Times speaks of the benefits of Latin study. (After Saturday's op-ed on the "Gospel of Judas" and its mistranslation, does this signify that the newspaper of record has taken a promising turn towards the benefits of the study of ancient languages? Stay tuned!)

Today's contributor finds a growing interest in Latin:

Recently there have been signs of a revival. The number taking theNational Latin Exam in 2005, for instance, shot up to 134,873.

Whyis this a good thing? Not all Romans were models of virtue CaligulasLatin was pretty good. And not all 134,873 of those Latin students aregoing to turn into Jeffersons.

But what they gain is a glimpseinto the past that provides a fuller, richer view of the present. KnowLatin and you discern the Roman layer that lies beneath the skin of theWestern world. And you open up 500 years of Western literature (plus anadditional thousand years of Latin prose and poetry).

Surely dotCommers can do their small part by advocating the occasional "Sanctus" or "Agnus Dei" to be sung at the Liturgy, as we whole-heartedly and with full voice embrace the new document from the bishops: "Sing to the Lord."

Robert P. Imbelli, a long-time Commonweal contributor, is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. A book of essays in his honor, The Center Is Jesus Christ Himself, edited by Andrew Meszaros, was published this year by The Catholic University of America Press.

Also by this author
The Roads to Emmaus

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