Sunday, 3 June 2012

Latin Lesson: The Sign of the Cross, more nouns and adjectives

For your revision, I was going to suggest reciting the Regina Caeli, but as we are now out of Eastertide, (no matter whether you follow the OF or EF calendar) that might not be appropriate...  However, I think it worth doing - you would hate to have forgotten it by next Easter!

As today is Trinity Sunday, I thought it appropriate to look at the Signum crucis, the Sign of the Cross, with which we begin and end all our prayers.  Its origin is of course in Our Lord's instruction to baptise (St Matthew, 28:19)

So without further ado:

In nomine Patris et Filii  et Spiritus Sancti 

In nomine means 'in the name'.  The Latin word In may be followed by either the accusative or the ablative, with slightly different nuances.  Here we have the ablative (see here for an explanation of ablative and other cases).  

My school Latin dictionary helpfully notes: In + acc - into, on to, towards, against; In + abl - in, on, among, at, within, in relation to (a person).  

So we are praying in relationship with the name of...  Note too that 'name' is singular, in both the Latin and the English.  Not 'in the names of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit' etc, but 'in the name of...' (cf CCC §233: Christians are baptised in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: not in their names, for there is only one God, the almighty Father, his only Son and the Holy Spirit: the Most Holy Trinity).

Patris, Filii and Spiritus are all in the same case, the genitive (of the Father, of the Son, of the Holy Spirit).  The endings are different because they are nouns of different declensions.  Pater, patris is third declension (like debitor, see previous post); Filius, filii is second declension (like dominussee previous post); and Spiritus, spiritus is fourth declension, which we have not yet studied (see below).

Spiritus sancti introduces us to another important point. Sancti is an adjective, meaning holy, qualifying the noun Spiritus.  The rule in Latin is that an adjective must always agree with the noun which it qualifies in number, (ie singular or plural) gender (ie masculine, feminine or neuter) and case (ie nominative, vocative, accusative etc).

So here, because Spiritus is singular, masculine and genitive, sancti must be too.  Of course, being able to agree in all those ways means that the declension of adjectives is more complex than the declension of nouns.  I give the full declension of sanctus below.

Finally, Amen.  Amen is a Hebrew word, the final word in our prayer and the final word in the Bible.  Read CCC §1061 - 1065 for a wonderful exposition of its meaning and implications.

Nouns: 4th declension
Spiritus, spiritus (Spirit, breath) is a regular fourth declension noun.

                Singular       Plural
Nom :      spiritus        spiritus
Voc :        spiritus        spiritus
Acc :        spiritum      spiritus
Gen :       spiritus        spirituum
Dat :        spiritui        spiritibus
Abl :        spiritu         spiritibus

Adjectives: 1st declension
 Sanctus -a - um (holy)
                  Masc.                Fem.                 Neut.
Nom :     sanctus        sancta             sanctum
Voc :       sancte          sancta             sanctum
Acc :       sanctum      sanctam          sanctum
Gen :      sancti          sanctae            sancti
Dat :       sancto         sanctae            sancto
Abl :       sancto         sancta              sancto

                 Masc.                Fem.                 Neut.
Nom :    sancti           sanctae             sancta
Voc :      sancti           sanctae             sancta 
Acc :      sanctos         sanctas             sancta 
Gen :     sanctorum   sanctarum       sanctorum
Dat :      sanctis          sanctis             sanctis
Abl :      sanctis          sanctis             sanctis


Idle Rambler said...

Thanks for this. I was thinking maybe the Latin lessons had come to a natural conclusion.

Being the 'sad' person that I am, I have decided to put all your Latin posts in one place as I was struggling to keep up online so I've made myself my own little Latin Primer with your content in hard copy. I hope I don't have to pay you a fortune for the copyright! Naturally I have put your name in a prominent position on the front page!

See, I told you I was really 'sad'!
It's a great help tho' as I can read it all in one place.

Ben Trovato said...

No, Latin Lessons will continue for a little while yet, till either I get bored or I reach the end of my knowledge (an interesting competition for me to observe....).

There was a break because I was preoccupied over Pentecost with a stroll in the French countryside...

I am flattered that you have compiled the lot - I don't think that sad, but rather shows great wisdom, attaching to my writings their true import!

The price of copyright is a prayer for me on such occasions as you think of it.

Idle Rambler said...

I shall certainly read it prayerfully for your intentions.

I'm glad school's not yet out!