Sutor, ne ultra crepidam.
Pliny the Elder related the tale of a cobbler who spotted in a painting errors in the depiction of sandals. He goes to the painter and points to the problems. The painter, grateful, makes corrections to his renderings of the shoes. The cobbler, emboldened by his success as an art critic, then offers the painter a few more tips about the rest of the painting. The painter responded: “Cobbler, not above the sandal!” This is also rendered as “ne sutor supra crepidam iudicaret”.
There is an amusing piece at National catholic Fishwrap by a 16 year old Chicagoan, Erik Baker, who has taken to Latin like the proverbial duck to water. I am happy that this pup has embraced the Latin language with enthusiasm.
Fishwrap has instrumentalized our boy, however, in order to carry on their polemic. They just can’t seem to get it through their heads that the new, corrected translation really is going to be implemented on 27 November in the USA. Their constant carping and moaning can have no other motive than to hurt the order of the Church by sowing discontent and dissent. But I digress.
This time, Fishwrap has reproduced an essay by young Erik about the woes of the new, corrected translation of the Missale Romanum. Poor Erik, however, also tackles some theological points, … and goes off the rails.
Don’t get me wrong! I think this is a positive step for Fishwrap! It took a 16-year old to improve their commentary on the translation.
You can read the whole thing at Fishwrap if you wish, but here is a sample of what happens when our junior cobbler get’s above the ground level in his essay. Whereas his look at the word nimis in the Confiteor has some value, he and his helpers run into the weeds when it comes to what the Confiteor really means.
The problem, though, is that the Latin itself seems to be hyperbolically critical of humanity. It might aim to promote humility, but inevitably it fosters guilt instead. It promotes a vision of human nature as overwhelmingly and inexorably sinful– a vision more in line with the heretical Janesenist doctrine of centuries past than Catholic dogma.
Perhaps the person or persons who helped him on this point laid it on a little thick. But, hey! Richard McBrien could hardly have improved the paragraph. Let’s have one more:
Finally, I think the changes to the Nicene Creed merit some discussion. As before, all of them have good grounding in the Latin, but it’s the Latin that’s problematic. The first is the fact that all of the “believe”s are in the first person. This destroys the sense of communal vision found in the “we believe” of the previous translation. Faith becomes something of the individual, by the individual, for the individual — ironically, a very Protestant idea. Catholicism is supposed to value unity and togetherness.
How did we ever manage to say Credo in the Creed all those centuries? Even through the Counter-Reformation? Surely our forebears should have been singing Credimus all that time so as to avoid the errors of Protestantism.
I applaud young Erik for his efforts and also for his ability to receive input from others. For now, however, he should stick to sandals.
Perhaps Fishwrap could find more teenagers and raise the level of their discourse across the board.