Instare in finem – Pressing on toward the Goal

I Skyped for the first time ever tonight. Three young ladies and myself doing a short Latin lesson.  An interesting mixture of the old and the new  — modern technology and an almost ancient language.eduardoruiz - morguefile.com

Latin is NOT for the faint of heart. If you ever decide to take up the study of Latin, I recommend brushing up on high school grammar. The words we “monkey with” the most in English are our verbs. We stick inflections, or word endings, on our verbs to indicate tense. Did something happen in the past? Add an “ed” to the verb. Is one person performing the action? Singular verbs have an “s” on the end. “Easy as pie!” you say.  Latin, however, is a whole new ball of wax.

Latin noun inflections are based on the part of speech or case of the noun in that particular sentence. Is it a subject or predicate nominative? You need Nominative Case. Is it a noun showing possession or ownership? Genitive Case. Is the noun the direct object? Accusative Case. Is the noun an indirect object? Dative Case. Is the noun an object of a preposition? Ablative or Dative Case (no rhyme or reason for which). There is at least one more obscure case that we have not tackled yet, but it’s waiting for us out there in the nether regions of our Latin textbook.

Confused yet? Just wait… In addition to recognizing the correct case of each noun, you also have to pick the correct declension.  Each type noun or case follows a set pattern of inflections called a declension.  There are five of those to choose from.  So it’s not enough to recognize what part of speech your noun is.  You also have to be sure you’re following the correct declension if you hope to spell and thus pronounce it properly.  The dative and ablative case inflections are the same in the second declension, and the genitive and dative are identical in the first and fifth declensions.  However, you are in reasonably good shape if you can determine the genitive case of the noun as this one leads you to the proper declension. Genitive case is our friend.

With all these cases and declensions, it should come as no surprise that there are several different words for any given noun in Latin.  To English speakers, a dog is a dog is a dog. To the speakers of the Latin language, a dog could be a canis, canī (that’s a macron over that last “i”), canem or cane.  And since Latin is in the Romance language family, its adjectives follow the nouns they modify, unlike English. So a big dog to us would be a canis magnus in the Roman Empire. Takes a little bit of getting used to.

Two good things about Latin: 1) You can drop the subject of the sentence as long as it appeared in a prior sentence somewhere in the conversation. (Also takes some getting used to.) 2. There are no silent letters in Latin. There’s also no “juh” sound as in “jam.” No “wuh” sound as in “water” and a “c” is never soft as in “certain” but always hard as in “cow.” Everything makes a sound. Might be part of a dipthong, or a triphthong, but it has a voice. Caesar is not pronounced “seize-her” but “ki-zer” (with a long I) as in “Kyser Wilhelm.”

A word to the wise if you plan to study Latin. Actually several words to the wise: 1) Invest in a good English/Latin dictionary and use a proper curriculum. 2) Forget every Latin word you’ve ever heard in a movie.  Chances are it was mispronounced. 3. Watch lots of Jeopardy.  Everybody needs somewhere to show off their language skills.  Besides, showing off will actually help keep you motivated to slog on when you yourself are on the threshold of descending into whining fits like the teenagers you teach.  Which brings me to a word to the wise to those who teach Latin to whiny teenagers: Invest in earplugs.

“ad destinatum persequor ad bravium supernae vocationis Dei in Christo Iesu.” – Philippenses III:XIV

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:14

THE COURT OF PRAYER

Contention abounds. It is everywhere. I have been quiet on almost every recent “hot-button” issue. It has not been easy. I have an opinion on everything. And in my book any opinion worth having is worth holding strongly.

Volunteering with a student organization has given me great pause in expressing my opinions. I don’t want you to think my views are its views. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself. I want to post and like things that line up with the way I have experienced the world, with what resonates with me. But I know in my heart it is not the right thing to do. Propriety dictates discretion, or at least it should.

Today my pastor spoke on II Chronicles 20, when King Jehoshaphat and the Israelites were facing great peril from Moab and Ammon. A national trial way beyond the scope of what they could handle, in fact. Thanks to Pastor Terry and Matthew Henry’s commentary, something I already understood in my head was reinforced in my heart.

What troubles the world currently — and you can pick your issue — will not be solved by sharing memes. It will not be solved by going “keyboard commando” on friends of friends. It will not be solved by debates between people separated by cyberspace, or even by the space across a table at Starbucks. Bottom line: business as usual will not solve a thing. Not hunger, healthcare, education, terrorism, social issues, or politics.

The Israelites did not treat the imminent destruction of thePhoto courtesy of Stefan Kunze - Unsplash.comir country, their culture, indeed themselves, as business as usual. They stopped what they were doing. They set themselves to seek the Lord. They readily assembled in the court of prayer. They fasted. Their hearts were contrite and humble, and their hands were empty of working, striving, doing. This is how they paved the way for God, for deliverance.

I was tempted to say above, “This is how they paved the way to hear from God.” But I have grown to hate that phrase. It sounds like waiting on the annual phone call from Aunt Harriet that comes every Thanksgiving, or the postcard from your BFF at camp. We need so much more now than just a message, just a postcard, just a riling up of our emotions. We need God in person, in relationship, in truth.  We need to reflect God in person, in relationship, in truth.

So the question is, Will we stop what we’re doing? Stop engaging in pointless contentious debate? Stop feeding the need to be “right” in all situations? Stop assembling in the court of social media and assemble in the court of prayer? Stop feeding the arrogance of opinion and seek Him with a contrite, humble heart?

“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” – II Chronicles 20:15