In my A.P. Latin class yesterday, I shared the Pope's first Latin tweet. I had already told them about his new Latin Twitter handle, @pontifex_ln, but it was an article on Insight Scoop, the Ignatius Press blog, that prompted me to share the tweet itself. The article talked about the use of a frequentative infinitive, how Latin is incredibly compact, and the need to read pieces in their original language in order to appreciate their full subtlety and nuance. It was an appropriate lesson to highlight among high school students reading Vergil's Aeneid. After putting the text of the tweet on the board and having the students translate it, we began discussing the article, and it was then that things took an incredible turn. The tweet itself runs as follows.
Unitati christifidelium integre studentes quid iubet Dominus? Orare semper, iustitiam factitare, amare probitatem, humiles Secum ambulare. (What does the Lord command of those eagerly pursuing the unity of the Christian faithful? To pray always, constantly to do acts of justice, to love uprightness, to walk humbly with Him.)
One of my students observed that this was Micah 6:8. My jaw fell open, and one of my other students asked what Micah 6:8 was. I immediately went to the wonderful triglot Bible at New Advent and called up the Latin text. Micah 6:8 in the Vulgate runs thus.
Indicabo tibi, o homo, quid sit bonum, et quid Dominus requirat a te : utique facere judicium, et diligere misericordiam, et sollicitum ambulare cum Deo tuo. (I will show you, o man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: to do justice and to love mercy and to walk carefully with your God.)
We talked about the differences in the Scripture and the text of the Pope's tweet, but all the while I was amazed at both this young woman's ready recognition of Scripture and her courage to mention it in our public school classroom. Her peers were admiring of this, too, and her natural humility prompted her to say that her mother had just had her recite the verse that morning, thus the reason it came quickly to her mind.
Her mother had had her recite the verse that morning. Okay. Now I simply had to know more. I am familiar with this family and know them to be Christians, but I went up to her at the end of the period and asked her to say more about this recitation. It was then that she said, almost shyly, that her mother prays over her before she leaves for school each day. I told her that I do the same with our children and that I was incredibly proud of her for sharing the verse with us in class.
Later, I called her mother and told her the story. I wanted her to know what a wonderful thing her daughter had done and to applaud her own efforts in rearing such a fine young woman.
We see the full spectrum in our schools, the abject poor and the fabulously wealthy, the abused and the nurtured, and everything in between. While it is true that even my student could be a detention hall regular by making her own bad choices, the fact is that she has a much greater chance of success with parents like this behind her. She is a junior now, and it is clear that detention hall is not likely her destination. She is on the path to becoming the truly humble, truly beautiful woman of God whose worth is inestimable.