In the Office of Readings there is a word that is not so common in Latin: “oppilare”. The sentence is “omnis iniquitas oppilabit os suum” (all wickedness shall block up its mouth).
What is this “oppilare”?
It comes from “ob” (against as in “ob-struct”) and “pilare”. (Ob-pilare becomes oppilare.)
“Pilare” is derived from “pila” which is a kind of a column or pilar, used either to support something or to obstruct something, for example by throwing columns into water to plug up a canal, from which we have the English word “pile”.
But here is more: “Pila” is a “mortar” - a small bowl for crushing seeds or what have you. Mortars were used in antiquity before the invention of the mill. The name is derived from the verb “pinsare” (to crush with a pestle).
Therefore, as stated above “pila, pilae” is a square column, similar in form to the pestle, but larger.
“Pila, pilae” is also a ball (because some of the balls in antiquity were filled with hair “pilus”). And a small ball is called “pilula” from which we have the English “pill”.
Unrelated, except that it sounds similar is the word “pilum, pili (n)” or a javelin. “Pilatus” is one armed with a javelin.
Also “pilus, pili (m)” as mentioned above is hair from which we also have “capilli” - a combination of “caput” and “pili” (head hair).
What’s the point of all this? Many Latin words are related in various ways and it is useful to explore them to find out if something doesn’t sound familiar. If it does sound familiar, you will not need to look them up in a dictionary and you will not forget them easily.
St. Augustine says in his commentaries on the psalms, psalm 31: Tolerantia quae dicitur ... non est nisi in malis. Which means: “tolerance pertains only to things that are bad”. We tolerate things that are adverse, things we cannot avoid without incurring some greater adversity.

Further, cardinal Ottaviani in his Institutiones Juris Publici Ecclesiastici, vol. II, n. 272 writes: “Neque quis dicitur tolerare aliquid si illud protegat, foveat atque tueatur.” Which means: “no one is said to tolerate something which they wish to protect, favor, or preserve.”

The word “tolerance” is being tossed around much these days and it is being twisted to mean something other than true tolerance. It is used to mean something opposed to injustice and prejudice. “Tolerance” in popular lingo is now a positive virtue: something to strive for. We are witnessing the transformation of our language.

Thank the Lord for the clarity of Latin. The definition of “tolerare” is “patienter ferre” which means “to patiently bear”. No one wants to patiently bear something unless it is forced upon him.
Who is an “expert”?

Someone who lectures in Latin or publishes in Latin might be considered an expert Latinist. But it is somewhat of a dangerous idea to think that anyone who understands enough Latin to translate it into English is an expert. Certainly not everyone who understands some English is considered an English expert.

Pope John Paul II in one of his talks (Nov. 22, 1978) to a group of young people said: “We therefore turn to young people in the first place. They should know that the words of Cicero pertain to them in some way who said: “it isn’t so outstanding to know Latin, as it is pitiful not to know it.”

Some basic knowledge of Latin should be common among Catholics. But the experts should be far above the basic level. The bar needs to go way up from where it is right now. Or rather, I should say, the field needs to broaden.

Here is the entire sentence from the Pope’s speech:

Ad iuvenes ergo imprimis convertimur, qui hac aetate, qua litterae Latinae et humanitatis studia multis locis, ut notum est, iacent, hoc veluti Latinitatis patrimonium quod Ecclesia magni aestimat, alacres accipiant oportet et actuosi frugiferum reddant. Noverint ii hoc Ciceronis effatum ad se quodam modo referri: ‘Non... tam praeclarum est scire Latine, quam turpe nescire’.
"Latinitas" quarterly? What's that?

The Vatican Website has a page in English Latinitas Foundation dedicated to an organization whose origin and purpose is described as follows:



The Latinitas Foundation was established in 1976 by Pope Paul VI with the Pontifical Chirograph ‘Romani sermonis’ and it has the following objectives:

1) to promote the study of the Latin language, classical literature and Medieval Latin;

2) to promote the increased use of the Latin language by publishing texts in Latin and other suitable means.


However, if you look up the founding document (Romani sermonis) you will note that the order of objectives has been reversed in English, with a) originally being the “usage of Latin” and b) being the study of the same. Here is the relevant part of the document:


Art. III - Operi Fundato propositum est omnia incepta publica et privata fovere atque tutari eo contendentia, ut promoveatur:

a) usus linguae Latinae inter homines diversi sermonis, in conficiendis, ad altioris doctrinae rationem, scriptis, maxime ad Ecclesiae cultum ingenii pertinentibus, in catholicis studiorum Universitatibus, in Seminariis dioecesanis;

b) studium linguae et litterarum Latinarum classicarum, quae dicuntur, et medii aevi.


What’s the big deal one might ask? Well! Lots of folks are willing to study Latin, or should I say, to learn many things about Latin in English. But there are few willing to write and publish anything in Latin.

What? Publish something in Latin? Are you serious? Who’s going to read that? Precisely! Let’s reverse the order: put “study” first! Anyway: who has a subscription to their quartely “Latinitas”? What would you do with that since it’s written entirely in Latin? And anyway, which Pope was it who founded this Latinitas?
On the overuse of dictionaries.

Here is a question for all of you English speaking students of Latin: when you learned to speak English as an infant, how did you figure out the meaning of words? Certainly you didn’t look it up in a dictionary! Somehow we learn the meaning of words and the syntax of our language and we have no trouble speaking long before we are taught any grammar.

So here is the question: can the meaning of Latin words also be acquired without the aid of a translator? Let’s say you already have some foundation of Latin, you already know about declensions and conjugations and your vocabulary is decent. Can you then pick up new words simply by reading Latin texts?

I say: try it! You might be pleasantly surprised how useful it is to re-read the same Latin text over and over until something that was previously obscure suddenly clicks and - voila, or should I say ‘ecce’ - you understand it. Don’t reach for your dictionary right away: it will just be a distraction. Allow yourself to experience Latin, even if you don’t immediately understand every word.
A small reflection on a word “effutire”.

In one of his letters St. Jerome complains that the person delivering the mail was in a hurry to leave and therefore he (Jerome) had to reply to some inquiry fast which compelled him to ramble (effutire compellor).

This verb “effutio, effutire” means something like ramble on without thinking and not giving oneself enough time to order one’s thoughts.

But where does it come from? It is derived from the verb “fundo, fundere, fudi, fusus” - to pour or to liquefy something or also “to speak abundantly” or to pray “fundere orationes”.

From this verb “fundere” was derived a name of a small unstable dish named “futile” - a dish that spilled very easily from which, by way of association, the adverb “futilis, futile” was also derived which found its way into English as futile, useless, vain.

So in conclusion it is useful to recognize that “effutire” and “futilis” are related concepts derived from the concept of spilling with “effutire” meaning “to ramble on” and “futilis” meaning “futile, vain”.
About The Videos:

Language is primarily not a written phenomenon, but a phonetic one: it is learned by speaking and listening.
The pronunciation video aims to provide a guide to the so called Roman or Ecclesiastical pronunciation of Latin. Instead of lengthy explanations such as: A as in FATHER, E as in END etc., this method provides an immediate experience of spoken Latin.
This approach emulates the so called "full immersion" method of language study whereby the student is enabled to experience the language instead of speculating about it.
Instead of explaining to someone how to swim, you take them to a pool. Instead of talking about auto-mechanics to someone wishing to learn how to drive, you put them behind the wheel and allow them to experience driving. Instead of talking about how to play the guitar, you let the student hold the instrument and try playing it. Same thing for riding a bicycle. Experience is central to the study of any art form, including the human speech.
The other videos provide some additional exposure to Latin. At first, it is not necessary to understand every word in order to begin the learning process. By listening, the student learns even when hearing unfamiliar words. In addition there are some readings of Latin text which can be useful to somewhat advanced students, or also, as additional exposure to Latin for beginners.