Posts Tagged ‘Salve Regina’

In Hac Lacrimarum Valle: The Enduring Dark Age Revealed

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

The notion of the “Dark Age,” after its coinage by Petrarch at the dawn of the Renaissance, may well have been propelled by later Reformation retrojectors–those projecting their own current views into the past–to blow at the candles illuminating Medieval culture so that the Reformation might better shine.

Modernity, post-modernity, and other contemporary cultural forces have especially resisted the words of the Medieval hymn to Mary, the Salve Regina, “gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle,” translated “mourning and weeping in this valley of tears,” which is thought to have its origins in St. Jerome’s rendering of Psalm 83:7 (84:7)–

6 Beatus vir cujus est auxilium abs te:
ascensiones in corde suo disposuit,
7 in valle lacrimarum, in loco quem posuit.

Vulgate Psalms, Chapter 83, accessed from on 8/10/14.

–and which is now in many contemporary translations rendered as the “valley of Baca” instead of the valley of tears.

Contemporary Christians and agnostics likewise often reject the term, “valley of tears.” Garry Wills omitted the Salve Regina ending from his book on the Rosary (Catholics normally end their praying of the Rosary with the Salve Regina). The “valley of tears,” like St. John Paul II’s term “culture of death” from Evangelium Vitae, appears to make the progressive mind uncomfortable.

But I challenge contemporary thinkers to find a better expression to describe the terrible circumstances of those suffering from war, persecution, or poverty, than the “valley of tears.”

Scripture scholars have puzzled over the meaning of the Hebrew word Baca for centuries. Is it a place in Palestine, or a figurative state of sorrow?

In Arabic, Bakkah has a more precise meaning, the place of the sacred Kaaba in Mecca.

So those who suffer around the world today are indeed cast into the valley of tears, and into the collision of words and cultures–Baca, Bakkah–between Christian, Jewish, and Muslim interpretations.

Slavery has returned: it never left, but now is visible to the contemporary eye.

Yet can the contemporary eye fathom the meaning of the Enduring Dark Age that has exploded in our faces? What difference do progressivism, modernity, atheism, theory, narrative, etc., matter to Isis and their ilk? Atheists preaching their advantages to such a world merely sow into the wind. Can these violent fanatical forces be defeated by armies shaped today more to generate social change at home than the proper protective mission of a military force?

Fueled by almost a century of first Nazi and then Soviet anti-Semitic propaganda, a militant Islam is at war with the United States and Israel. Russia, Iran, and China are ready to pounce on their first geopolitical opportunities, and have an interest in prolonging the conflict. This general situation may not change for centuries.

Welcome, therefore, to the Enduring Dark Age, or if you prefer, the uncovering of a Dark Age that never really ended, but in which “enlightened” technological society collides with genocide, forced conversion, summary execution, and slavery–now made painfully visible by global communications, and catalyzed by the global proliferation of weapons down to the mad and genocidal local bully.

As long as hearts are darkened by hatred and fear despite our sophistication, and as long as the guns are not silenced, our age will darken still.

Salve Regina, Mater Misericordiae. . .

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy. . .

Perhaps we can find hope and consolation in the words of the Psalmist beginning with–

How lovely your dwelling, O Lord of Hosts! (Psalm 84:1)

–and hear in the confluence of the contested words Baca and Bakkah the ending of tears and the presence of God.

O Clemens, O Pia, O Dulcis Virgo Maria!

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Spirit and Truth, Chicago

Monday, September 13th, 2010

On 9/2/10, I was privileged to be invited to speak to the Spirit and Truth gathering at St. Stanislaus Kostka parish in Chicago.

The practice of Spirit and Truth is “Young Adults meet for Eucharistic Adoration and fellowship afterward at a local restaurant.”

The format of the evening I attended was that the group, Catholic young adults aged 18-39, gathered for some refreshments, listened to a talk and shared in discussion, then went into the adjoining church, the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy, which contains the dramatic tabernacle, “Our Lady of the Sign, Ark of Mercy,” for quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, rejoined together for Night Prayer (at which the Salve Regina was chanted), with a few going together to carry on the conversation at the local restaurant, in this case the Blue Star Wine Bar, which has good Mediterranean food in addition to being very welcoming to these Catholic-themed gatherings.

Spirit and Truth events happen almost every Thursday evening at St. Stanislaus Kostka from 7-9PM, with usually between two dozen and five dozen people attending. The St. Stanislaus Kostka Spirit and Truth group meets in the rectory at 1351 W. Evergreen, Chicago, and other Illinois Spirit and Truth groups are listed at their website.

I was touched by the stories a number of the Spirit and Truth participants told me about how their journeys of faith brought them to a practice of authentic Catholicism that includes Eucharistic Adoration, and how the isolation many of them felt from their peers before was met by the friendship of others in the Spirit and Truth group and in their practice of prayer. In these cases, all roads have led to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

The practice of Eucharistic Adoration of Spirit and Truth is very close to the same practice of Servant of God Dorothy Day, and Servant of God Catherine de Hueck Doherty, and many other Catholic holy ones, of whom I spoke in my talk, a summary of which I will share in a later post.

Young adults 18-39 can find out more about Spirit and Truth at their Facebook Page and in this background article from the Catholic New World.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved