Friday, April 1, 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"'prayer' and 'precariousness' have the same root in Latin"

Jean Bourdichon (1457-1521), Poverty.
From The four conditions of society.
Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris.
"What is this 'being snatched from oneself' but consent to one's creaturely condition?  Here Augustine's path separates itself decisively from Platonic ecstacy, which involves awakening to oneself by escaping the body in order to access the intelligible and be united to the divine.  It is this being snatched that alone makes prayer possible, as consent not to exist on the basis of oneself, but to be radically dependent on another.  Only 'the man of prayer discovers in himself and upon himself the light which the man in search of his "self" does not discover':  assent to an ontological poverty that reveals even the etymology of the word 'prayer,' since in Latin, 'prayer' and 'precariousness' share the same root."

          Jean-Pierre Batut, 'Praying to the Father through the Son in the Spirit:  reflections on the specificity of Christian prayer," trans. Michelle K. Borras, Communio:  international Catholic review 36, no. 4 (Winter 2009):  627 (623-642).  Forgetting that I had already read this in English, I later re-read it in French ("Prier le Père par le Fils dans l’Esprit:  réflexions sur le spécifique de la prière chrétienne," Communio:  revue international catholique 34, no. 2 (mars-avril 2009):  56-57 (53-71)), and translated it out myself as follows:  "What, therefore, is this 'tearing [of oneself away] from self [(arrachement à soi)]' if not a consent to the condition of [being a] creature?  It is here that the Augustinian approach separates itself decidedly from Plotinian [(plotinienne)] ecstasy, for which it was a question of awakening to oneself by escaping from one’s body in order to accede to the intelligible and be united with the divine.  And it is only this tearing away [(arrachement)] which makes prayer possible, [considered] as the consent not to exist from self, but to be radically dependent on another.  Only 'the man who prays finds in himself and above himself the light that he who seeks the "self" does not' [(H. de Lubac, Sur les chemins de Dieu (Paris:  Éditions du Cerf, 1983), 189)]:  consent to an ontological poverty that betrays the very etymology of the word 'prayer', since 'prayer' [(prière)] and 'precariousness' [(précarité)] have the same root in Latin."
     prière < precaria (a popular replacement for the classical preces (morphologically a plural)), nominative feminine singular of precarius; précarité < précaire (> eventually precarious) < precarius, obtained by prayer (Dictionnaire alphabétique et analogique de la langue Française, vol. 5 (1962)).