Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Amo amas amat

Lewis & Short. I've still got mine (it makes a good door-stop)

Happy St Ignatius' Day! It's another "at-home" day for me, and I'm using my mid-morning coffee time to ponder how to spend celebrate the remaining hours of the day. I'm all for being idle and blessed, but sometimes too many concurrent ideas and distractions can fritter away the time and cause me to miss the blessings. I'm learning it's good for me to do one thing at a time..

I think of Ignatius having to go back to school and learn Latin with a class full of schoolboys so that he could be ordained. He wrote of having to push aside even holy thoughts in order to knuckle down and learn his verbs. I imagine him reciting "amo, amas, amat" and becoming distracted by thoughts of the love of God - "no, I must get on... amamus, amatis, amant".

It's a good verb to start with, amo. Nice and simple, and follows the rules. And love is a good place to start, whether we're doing theology, philosophy, or the weekly shop. I love, you love, he/she/it loves... The love that moves the Sun, even.  (Now I'm doing an Ignatius!)   Kathleen Raine wrote a beautiful poem called "Amo Ergo Sum" (I love therefore I am), including the lines:

Because I love
      The sun pours out its rays of living gold
      Pours out its gold and silver on the sea...

Read the whole poem here.

Some have commented that  her title could serve as a motto for God the Holy Trinity: I love therefore I am. Can I claim it as mine? I don't dare; something comes first. It's easy to think that I am the loving centre of the Universe - a harder bit of grammar is learning the passive voice. "Amor, amaris, amatur..."  I am here because I am loved - amor ergo sum. "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19)

Ignatius knew this. It's what the whole Spiritual Exercises, from Principle & Foundation to the Contemplatio are all about.


  1. I started to construct a comment, but actually, I feel a blogpost coming on instead! It'll have to wait a few days, though, as I'm away at a meeting - but thanks for inadvertent inspiration!

    And a happy feast to you too

    1. I look forward to it, Silvana! Hope your days away are fruitful.


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