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Pax Vobiscum: A Moment with Bill Reflection
An Old Altar Boy
I’m blown away by some of my writer friends in other countries who speak three or four languages. What’s up with that, you show-offs?
I have a pretty good handle on English, but I remember taking French in college and damned near flunking it if it were not for the intervention of a girlfriend who saved my grade and bacon. I haven’t tried learning another language since.
Having said that, I attended a Catholic high school, and one of the requirements of that curriculum was four years of Latin. I remember seeing that as an 8th Grader and thinking, “Oh my God, I’m going to flunk high school and be a total failure all my life.”
Well, I didn’t flunk. In fact, Latin turned out to be fairly easy for me. Maybe it was because of my head start as an altar boy in the Catholic Church. You see, way back when, before iPhones and YouTube, the Catholic mass was said in Latin and not English, and altar boys were expected to know the Latin responses to the priest. So when the priest would say, “Pax Vobiscum,” we were expected to say, in return, “Et cum spiritu tuo.”
Or, to put it another way, “Peace be with you,” followed by, “And with your spirit.”
So that got me thinking.
So, what do we mean when we say “peace be with you?”
Merriam-Webster tells us that means we are wishing upon a person freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions, a harmony in personal relations, a state or period of mutual concord, and a state of tranquility.
We know that peace, by any other name, is still peace. Accord, friendship, love, reconciliation, unanimity, union, truce, unity, amity, armistice, cessation, conciliation, concord, order, pacification, pacifism, a pinch of this, a dash of that, cook in the oven at three-fifty for a lifetime and you have….peace.
It’s a beautiful thing to wish upon others, is it not? May you be free of oppressive thoughts and emotions. May you arrive at a place of concord and tranquility. May you be at peace in your life.
It’s basically acknowledging that we are all human beings and that we wish the same for others that we wish for ourselves. It does not call on current slang to deliver the message i.e. take it easy, take care, chill out, and when used as a way of saying farewell, it certainly beats the hell out of “catch you later,” or “see ya” or even “later, gator.”
It is exquisitely beautiful, don’t you think?
And with Your Spirit
And with your essence as a being.
I mean sure, we are all at peace from time to time, right? Things go smashingly well for us at work, or our marriages are argument-free for a week, or the kids are actually acting human for a change; when those things happen, I think it would be safe to say we are temporarily at peace.
But a peacefulness of spirit?
I’m reminded of a plaque that was on the desk of Dr. Bob, one of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. A definition of humility was printed on that plaque:
Perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted, or vexed, irritable or sore; to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised, it is to have a blessed home in myself where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace, as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and about is seeming trouble.
Doesn’t that sound like peace of spirit to you?
That kind of peacefulness does not rely on all going well in your life. It is not dependent upon the kids behaving, or you getting that job you applied for, or even you being liked by others. That kind of peacefulness is an inside job, a place of tranquility deep inside of you….in your spirit.
Say It with Me....peace Be with You and with Your Spirit
So wrapping it up and placing a bow on it, when I say “Pax Vobiscum” to you, I am wishing, for you, inner peace. I am saying I hope you wade through the detritus of your life, push aside the doubts, fears, self-incrimination, self-doubts, self-chastisement, recriminations of others, and troublesome happenings of the day, and I hope you find that quiet place within that will allow you to enjoy life as you deserve to enjoy it.
Wouldn’t it be cool if everyone could do that?
What would the world look like if it were to happen?
Don’t worry, I’m not going to break out in song like John Lennon and sing “Imagine.” I’m not going to stand on a lectern and recite “I Have A Dream” like Martin Luther King, Jr. I’m much too realistic for that. I know I can’t change the world with an article. I know I’m just a blip on the radar of time and soon my blip will move off the screen never to be seen again.
What can it hurt, right? What harm can come of it? How can this be anything but a plus for humanity, if one man simply greets others with the words “pax vobiscum?” And when that greeting has ended, and conversation has ground to a halt, to wish that person peace in their life as I say my goodbyes….how can that hurt?
And even if I feel silly speaking Latin to strangers; even if I feel self-conscious about sounding like some anal intellectual trying to impress someone with my grasp of Latin; wouldn’t it be beyond cool if I thought those words and actually hoped them? Wouldn’t it be cool if I lived my life in support of those words? Wouldn’t it be the cat’s meow if I lived a life of tranquility and modeled it for others?
Like I Was Saying
It got me thinking!
Et cum spiritu tuo!
That is my wish for you today.
That is my wish for you tomorrow, and then next day, and the next.
That is my wish for your family and their family and their family.
Et cum spiritu tuo!
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)