Hello, everyone! I hope you’re having a great Holy Week!
The semester is winding down a bit, but there’s still lots more to come in the last few weeks. In Latin, we’re been reading and translating some liturgical hymns, such as the Stabat Mater and Pange Lingua. These poems are different from any we’ve studied before, because the meters are based on patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables rather than long and short syllables. This is the type of meter used for most English poetry. Also, these hymns are the first poems we’ve studied that rhyme, since rhyming wasn’t used in the earlier days of Latin. To make this even more awesome, these hymns are ones that are traditionally sung for the Triduum liturgies, so it’s the perfect time of year for learning them!
In science we’ve moved on from astronomers and started learning about the early days of chemistry. We’ve read some of Lavoisier’s writings, and learned about early ideas of atomic structure. Just yesterday we got to the discovery of the periodic table of elements, and the first people who experimented with radioactivity. Although this was going back to astronomy a bit, Dr Townsend also mentioned the “blood moon”, or total lunar eclipse, which happened early Tuesday morning. Unfortunately it was too cloudy here to really observe it, but it was a good reminder of what astronomy really is: observation of the skies and their phenomena. If it weren’t for the clouds, our campus is a really great place to observe the sky, since the small town doesn’t cause much light pollution.
In history yesterday we learned about the Fourth Crusade. Professor Lane gave us a fairly detailed lecture on the matter, noting that many people misunderstand the crusades in general and this one in particular. It was a complicated and unfortunate series of events, which started out as a mission to protect Christians in the Holy Land and ended as the sack and capture of Constantinople by Venetian, French, and German crusaders. Professor Lane was very informative about the financial problems, cultural clashes, and political motivations that contributed to the disaster, and showed how there were things the crusaders certainly did wrong, but which the Church and the Pope himself had explicitly forbidden. The problems came mainly from honest confusion as well as people disobeying what the Church decreed, not from the Church herself. As a Catholic, I find it very helpful to learn history as part of a liberal arts curriculum, since the Church has always been an influential part of the shaping of the world since her beginning, and learning about controversial issues like the crusades helps to put everything into its historical context and be able to investigate the issues honestly.
Speaking of the Church, this is the third day of the holiest week of the year! We’re all on break from our last classes today until they start again on Tuesday. It’ll be a good break to let us all get caught up on sleep and relaxation before the final few weeks of the year. I wish everyone a blessed Triduum and a happy Easter!