Smaointe Beatha Chríost .i. Innsint Ghaelge a chuir Tomás Gruamdha Ó Bruacháin (fl. c. 1450) ar an Meditationes Vitae Christi By Cainneach Ó Maonaigh, O.F.M. (review)
- Franciscan Studies
- Franciscan Institute Publications
- Volume 6, Number 2, June 1946
- pp. 249-251
- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS249 sermons, enriched by many interesting historical facts bearing on the customs and rites of early Christians. Aside from the fact that the author's pre-arranged plan of the whole scheme of the Lenten liturgy appears artificial, and is not shared by other liturgical writers, there are a few details which could stand correction. Thus on page 129, the author claims that Origen was the first to write a treatise on prayer. As far as we know it was Tertullian who has written the first treatise on prayer; his De Oratione, written between 198 and 200, preceded by some thirty years the work by Origen. Then, the author's statement that Aetheria "had listened, perhaps from the lips of the great master of Lenten instructions, S. Cyril of Jerusalem himself [the italics are those of the reviewer], to a veritable Sermo Domini" (p. 337), is highly improbable. Finally, the statement that pagans in the state of grace "necessarily belong to the Church, though unwittingly" (p. 141) ought to be revised in the light of the Encyclical of Pope Pius XII Mystic/ Corporis, or, at least, it should be followed by an explanation lest it be incorrectly interpreted. Gregory Grabka, O.F.M. Conv. St. Hyacinth Seminary, Granby, Mass. Smaointe Beatha Chriost ./'. lnnsint Ghaelge a chuir Tomas Gruamdha 6 Bruacháin (fl. c. 1450) or an Meditationes Vitae Christi. Cainneach Ó Maonaigh, O.F.M. a chuir i n-eagar. [A fifteenth century Gaelic translation of the Meditationes Vitae Christ/, edited by Canice Mooney, O.F.M.] (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 64-5 Merrion Square, Dublin, 1944. Pp. xlvii+400. Introduction, Text, Notes in Gaelic, Appendix in English, and Vocabulary in Irish and Latin. 10/6.) The beginning of the fifteenth century marked the final stages of the Gaelicization of the Franciscan Order in Ireland. It also saw the establishment of the Strict Observance. The fusion of these two processes placed at the disposal of the Gaelic-speaking section of Ireland translations ot some of the gems of Franciscan literature. One of the greatest of these translations was done by Thomas Ó Bruacháin (fl. c. 1450), choir canon in Killala. It was the celebrated Meditationes Vitae Christi. Of this translation , Fr. Canice Mooney, O.F.M., the editor of the first printed edition, writes: 'Ó Bruacháin's style is simple and direct, and often recaptures the pathos and naïveté of the original. Hyperbole, runs, and the other literary stock-in-trade of writers of his time are almost entirely absent from his pages. At times the adroitness with which he turns some abstract thought wins our whole-hearted admiration. The language, considering the translation dates from the middle or first half of the fifteenth century, is amazingly modern, and certainly far easier than contemporary ossianic texts' (pp. 364-5). One would expect that the influence of this translation would have been as striking in Ireland as it had been elsewhere, but to judge from the surviving material, it was not so: principally because the two great forms of art, dramatic and pictorial, which were most affected by it, were 250BOOK REVIEWS almost non-existent in Gaelic Ireland. And its failure to influence contemporary poetry was none the less striking on account of the fact that there was in Ireland an organized and highly-trained body of poets whose sole care was the cultivation of literature. These men were, however, intransigent traditionalists, rabidly loyal to their own form of culture which had grown and developed beyond a youthful adaptability. And they as successfully withstood the benign influence of the Meditationes then, as they were to withstand that of the Renaissance at a later date. They were rigorously moulded into a fixed mentality from their youth in schools where they mastered a standard dialect for expressing poetic ideas in intricate metres of subtle music. Their poetry was, therefore, the faithful reflex of the cultural aristocracy which produced it. The Meditationes provided just those vital elements which were so conspicuously absent from their poetry. But they were far too culture-proud to realize that. And what they deigned to borrow was transformed in the Bardic mind, the metamorphosis stripping the material...