25 June 2021

The Preparation before Mass: Cenodoxia

Do you know the feeling of having said a prayer any number of times, and then, all of a sudden, a word in it - previously passed quickly over - suddenly brings you to an abrupt halt? I once had that experience while saying the 'Sunday' portion of the 'prayer of S Ambrose' before Mass.

"Repelle a me ... spiritum superbiae et cenodoxiae". "Send far from me the spirit of ... pride and", er, what? Keno- is the Greek root for empty. -doxia suggests 'thinking' or 'glorying'. Does it mean letting the mind dwell on empty, vacuous things? It occurs in the writings of my favourite Greek philosopher, Epicurus, and in Wisdom 14:14, where we are told that Idolatry, whoring after false gods, is not part of God's eternal creation but came into the world through the kenodoxia of men. Glorying in what has no basis in fact leads men astray. The Devil, unable himself to create anything, likes nothing better than to get us chasing after what doesn't exist. Glorying without proper matter for glorying leads to the dictionary translation of kenodoxia as 'Vainglorying'; and the Vulgate at Philippians 3: 2 translates kenodoxia as 'inanis gloria' .

Preoccupation with what has no reality: Idolatry is a kenodoxia. When that Idolatry is a preoccupation with excellences which I complacently think I possess (when I don't), kenodoxia is a distinctly dangerous sort of flaw in my character.

Printers shouldn't print it 'coeno-' or caeno-', because that makes it look as though it comes from koino-, meaning 'common', which, as far as I can see, it jolly well doesn't.

Or have I got all this completely wrong?

1 comment:

Frugifex said...

Gal 5:26 Non efficiamur inanis gloriƦ cupidi, invicem provocantes, invicem invidentes.