Miseria, Misericordia, Magnificat

Today was ‘Classics Day’ at our high school, which involved the Latin Department Chair donning a toga and laurel wreath and quizzing students on Roman mythology, declensions, and other roads leading to Rome.  (Thankfully the afternoon Teacher Pie-In-The-Face event did not make its triumphant return this year.  I speak as a victim.)

The school also celebrated a Latin Mass.  During the homily, Fr. Jason mentioned that Pope Paul VI summed up his spirituality with three Latin words:  Miseria, Misericordia, Magnificat.

Misery, Mercy, Magnifies.*

Three quotes come to mind.

Miseria: ‘Our life on earth is a bad night in an inn.’ -St. Teresa of Avila

Misericordia: “My past, oh Lord, to your mercy.  My present to your love.  My future to your Divine Providence.”  -St. Pio

Magnificat: “What is this feeling that my love will rip a hole in the ceiling?”  -Matisyahu

I think my spirituality, and maybe yours, can also be summed up these simple, yet rich terms.  No matter how wonderful life is, we often remember the misery of our human condition.  From this need, we reach out to receive Christ’s mercy.  We are moved to gratitude, barely recognizing our own selves bathed new in the light of Christ.

Friday food for thought.

*Apologies to the Latin scholars that can actually translate these words.



Jane Sloan


B. Jane Sloan is a writer and high school theology teacher from Atlanta, GA. In addition to blogging for Catholic Exchange, she has been published in Our Sunday Visitor, Notre Dame Magazine and the literary journal Omnibus. Jane graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2007 with a B.A. in theology and philosophy. In 2009, she graduated with an M. Ed. from Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education. In 2009 Jane made a 500-mile pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. She spent summer 2010 as an intern planting vegetables and baking bread at the Abbey of Regina Laudis OSB in Bethlehem, CT. In 2011 she was present among the millions at the beatification of Blessed John Paul II. She is currently working toward her M.A. in Theology. Follow her on Twitter @CE_SundayBrunch. Follow her other blog on all-natural eating at www.thesavagepalate.blogspot.com

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  • gmandelk

    So very interesting, this tie-in between “miseria,” “misericordia”
    and the eventual “magnificat.” (Almost gives new dimensions to the idea
    of that company that touches on being ever so sticky, the 3-M

    I was thinking of a connection between
    “misericordia” bordering compassionate, “miseria” meaning being ever so
    down, and something good coming out of this nonetheless. I was actually
    thinking of this musically, trying to explain to someone how what at
    first sounds tense, harsh and dissonant can resolve to something
    harmonious with great hope and resolution. They didn’t know Spanish,
    which was how the idea first came to me. I wondered if anybody else
    ever thought of this, having heard once there’s nothing really ever
    original, components are ours to mix together in new ways. So I

    Therefore, I am stunned and redeemed to have found this — thank you so much! (That 3rd term makes me feel very inspired — magnificent!!!)