Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Cataracts of Advent

       I was intrigued by the two very different meanings of the word cataract: the rush of mighty water over a precipice vs. the opaque film that impedes sight with advancing age. How did the root of this word take such differing paths?

       The Greek kataractes means something that is rushing or swooping down. It became transferred into Latin in the form of cataracta, and thus could mean a waterfall or a portcullis (grated gate, a safeguard to a castle)

       From about the 16th c. the word cataract began to be used as a simile for the film that obstructs light from entering the eye. In that sense it is closer to the portcullis, which would slam or rush down to prevent an enemy from getting in. The cataract of the eye neither slams nor rushes nor swoops, but it obstructs quite well.

       Waiting for a date for cataract surgery is waiting for the light. No more will the brain have to work to equalize the corrected with the blurry. This cataract of Advent will soon give way to clearer vision, to a vision of the Lord Jesus coming in power, as in a cloud of light.

Sr. Christa Kreinbrink, OSB

1 comment:

  1. Cataract is the Vulgate word in ps 42. The deer needs water and it arrives abundantly. It is also His voice (mighty rushing waters). Waterfalls have also been admired for their unearthly power in China, Korea and Japan -- in the ancient poetry it is a topic of wonder. Also for the Greeks and Romans. We come back again to the need to preserve the gifts God has given us in this little house -- to keep the rivers and waterfalls natural, alive and well. Merry Christmas OSB God bless OSB amen.