September 23, 2002

The Bard
To Paul J. Voss’s "Assurances of Faith: How Catholic Was Shakespeare? How Catholic Are His Plays?" (July/August 2002), I would add mention of The Comedy of Errors. This early play takes place in Ephesus. After numerous confusions, the two pairs of long- separated twins finally figure out who they are through the discovery of who their mother is (an abbess). Thus, the problem of human identity is resolved through the Church and knowing who our Father and Mother truly are. As Voss adumbrates, these Catholic themes inform Shakespeare’s entire corpus. - Dr. Ken Masugi in Crisis Magazine

Why Ephesus? from a Univ. of Maryland study guide of "The Comedy of Errors"
In Christian times, Ephesus became a major pilgrimage site. St. John the Evangelist, author of Revelations, was buried in Ephesus; a large church was built near (some would say over) his grave. Ephesus was also the site of a famous ecclesiastical council, in which the doctrine of the Virgin Mary as the 'Mother of God' was first confirmed. Thus as a religious center, both pagan and Christian, Ephesus had always had a reputation as a place of spiritual mystery. - from a Univ of Maryland study guide

Lines from Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors"
He that commends me to mine own content,
Commends me to the thing I cannot get.
I to the world am like a drop of water
That in the ocean seeks another drop;
Who, falling there to find his fellow forth,
Unseen, inquisitive, confounds himself:
So I, to find a mother and a brother,
In quest of them, unhappy, lose myself.

From the Abbess in the play:
Hath not else his eye
Stray'd his affection in unlawful love?
A sin prevailing much in youthful men,
Who give their eyes the liberty of gazing.

The Abbess again...sound like anyone we know?
Be patient; for I will not let him stir
Till I have used the approved means I have,
With wholesome syrups, drugs and holy prayers,
To make of him a formal man again:
It is a branch and parcel of mine oath,
A charitable duty of my order.
Therefore depart and leave him here with me.

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