Monday, 10 August 2009

St. Thérèse of Lisieux: Again

I thought I'd blog something I was interested in which just happens to be topical. A little while ago James was criticising something that Archbishop Vincent Nichols said in an interview with the Catholic Herald. When I looked at that interview, I noticed this:
[B]y avoiding personal Confession do Catholics miss out on a unique encounter with Jesus himself?

Of course they do. [...]

I've been assured that when the relics of St Thérèse come then one of the things we must be prepared for is a huge increase in personal Confession. There were a couple of hundred youngsters up at the Brightlights festival in north London last weekend. At one time there were 15 priests there hearing Confessions on and off during the Saturday.

So there is something very precious about Confession and I think Catholics realise that. One of the things it is is a profound human truth, because all sacraments bring together the human realities and the divine intervention. It's a profound truth that we have to confess, that we have to face and name what we have done that is wrong. Otherwise the human process of healing, which grace builds on, doesn't begin. Sooner or later we have to do that.
I heard more about St. Thérèse's relics coming to the UK on Sunday last weekend; unfortunately you won't be able to hear that now, as they've had another transmission since then. They said the same thing about the spiritual fruits that her relics are bearing, the increase in confession etc.

It so happens that I've been meaning to read her Story of a Soul for some time. She's a Doctor of the Church, which means that it has been officially declared that through her writings the whole Church has derived great advantage. She's known for her "Little Way", a recognition that heroic deeds and great acts are not necessary to achieve great holiness but love can be lived out in the least of actions. Though she undertook the religious life, the "Little Way" has proved especially helpful for the laity.

So where am I going with all this? Well, the wonderful people at Librivox have just made Story of a Soul available in audio format. This is good for people like me, who like the fact that, say, Project Gutenberg has the text online, but would rather gouge out their own eyes than read a book from a monitor.

So, Librivox's Story of a Soul is here, and comes with helpful listening options (MP3s to download directly, individually or zipped, RSS feed, iTunes subscription, Chapter-a-day).
It's slightly less conveniently here in MP3 as well, at Maria Lectrix.
Or if you're a real glutton for punishment, you could read it online at Project Gutenberg.

Well, I hope I didn't just waste my time typing that. I'm really looking forward to listening to it myself.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Interviews, Translations, Handel, Jazz, Spoleto, Ferragosto

Good morning and a very merry 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) to you.

It's been quite an eventful week, especially for us. On Monday I updated my CV with the details from Intrawelt and phoned the Student Loans Company to check whether I had to declare the one off payment - apparently I don't. Then we e-mailed it out to the addresses that Monica had been collecting over the previous week. It was a pretty good response. I had a phone call from another translation agency in Bagnacavallo (Bathehorse? Horsebath?). First they asked me to interview as a Project Manager and then they changed their minds and said that they'd like some translations from me first, which I haven't received yet. I also had an e-mail back from another agency asking for me to do some test translations, which I did, and bloody hard they were too. Another e-mail said there weren't any internal positions but, subject to some test translations, they'd consider me as a freelance translator. I had to reply saying that I wasn't sure I could because I don't have a P.IVA, which I would need if I were to be self-employed. Last but not least I had a call for an interview in Rimini for teaching work, so that's where I'm going on Tuesday, for an interview plus a language test that I'm told should take around 2 hours in all.

Rather remarkably, I've managed to see three concerts, all free, in the space of a week, one in Osimo and the other two in Offagna. It's very true that generally speaking there's not a lot to do round here, but on the plus side, the summer is packed with free events of good quality. We went to Osimo with Gio(vanna), Marghe's sister who's another friend of Monica's, to listen to some pieces for organ accompanied by an orchestra by Handel. It was very good. The organist had a tough time. I think it was a period instrument. In any case it was an upright affair that you have to play standing up. To add insult to injury, the multiple pages of sheet music, which the organist was attempting to manage on his own until this became untenable, didn't really fit on the music holder and the wind (it was in a courtyard) kept blowing the sheets around. Well done him. The concerts in Offagna were both jazz, part of a series of "Jazz and Wine" (not Jazz e Vino, because English is more cool, you see...) On Friday we went down to the, um, villa(?) where we buy our wine from and listened to bebop in the garden. That was my favourite; sax, piano, double bass and drums. The sax was very good, the pianist was mental - possibly a little too much, the percussion was outstanding - we weren't so keen on the double bass though. The acoustic was excellent, especially the drums. Monica said she liked it, but it didn't grab her so much. I thought it was great, but I was perhaps too tired to take it all in. I'm not good at listening to music at night. Then yesterday it was another quartet, led by a famous Italian jazz guitarist (Franco Cerri), backed up by a Hammond organ, double bass and drums. I didn't like it so much - there was considerably less swing and I'm never really convinced by jazz guitar anyway. The drumming was good, but without any reall swing, as I say, and he kind of ruined it by relentlessly using the cymbals so it was difficult to hear the percussion underneath. We did like the man on the double bass though. I think I quite like the Hammond organ - in small doses. I coulcn't imagine playing it every day though...

What with us living with Monica's Mum and Dad, we're always keen on the idea of getting away to get some time to ourselves, but without work this seems like something we probably shouldn't splash out on. However, as I just worked for a month we decided to go away into the mountains (everyone's at the beach at the moment you see, but if we're both still unemployed we can go when it's quieter) for a bit of relaxation. So we're off to Spoleto at the end of the month, staying here, which looks lovely. Looking forward to it.

As I said, everyone's at the beach at the moment. This is because in Italy, the whole of August is basically holiday time. Lots of offices shut down for at least a few weeks. This means that the roads are horribly congested just now. Imagine that all English bank holidays happened back to back and you'd have some idea of how lousy it is on the roads right now. It's linked with Ferragosto, a celebration that dates from Roman times, but which is now linked with the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, dogmatically defined in 1950, if I've understood it correctly.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Il Testamento di Tito

You may remember I translated an article on Italian party politics a little while ago. I decided I'd try and do a few more translations, a little inspired by my time at Intrawelt. I'm using a free, very basic, translation programme called OmegaT, and what I thought I'd do was translate some songs for you, because I've been enjoying some Italian music, and I thought you could enjoy it too.

So this is a song by Fabrizio de André that I like, but which is a bit scandalous. Fabrizio de André is very famous here. He died young and is very highly regarded. There are things like memorial concerts for him and his work receives scholarly attention. I asked Monica if that meant he was a bit like an Italian Bob Dylan in that regard, and she seemed to think that you could say that.

The titular Tito you may or may not know as St. Dismas, that is the 'Good Thief'. Apparently in the apocryphal Arabic infancy gospel he's called Tito/Titus instead. Like I say, it's a bit scandalous. You might make something of the turnaround at the end (he is the Good thief after all) but this is essentially his attack on the Ten Commandments.

Just to preempt any comments to the effect that the commandments have been altered in a Catholic direction, I know. I suppose Fabrizio's ten came from some kind of catechetical source where Sabbath observance is linked to feast days and adultery is linked to self-gratification et cetera. And anyone who says the numbers are wrong will want pointing out to them that the Bible doesn't give numbers to the commandments - that's tradition, which varies from denomination to denomination.

The Italian used for the commandments isn't really thee-thouish, but it is traditional, so I started from the 10 in the Baltimore Catechism, which follows the Douay-Rheims in any case.

Il testamento di Tito
Fabrizio De André

Non avrai altro Dio, all'infuori di me,
spesso mi ha fatto pensare:
genti diverse, venute dall'est
dicevan che in fondo era uguale.
Credevano a un altro diverso da te,
e non mi hanno fatto del male.
Credevano a un altro diverso da te
e non mi hanno fatto del male.

Non nominare il nome di Dio,
non nominarlo invano.
Con un coltello piantato nel fianco
gridai la mia pena e il suo nome:
ma forse era stanco, forse troppo occupato
e non ascoltò il mio dolore.
Ma forse era stanco, forse troppo lontano
davvero, lo nominai invano.

Onora il padre. Onora la madre
e onora anche il loro bastone,
bacia la mano che ruppe il tuo naso
perché le chiedevi un boccone:
quando a mio padre si fermò il cuore
non ho provato dolore.
Quando a mio padre si fermò il cuore
non ho provato dolore.

Ricorda di santificare le feste.
Facile per noi ladroni
entrare nei templi che rigurgitan salmi
di schiavi e dei loro padroni
senza finire legati agli altari
sgozzati come animali.
Senza finire legati agli altari
sgozzati come animali.

Il quinto dice "non devi rubare"
e forse io l'ho rispettato
vuotando in silenzio, le tasche già gonfie
di quelli che avevan rubato.
Ma io, senza legge, rubai in nome mio,
quegli altri, nel nome di Dio.
Ma io, senza legge, rubai in nome mio,
quegli altri, nel nome di Dio.

Non commettere atti che non siano puri
cioè non disperdere il seme.
Feconda una donna ogni volta che l'ami, così sarai uomo di fede:
poi la voglia svanisce ed il figlio rimane
e tanti ne uccide la fame.
Io, forse, ho confuso il piacere e l'amore,
ma non ho creato dolore.

Il settimo dice "non ammazzare"
se del cielo vuoi essere degno.
guardatela oggi, questa legge di Dio,
tre volte inchiodata nel legno.
guardate la fine di quel nazareno,
e un ladro non muore di meno.
Guardate la fine di quel nazareno,
e un ladro non muore di meno.

Non dire falsa testimonianza
e aiutali a uccidere un uomo.
Lo sanno a memoria il diritto divino
e scordano sempre il perdono.
Ho spergiurato su Dio e sul mio onore
e no, non ne provo dolore.
Ho spergiurato su Dio e sul mio onore
e no, non ne provo dolore.

Non desiderare la roba degli altri,
non desiderarne la sposa.
Ditelo a quelli, chiedetelo ai pochi
che hanno una donna e qualcosa:
nei letti degli altri, già caldi d'amore
non ho provato dolore.
L'invidia di ieri non è già finita:
stasera vi invidio la vita.

Ma adesso che viene la sera ed il buio
mi toglie il dolore dagli occhi
e scivola il sole al di là delle dune
a violentare altre notti:
io nel vedere quest'uomo che muore,
madre, io provo dolore.
Nella pietà che non cede al rancore,
madre, ho imparato l'amore.
The Testament of Titus
Fabrizio De André

“Thou shalt not have strange gods before me”;
it's often made me think:
other peoples, from the East
said that it was really all the same.
They believed in a strange god, a different god from yours,
and they didn't do me any harm.
They believed in a strange god, a different god from yours,
and they didn't do me any harm.

“Thou shalt not take the name of God,
thou shalt not take it in vain.”
With a knife planted in my side
I cried out my pain and his name:
but perhaps he was tired, perhaps he was too busy
and didn't listen to my pain.
But perhaps he was tired, perhaps he was too far away.
I certainly took his name in vain.

“Honour thy father. Honour thy mother”
and honour their cane as well,
kiss the hand that broke your nose
because you asked for a bite to eat:
when my father's heart stopped
I felt no pain.
When my father's heart stopped
I felt no pain.

“Remember that thou hallow the holy days.”
Easy for us thieves
to enter the temples, flooded with the psalms
of slaves and their masters,
without ending up bound to the altars,
throats cut like animals!
Without ending up bound to the altars,
throats cut like animals!

The fifth says "thou shalt not steal"
and perhaps I've obeyed it,
emptying in silence, the swollen pockets
of thieves.
But I, lawless, stole in my own name,
those thieves, in the name of God.
But I, lawless, stole in my own name,
those thieves, in the name of God.

“Thou shalt not commit impure acts”;
that is, don't spill your seed.
Impregnate a woman every time you love her, and you'll be a man of faith:
then the desire vanishes, the child remains
and hunger kills many sons.
Perhaps I've confused pleasure with love,
but I haven't begotten pain.

The seventh says "thou shalt not kill"
If you want to be worthy of heaven.
Look today at this law of God,
nailed three times into wood.
Look what's become of that Nazarene,
and not one less thief dies.
Look what's become of that Nazarene,
and not one less thief dies.

“Thou shalt not bear false witness”
and help to kill a man.
They know the divine law by heart
but always forget to forgive.
I've sworn falsely by God and on my honour
and no, it doesn't give me any pain.
I've sworn falsely by God and on my honour
and no, it doesn't give me any pain.

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods,
thou shalt not covet his wife.”
Tell it to those, ask it of the few
that have a woman and something else:
in my neighbour's bed, already warm with love
I felt no pain.
Yesterday's envy isn't finished yet:
now I envy your lives.

But now that evening comes and the darkness
takes the pain from my eyes
and the sun slips beyond the dunes
to violate other nights:
I, seeing this man as he dies,
mother, I feel pain.
In compassion that refuses to hate,
mother, I've learnt what love means.
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