Friday, May 09, 2014

Jesuits!

My trip to Boston College was very pleasant all in all. Arrived at 11.15 for a 12.15 Mass, so I went to City Convenience and bought a turkey sandwich which I finished by 11.26 (conscious of the one-hour fasting rule!), and poked my head into the lower chapel of St Ignatius Church. I did find someone to ask, "good morning! will there be a Mass today?" and was assured, yes, at 12.15. So I had about 45 minutes to kill.

And kill them I did, most pleasantly, by walking into Newton, and taking a left down an attractive thoroughfare bracketed by (it appeared!) European cathedrals. But no, these architectural splendours were merely libraries of BC. Enthralled by the architecture, by the undergrads, by Wednesday's supremely vernal and enticing air, I wandered blithely as a Wordsworthian daffodowndilly magically uprooted from where it had been sown. Saw nuns in wimples! Saw lilacs and magnolias! Saw a modern library building named for Tip O'Neill! Saw a statue of Saint Ignatius, whose picture I promptestly took!

Then after about 15-20 minutes of wandering in the Newtonian portion of the BC campus, I wended my lyrical way back to St Ignatius' and the lower chapel thereof. Not the loveliest chapel, but inviting enough. Huge image of Our Lady of Guadeloupe. Near the tabernacle, an icon by William McNichols of Our Blessed Lord in the desert. The altar was wooden, and looked almost portable, the crucifix grand and garlanded with modest white flowers for Resurrection.

The "pews" were those chairs with kneelers fastened to the back, but most of the chairs were missing those kneelers. Fortunately, and orthodoxically, I did find one where the kneeler was intact. (Shamed almost into doing so, by a young black-habited nun kneeling with consummate reverence for her pre-Mass prayers!)

Fr M----- from Rwanda was the celebrant (and I found out his name only at the end of Mass when he introduced himself to all and sundry!), and a celebratory celebrant indeed! He led us (in mid-homily!) in the '70s hymn "I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger ..." I could understand him most of the time (was disconcerted by the vocable "fem" until I heard it paired with "and fortune"!).

But a joyful Mass among the Jesuits, and for whatever reason I was thrice or twice moved to quiet tears. Mostly of gratitude, methinks.

Took me two hours to get from Newton to Arlington! I did take the long way, as I wanted to avoid the almost assuredly sardine-box-like Number 66 bus.

I'd go back to BC and St Ignatius for another Mass, but I think their midday Masses stop in the summer. Which probably begins when the undergrads leave, circa, what?, next week?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dante Alighieri

Vede perfettamente ogne salute
chi la mia donna tra le donne vede;
quelle che vanno con lei son tenute
di bella grazia a Dio render merzede.
E sua bieltate è di tanta vertute,
che nulla invidia a l'altre ne procede,
anzi le face andar seco vestute
di gentilezza d'amore e di fede.
La vista sua fa ogne cosa umile;
e non fa sola sé parer piacente,
ma ciascuna per lei riceve onore.
Ed è ne li atti suoi tanto gentile,
che nessun la si può recare a mente,
che non sospiri in dolcezza d'amore.


Note: I am trying to memorize some sonnets by Dante, first in Rossetti's English translation, then in Italian. There are some marvellous poems in La Vita Nuova, and I may have a go at translating them myself!

Here is Rossetti's translation, a bit "free":

For certain he hath seen all perfectness
Who among other ladies hath seen mine:
They that go with her humbly should combine
To thank their God for such peculiar grace.


So perfect is the beauty of her face
That it begets in no wise any sign
Of envy, but draws round her a clear line
Of love, and blessed faith, and gentleness. 


Merely the sight of her makes all things bow:
Not she herself alone is holier
Than all; but hers, through her, are raised above. 


From all her acts such lovely graces flow
That truly one may never think of her
Without a passion of exceeding love
.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Extraudenary

What are we men, whose mind to life brings
Unpatterned gauges,
Whom suns may stir to imaginings,
Who hold a mere chance
Of significance,
And call the scratch on the surface of things
Wisdom of ages?

What are we men who find in a face
A secret glamour,
Who see in friendship some unknown grace,
But a millpond wave,
Or a stream in a cave
That falls through the dark of a silent place,
In self-made clamour.

~ W. H. Auden, 1924 (age seventeen)

from a poem called "After the Burial"