Friday, 28 November 2008

A relatively diverting Friday


My wife is making focaccia in the kitchen. I, on the other hand, am blogging because we actually did a bit of stuff today.

We had a couple of things to do when we set out this morning. One was to go to Globo and spend £20 that we earned by spending about £100 (there doesn't seem to be a euro button on this Italian laptop, consequently I am pretending that the one means the other!). The other was to go and register me at the Italian equivalent of the Jobcentre.

I had my own personal mission as well, which was to buy a 3.5mm male-to-male audio cable, and we found one for a couple of quid (in addition to using pound signs for euros, I decided early on that I didn't want to lose the word "quid", so I'm using that for euros too) so I'm happy now. You may think that having an audio cable is a pretty lame thing to be pleased about, even for a man, but it means that I can connect my Minidisc player to my laptop, which means that I should finally be able to convert my music, that I made throughout my adolescence, into MP3s, as well as the cover versions that I romantically recorded for Monica, which means she has a little reason to be pleased too. I rather like listening back to my music, so it'll be nice to have it in a more well-supported format. If anyone's at all interested in having a copy, do let me know and I'll try and think of a sensible way to distribute it.

Other good news is that Monica found some jeans and a bobble hat in Globo! I know, I know - too excitment for one blog post, right? Seriously though, Monica has a hard time finding jeans she likes, because skinny jeans are in now, so it's pretty hard trying to find anything else. When we went to Globo last time we were looking for jeans for her and came back with nothing, so it is a result. The bobble hat is just nice, and it keeps my wife's head warm, which is something I approve of.

When we went to register at the jobcentre, we were perplexed to find that I didn't have my passport (I could use my driving license to register though) which was quite troubling. I kept my cool, but Monica was understandably a bit agitated. She phoned home and got her Mum to go on a passport search, which was fruitless, or rather, passportless I suppose. But a lady from the Jobcentre called while we were in the office saying that she'd found my passport, which she was only able to do because I had just given the jobcentre my phone number! Rather handy that.

Today the Blessed Sacrament has been exposed in the little chapel in S. Tommaso Apostolo, so Monica and I went to spend some time with Him, and apparently there's going to be confession later too, so I'll hopefully be able to make the most of that.

Monica wanted to try out using Skype to phone England, so we've bought some Skype credit and will give it a go. At the moment we get calls to England free, but only because Monica's parents pay (and were paying while Monica was in England) a fixed amount per month. If we use Skype instead, we can decrease their phone bill without them worrying that I'm never going to speak to my parents.

If you look here you'll see the comments section of one of James' blog entries where someone fairly randomly asked James and Ella if they did translations, because they had an old framed picture or Pius X with something written on it that they didn't understand. I'm not quite sure what James would have said to that, but I had a look, and instead of it being the impenetrable Latin that I was expecting, it was Italian! And I could translate it all without recourse to a dictionary! So I was quite pleased with myself. Which was nice.

It was quite a pleasant Friday, and it's not even finished yet.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Married Priests

The subject's come up a couple of times for me recently. The other day Lorenzo was talking about it (I'm not sure why it came up) and said, if I understood correctly, that Jesus never said that priests had to be celibate, that it was a decision of the Church.

Then, getting my weekly fix of religious news from Sunday, I heard an interview with a couple of priests both of whom had a fairly positive attitude towards the idea (one a married ex-Anglican), though they didn't claim that it would solve the priest shortage and on the whole seemed quite moderate and sensible. The ex-Anglican one said that it was a distortion to claim that familial love was incompatible with the vocation to priesthood.

So I just thought I'd give my thoughts on those two things. I suppose everyone already knows that a celibate priesthood is not an unalterable teaching, but a matter of discipline? If you don't you do now.

With regard to Jesus' lack of definitive teaching on the matter, the first thing to note is that St. Paul does clearly have an opinion on the matter. And though he is certainly not Jesus, it doesn't do to ignore the Apostle to the gentiles.
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. - 1 Cor 7:32-35
There are some very obvious things to say about this verse being less than dogmatic, so please don't.

And then there's the precedent set by the first priests of all, the Apostles.
Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. [...] And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." - Luke 22
Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! - Mt 19:27
Also, Jesus does have an explicit teaching which may be interpreted in different ways, but which is far from irrelevant.
The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."

Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it." - Mt 19:10-12

N.B. Having just written the following, I already want to change it, because I didn't say what I orginally intended to say, and I think I've probably mis-represented the priest in fact. So, if you could just bear that in mind in the meantime. I may update it later.

With regard to the priest who thought that it was a mistake to think that familial love was incompatible with the vocation of a priest, the simplest thing I think is just to say with St. Paul what he says above. But though I don't think that we should remove the celibacy requirement, I personally don't think for a moment that marriage is incompatiable with the priesthood. The priest, as I say, seemed like a nice guy, and it makes a nice change to hear someone express their opinion without resorting to polemics, but I do think it was a bit of a straw-man argument. If the Church really thought that marriage was incompatible with priesthood he wouldn't be a priest. I suppose there might be some schismatic types who would claim that he isn't really a priest, but I don't see how an orthodox Catholic who isn't sold on the whole married priests deal could think what he thinks they think - if you follow me. (that doesn't mean that I don't think he's an orthodox Catholic b.t.w.)

And that's what I think about that.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


Just reading in the Italian papers about the UK government's plans to sterilise teenagers. Obviously, being a Catholic who listens to what the Church says, I'm predictably not going to be in favour. But let's leave that aside for the moment.

The last time that politicians were talking about mass sterilisations as the solution, I seem to recall that we ended up with Nazism. Obviously, nothing bad could come of this, because they were evil pricks, whereas we mean well.

Also, why are these sorts of measures always meant to occur without parental consent? Very kind of the state to relieve us of the burden of making decisions about the lives of our children. Nothing remotely totalitarian about that.

Back to the Catholic stuff:

James started a sort of campaign to promote Humanae Vitae, the 1968 encyclical which re-stated the Church's historic teaching on contraception (it might seem like a good idea, but it's actually a shit idea) contrary to the prevailing mood, and this is a good excuse to quote from it:

Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.
Of course, the Church being old-fashioned and wrong, none of those things happened after '68. Tush.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Harry Potter

Here's a thing worth mentioning: some time ago, I finished reading Harry Potter e il Calice di Fuoco. I'm now reading Harry Potter e l'Ordine della Fenice.

That's not bad is it?

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Wedding Photos

He does some wicked photos does John, and he's just finished doing our wedding photos it would appear.

We get a CD in a little while, and the world at large gets these.

Anyone who's my friend on facebook will have seen quite a few of these before, albeit at the wrong angle and without that professional touch, but there's quite a few unique ones.

Go John, I say.

Also, for what it's worth, the wedding photos of our friends Ben and Hannah are up there too...



It's been a long time since I blogged properly, I know. Obviously that's had a lot to do with the fact that we haven't had a computer to hand, but then it's just the weight of unreported events and the fact that it's harder these days to get a sufficiently long period of uninterrupted time to blog.


Let's start by saying that, as some of you may not yet know, we managed to get all of our data back, including photos. I thought of commenting on James' post about data backups, but I thought it might undercut the very sensible advice if I said it all turned out fine.

Also, now we have a computer of our own again – install Skype! Skype will let you talk to me for free through the internet, with futuristic-type webcam support, and I understand it's a relatively economical way of making international calls too, though that's a little more effort. Add monica_zagaglia as a contact.

Monday to Friday I have Italian lessons in the afternoons. It's not really the right level for me, but I tried the next one up, and that seemed too much. Still, it's all good practise, and learning Italian in Italian is mor of a challenge in itself. I'm getting closer to finishing the basic vocabulary in Mastering Italian Vocabulary, but it's definitely a bit of a slog. Monica's helping me now, by putting the words in Memorylifter for me. I'm not used to having a limited vocabulary.

Monica and I have been registering with Italian temping agencies. Quite a lot of them are international, so they all have the same names...

(Speaking of things that are the same here – they have Ready Steady Cook! It's a little bit odd. It was definitely ours first though. I checked on the credits and they got the rights from the BBC)

...Monica's had a few interviews, I haven't had any yet. Good old international financial crisis. The thing is, I suspect it wouldn't be particularly better if we headed back to England, job-wise. On the other hand, in England, Monica would be more employable. In Italy, employers are given tax breaks, or something like that, for employing the young, which is a lovely sentiment except that it results in discrimination against those over a certain age. Also, though Italian does have equal opportunity legislation, legislation doesn't count for much round here. Nothing is the way it should be, and there's a general attitude of discontented resignation. At quite a number of the job agencies we went to, they ask about your marital status and number of children. Monica, as a newlywed with no children, is a liability. Certain things really suck here.

I say that there's a general attitude of resignation here, but on the other hand, I've seen about as many strikes here since July as I remember seeing in England for my whole life. Italians love striking and demonstrating, it would appear, but I'm very sceptical about it here, whereas I do see the point in England. I imagine it's because the political system here is very messy – no wonder the mafia can p*ss about with it. Compared with the UK, there a more political parties than you can shake a stick at, and they all disagree with each other. It seems they're incapable of working together towards any kind of general consensus. I tried to ask the other day about pressure groups and lobbies, but I gather they don't really have them here. They have victims groups though. Practically every day there are stories of young people being run over by drunk and drugged drivers, but it's not enough to make a difference.

I think that's probably enough for now.