Younger readers may not be aware of this, but, back in the 1960s, there was a Golden Age in which London was the City of the Trattorie. These bright, white-tiled, cheerful restaurants introduced many of us to Italian food. Sadly, the fashion passed; most 'Italian Restaurants' nowadays just do pizza and pasta; and the physical sites on which the Trats stood are mostly occupied by Oriental fooderies. Try strolling through Soho ...
A little way up Charlotte Street (memories of Prinny's mummy?), not far from the White Tower and on the other side of the road from the Little Acropolis, Northish from Bertorelli's, stood the Trattoria dei Pescatori. It was not the best of the Trats; but its strong fish menu made it an interesting change. I was reminded of it an evening or two ago.
Why? Well, y'see, after Vin Nichols, exemplary Hellenophile, spread the joyful news that Confirmation, in his diocese, would not henceforth be available in the pure native rite of the Western Church but only in a Byzantinised form, I thought I'd better read the Constitutio Apostolica of S Paul VI, Divinae consortium Naturae (15 August 1971), which is cited as authoritative in this context. As one does, I got the text up on the Vatican website, printed it off, stapled the three pages together, and settled down to have a comfortable read. I can't read stuff on screens.
From its fifth word onwards, it is choc-a-bloc full of typographical errors. In the end, I counted twenty two; but I wasn't actually searching and I certainly didn't check through the Patristic references. (The gibberish that held me up longest was "iur positionis", until the penny dropped that this was a corruption of "impositionis".)
Have you ever tried to read Catullus from the Bodleian apograph of the Codex Veronensis deperditus? It was as bad as that.
I'm afraid I became cross. I still haven't quite defeated this temptation of the Evil One. Intemperate thoughts battled for my attention. If these mighty people, I angrily thought, with their grandiose titles and their airs of lofty consequence, can't be bothered to provide a clean, correct, readable text of the Oh-so-important documents of the much-lauded 'Magisterium' which they are so keen to stuff down my recalcitrant throat, why should I take at all seriously any of their daft but pompous games and their silly documents? Lazy, indolent, illiterate poseurs ... arrogant ignoramuses ... you know the sort of thoughts. We all have our battles.
But then, by the grace of God, I found the funny bit ... the Trat reference.
I find laughter the truest antidote to the wiles of Satan, as I hope you do.
"In Baptismo neophyti accipiunt remissionem pescatorum ..."
How entertaining! Of course, the typist was an Italophone, so that pescatorum instead of piscatorum was an easy slip to make ... one must try to be understanding ...
In my essentially pastoral way, I started to muse on how lucky those Neophytes were. Most people, whether neophytes or palaeophytes, are not offered the luxury of Remission of their Fishermen. I am not aware of ever having even been offered this spiritual benefit myself. When, some years ago, I used to hear quite a lot of Confessions, sadly ... mea culpa ... I messed up (I now realise) the Absolutions. Instead of saying, in the true Peronist Spirit of the Novus Ordo, "I absolve you from your sins and your fishermen", I only remitted their sins, leaving them mired up to their ears in fishermen galore.
When reassuring over-scrupulous penitents, I now realise I should have made much clearer that Absolution cleansed them from all their fishermen, however bad those fishermen were.
"But Father: some of them were extremely serious fishermen ..."
"However serious, my dear, I assure you that the Sacrament has wiped them all away."
"They weren't all serious, Father. My most recent fisherman was quite a small one comparatively speaking ..."
The "Formation" we sat through at Allen Hall as a prelude to the seriously decent lunches we got there never reached as far as the distinction between Mortal and Venial Fishermen. Even Staggers (better formation, worse food), I have to admit, was a bit light on the piscatorial side of Priesthood, despite the proximity of Parsons' Pleasure..
Tomorrow, much more on Divinae Consortes Naturae, but no more on Trattorie.