Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Deus Caritas Est... (Not having read it all yet...)

Folks, I am incredibly lame. Not happy with reading Deus Caritas Est on the internet, I made my way to the Vatican Bookstore to pick up hard copies in English, Italian and German. (Okay, I admit it, I wanted a Benedict XVI 1st Edition...) Why not Latin? Despite being online, it's not yet availible in hardcopy format.
Anyway, flicking through these various versions, I noticed one thing that surprised me from a linguistic point of view.
Have a look at DCE 3. The English translation is: Here the German philosopher was expressing a widely-held perception: doesn't the Church, with all her commandments and prohibitions, turn to bitterness the most precious thing in life? Doesn't she blow the whistle just when the joy which is the Creator's gift offers us a happiness which is itself a certain foretaste of the Divine? Blow the whistle? A sporting metaphor in Deus Caritas Est? I then turned to the Italian: 'Non innalza forse cartelli di divieto proprio là dove la gioia, predisposta per noi dal Creatore, ci offre una felicità che ci fa pregustare qualcosa del Divino?' That talks about the Church erecting 'forbidden' notices.
What about the German? 'Stellt sie nicht gerade da Verbotstafeln auf, wo uns die vom Schöpfer zugedachte Freude ein Glück anbietet, das uns etwas vom Geschmack des Göttlichen spüren läßt?' That looks more or less similar to the Italian version.
And the Latin? 'Nonne fortasse nuntios prohibitionis attollit Ecclesia ibi omnino ubi laetitia nobis a Creatore praeparata felicitatem nobis praebet quae praegustare nos etiam sinit aliquid de Divina natura?' Again, notices of prohibition.
I guess we're lucky to have a more informal translation. ;)

Anyway, on a first skim, I'm impressed. Benedict is linking together some of my favourite themes. I especially like his use of the 'eyes of Christ' metaphor:
18. Love of neighbour is thus shown to be possible in the way proclaimed by the Bible, by Jesus. It consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His friend is my friend. Going beyond exterior appearances, I perceive in others an interior desire for a sign of love, of concern. This I can offer them not only through the organizations intended for such purposes, accepting it perhaps as a political necessity. Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave. Here we see the necessary interplay between love of God and love of neighbour which the First Letter of John speaks of with such insistence. If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God. But if in my life I fail completely to heed others, solely out of a desire to be “devout” and to perform my “religious duties”, then my relationship with God will also grow arid. It becomes merely “proper”, but loveless. Only my readiness to encounter my neighbour and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well. Only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me.
I'm chuffed that I used it myself a few days ago.
Looking through the footnotes, I'm disappointed that I didn't solicit people's opinions as to what sources he would be quoting. I'm not at all surprised to see Nietzsche there and St Augustine is (of course) also strongly represented. I don't see Aquinas listed and the references to Plato and Aristotle show that this writing is very much in the philosophy-friendly tradition of Catholic theology. (Note particularly the following about Aristotle's unmoved mover: The divine power that Aristotle at the height of Greek philosophy sought to grasp through reflection, is indeed for every being an object of desire and of love —and as the object of love this divinity moves the world —but in itself it lacks nothing and does not love: it is solely the object of love. I've heard the Italian aristotelian Enrico Berti make much of this aspect of Aristotle's unmoved mover being a final cause that attracts as though by love.)
Anyway, I want to read this properly.
I did pick up a couple of extra copies of the English translation and have decided to offer them gratis to my fellow Catholic bloggers. If you keep a Catholic blog and want a copy of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1st Edition (English translation) of Deus Caritas Est, drop me a line (e-mail address in the sidebar) with the URL of your blog and a snailmail address I can send it to. Please note, this is for bloggers only - if you don't have a blog, I'm not sending you anything.
Edited to add: I'm slightly chuffed to spot a printing error in the 1st Edition - the first heading is the Italian word 'Introduzione' rather than the English 'Introduction'.
Edited to add again: Okay, I'm out of copies of Deus Caritas Est. I'm somewhat amazed that someone took offence at my tongue-in-cheek wording of my 'bloggers only' stipulation. I certainly wasn't trying to thumb my nose at 'mere readers'. I just thought it'd be nice to give a little bonus to my fellow bloggers. This commenter rather puzzlingly described my 'mere readers' as my 'bread and butter.' Granted, it's gratifying to see hits on the site meter, but it's not like I'm making any money out of this. As this commenter used some off-colour language, I've seen fit to delete the comment and ban his IP address.

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