Monday, October 7, 2013

Recollections on a Rainy Day

             It is raining outside, a dreadful pour that blocks the streets. I hear carriages trot past but cannot see them and can't help but wonder if the roses are being well-watered. Unfortunately, the cold weather and my plentiful duties have long kept me from the garden. How I should love to walk there!
Folding my hands, I pretend ever so successfully that the thunder doesn't frighten me. My mind recalls a storm this bad, many years ago, when I was only nineteen years old, an ambitious seminarian, completing my 2nd year. I had been staring out a cloister window, fascinated by heavy rain that beat upon the bottled glass. Glass back then was made from cheap, green bottles. From behind came Renaldo, who quickly shoved past me to peer out. Catching sight of a couple fleeing the waterlogged road, he pointed and laughed:
“Look how that pitiful man must go back for his wife! I’d maybe go back for my breviary…”
Soon, some four young men gathered there, pushing and shoving. They longed to see the couple but grey clouded everything. Leonardo, the oldest, straightened up and rather predictably, intoned a sharp C in his deep, tenor voice. Catching on, the others joined their eager youthful voices.  Between old, stone cloisters, rang a new song, trying to sound ancient- but altogether silly: the chant of the seminarians. That year, it went like this:

           When I was a young man, I dreamt my wedding day...
            But there was no bride in white.
            and it would last forever!
            Oh my beloved is Chastity!
She won’t nag or ask for things.
            nor drag me from place to place!
         I’m a seminarian- soon to be ordained…
            Thomas Aquin my best man,
Blest Mary bears the ring.

            Poor Clare supplieth roses,
            and good Joseph, the rod breaks.
            On the day I’ll say forever!

            Oh, sweet chastity, she is my bride.
            Oh, sweet chastity, so free! 
            Celibacy but a small price to pay.

            Yes, a woman’s tempting, very nice.
            Her eyes and lips all made up nice,
            But on that day, I’ll swear forever.
            Of Latin our tongues are burdened,
              all day long: Amo, amas, amat.
              In principio Verbum erat!

               The Matin bells we ring,
              over the mountains, Te Deum sing,
            early, early, to the choir scurry!

            In cassock and surplice, 
             shew yourselves clean, alert
            and ready, like angels on the wing.

                In deep philosophy, our minds swim,
             at morn we ponder, St Ambrose
               and Augustin.
                 And at eventide, theology runs a race,
                  like hounds of heaven,
                 corrected over and over.

              Joy makes no dull boy,
            our tongues shall let loose:
            O sweet chastity, shall be my bride!
            Say, I’ll be a priest.
            Death comes for wives and children
but the altar’s always there…

Introibo ad altare Dei,
Io, io! ~the rest you know!

Now that I think back on it, this was a very frivolous song, made up by frivolous youth and "perfected" over the years- but perhaps containing several grains of truth? I am not sure. I must watch the rain a little longer and decide...