Daily Archives: December 21, 2022
“Good God!” – exclaimed the good, pious woman upon seeing the cat threatening the freshly baked apple cake.
“Jesus!” – was the utterance of the pious Neapolitan man when hearing Naples had lost the game 4-0 again.
“Jesusandmary!” (one word: Gesummaria!”) was the usual expression of the southern Italian gentleman upon being told of something very bad that had happened.
“Maledetto….!” “Damn….!” (add to the word the usual suspects: cats, dog, communists, whomever or whatever wasn’t OK!). This one was everywhere.
A pleasantly unruly child would be described as “a little devil”, often without the slightest hint of disapprobation. Similarly, “you are diabolical” would be the compliment reserved for, say, someone who had made something really cool playing soccer.
“Dio Bonino!” (Good Lordy…) was, meanwhile, the cry of disapprobation of the Tuscan Italian man, because they love terms of endearment.
“Dannazione” (“Damnation”), would the poor guy cry, who had just hammered his finger instead of the nail. Mind, though, that I can prove to you, scientifically, that said man had no intention whatsoever of either sending to, or wishing, hell to absolutely anybody known or unknown to him. The expression simply meant to evoke something very unpleasant. Nowadays, a more vulgar and unfaithful world would simply says ” f-cking sh-t”; which, apparently, nobody considers a blasphemy and must, therefore, be somewhat ok.
Last, we have the one to rule them all: “Dio Mio”, same as the Spanish Dios Mio!
What do all these phrases have in common?
Likely that, for all of them, you would find Protestants willing to call them assorted blasphemies, or curses, or generally being a sin against the Second Commandment.
This makes the 60 million Italians I grew up amongst a bunch of blasphemers, too. At least if you are a Protestant or, in case of a tragic lack of understanding, if you are a Catholic who has uncritically absorbed all the Protestant rubbish about the Second Commandment (and I am afraid there is more than some, of those, in the US).
Alas, in authentically Catholic Countries people have, traditionally, not thought that way; and as they are the cultural cradle of Catholicism, I think you should take very good note of this.
Blessedly free from Protestants playing the well-known game called “holier than thou”, Catholics developed a culture in which a constant reference to God in one’s daily life translates in often mentioning God, as the One around Whom the entire life of a person revolves.
Therefore, sadness, disapprobation, surprise, but also joy and hope, were constantly linked to the Divine. If you often have God in your mind, you will often have Him in your mouth.
The evidence: the de-Christianisation of Italy has brought to the rapid disappearance of all of the expressions above. Including the one to rule them all.
Why do I say this? In order to achieve 2 aims:
1. point out to the Protestantisation of Catholicism in Countries with vast contacts to the “holier than thou” sects, and
2. give my own take on the potential cultural background of Father Pavone.
As to 1
You really need to relax. A priests known for being a good priest will simply not blaspheme. If he uses a word that he (perhaps) shouldn’t be using as a priest, you need to let it rest. If he says to you that he even went to confession (that’s an interesting one btw: as he did not intended to blaspheme there should be no sin at all, same as if I hammer my finger and the expression escapes me I don’t need to go to confession, and it is not even a venial sin), you really need to shut up.
As to 2.
I don’t know if Father Pavone (no name can be more Italian than this: Pavone means… Peacock in Italian.) grew up in a specifically Italian cultural environment. If he did, he will have heard his (likely very pious) aunts and grand aunts call the cat, dog, hamster, & Co. “damn” a great number of times. Note here that in Italian, there is no proper Italian translation for “Goddamn”. Better said, there is, and it is, simply, “damn”, “maledetto”. But, clearly, only God damns. Therefore, every “damned” means “damned by God”.
“Maledetto cane”, “maledetto vento”, “maledetto gatto”, “maledetta pioggia” and the evergreen, extremely well-known song, “maledetta primavera”, in which said primavera (Spring) is damnable exactly because, as the song explains, it makes you fall in love in one hour.
This expression, “maledetto”, was so omnipresent when Italy was Catholic, that movies meant for a children audience (John Wayne comes to mind) had it. I saw such movies at the parish cinema. Nobody ever said a word. Not a priest, not a parent. Nobody. And there you have it: John Wayne saying a word, that you may easily translate as “Goddamn”, in front of the children, in the presence of the priest, without this causing the slightest embarrassment in anybody.
Now, though I don’t live in the US, I understand that the cultural environment over there is (likely because of the nefarious influence of the above mentioned Protestant sects) different. Father Pavone, Italian Aunt or no Italian Aunt, must have been aware of that. However, our culture, our upbringing, our own cultural sensitivities will always emerge when we get emotional. This is why people tend to swear in their own mother tongue, confident that their interlocutor will get the message anyway.
Why do I say all this? Because to me, Father Pavone saying, say, “Goddamn Commies” (no, it does not mean that he is God; that has has cursed them; that he wishes them hell, or any of that nonsense; it means that he really doesn’t like those people) does not make it less Catholic, but more. In fact, it brings this courageous priest nearer to me, exactly as we feel that an angry Don Camillo is really on our side, even if he loses his temper for it.
I wonder if Don Camillo would, today, be defrocked.
Enjoy the video, and pray for Father Pavone.
I wish one twentieth of our Bishops were as Catholic as he obviously is.