Reflections of a Translator: End of the Year Reflections

At this time of the year the various media outlets look back at the events that occurred during the past twelve months and highlight the most outstanding happenings.  Therefore let me, as a translator, engage in the same process.

During 2012 I have spent a little more than 1300 hours translating documents for the various branches of the Vincentian Family.  These documents have included monthly bulletins and letters for the various branches, documents for the General Curia in Rome, articles for the publication of the Congregation, Vincentiana, and many articles  (20 to be exact) in the area of formation and spirituality that were placed on the FamVin website as part of the Vincentian Encyclopedia.

So, then, what were the highlights?

Two most relevant and interesting articles dealt with the martyrdom of the Daughters in Valencia and Madrid.  These articles were written by Father Pedro Goméz, CM, Sister Lucrecia Diez, DC, and Sister María Ángeles Infante, DC.  These articles contained brief biographies of the Daughters of Charity and their collaborators, all of whom were martyred and will be beatified in October, 2013.  I must admit that until the time that I worked on these articles I knew almost nothing about these courageous women.  During the process of translating this work I often found myself becoming sad.  Here was a group of women who, like Jesus, went about doing good, who served the poor in hospitals and schools, who were enthusiastic and zealous and who, because they openly and publically professed the fact that they were Daughters of Charity, were violently assassinated.  Their stories are intertwined with heroes/heroines and villains: people who risked their own life to provide the Sisters with food and lodging; former students who defended the Sisters against the various accusations; former students who desecrated their houses and participated in the assassination.  Their stories also led me to further reflections on the various places in the world where today  men and women are killed because of their religious beliefs.  One would like to think that we have become more tolerant of differences but as are well aware, such is not the case.

We are all familiar with Louise’s ministry with the Confraternities of Charity and with the formation process that she engaged in with the first Daughters of Charity.  Rev. Benito Martínez Betanzos, CM, shows us another dimension of Louise de Marillac in his article, Louise de Marillac, a mystic.  He speaks about our own hesitations to look at this aspect of Louise’s life and the fact that for so many years there was no mention of this reality which was so pronounced in her writings.  Then with great care the author demonstrates how service and contemplation were essential elements in Louise’s spirituality.  To focus on service without considering contemplation or vice-versa leads us to a distorted image of Louise.  Indeed both of these elements, that is, service and contemplation are all the more important in light of the words that Karl Rahner wrote about Christians today: future Christians will either be mystics or they will not be Christian.

 Along the same line of thought I translated various articles about Saint Louise … presentations that were given during the XXXIV Vincentian Study Week in Salamanca (published in the book titled: Santa Luisa de Marillac, Ayer y Hoy [Saint Louise de Marillac, Yesterday and Today], all of which presented a powerful image of our Founder.  So often we have thought of Louise as a woman who was not able to stand on her own two feet, scrupulous, and indecisive.  Yet such images are destroyed as the various authors present a bold and courageous woman, a woman who was guided in her activity by a vision, a woman of great initiative who actually encouraged and helped Vincent make decisions (Vincent was much more hesitant and pondering when it came to make decisions).  .  I often felt proud during these translations because many of the authors cited our confere, Joseph Dirvin, CM and his biography on Saint Louise.  This work has been translated into Spanish and is viewed as a ground-breaking presentation of the Saint’s life.

Three other significant articles that I translated were: Vincent de Paul: a humble manJuan Corpus Delgado, CM,and The Poor in the Heart of Saint Vincent, Celestino Fernández, CM, and “This is my belief, this is my experience”: Faith as an experience of Saint VincentSantiago Barquín, CM.  These authors searched Vincent’s writings to present a clearer understanding of Vincent’s life and ministry.  Each author also underlined the fact that Vincent must be viewed as an incredible organizer whose work and ministry flowed from his desire to love God above all else and to love his neighbor as himself.  Matthew 25 and Luke 4:16-21 are shown to be pivotal scriptural texts in understanding the Vincentian charism that has been handed on us to us.  These articles were all presentations that were given during the XXXV Vincentian Studies Week in Salamanca and were originally published in La Experiencia spiritual de San Vicente de Paúl (The Spiritual experience of Saint Vincent de Paul).

I must also highlight here the article, The Poor: the Theological Perspective of the Vincentian CharismSantiago Barquín, CM.  I found this to be a powerful affirmation of the Church’s position with regard to the preferential option for the poor (and the exclusive option for the poor on the part of Vincentians).  More importantly, however, the author points out the difference in reading the signs of the time, Scripture and theology from the perspective of the poor and the exploited and engaging in this same activity from the perspective of the powerful and the rich.  Many questions are raised about the way we “do theology” and ministry, all of which leads to this challenging conclusion: Today, in the Church, after the Second Vatican Council, many consecrated individuals and many religious institutions that at one time seemed to have nothing to do with the world of the poor and poverty … these individuals and institutions have become the defenders of the poor and are struggling with the poor and on behalf of their cause (to the point that some have lost their life in this struggle).  Because the cause of poor is our reason for existence, we, as the sons and daughters of Saint Vincent de Paul, have to be pioneers in this commitment and even radical in our struggle to defend their rights and dignity.  We can no longer live as mediocre individuals.  Today the followers of Vincent de Paul have to become prophets of the poor and prophets for the poor.  Only in this way will the poor become the defenders of the Vincentian Family and invite them to rejoice in the blessedness and the glory of the Kingdom.

During the past year I have had some discussions with conferes and Daughters about integrating another dimension into my translation work, namely, the production of audio tapes so that as people are driving about the country they can listen to various authors speak about our Vincentian heritage.  Hopefully during 2013 this process will move forward and you, the listeners, will be able to say something about this endeavor at the end of the next year.

Finally, I want to speak about an event that gave me great satisfaction as a translator, but one that had nothing to do with the work that I had done during 2012.  During the summer I received communication from the chairperson of the Romero Trust[1] who informed me that the homilies of Archbishop Romero would be published in English.  I had spent four years translating those homilies (almost 2100 pages of text) and they will now be published in six volumes by Convivium Press.  It is hoped that all the volumes will be printed by 2016, the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Archbishop.



At the present time the homilies of Archbishop Romero (in English) can be found at the above site.

See also list of the  20 longer articles


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