Monday, August 28, 2006

Why I Cherish St. Bartholomew's Day

I realize that I am a few days late for this one, but since I really do find this day significant, why not extend the celebration a bit (allowing for the official suppression of the observance of octaves)?

When I acted in "Jesus Christ Superstar" in high school, all of us juniors and sophomores who were the unnamed apostles informally took the names from the official list we were taught. I was Bartholomew. Eventually, one of the apostles quit the show, leading to a very funny version of the Last Supper with only eleven apostles, then ten after Judas leaves. One of the remaining apostles took the name "John James" in deference to libretto of the show (Jesus sings, "Will none of you stay awake with me? Peter? John James?"). In any case, obviously I had a link to St. Bartholomew.

This day is also connected for me with St. John Chrysostom, whose homily on First Corinthians is used for in the office of readings from the Roman office. Let me note that my fascination with St. John C begins, oddly enough, with my attempts at reading Ulysses. Chrysostom is mentioned in the first chapter and alluded to thereafter.

About the same time I read Ulysses, or sort of read it, I also encountered Chrysostom's argument presented in today's office of readings. The general idea is that the apostles were simple, blue-collar men who never would have conceived of preaching the gospel had Christ not risen. The vivid historicity of our faith had never been presented to me in quite this way, and it would not be exaggerating to say that Chrysostom changed my life. Whenever we come to the Feast of St. Bartholomew, I am reminded of this. If the resurrection is true, nothing is ever the same in this world!

Were I to write my own version of the Divine Comedy, instead of Mary talking to Lucy talking to Beatrice talking to Virgil, I would probably have Mary talking to Bartholomew talking to Chrystostom talking to Thucydides or Joyce. Which saints and pagan figures have deepened your faith in a personal way? Are you still friends with them?

God's blessings!

1 comment:

David F. Buysse said...

Father Peter:

St. Bartholomew's Day is inextricably linked for me with the massacre of thousands of Huguenots by Catholics in Paris on August 24, 1572, as well as the enthusiastic celebration of the massacre undertaken by Gregory XIII.

DFB

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.


Origen of Alexandria
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