Many of us, over the years (indeed, over the past 52 years!) have noticed something in our Missals and other liturgical resources which has puzzled us. When we come to the solemnity of Pentecost, we find a “vigil” with the possibility of four Old Testament readings, but only one psalm.
Just a few years back, complete information was issued about an “extended” Vigil of Pentecost. You can see all the Scripture citations by going to kevinlaughery.com/lc2022.html and scrolling down to June 5.
In the previous issue, there were a number of suggestions about observing the Easter season, which always runs seven weeks, and this year concludes on Sunday, May 23. I’d like to add another suggestion.
If you have never read the Acts of the Apostles all the way through, the Easter season is the perfect time to do so. We always read excerpts from Acts on the Sundays of Easter. In addition, every year at weekday Mass we read a semi-continuous narrative from Acts.
For many years I aspired to direct, and to play the role of the “Stage Manager” in Thornton Wilder’s 1938 play Our Town. I had my chance in 1998, when I was pastor of St. Patrick in Girard and St. Mary in Farmersville. I was able to assemble a cast which included students of St. Isidore’s School in Farmersville, adult parishioners, and also my father, who was once on the stage as a student at Decatur High School.
As I have noted in at least one previous column, the calendar itself gives us opportunities to reflect on the strivings of humanity. We find simultaneously that “the march of time” leaves us missing some of those opportunities.
The first International Day of Human Fraternity occurred this month, on the fourth day of February. Declared by the United Nations, this Day has been inspired by such efforts as those of Pope Francis and Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Cairo, when they issued their document on human fraternity on Feb. 4, 2019, during Francis’ visit to the United Arab Emirates.
Pope Francis presided at the Christmas Mass during the Night in St. Peter’s Basilica the evening of Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. In recent years, this Mass has been celebrated at 9:30 p.m. Because of pandemic restrictions, the Mass was rescheduled to 7:30 p.m. Rome is seven hours ahead of us, so I was able to watch the Mass as it began at 12:30 p.m., well before my 4 p.m. vigil Mass.
I turned to the Vatican’s English translation of the pope’s homily, and discovered that, toward the end, he quoted an American poet.
And so, we find ourselves in the brief season of Advent, at the point of entering the even briefer season of Christmas. When we examine our liturgical calendar, we find that this time of year is a sort of unkempt “seam” for the entire year, where the irregularities of each year are dealt with, not necessarily in an elegant fashion. Holy Family gets moved from Sunday to Friday in some years; the Baptism of the Lord moves from Sunday to Monday in others.
It took me several hours to read the new encyclical letter of Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, after it was published on Oct. 4. In case you’re wondering about the word “encyclical,” it refers to a letter which is circulated to many people. In case you’re wondering about the title of the letter, it is Italian for “brothers all.”
It happens every 12 years.
Our three-year cycle of Sunday readings and our four-year election cycle line up so that, on a Sunday just a few weeks before a presidential election — that is, this weekend — we have before us the Gospel of Caesar’s Coin (Matthew 22: 15-21).
In my senior English class at Decatur St. Teresa High School (1974-1975), we read A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor. It did not go over well. For one thing, there is some really shocking violence. For another, there did not seem to be any sympathetic characters.