Sunday, October 18, 2009

Day of Rest

I feel like one of the little old ladies that a friend described to me, who go to Mass every day, except twice on Saturdays - and never on Sundays! I've got into the habit of attending the Sunday Vigil Mass on Saturday evening, in other words. Weirdly, this makes Sunday a complete day of rest - even from the Eucharist. However, I can justify this by recourse to the Old Testament: did not the Israelites gather the manna daily, except that they had to harvest a double portion on Friday, as none dropt down on Saturday? Move the days ahead one pace, and it accurately alludes to present practice.

Next weekend, of course, I shall be footsore and weary, a pilgrim still miles away from Bendigo, but hopefully imitating St Dominic, who (like St Stephen of Muret), spoke ever to God or of God (ad Deum vel de Deo), as he went about doing good on his long apostolic journeyings. Converse with God is most acceptable, and converse about Him - spiritual conversation - is charity. Dominic would either profit his brethren and others by his discourses, or drop a little behind so as to give himself up to prayer and contemplation. The early Friars Preachers reported that when he did so, he frequently made the sign of the Cross, as if brushing flies from before his face - in the Australian bush this will definitely be necessary!

St Dominic of course famously had his friars wear boots - the shoeless Franciscans mocked them as soft-living "shod friars" - but he himself took them off when out in the country, so as to do penance by macerating his feet upon the sharp stones. He also had two favourite songs while walking: Ave maris stella, and Veni Creator Spiritus. This seems to have been a Dominican habit: just before he was slain, St Peter Martyr was walking toward Milan singing the Easter Sequence, Victimæ paschali laudes - but he only let one companion join in, for he foreknew of his impending assassination, and of the death therein of that fellow brother: together they sang, themselves to be paschal victims in witness to Christ.

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