Melancholy Dane, Happy America

father dinoia
Father J. A. DiNoia, O.P.

Some of you beloved readers have traveled with me on pilgrimage to Rome.

If you have, you will remember our visit to the Vatican offices of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

Our host, who once taught me in the seminary, is being promoted to Archbishop! This is good, good news. Really, really good news.

Father DiNoia will be ordained a bishop at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on Saturday, July 11…

…”Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” (Hamlet, Act I, scene 4)


Alas, poor Yorick
Alas, poor Yorick
One of Hamlet’s companions utters this line when the ghost of Hamlet’s dead father, the king, appears.

What is rotten? A lot.

Hamlet’s uncle secretly poisoned the king. Then he married the queen. He reigns as king–a fratricidal killer, a usurper of the throne, and an incestuous adulterer.

Meanwhile, everyone thinks that the old king died of a snakebite. Young Hamlet alone knows the truth.

When the ghost charges Hamlet to avenge the murder, Hamlet laments: “The time is out of joint: O cursed spite, that ever I was born to set it right!”

It is Hamlet’s mission to vindicate the truth. Two acts later, he reiterates his lament, which I quoted for you on Sunday.

10026065~Hamlet-Speaks-with-His-Father-s-GhostIn my opinion, the twentieth-century approach to interpreting Hamlet was flawed by the following mistake: Hamlet is crazy. Only crazy people see ghosts and take orders from them.

The problem is, ghosts are real. Hamlet is NOT crazy.

He puts on an “antic disposition” because he is the one truth-seeking individual in a corrupt royal court. Hamlet is the most sympathetic literary character of all time.

When Hamlet dies, Horatio says: “Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince.” (Act V, Scene 2)

Noble and sweet, Hamlet. Not crazy.

5 thoughts on “Melancholy Dane, Happy America

  1. How nice to hear such a glowing endorsement of the new Archbishop!! I was pretty excited just from reading that his philosophy of the Liturgy is that it is about God, not the congregation (us).

  2. Fr. DiNoia is a wonderful man and will be superb in that position. I remember him most fondly for the days of Holy Week 2005. It was during that time that we knew John Paul II was dying and Fr. DiNoia would get regular calls at the House of Studies from then-Cardinal Ratzinger himself giving us updates on the pope’s condition. It was amazing to be so connected to the Holy Father that way and to be able to pray for him more directly.

    What a blessing for the Church!

  3. Regarding ghosts…The soul does not die with the body. God can permit hauntings.

    In I Samuel 28, the figure of the dead prophet Samuel appears to a medium after Saul asked her to conjure him up.

    Souls in purgatory sometimes haunt places or people in order to get prayers and Masses said for them.

    On the other hand, it is better to seek natural explanations for unexplained phenomena.

    I hope no one is haunting you, Kristie. But if you think there might be a ghost around, pray for the soul and/or have a Mass said. Usually that brings the haunting to an end.

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