For our dear mother Church, today is the last day of the year.
It is the ideal day to meditate on the Day–the last day, the end of time.
As we have noted before, St. Basil explained Christ’s words as well as anyone ever has.
The Lord said, “Take heed of yourselves, lest…the day come upon you unawares” (Luke 21:34).
St. Basil explained:
Every animal has within itself certain instincts which it has received from God, for the preservation of its own being.
Wherefore Christ has also given us this warning, that what comes to animals by nature may be ours by the aid of reason and prudence: that we may flee from sin as the brute creatures shun deadly food; that we may seek after righteousness, as they wholesome herbs.
Take heed of yourselves. Eat your Wheaties. Do good; avoid evil.
Just before the Lord Jesus embraced His bitter Passion, He sat on the Mount of Olives with His disciples and outlined the signs of the end of the world. Almost everything He said was utterly terrifying.
From where the Lord and the disciples were sitting, they could see the enormous Temple built by King Herod the Great.
“There will not be left one stone upon another that will not be thrown down,” Christ said.
And it got worse:
“Nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes, famines…” “You will be beaten in synagogues…” “Brother will hand over brother to death…” “There will be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.” “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” “Unless the Lord had shortened the days, no living creature could be saved.”
A fairly massive Tuesday-night wrap-up here, what with all the interesting developments…
Today the Church keeps the Memorial of St. Catharine of Alexandria. She was not from Alexandria, Virginia.
We do not know much about St. Catharine, other than that she was a virgin and a martyr. But we do know this: Most of the city she lived in is under the Mediterranean Sea.
Once, Alexandria was one of the great cities of Christendom, the site of the world’s largest library. Not any more.
This week is the last week of the Church year. It is the time for us to meditate on the end of things. We do not not know when, but it is inevitable. Everything under the sun will end.
Kingdoms rise and fall. Great cities slip into the sea. Our days on earth are numbered.
At the end of Act V, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part One, Falstaff gives his “catechism.” (You can skip to Prince Henry’s speech halfway through the scene if you don’t feel like wading through a lot of Scotch-English history.)
The Knight of Sack and Bawdyhouses declares that “honor is a mere scutcheon.” It is “air.” It will not outlive death.
Falstaff is a lovably honest character. Two scenes earlier, he admitted to the audience that he had shamelessly abused his commission as an officer of the King’s army and profited by drafting unworthy soldiers.
Falstaff’s speech against honor is disturbingly cogent. And it is especially ironic, considering that, earlier in the scene, Falstaff’s drinking buddy–the Prince–has just made an enormously honorable offer to risk his life for the sake of his army.
Is Falstaff correct? What is honor? Is it worth dying for?
Certainly we all want to have a good reputation. But is that all honor is?
Discuss, and get back to me.
Finally: Dave Johnson and Glenn Consor were so giddy during the third quarter of tonight’s Wizards blowout of the Golden State Warriors that they started joking about teaching Yiddish and Latin to each other. (Glenn Consor sounds a great deal like Ray Romano of “Everybody Loves Raymond.”)