I am the proud owner of a small collection of nice vestments to wear for the sacred ceremonies of the Church.
For the past four years, I have also been the custodian of a much larger collection of fine vestments. It is actually TWO collections. Earlier in this unit decade of the twenty-first century, two of our Washington priests decided to resign their pastoral assignments and become monks.
Both of these priests own impressive collections of vestments. Both of them gave their collections to me for safe keeping. I am allowed to use them, and to loan them to other priests to use.
Someday, God forbid, one or both of these priests might decide that they want the vestments back. Please pray that this day never comes.
Both of these brother priests entered an Austrian monastery called Stift Klosterneuberg. Stift is the German word for monastery. Some of us refer to the place as Lobster Newberg.
Anyway, Klosterneuberg is located just outside Vienna.
I would like to do something special in honor of these dear monks, whose vestments I have in my (hopefully perpetual) care. So I am going to give you a profound and captivating essay on Shakespeare’s gripping play Measure for Measure, which is set in Vienna!
The problem is that I do not have time right now to give you the entire essay. These things take hours. Also, I have not yet come up with the profound part or the captivating part.
Let us make a start nonetheless. Just in case you have not recently had a chance to review the play, I will begin by attempting to summarize the plot. Some of the speeches in the play are a little stilted and hard to follow. But the plot is intense–seriously intense.
As the play opens, Vienna has become a city of loose morals. The laws against prostitution have not been enforced for many years.
At this moment, the Duke of Vienna begins a series of strange maneuvers. Throughout the play, he does a number of inexplicable things, as we shall see.
The Duke summons his son Angelo, barely a grown man, and informs him that he is in charge of the city for the foreseeable future. The Duke claims that he MUST go elsewhere. Angelo protests, citing his lack of practical experience, but the Duke insists and leaves the city immediately.
Soon we learn that a much-beloved young man of Vienna, Claudio, has been arrested because his fiancée Julietta is pregnant. The now-reigning Angelo intends to make an example of Claudio. Angelo applies the long-standing but never-enforced law against fornication to the case. Under the law, Claudio is subject to the death penalty. Angelo orders his execution.
Meanwhile, the Duke, continuing his inexplicable behavior, leads everyone to believe that he is in Poland. Secretly he takes the habit of a Franciscan and returns in this disguise to Vienna.
The condemned Claudio has a sister named Isabel, who is a postulant in a cloistered convent. (They were ALL cloistered back then. A postulant is a young woman preparing to enter the order, but who has not yet taken the full habit.) Claudio’s friend runs to her and begs her to go to Angelo to implore mercy for her brother.
Isabel appears before Angelo and entreats him to spare her condemned brother. At first the stern Angelo is adamant and immovable, but then he mellows and tells the lovely Isabel to come back the next day. After Isabel departs, Angelo admits in a private soliloquy that he is consumed with desire for her.
Ahh…is the plot not THICK?
Will the weak yet lovable Claudio be saved? Will the stern Angelo learn mercy? Will he learn to be human? Will Isabel enter the convent? Will she fall in love?
Can justice and mercy co-exist? Can the law prevent vice without crushing human nature?
Coming soon to Preacher and Big Daddy: Answers to all these questions and more! Stay tuned.
P.S. It is hard for me to get too fired-up about this World Series. Is anybody rooting for one of these teams?