(Repost from 2009)
I didn' t know, so I looked it up and this is what I found out.
Back when the world was Catholic and the days and weeks revolved around the Mass, the feasts of the saints and the words of the liturgy, itself, were so universally recognized that they marked time. When writing a letter, for instance, a Catholic of yesteryear would mark the the date by writing something like: Martinmas, 1492. Michaelmas daisies were so called because they bloomed around the feast of St. Michael. And, so familiar were the words of the Masses of the season that the faithful came to recognize the feast by the key words of day's liturgy.
For instance, "Quasimodo" Sunday, the Sunday after Easter, is not named for the Hunchback of Notre Dame (a fact I was pleased to find out as a preteen), but, rather for the opening words of the introit of Low Sunday: Quasi modo geniti infantes, rationabile, sine dolo lac concupiscite ut in eo crescatis in salutem si gustastis quoniam dulcis Dominus (1 Peter 2:2,3), which translates to: As newborn babes, desire the rational milk without guile, that thereby you may grow unto salvation: If so be you have tasted that the Lord is sweet.
Likewise, the name "Maundy" Thursday comes from the first response of the traditional ceremony for the washing of the feet: Mandatum novum do vocabis, ut diligatis invicem, sicut dilexi vos, dicit Dominus. (John 13, 34), which means: A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another as I have loved you saith the Lord.
Isn't it fascinating learning how these things come to be? I wish our world still revolved around heavenly things as it once did. I'm afraid that we mark time in our age by American Idol night and Superbowl Sunday and we recognize the key phrases of some of the silliest things.
Try this. See if you know immediately where each of these phrases comes from.
Silly Rabbit, tricks are for kids.
Yabba dabba doo!
Come on down!
Well, isn't that special?
Two thumbs up.
Tastes great! Less filling!
I can't believe I ate the whole thing!
Gee, Mrs. Cleaver...
Oh, my nose!
The truth is out there...
If you're like me, these were all easy peasy. I'm ashamed of myself that the key words of the Mass, like Quasimodo and Mandatum novum aren't as familiar as Yabba dabba doo and Goodnight, Johnboy...
I guess we're products of the world we live in. The challenge is to live in the world and not be of it, though, as we know. Which is a doggone hard thing to accomplish in this media age. It's easy to be overwhelmed by it all. Lent provides a good opportunity to turn down the noise, though. We've got three more days ~ and I'm going to challenge myself to turn off all media in these last few days, including the computer.
Have you noticed I just can't seem to keep my fingers off these keys? Good grief, it's hard! But, I'm going to try!
Again, hoping everyone has a holy Triduum and a Blessed Easter!
I'll see you on the other side!