Epiphany, Take Two
As long as you understand that the voices of the Saints that I hear are all in my head (and spring from my joyful imagination), I feel comfortable telling you that the other day, spurred on by some misunderstanding or slowly dawning understanding of mine, our sister St. Therese whispered to me (in my aforementioned fertile imagination), "You make Marcel look like Einstein!"
I had to tell you this because Marcel is inordinately proud of her remark! I've tried explaining to him that it's more of an insult to me than a compliment to him, but he only retorts, "Have you met Einstein? He's really brilliant!"
I studied (or tried to) Einstein in college, but that didn't get me very far. College did - I met my husband there, along with so many other saints, and picked up an everlasting love for Holy Mother Church, made my first consecration to Mary, and so much more; but I mean trying to study Einstein in particular didn't seem particularly fruitful. And yet I know what Marcel means about Einstein being brilliant. I know it because of a James Taylor song in which he (JT not Albert) sings, "Einstein said we could never understand it all . . ." That's extremely perceptive right there, especially for a scientist! He (Albert this time) also said something about love being the key to everything, but since I'm writing this offline, I can't quote him verbatim just at the moment . . . and yet Marcel is clearly right: brilliant!
Setting Einstein aside, however, we've got so much to talk about today. The whole reason I wanted you to know about Therese's teasing me (I think she was teasing) is because it came to mind as I began writing this, planning as I am to tell you about my great insight of yesterday.
Actually it wasn't my insight. The holy priest who said the Mass we attended was responsible for the smart part. I had realized just the day before that we are blessed in our small town with 9 holy priests, thanks to the Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception who run our two parishes, and then the Thomas Aquinas College chaplains (a Jesuit, a Norbertine, a Dominican, and a diocesan priest - which sounds like the beginning of a bar joke, but I'm saving the joke for later, and *spoiler* it's not actually about priests or a bar, exactly). Well one of these 9 holy priests (the Norbertine, as it turns out) mentioned in his homily for yesterday's Feast of the Baptism of the Lord that it was the last day of the octave of the Epiphany. Wow!
You might think (or Therese might) that I'd have figured out this liturgical fact before now. Especially because the connection between Jesus' Epiphany to the 3 Magi and His Baptism - and the Wedding Feast of Cana too - has fascinated, thrilled, and enthralled me for years. (Not continuously, but right around this time, year after year. Then, naturally, I forget about it until the next year.)
Well, I have to say to myself, "How do you like that?" Therese is absolutely right! I make Marcel look like Einstein - although their hair is super different, which you know if you've seen pictures of them both: Marcel and Einstein, not Marcel and Therese, though their hair is different too. And did you know Therese is a blonde? Really! I thought forever she was brunette because of the picture of her as Joan of Arc (it's a wig, though) and her dark looking eyebrows. Nope, she's a blonde!
But now that the Truth has been made plain (about Epiphany, not about Therese's hair, though we've covered that too), a very fitting occurrence in our celebration of Epiphany-to-the-last-drop, let me tell you of my recent joy. It takes a little backstory, but that's never stopped us before...
My older son visited over Christmas (for a whole month! Thank You, Jesus, that was so much fun!), and he told us that thanks to a good friend, housemate, and co-worker (all one man), he (Joseph) has discovered the beauty and richness of the extraordinary form of the Mass. He told us that news with far fewer parentheses than I've used, and so I suppose Therese is getting ready to interject that I make him look like Hemingway. God rest his soul (Ernest's), but please Therese, don't make this ridiculous! (I'll pretend I'm the serious one, and she keeps teasing me off the track. - And I must, just must, add that Joseph and I were laughing about "no pun intended" recently. He told me how you can throw people off by adding that in when you haven't used a pun. I am not even tempted by that practical literary joke, because believe it or not, I've had close to four puns so far: covering Therese's hair - and the wig. Epiphany to the last drop is the Baptism of the Lord. I'm worried about being serious right after recommending Ernest to God's mercy. And if our sister who promotes the Little Way is teasing me off the track, she may be in big heavenly trouble!)
Nonetheless, if we can settle down long enough to make a spiritual point (those two, the usual suspects, won't stop laughing!) . . . honestly, I think I had a point but I've totally forgotten what it was!
Ah, I've remembered. My guardian angel is refraining from laughing and instead doing his usual job of helping tremendously. So here it is:
I love all the liturgies of the Church - the old and new forms of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, the new and old calendars, and the special prayers I get to say as a Discalced Carmelite Secular (on Carmelite feasts which may be absent from the universal calendar, or simply memorials there but solemnities for us). And what a mind boggling thought that ALL the Church's liturgies - of every form and every rite - from the Last Supper until now and up to the end of the world - will never express the praise due to God, nor pour out all the consolation He wishes to bestow on us, the consolation and store of grace Jesus obtained and unlocked for us in His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Zowie! It will take the whole of eternity for us to plumb the depths of His limitless Love - and Marcel wants me to tell you that he and Einstein have figured out that means that actually we will never plumb those depths!
Yesterday, then, I had to tell my husband after Mass that I was worried I might explode (we decided it would be the first spiritual spontaneous combustion ever, and due to the fire of Love) from the huge joy in me from Jesus' gifts, especially in the Feast and the liturgy. Later I told my neighbor much the same when she asked how I was doing . . .
Because (and here's the cause of my joy) what I've found marvelous for years is that the Epiphany is really 3 feasts in one. In the liturgy (it comes out fairly clearly in the Divine Office), we celebrate on Epiphany the 3 manifestations of Jesus as Savior - the first which lured the Magi to Bethlehem to worship their newborn King, the second to those at the Jordan when the Holy Spirit appeared and the Father's voice was heard loud and clear saying, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" after Jesus' baptism, and the third at the Wedding Feast of Cana when Our Lord performed His first sign (miracle) at Our Lady's request.
Being an eternal optimist (or realist is probably a more accurate term), I've been spending the week - or rather the octave - between the first Epiphany (to the wise men) and yesterday's epiphany at the Baptism, waiting for epiphanies of my own. I figure they (these manifestations) are about a dime a dozen this time of year, and though finances are tight after our Christmas feasting, having found some change on my husband's dresser, the good news is I can spare a dime, brother!
And then yesterday, an epiphany came.
A friend had written to update me on her daughter's latest Paradise Project project. Do you know The Paradise Project? It's my novel, it's clean and funny and well-written (hey, humility is truth, right? It's not quite P.G. Wodehouse or Jane Austen, but aspires to be a combination of the two and does make people laugh), and if you haven't read it yet, might I suggest a New Year's resolution?
In fact, the book is about a gal who does make a New Year's resolution, and the mis-adventures it leads her into. It's a romantic comedy, so it's both sweet and silly, but what my friend pointed out to me was its ability to inspire imitation. Elizabeth (in the book) makes a resolution to try one new thing a month for a year. My friend's daughter tried the same last year (after reading The Paradise Project), and she enjoyed it so much she's going to do it again.
[Last year I got a letter that I've prized since, from another young woman who, with a friend, had resolved on her Paradise Project too: they were going to read The Paradise Project once a month all year! I don't think they made it through 12 readings, but I thoroughly appreciated the intention, which made me laugh and laugh.]
Somehow in my squirrelly little brain, yesterday's news inspired me too. It suddenly hit me that in Story of a Soul there are 11 chapters and an Epilogue. Even my limited powers of addition produced 12 from that sum - the same number of months in a year, the same number of new things to try in a Paradise Project! (If this sounds familiar, I should mention that my heroine Elizabeth and I were inspired about equally by Gretchen Rubin's bestseller, The Happiness Project. The new-thing-every-month was not originally my bright idea, but you can see its comic as well as real life possibilities.)
Can you guess what I have in mind? No, don't try - it's quite a lot, albeit not Einstein! But what I'm thinking right now this moment (and hopefully it will seem like a good idea as the year progresses) is that we could read Story of a Soul one-chapter-per-month in 2019. Kind of like a book club, but just one book, just one year, and just one chapter per month.
The reason this epiphany came (besides Divine Inspiration) was that lately I've been dipping into Story of a Soul here and there, and I've been astounded by the wonderful mis-adventures that Therese has, too. Then when I tell friends, "Hey, isn't this funny? Listen to what happened to Therese!" their response is, fairly universally, "That's in Story of a Soul?" I seem to be not the only one who read it some time ago and managed to forget lots of the best parts!
The solution must have been inspired, because we all know I'm no Einstein (ha!), but it struck me: Why don't we read it again? And the one chapter per month part? That had to be Marcel because it's pure genius!
In fact, he has an ulterior motive.
More than one, really.
First, it's his favorite book, and he would LOVE to read it again with us.
But second, he wants the book club named after him. You know, his 15 minutes of fame.
I can appreciate his wish. My first thought was that an acronym is all important. Somehow I'm always abbreviating Story of a Soul to SAS - though actually it might as well be SOAS at that point - SS being already taken, either by naughty Germans or Sacred Scripture. So going with SAS, I thought we could call the book club "SASSY" for short, which would stand for: Story of a Soul/Suzie Yammering. But then I realized (in a nano-second or two) that some might be turned away by the obvious feminine, one-sided, and hopelessly inane conversation implied in that. Not to deny the feminine genius, but "Suzie Yammering" might not do it full justice.
Marcel immediately swooped in(to my imagination) and yelled, "Why not call it the Marcel Book Club? MBC is short and catchy. Almost like a TV network from your childhood, but not quite. And it's named for me, so that's less self-centered sounding than naming it after you!"
Of course I'm putting words in his mouth, but that was the general idea, and I thought it was - dare I say it? - brilliant!
And how would it work?
I've put lots of thought into this. Almost half an hour. And here's what I have come up with . . .
I hesitate to start anything new because:
a. life is already plenty full
b. my brain is a sieve (not like a noodle colander but more like something huge boulders could easily fall through - which at least keeps me from having rocks in my head, but makes it hard to remember new things).
So, talking it over with my taller and wiser half (sorry, Marcel, you are my shorter and funnier half), it was a quick bi-lateral decision to reject the idea of starting a new "place" online where we could have a discussion of each of Therese's chapters, and instead, my husband agreed I should keep the book club meetings right here on the blog. I love this simpler plan and think it most likely to succeed as far as my part goes, because I'm already here, and here you are too! And when it comes right down to it, I'm trusting Jesus, Mary, Therese, and Marcel to make the best contributions to our "conversations."
Okay, that's a surfeit of puns! (Did you get that last one? And what do I say, when I've noticed it. No pun intended? In which case wouldn't I change the word? Or pun intended? Though I didn't know how funny it was until I finished the sentence . . .) However we work it out, this possibly even excess of puns means it's time to stop and say some prayers, not to mention post this.
I'll be writing some emails to friends to invite them to join us for Story of a Soul, and then my plan is just to try and actually read Therese's book a chapter a month and comment here as we go. I would love to have you email me, if you're so inclined, and tell me how excited you are to read along with me and Marcel (if you are excited, or, it being email, you could just pretend to be excited. I would love that too :)! You can click "Contact Me" a bit under Marcel's smiling face in the sidebar on the right - and next thing you know, we'll all be excited.
Once again, Jesus has saved the day (as well as us). I was thinking it would be sad to leave the Baptism of the Lord (which seems to be a door into ordinary time, which tends not to sound special and fun, which saddens my little heart, which prefers Seasons and Feasts to the ordinary in-between) - but it is leaving yesterday that allows us to approach tomorrow, when we'll get to read Story of a Soul together! Not necessarily tomorrow literally, but definitely soon, and Marcel is so delighted that I can't help but laugh as I type the invitation:
Marcel, Therese, and Miss Marcel
cordially invite you to join
a limited edition 2019 paradise project
Marcel's Book Club
in which we read Story of a Soul,
Therese's autobiography and Marcel's favorite book,
a chapter per month
with frequent or infrequent reflections here,
as the Holy Spirit so inspires.
And now, to start me off on the right foot in my prayers, won't you join me for our usual?
Draw me, we will run!
That comes from Story of a Soul, incidentally - or rather quite purposefully and essentially, but we won't get to that part of the book (near the end) until November, so I thought I'd give you a head's up. Heads and feet all atumble, then, I bid you au revoir until next time! May your epiphanies be plentiful and joyful, bringing you His perfect peace and Limitless Love day by day, month by month, the whole year through!
P.S. I did promise a joke, way back at the beginning of this post, but time flying as it tends to do, and my needing to say today's morning prayer before we're in tomorrow, I must postpone the joke for now. How about this? If you really, really, really want me to tell the joke, you'll have to contact me and ask. And then, if I'm not melted by the rain (it's raining here! Praise God! And no, I'm not a witch, but made of sugar!), I'll tell you the joke one of these other happy days. Soon, I promise (God willing), and meanwhile, stay warm, dry, and sweet!
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I've written books and articles and even a novel. Now it's time to try a blog! For more about me personally, go to the home page and you'll get the whole scoop! If you want to send me an email, feel free to click "Contact Me" below. To receive new posts, enter your email and click "Subscribe" below.