Catholicism 101 Writer
On Holy Thursday, as the altar is stripped and the Blessed Sacrament is moved out of the main church, “Pange lingua gloriosi, Corporis mysterium” echoes in the church. This hymn was composed by St. Thomas Aquinas, but it shares its first line and its triumphal tone with the earlier Hymn of Fortunatus. Aquinas’ hymn however, composed for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, is sung during the Liturgy of Holy Thursday, where we celebrate the institution of the Blessed Sacrament at the Last Supper.
The McMullen Museum is currently presenting Cao Jun’s first exhibition in the United States. Cao Jun: Hymns to Nature features the artwork of contemporary Chinese artist Cao Jun. The diverse mediums used by the artist including calligraphy, watercolors, and porcelain, produce an array of works that each “sing” their own hymn to nature. As the artist said, “The images on my canvases are the hymns I write to nature.”
Among the Church’s lesser known Advent traditions are the O Antiphons. Prayed during evening prayer from December 17th to the 23rd, these antiphons highlight Old Testament hopes for the Messiah. Accompanying the Magnificat which is prayed on these same evenings, the O Antiphons bear a strong resemblance to the Virgin Mary’s praise of God for sending his Messiah into the world through her.
The weekend before Thanksgiving, the Boston College Theater Department presented The Cherry Orchard on the Robsham Main Stage. This story of an aristocratic family developed themes of home and kinship that are especially suitable for the holiday season. The play was advertised as a comedy, a gesture toward Anton Chekhov’s insistence that this play was not the tragedy it was presented as in its first performance in 1904.
I knew very little about Jalaloddin Rumi before “Rumi Night on the Heights,” although I was aware of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s daughter, Rumi (impressive for someone so far removed from popular culture). So in imitation of any self-respecting academic, I decided to educate myself on the poet to better appreciate him at Rumi night: I listened to a podcast on Rumi and Sufism. That may have given me a little context to understand the poetry in, but I was still unprepared to encounter Rumi in such raw loveliness of his lyrical poetry.
It might finally be fall, but it is not Halloween yet—or All Soul’s Day for that matter. As it turns out, the Church has not reserved prayers for the dead only to the spooky times of the year. If you are going to understand why we pray for the dead, you will have to understand why we pray at all. Thankfully prayer is not the sort of thing you have to fully comprehend before starting to pray, so let us outline a basic understanding of why prayer matters.