Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Reflections on the First of April

Dear Sodalitiers and Friends Thereof,
Apologies for letting both the great Feast of the Annunciation (Mar 25) and Laetare Sunday (4th Sunday of Lent) pass without notice on this blog. As blog editor, I have received quite insistent requests to post on April 1st observances, which may be even less well known. Allow ample time for today’s reading.

On the Sanctoral Cycle. We Catholics might have dozens or maybe even a hundred saints’ days rattling around in our heads. We each have our patron saints, as well as those whose intercession we invoke for special situations. And yet there are always more at hand—the “cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1), the Communion of Saints, the original and ultimate social network is bigger than we know. And so, while we might not readily recall which saints are honored on the Kalends of April, there are at least sixteen named members of the Church Triumphant on today’s calendar.
 “At Rome, the passion of St. Theodora, sister of the most illustrious martyr Hermes, who suffered martyrdom under the Emperor Hadrian, at the command of the judge Aurelian, and is buried near her brother on the Via Salaria, not far from the City.”
 While modern readers may wish for more on the life and personality of St. Theodora herself, this is surely an informative sentence in its own way (according to the conventions of the genre). In addition, the website Catholic.org lists these others, mostly martyrs, spanning the usual vast geographical and temporal range—just another typical day in the Catholic calendar. May these and all the saints intercede for us to the Lord.
Should you find yourself at a loss for words and don’t know any prayers to a certain saint, here is a generic prayer in honor of the Saint of the Day:
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the examples of Saint ______ may effectually move us to reform our lives; that while we celebrate his [her] festival, we may also imitate his [her] actions. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Look upon our weakness, almighty God, and since the burden of our own deeds weighs heavily upon us, may the glorious intercession of Saint ______ protect us. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.[1]

My reflections on this day could end here: after all, it could possibly have been a great devotion to St. Dodolinus that motivated my esteemed colleague to press me for an April 1st post. None of these saints I’ve listed, however, appear on a local church bulletin, which instead lists a popular observance my researches have hitherto overlooked. That bulletin lists in the vernacular what a more traditional context calls Aprilis Stulte Dies.

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent. The traditional propers of the Mass seem most apt. The Lesson is from Exodus 32:7-14: worshipping a golden calf was undoubtedly foolish. Furthermore, today’s Gospel reading (John 7:14-31) destabilizes facile assumptions about knowing and unknowing and highlights foolish judgment. However, those who neither self-identify as fools nor who “suffer fools gladly” find the company of fools to be a tribulation--and thus we pray: “Miserere, Domine, populo tuo: et continuis tribulationibus laborantem, propitious respirare concede. Per Dominum.” “Have mercy on Thy people, O Lord, and from the unceasing tribulation under which they labor grant them relief in Thy mercy. Through our Lord.” All very fitting. And yet, as readers of this blog know full well, all this is merely a coincidence—these readings would fall on a different calendar day each year, fluctuating with the date of Easter.

Thus inoculated from foolishness, let us turn to an array of news and useful information:
  • President Obama met with Pope Francis last week. The inimitable Eye of the Tiber has an exclusive story.
  • As reported last month, the price of Amazon Prime jumped from $79 to $99. This is still a bargain, of course, since the world's largest online retailer now includes the long-awaited Amazon Lauds. Amazon Vespers should be available to all customers in time for the busy Advent-Christmas season. The release date for Amazon Matins is not yet clear. Meanwhile, the Little Hours [other than Prime] have been delayed: a focus group had markedly different expectations for Amazon Sext. 
  • Google has a tradition of making their most useful products available on April 1st. There were some new ones today, but the most practical are still these: GMail Paper and--even better--the space to upload and store anything in the cloud. Once you use these, you'll wonder how you ever lived without them. Google Translate for animals  could be eminently practical for many users (as for me, I have neither a smartphone nor much inclination to talk with animals). The secret of Google's earlier success, of course, lies in the patented PigeonRank system (2002) that has long since eclipsed the competition.
  •  Lastly, this classic study of the peculiar practices of the Nacirema is still as timely as ever.
Edited to add: On this day of misrule
  • The Dominicans have taken over The Jesuit Post here.
  • And likewise the Jesuits have done to same to Dominicana (now Jesuitica) 

[1] Blessed Be God: A Complete Catholic Prayer Book, p 456.


  1. As both a fool and one who suffers fools, April 1 is always one of my favorite days, and indeed I was the one primarily responsible for requesting this post. Likely I will comment at more length later. I will certainly say a prayer to St Dodolinus every April 1 from this year forward.

  2. It looks like my Microsoft Office will soon be obsolete.