Rezori | Calendar musings about summer solstice
It's June 21. We should be talking about summer solstice. About the longest day of the year with the shortest shadows at noon. About the entire cosmic dance of moons waltzing around planets, planets around stars, stars around the black holes at the centre of their galaxies, and God only knows what it is that galaxies swirl around because why should they be exempt.
But, as my colleague Bruce Tilley's uncle Gus would say, my mind changed on me. It's been wandering from June 21, to the whole concept of the calendar, and from there to something I remember from my childhood — the Roman Catholic calendar of saints.
According to that calendar, today is St. Aloysius of Gonzaga Day. Yesterday was one of those few days of the year that doesn't have a saint assigned to it. Tomorrow is St. Thomas More Day.
Celebrating 2 birthdays
Now, the benefit of being named after a saint, at least in my days of growing up a Catholic, was that you got to celebrate two birthdays — your own and that of the saint after whom you were named. My friend Hans could pick his patron saint from no fewer than 30 holy men named John, including heavyweights like St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.
Karl could choose between four men named Charles, including St. Charles Lwanga and his companions from Uganda. Emil had St. Emmanual Ruiz. Michel had the archangel Michael, for crying out loud.
But there's no St. Azzo or St. Rezori. The closest is the Blessed Rizziero della Muccia who never even made it to full sainthood. He was a follower of St. Francis of Assissi and earned his minor spurs by bravely suffering the torments of his recurring temptations.
Of course, I could have bent the rules a bit and adopted the saint whose name is on the day of my own birthday, but that was no option either.
I was born on the first of January, which is taken up by none other than Mary, Mother of God, herself. I didn't need another mother. One was quite enough.
Oh, how times have changed! I look over the landscape of that older calendar, and all I see is ruins with saints standing around like broken statues, their pleading eyes blinded by the acid rain of the modern world, their praying hands weathered to stumps pointing nowhere.
The once-mighty basilica of Christmas has been gutted of its spiritual splendour and turned into a shopping centre. The great cathedral of Easter has become a strip mall peddling bunnies and chocolate. Many of the properties formerly occupied by the saints have been rented out to new tenants, mostly modern causes.
The list goes on
Accordingly, today is Aboriginal Day in Canada. There's World Religion Day in January. Give Kids a Smile Day in February. Administration Professional Day in April. Receptionist Day in May. Cancer Survivors Day in June. And the list goes on. Ten days after Remembrance Day in November our neighbours to the south observe the Great American Smoke Out Day.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against causes. Fighting disease and prejudice and just plain ignorance is arguably a lot nobler than nagging your patron saint for a spot in Heaven. But once a Catholic always a Catholic. My mind votes for the calendar of causes, my heart still and always for the calendar of saints.
Fighting disease and prejudice and just plain ignorance is arguably a lot nobler than nagging your patron saint for a spot in Heaven. But once a Catholic always a Catholic. My mind votes for the calendar of causes, my heart still and always for the calendar of saints.
By the way, a few years ago my younger brother Ezzelino, always the prankster, wrote to tell me he'd researched my name and discovered it was an old north-German diminutive of Adolph.
I didn't think that was very funny, did a bit of research myself, and discovered it's not Adolph but Adalbert. And, wouldn't you know, there's St. Adalbert of Prague who got himself killed preaching to pagans in some Baltic wasteland 900 years ago.
I imagine St. Adalbert up high, singing his heart out for all the joys of Heaven, maybe even plucking away on a harp. Once in a while he takes time to check on all the people named after him down below, and maybe now that I've acknowledged him he's already working on making sure I have a spot next to him when the time comes.
I might consider taking some harp lessons in the meantime.