March 10, 2012

Noctu vel Summo Mane

Daylight Savings Time begins tomorrow morning. Gone are the days when any significant number of people will come to church late; we have too many self-updating devices for that to happen anymore. I have the 8:30 a.m. Mass out in Wayland, so it will be an early morning for me.

As I go forward in this spiritual quest that my life has turned into, in this religious life and priesthood, my waking and sleeping phases have slowly moved backwards. More and more I want to get up when it's still dark, and have the early morning, the summo mane, as the Liturgy of the Hours calls it, to myself. Over the years my desired time for getting up has slowly crept backwards into the night.

This progression was somewhat interrupted during my three years as a parish priest. In that life one has to work when regular folks have free time, such as in the evening. But since leaving the parish life for a return to full-time study three semesters ago, the creep has begun again.

That's why I love the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, not because there is more daylight at the end of the day, but because an hour of morning darkness, lost since Christmas, is restored.

It was in the obscurity of eternity that God first spoke the creation: Let there be light. It was in the silence of that same eternity that he spoke the Word, and it is in the same obscure silence that we hear it. Dark always precedes light in the spiritual order. Evening came and morning followed, the first day.

In the same way, according to both Christian tradition and traditional wisdom, the incarnate Word was born at night. The Resurrection was discovered to have occurred in the morning, making it also a nocturnal event. Despite the reluctance of pastors, annoyed and tired children and drunken worshipers, the Christmas Mass at midnight still holds the imagination. Despite many liturgical abuses and misunderstandings, the greatest liturgy of the year, the baptismal Vigil of Easter, must be celebrated entirely at night.

Maybe it's true what someone once said to me about Capuchins being frustrated Trappists. But for whatever reason, the night continues to pull me back into itself, and I get up earlier and earlier.


michael said...

Alas another consequence of the aging process!

Rochelle said...

Beautiful post. I'm sharing it on my own blog.
I, too, love watching it get light in the early morning.