From the very beginning, God has ordered our days. In the Creation week, He made the sun to rule the day and the moon to rule the night. He rested on the seventh day, giving us a pattern of work and rest to follow in our own lives. Our calendars have, however, become far more numerous and complicated - work calendars, family calendars, and school calendars now direct how we spend our time. Sadly, the Church calendar is rarely the one setting the rhythm of life, even for Christians.
Boys are not quite right.
“Normal” boys do inexplicable things – from swinging on vines over dry, rocky creek beds to sword-fighting with trees. When he was only 4, my nephew would crouch into a three-point stance, say “hut-hut” and charge into furniture and walls while pretending to play football. My son, Ian, and his friend, Jaxson, make a game of running into one another to see which one falls; each round punctuated by thunderous laughter. Only on occasion do we waste our breath with a call to “be careful, boys!” or “watch that table!”
“Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable.” - Plato
For the third time that day, William slowly walked down the long stone hallway, past the statue of Michael the archangel, to the principal’s office. After two bouts of “horseplay” ended with a good talking to and one paddling, he dared to pull Emily’s pigtails. Now, as we all knew, the funeral dirge had begun. His father would be called and William would soon wish for the comparative gentleness of the principal’s paddle. Even Mrs. Walters, our fifth grade teacher, and little Emily seemed to empathize.
I lay on my back, staring at the sky with my feet above me on the hill. My bike flew overhead - that much I knew - but where it landed was a mystery. The ditch crept up on me, as tends to happen on unfamiliar roads, while I was trying my best to keep up with my friend Michael. He knew the curve like the back of his hand, but I approached it way too fast and hit the embankment, flipped over my handlebars, and landed with a considerable thud.
Rain poured from the densely clouded sky for what seemed like the fortieth straight day. It had already been the rainiest season in recorded history and there appeared to be little break in sight. The clouds darkened everything, making it feel much earlier than it was.
I rose, mumbling my complaints at the weather, and dressed to exercise in hopes it would make me feel a bit better. The kids were just stirring, following my bad example of griping at rain, while my wife tried her best to motivate them to complete chores.
On Sunday, the Church celebrates Palm Sunday, the commemoration of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, and the beginning of Holy Week – the final days of Christ on earth before His crucifixion. The event is recorded in all four Gospels – Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:29-38, and John 12:12-15 – and the event shares connections and echoes with several other passages as well.
Here is the Triumphal Entry as recorded in Matthew’s Gospel:
Peter: I’m studying for my exam tomorrow.
Socrates: And why are you doing that?
Peter: I’m studying to pass my course, of course.
Socrates: And why do you want to do that?
Peter: To get a degree, of course.
Socrates: You mean all the time and effort and money you put into your education here at Desperate State is to purchase that little piece of paper?
Peter: That’s the way it is.
Patrick was kidnapped, and sold into slavery on the pagan island of Ireland. Later, when he managed to return to Rome, he was converted to Christianity and God called him to return to Ireland as a missionary. To the dismay of his friends and family, Patrick went, eventually being named bishop of Ireland.
“Friendship is a necessity.”
So opens Book VIII of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Friendship, he says, “is a kind of virtue, or implies virtue, and it is also most necessary for living. Nobody would choose to live without friends even if he had all the other good things.”