Well, it’s the final week of the liturgical year, and before we leap into the Advent and Christmas seasons we have one more stop to make: Judgment Day! Here in the monastery, we sing the medieval hymn, Dies Irae (Day of Wrath), throughout the week. While it may sound a bit frightening, here’s a little anecdote to put it into perspective.
One of our sisters tells a story of her 3rd grade class singing the Dies Irae for a parish funeral Mass back in the 1950’s, and what she remembers most is the way the children sang it: with a fast, snappy beat. Of course, at age eight none of them had any idea what the hymn meant, but they knew the words and tune, singing it with confident voices and cheerful smiles.
“Out of the mouth of children and infants, Lord, you have called forth your praise” (Mt 21:16). These young students had it right: they were living with childlike, carefree joy, even in the face of the Dies Irae. They were blissfully ignorant of the impending doom in store for the enemies of God at the Last Judgment. Perhaps we too can live in the “learned ignorance” of the friends of God who lift up their heads without fear and say, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!”