Friday, January 14, 2011

Lux hodie Today's light
lux leticie, is the light of happiness,
me iudice, by my judgement.

Quisquis erit, Whoever is sad
renovandus erit shall be renewed
sollempnibus istis. by these festivities.

Sint hodie Away, today,
procul invidie, with jealousies,
procul omnia mesta, away with all grief;

Leta volunt those who keep
quicumque colunt the ass's feast
asinaria festa. seek happiness.

Orientis partibus From the countries of the East
adventavit asinus, came an ass
pulcher et fortissimus, handsome and extremely strong,
sarcinis aptissimus fit for burdens
Hez, Hez sire, asne, hez. Hey, sir ass!

Hic in collibus Sychen He was brought up in the hills around
iam nutritus sub Ruben Sychen, in the country of the Rubenites,
transiit per Iordanem, leapt across the Jordan,
saliit in Bethleem. and sprang into Bethlehem.
Hez, hez, sire asne, hez. Hey, sir ass!

Saltu vincit hynnulos He jumps higher than mules,
damnas et capreolos, than does, than antelopes.
super dromedarios he is swifter than camels
velox Madianeos of Madiana
Hez,hez, sire asne, hez! Hey, sir ass!

Dum trahit vehicula As he bears the wagons,
multa cum sarcinula, together with many parcels,
illius mandibula his jaws are munching
dura terit pabula. tough fodder.
Hez, hez, sire asne, hez! Hey, sir ass!

Amen dicas, asine, Say Amen, Ass,
iam satur ex gramine, now that you are full;
amen, amen, itera, again, Amen, Amen!
aspernare vetera Away with all the past!
Hez va, hez, va, hez va, Hey! Hey! Hey!
hez biax sire asnes car alez Load up, sir Ass--time to go.
bele bouche car chantez. Sweetly now, time to sing.

It's not the second of February yet! Undoubtedly the sound of Christmas carols still emanating from my room is occasionally perplexing my roommates, as is the chalk inscription on the door, but one's attachment to festive seasons--eespecially ecclesial ones--cannot be gainsaid. Today is a particularly bittersweet feastday with a vivid, raucous history of celebration worthy of the medieval epoch. It is that of the Flight in Egypt, also known as Festum Asinorum, the Feast of the Ass.

Man, when acting as himself, does have a great love for the animals that
have borne him. Balaam's ass reproached him for beating her when she refused to proceed against an angered angel, and her argument was symphathetically recorded in Scripture. A creature whose very name is a term of derision when applied to the Homo Sapiens/Homo Necans/Homo Politicus has on occasion got a word in edgewise.

This event, amongst others, was celebrated in the Middle Ages as a play, inspired by the pseudo-Augustinian "Sermo contra judaeos, paganos, et Arianos de Symbolo," (a sermon which I burn to read, being an adjuration both to Jews and Gentiles--historial, philosophical, and
prophetic). At the climax of the lively procession, the ass exchanged the wizard Balaam, who was marching to curse God's chosen people, for the virgin Mother of God, who was flying into Egypt to save her Son. All fittingly culminated in the Mass, at the end of which the officiating priest did not say 'Ite Missa est' nor did the congregation respond 'Deo gratias.' Instead there was a startling exchange of: 'Heehaw, heehaw, heehaw!'

That spark of grace not quite dead in man's nature has always sympathized with the overlooked creatures of this world, whether they have been tragically neglected or mundanely taken for granted. If a
stranger's eye was drawn to a scene of uproarious joy, he would probably spot very swiftly the wistful expression of one soul who for some reason could not participate fully in the happy moment. And there are few things more mournful looking than the long, sweet face of a donkey.

A delight it is then to meditate on the song above and relish the glories that have belonged to that beast of burden. Though some may sneer or sigh that it is only for a moment that the underdog has his day, this is not the correct way of viewing that fraction of glory. The 'day' that a creature occasionally has is meant to be a revelation of one's true worth in the
midst of worldly confusion, not merely a sop that the world throws to a part of the machine to prevent that cog's melancholy from growing into discontent. The glorification of the ass on this day is warranted, and what's more, it is true. Its humble anatomy and powers achieved more than all the animals mentioned in the above hymn, and those lines are not exagerrations. Its humble forbearance gave so much back to the world, and for that it will be honoured forever by man when he finds a moment to clear his head and think. Having thought, I thank you, Sir Ass!

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Warsaw, Poland
Domine, spero quia mundum vicisti. Lord, I trust that Thou hast overcome the world. Panie, ufam, żeś pokonał świat.
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