Sunday, November 11, 2007
When I was engaged I took a course called "Theology of the Domestic Church." It was a leftover from my brief attempt at acquiring a masters degree. I abandoned the attempt when I realized that I'd rather live marriage and family than have abstract discussion about it, but there was one professor I really loved and I audited this course of his just before I got married. I remember very little of the content but the course alternately left me feeling completely inadequate as a future home maker or overly idealistic about what Catholic family life could look like. I haven't changed much.
We're always trying to live our faith more fully around here. Our most recent resolution is to make a bit more of Sunday. This has been challenging because I find that the pressure of creating a formal "Sunday dinner" around a later morning Mass and family time leaves me feeling not a bit like I've had a Sabbath. I usually want to order out or have leftovers on Sundays. Our solution is to make Saturday night the big meal. After all, Sunday begins at sundown the night before, right? Conveniently, we are often entertaining friends Saturday evening. If Saturday dinner is the big meal of the week I'm not cooking a big "entertainment" meal Saturday and a big "Sunday dinner" on Sunday. Less work for me.
I do really love to cook but dinner is a challenge. I think I make delicious, but simple fare most nights of the week but I do want to bump things up a notch for Saturday night. Yesterday was our first go at our new routine.
We did have some good friends coming with their two young children. I set the table nicely in advance and served a first course of wild rice salad with poached raisins and pine nuts. The second course was pumpkin, potato, leek soup with corn bread. Dessert was provided by our guests (and might have been the best part of the meal).
We sat down together to plated salads and Eric read the prologue to John's Gospel. At the appropriate moment I lit green candles (we hope to get large Lord's Day candles in liturgically appropriate colors soon). The last couple verses of the prologue will be said responsorily. Eric then moved immediately to the Epistle for Sunday and the Gospel for Sunday and we closed with grace. We think wine will typically be a part of the Saturday meal, but we're still considering this from a budgetary standpoint.
We kept the candle lit until we were ready to leave the table at which point we brought the candles into the living room and immediately said first Vespers of Sunday from the Liturgy of the Hours. We try to say Vespers every night and it is usually a bit chaotic. Our friends were familiar with the liturgy and their older daughter set a good example for my kids. Amazingly, all four kids sat more or less quietly for the duration of Vespers. We then extinguished the candles and had dessert.
I'm pretty amazed at how well it all went. We plan to keep this "liturgy" for several weeks and then tweak it if necessary. This format feels suitably reverent, repetitious, and liturgical for our purposes. I think the use of candles is the key. The kids are totally fascinated by the flames and they stand as a visual reminder: this is the Lord's Day. Keeping the candles lit until the end of Vespers reminds us to pray Vespers before dispersing for the night.
I'm really excited at this new tradition and I'll report back as it develops.