Soap to Sanctity

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April 18, 2019 by lucieromarin

Surely one of the strangest creative innovations of modern times must be the decision to install pieces of plant matter into bars of soap. I received one such bar in a package recently. There are now shreds of twig or stalk or some kind of frond all over the shower floor. What was I supposed to do with these bits of plant? Rub them vigorously into my face as some kind of dermabrasion? And then what? The soap smells lovely and, as far as I can tell, does its job, but I think I prefer soaps that don’t leave me with dead foliage to clean up afterwards. I don’t know if guys have this problem. Has anyone ever given a guy such a bar of soap? Should decorative soap be added to the list of evils attributed to patriarchy? Does someone need to be angry about this? Could they take out their anger on my shower and clean it for me?

***

I’ve only had two assignments this term. Two in thirteen weeks doesn’t seem much, yet somehow they dominate those weeks, looming over everything. They cast a shadow over every other duty. I don’t know how those students manage (both male and female) who are also working full-time and caring for children. I mean, I do know – they have to fit their study into little corners of the day or night and never yield to the slightest temptation to defer it from its allotted hour. But sometimes I wonder what the point of this kind of study is. I mean, surely what’s really being tested is not so much the ability to write a quality essay, but the ability to meet a deadline in any way possible while desperately time-poor. And that’s quite a different kind of ‘higher education.’

***

It’s a mixed Triduum for me this year, part-Maronite and part-Latin. This isn’t so much a crisis of mind and or identity as a crisis of mobility. It wouldn’t be Lent or Holy Week if I hadn’t injured something, and this year, it’s my right ankle, for which the Latin ceremonies are just a bit too far away and a bit too long. The Maronite liturgies will not be as organised or as tuneful as the Latin – but they’ll still be, in their own unintelligible way, edifying. I’m really not the expert on their liturgy – all I can say is that despite the fact that everything is crooked, and half the congregation turns up twenty-five minutes after the beginning of the ceremony, and no one knows how to use the projector, and there’s a candle burning next to a sign that says, ‘Please do not burn candles here’, and someone has stuck a sticker of St Charbel on the statue of St Charbel, and the tinned music is half a bar behind the congregation, it’s real prayer. I’m making it all sound slipshod, but it’s not the same kind of slipshod as a modernist New Mass.  It can be culturally-startling, but it never hurts the way bad liturgy or irreverent liturgy hurts. The love there is real. The Latin interloper sits there for an hour or so thinking, “What the hell?” but she leaves knowing that God was present and wishing that the Latins in the New Order would take their Sign-of-Peace cues from the Maronites, who have made our worthless innovation into something liturgical and holy. It’s not prayer as I know it. But it is prayer – and that, in itself, is a profound lesson. And, one year into it, I’ve worked out that ‘quoddous’ means ‘holy.’ Progress!

And I’m looking forward to Easter Sunday in my ‘home’ liturgy. Deo gratias.

Wishing a blessed Triduum to one and all.

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