Monthly Archives: January 2012

Foundations & Fundamentals, Part II The Mystery & The Knowledge

There is a book of Catholic theology by Karl Rahner with the title, Foundations of Christian Faith. One section of the treatise is entitled, Man in the Presence of Absolute Mystery. Very dense reading, and perhaps we would want to change “man” into “human being,” but otherwise truly marvelous. This sense of the Presence of Absolute Mystery is the essential and necessary foundation for all spiritualities and all mysticisms. Without this sense religion becomes glib, another sales pitch, full of pieties that tickle our ego self and allow it to look “spiritual.” Without this sense we succumb to the moralisms of “do’s” and “don’ts” that make us feel superior or at least different from others. Without this sense, we are simply “members of a club,” albeit a club with a lofty message and maybe beautiful rituals, but still only a club. Without this sense we may yet have an image of God as “our friend,” a “personal relationship” with Jesus, a comfort in praying to Mary or one of the saints for intercession, but we will have missed our deepest calling. The same Karl Rahner also wrote: “The Christian of the future will be a mystic, or he/she will not be at all.” This is what is at stake.


In the very early morning of December 6, 1273, Thomas Aquinas, Master of Theology, celebrated the Mass for the feast of Saint Nicholas. Something happened during this Mass because after it he was not even close to being the same person. Aquinas had written a lot, a real lot. He was not yet 50, but he had written about 100 works: commentaries on Scripture, commentaries on the Fathers, commentaries on Aristotle and Proclus, philosophical treatises, etc. He was in the middle of composing his definitive work, the Summa Theologiae. That day he stopped writing. And he never wrote again until he died about a year later. He stopped totally and abruptly–never finishing the Summa. All he did in the last months of his life was read and meditate on the Song of Songs in the Old Testament. Some people say that he suffered a stroke; others that he experienced a nervous breakdown due to exhaustion at his enormous workload. But his own secretary and friend relates that the only thing Aquinas told him was: “Everything that I have written seems like straw to me compared to those things that I have seen and have been revealed to me.” And the word “straw” here is a medieval euphemism for human excrement, which would not have been fitting to put on the lips of a holy saint. Now some modern and liberal theologians have taken this statement to mean that Aquinas was repudiating what he had taught and written. And they simply want to replace his words with their words. However, the truth is quite other. It was more a case of this brilliant mind having a disclosure of The Reality that is so far beyond any words that the only result/effect can be either silence or ecstasy. It was Thomas standing in the Presence of Absolute Mystery.


Now it is not the case that Aquinas had glib ideas about God. Even as he wrote voluminously and with great precision and care about the things of God and the human person, he also gave many indications that he understood the “beyondness” of this reality we call God. He shows a deep intellectual awareness of the mystery of God and that knowledge of God is not like any other kind of knowledge that we can have. Aquinas understands quite well that the mystery of God is not like any other mystery we encounter, which may or may not prove to be “solveable.” In the end, Aquinas is quite capable of speaking almost like a zen master in mystifying paradoxes. Note: “At the end of all our knowing we know God as something unknown: we are united with him as with something wholly unknown.” And this was all before his experience of December 6th. With that, he encountered in an existential way that which is truly Beyond, and so his words, no matter how profound, fell totally apart.


Problem #1: Words. “God” as a word. We use this word an awful lot–especially if we are in one of the theistic religious communities. That is inevitable. However, in our loquaciousness about this reality (“God this” and “God that”) we tend to get the wrong impression that we really know what or who we are talking about. The sense of the Absolute Mystery begins to recede to an uneasy background that is not comfortable. Those of us in the Catholic tradition are even more prone to this because of our penchant for definitions, doctrines, dogmas, our focus on authority and certainty, on the notion of infallibility. None of this is wrong if deeply understood and properly nuanced. However, our Church is inclined to stress authority and certainty and clarity in a very human way that pushes the notion of mystery to the sidelines. The whole effort in pedagogy and catechesis tends to emphasize simple adherence to doctrinal formulations and moral behavior and, oh yes, perhaps, a “personal relationship” with Jesus. So the average Catholic(and this would be true of most other Christians) will utter words about God with hardly any sense of the great mystery behind those words. Words like: “Jesus is God.” “There are three persons in God.” The Trinitarian statement is especially so vulnerable—each word in that statement is in a very real sense problematic and beyond definition in its use in that affirmation. Words like that are uttered very glibly as if they were a statement of some fact within this very finite world–like: “the earth is round.” While each such statement can be said to be “true” in a very real sense, nevertheless each such statement’s meaning needs to be unpacked within an awareness of the Absolute Mystery one is dealing with. And just one sign of that is the presence of paradox as we unfold the meaning. The Absolute Mystery that God is does not fit into our limited categories. Everything in our world and our experience must be one thing or another, but God is both nothing and everything from the standpoint of our experience. God is both near and far, both transcendent and immanent, absent and present, both this and not this.


Problem #2: Images–both internal and external. Go into a medieval cathedral or a Russian Orthodox church or one of the great old Hindu temples in India, and you will be surrounded with remarkable religious art. In fact, the very architecture of the place, the layout itself, is symbolic and pedagogical–as is the case with the mosque which otherwise does not allow images of any kind. All of this is good and healthy and truly beautiful. It is meant to lead the person to somekind of religious experience, to a sense of the numinous presence of the Divine, to an encounter with the Ultimate Mystery. (Here we won’t even consider the more prevalent kitschy religious art that more people are burdened with and which distorts their spirituality in myriad ways.) But even with solid and profound religious images a problem can arise of being “fixed” by them and “fixated” by them. The devotee seems never to be able to go beyond what the image suggests. This is almost always related to interior images, ideas and concepts about God which the devotee hangs onto for dear life—because it is scary to let go. Here a person’s prayer life might become fixed in “saying prayers”–and such a person in sincerely following the only path they know may indeed have an unthematic sense of the Presence without at all being able to put into words what it is they are experiencing. But it is as Abhishiktananda put it, imagine someone being invited to a rich banquet, and then they are handed a crust of bread and some lemonade. The Church does not do its job of leading each person to that mystical awareness of the Ultimate Mystery which is each person’s gift. As Jesus put it in one of his parables: “Friend, come up higher.” Sadly this was true even for monks until recent years with a kind of rediscovery in the Christian West of the contemplative nature of the monk and in fact of the human person. Here is Abhishiktananda writing in the 1950s as he was just beginning his vocation in India:


“More than anything else indeed the Christian sannyasi ought to be contemplative. Contemplative life does not in the first place mean piety…or the endless recitation of prayers, even liturgical ones. In this respect, though the Benedictine Rule may usefully provide for the organization and development of the life of Christian ashrams, it is further towards the contemplative ideal of the Desert Fathers that the Christian sannyasi ought to tend, as it is embodied in the life and precepts of St. Antony, Arsenius, John Climacus.… The sannyasi is one who has been fascinated by the mystery of God…and remains simply gazing at it.”


So the health and depth of our spiritual life depends on our navigating around these kinds of problems and being open to the Absolute Mystery which is at the center of our being and surrounds us on all sides. The awesome nature of this Reality has been addressed in different languages in different times and in different traditions. In the Old Testament and in the Desert Fathers, for example, the term “fear” appears a lot, or usually it is in the phrase, “fear of God.” As in, “the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.” For the Desert Fathers this seems to have been a very important notion, almost summing up the whole spiritual life, but for us moderns the term may be problematical if we read it in a superficial way. The fact is that this “fear” is an abiding sense of that Absolute Mystery. When St. Benedict and the New Testament talk about “perfect love casting out fear,” that points us in the direction of mystical union or advaita if you will and then “perfect love” and that “fear” become one reality–or you realize that you ARE that one reality–you discover that the Absolute Mystery is now closer to you than you are to yourself(to borrow from Augustine). Furthermore, in the Old Testament it was common to hold that the Name of this Absolute Mystery was unspeakable, unnameable–one simply did not pronounce it. And it was also said that to “see God” would be death. So this language of “fear” and all such other language is supremely pointing to the absolute nature of this mystery regardless of our unease with such words. In fact, language not unlike that and troublesome in their own way can be found in modern mystics like Abhishiktananda. For example, he speaks of “being torn open,” “being torn assunder,” “being scorched,” of “being shattered,” of “explosions,” of “lightning bolts smashing into one’s consciousness,” of “annihilation,” and so on, and so on. Clearly this Mystery is not some little puzzle that we can play with or think our way through.


Given all that, what is now even more incredible, if that be possible, is that we are meant to “know” this Mystery and that this Mystery manifests itself in everything and everyone within and without. This is in fact getting very close to the very heart and center of all theistic spirituality and mysticism. And as we have been saying all along, this knowledge is not one of ideas or concepts or doctrines or rituals–it has to do with an unspeakable experience in the depths of one’s heart. This knowledge is more like something symbolized in the sexual union of husband and wife (why Aquinas loved to read the Song of Songs at the end of his life)—which by the way manifests the Absolute Mystery just as fully as any hermit sitting in his cave. In the company of mystics it is perhaps the Sufis who speak most eloquently of this Reality and our “knowledge” of it, which is both at the same time Absolute Transcendent Mystery and Unspeakable Closeness and Intimacy. Consider now this quote from St. Gregory Palamas, the great hesychast teacher:


“The supra-essential nature of God is not a subject for speech or thought or even contemplation, for it is far removed from all that exists and more than unknowable is incomprehensible and ineffable to all forever. There is no name whereby it can be named neither in this age nor in the age to come, nor word found in the soul and uttered by the tongue, nor contact whether sensible or intellectual, nor yet any image which may afford any knowledge of its subject, if this be not that perfect incomprehensibility which one acknowledges in denying all that can be named.”


 But Gregory is also the great mystical theologian of human divinization and our participation in the very life of God— so how can that be:

 “It is right for all theology which wishes to respect piety to affirm sometimes one and sometimes the other when both affirmations are true…. The Divine nature must be called at the same time incommunicable and, in a sense, communicable; we attain participation in the nature of God, and yet he remains totally inaccessible. We must affirm both things and must preserve the antimony as the criterion of piety.”

And this last sentence is the key for evaluating all spiritualities, all pieties, all mysticisms, especially within the Christian koinonia. St. Gregory writes further: “He is being and not being. He is everywhere and nowhere; He has many names and cannot be named; He is both in perpetual movement and immovable; He is absolutely everything and nothing of that which is.”

 Abhishiktananda’s advaitic mysticism would perhaps put it even more radically, if you can imagine that, but we will leave that for another posting. This topic is so important that we shall be returning to it many times.

 Let us conclude by giving the last words to one of the greatest and earliest mystical theologians, Pseudo-Dionysius (or in the Eastern Church, simply St. Dionysius or sometimes known as St. Denys the Areopagite):


“Trinity!! Higher than any being,

any divinity, any goodness!

Guide of Christians

in the wisdom of heaven.

Lead us up beyond unknowing and light,

up to the farthest, highest peak

of mystic scripture,

where the mysteries of God’s Word

lie simple, absolute and unchangeable

in the brilliant darkness of a hidden silence.

Amid the deepest shadow

they pour overwhelming light

on what is most manifest.

Amid the wholly unsensed and unseen

they completely fill our sightless minds

with treasures beyond all beauty.

For this I pray; and, Timothy, my friend, my advice to you as you look for a sight of the mysterious things, is to leave behind you everything perceived and understood, everything perceptible and understandable, all that is not and all that is, and, with your understanding laid aside, to strive upward as much as you can toward union with him who is beyond all being and knowledge. By an undivided and absolute abandonment of yourself and everything, shedding all and freed from all, you will be uplifted to the ray of the divine shadow which is above everything that is.”

The Feast of the Baptism of Jesus. What happened?

The first problem to face is that for so many Christians the feast of Christmas is number one on the calendar. Not surprising if we look only at the secular calendar and the secular celebration–a plethora of good feeling, sentimentality, good cheer, lots of buying and selling, a time of relaxation and perhaps reunion, a time of donating food to the poor and hungry, a time of soft, vague religious messages–don’t want to get too carried away because the poor and hungry will have to go back to their starving lives after Christmas, etc. From the liturgical/theological/spiritual angle, this centrality of Christmas is a pointer, albeit a small one, of how really lost we are. From the Christian perspective the Paschal Mystery celebrated at Easter, or to be more precise, during the Triduum, the time of Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday, this is the number one feast on the calendar. Now what might surprise even more people is that Christmas, according to the ancient tradition of the Church, is not even the second most important feast. Let us look at a bit of history.

For the first few centuries of Christianity there were three major liturgical moments in the life of the faith-filled community: first, Easter, the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, the death and resurrection of Jesus; secondly, the time of preparation for this celebration and for initiation of new members, now called Lent; and thirdly a feast on January 6th called Epiphany or in the Eastern Church, the Theophany–primarily this included the visitation by the Magi, and the birth of Jesus, and even the baptism of Jesus as an adult by John the Baptist in the river Jordan. There was no “Christmas”; no focus on the “Baby Jesus” and so forth. It was about four centuries later that the feast of Christmas emerged, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and it took the place of a pagan Roman feast on December 25th. And in fact the feast always kept a kind of lowly “3rd place” in the list of feasts involving Jesus. So far, so good! But with the split of the Church into East and West, the Western Church, in both its Roman Catholic and Protestant versions, started elevating Christmas higher and higher. One might add that this was done with the help of some outstanding saints too! In any case, Christmas seems to be the very top feast today, and especially from the secular standpoint as that has modified the meaning of this feast with all kinds of secular rituals. Easter, by contrast, hardly gets a squeak from secular society.

Now returning back to the Eastern Church, Orthodoxy, we find that it has kept very faithfully the oldest traditions. Of course it celebrates Christmas jubilantly as the feast has separated itself out from the celebration of January 6th, but in terms of solemnity and importance, the Theophany ranks higher. This is the second most important feast in the Orthodox calendar. And it has a different focus than this same day in the Western Church. “Theophany” means the “appearance of God,” the manifestation of God. The Eastern Church, following the tradition of the early church originally included the birth of Jesus in this feast but saw the first great moment of that “theophany” primarily in the Baptism of Jesus by John at the Jordan–the first manifestation of the Triune relationships within God, but also at the same time it kept one eye as it were on the visitation of the Three Magi. The feast kind of blended these moments into “the Theophany.” Later on as we said the birth got its own feast, but it was never considered as important as The Theophany. In the West what was left got separated out into two distinct and different feasts: the Epiphany, and the Baptism of the Lord; and neither of these feasts has any kind of stature within Western Christianity compared to Christmas. So things went in another direction.

With various liturgical reform movements, especially with Vatican II, there was an attempt made to bring these feasts into a kind of liturgical/theological coherence–with the addition of another very quiet feast that is simply a “Sunday in Ordinary Time” but which has great significance(and yes, again, in the Orthodox Church!)–The Wedding at Cana. So in the Catholic calendar, at least, there is this theological unity from Christmas to about the 3rd or 4th Sunday in January which comprises then Christmas, Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord, and the Wedding at Cana. The unity consists in this dimension of Theophany. Here is how one online authoritative source puts it:

“The Baptism of the Lord has historically been associated with the celebration of Epiphany. Even today, the Eastern Christian feast of Theophany, celebrated on January 6 as a counterpart to the Western feast of Epiphany, focuses primarily on the Baptism of the Lord as the revelation of God to man.
After the Nativity of Christ (Christmas) was separated out from Epiphany, the Church in the West continued the process and dedicated a celebration to each of the major epiphanies (revelations) or theophanies (the revelation of God to man): the Birth of Christ at Christmas, which revealed Christ to Israel; the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles, in the visit of the Wise Men at Epiphany; the Baptism of the Lord, which revealed the Trinity; and the miracle at the wedding at Cana, which revealed Christ’s transformation of the world. ”

Ok. That’s not bad. However, if you look, this year you will not find any celebration of the Baptism of Lord on any Sunday in the Catholic liturgical calendar. They actually regard it as so inessential that if it doesn’t fit their manipulation of calendar feasts, it simply gets dropped to an almost invisible weekday celebration–this year on January 9th.

I protest!! Ok, you may be asking yourself, why is he getting so worked up about this?! Truly it is not a big deal, but there is something important at stake in all this. Here I am with Abhishiktananda in “placing on a pedestal” this feast. He actually considered the baptism of Jesus the central and signature moment of the Gospels while the death and resurrection of Jesus become only somewhat secondary in his Christology. I am not quite ready to go THAT far with Abhishiktananda; and his Christology, especially as articulated in his last years, may be seriously critiqued from the standpoint of Christian tradition. I mean there is a legitimate question: is he breaking with something core to Christianity or is he profoundly and radically reinterpreting it? We will discuss that at another time.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of Abhishiktananda’s understanding of the Baptism episode, let us look at least at some scriptural descriptions:

“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.'” (Mark 1: 9-11)
Matthew’s account is similar but less spare and more wordy, but finally he gets to the same moment: “And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.'” (Mt 3: 16-17)

Just one note: when in Mark’s account it says that the heavens were “torn apart,” that is correct—some translations wanting to even it out with the other versions make it the more mellow, “opened.” But Mark is more emphatic, more dramatic, more intense.

Now look at what one semi-official source says about this episode:

“At first glance, the Baptism of the Lord might seem an odd feast. Since the Catholic Church teaches that the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for the remission of sins, particularly Original Sin, why was Christ baptized? After all, He was born without Original Sin, and He lived His entire life without sinning. Therefore, He had no need of the sacrament, as we do.
In submitting Himself humbly to the baptism of St. John the Baptist, however, Christ provided the example for the rest of us. If even He should be baptized, though He had no need of it, how much more should the rest of us be thankful for this sacrament, which frees us from the darkness of sin and incorporates us into the Church, the life of Christ on earth! His Baptism, therefore, was necessary–not for Him, but for us.”

This is awfully lame stuff, and I wish I could put it more strongly! But so much of Catholic catechetical and pious literature has this kind of language. It’s as if Jesus is “play-acting,” going along and doing various things, setting us “examples,” and inventing these things called “sacraments.” Jesus shows up at a wedding at Cana, and whammo, you have the sacrament of marriage. Jesus touches the water and the water becomes holy. Hey, Jesus pees in the Jordan, does that make it a sacred river? And he poops behind a bush—is there a sacred bush out there, certainly more than one….? Sorry for these absurd statements, but this kind of catechetical language does not take the humanity of Jesus seriously, and it needs to be exposed for what it is, official or not. It does not take seriously the all-important proclamation of John 1:14: kai ho logos sarx egeneto, and the word became flesh. And this means the full depths of the human condition, its samsaric condition, if you will, always vulnerable to maya—thus the temptation in the desert. We can readily admit that Jesus was “sinless” if Church teaching calls for that, but “sarx” here implies also anxiety, fear, doubt, uncertainty, the pull toward screwed-up human identities, etc., etc. Jesus is truly one of us in our basic condition and struggle, and most importantly and most controversially, the need to discover who he is, his true identity.

Given all that, Abhishiktananda’s interpretation of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan as depicted in the Gospels is, I think, a very profound intuition of the very deep mystery that is being revealed there. Let us quote some from his writings:

“Jesus experienced such a closeness to God–probably the very same as is revealed in the advaitic experience–that he exploded the biblical idea of ‘Father’ and of ‘Son of God’ to the extent of calling God ‘Abba’, i.e., the name which in Aramaic only the one who is ‘born from’ him can say to anyone. But the term ‘Son’ is only imagery, and I fear the theologians have treated this image too much as an absolute, to an extent that becomes simply mythical. In Johannine terms Jesus discovered that the I AM of Yahweh belonged to himself; or rather, putting it the other way round, it was in the brilliant light of his own I AM that he discovered the true meaning, total and unimaginable, of the name of Yahweh. To call God ‘Abba’ is an equivalent in Semitic terms of advaita, the fundamental experience…. It seems that in his Baptism he had an overwhelming experience; he felt himself to be Son, not in a notional, Greek, fashion, but that he had a commission given by Yahweh to fulfil; and in this commisssion he felt his nearness to Yahweh….”

“Jesus’ experience at the Jordan impresses me more and more. And in the concept of Father/Son I now see not so much the relationship of derivation (which even so is not denied) as the relationship of ekatvam [oneness]….”

“The baptism of Jesus was for him the fundamental experience on which his whole life depended. He had the experience of being possessed by the Spirit of God, this Spirit of Yahweh that the Old Testament had announced (Isaiah 11,2). ‘On him the spirit of Yahweh rests.’ He had the experience in the same time of being the Son of God and the expereicne of God the Father. The baptism gives nothing to Jesus, yet it reveals to him who He is.”

“Jesus recognized himself as Son of God, beyond all the devas, beyond his being and beyond the universe—and beyond his religion also. And in this re-cognizing he recognized Yahweh in his real greatness.”

“Jesus is a person who has totally discovered, realized his mystery…. His name is ‘I AM,’…. Jesus is savior by virtue of having realized his NAME. He has shown and has opened the way out of samsara, the phenomenal world, and has reached the guha, the padamk beyond the heavens—which is the mystery of the Father. In discovering the Father, he has not found an ‘Other’: I and the Father are one. In the only spirit, he has discovered his non-duality with Yahweh; it is the Spirit that is the link, the non-duality.”

And then from Shail Mayaram commenting on Abhishiktananda:

“There is a profound intertextuality and interculturality to the life and work of Abhishiktananda. He clearly universalizes the discourse of advaitic spirituality and sanyasa or renunciation. He uses it to understand, as he states, the deepest truth of Jesus’ baptism as the moment of ‘awakening’ to the recognition of the non-duality of being. Abhishiktananda notes that in Mark’s Gospel, when Jesus came up out of the waters, he saw the heavens ‘rent asunder’–thus indicating that the separation between heaven and earth, between man and God, was abolished–while the Spirit ‘descended’ filling the whole of space. Jesus then heard a voice that said: ‘Thou art my Son,’ and he responded: ‘Abba (Father)’.”

“As Abhishiktananda prepares for his disciple Marc’s diksa, he refers to Jesus’ ‘awakening at his Baptism,…, and the need to celebrate the awakening of everyone to aham asmi, ego eimi, I am.’ Baptism is the recognition of ‘advaita with Abba-Yahweh that he shares with everyone.’ He writes of Jesus as ‘I Am,’ as one with the Father: ‘In the only Spirit, he has discovered his non-duality withYahweh; it is the Spirit that is the link, the non-duality.’ He also mentions that when Jesus sees the heavens torn open, hears a voice and sees the dove, the voice reveals to him that he is the child of Yahweh.”

So much for the quotes—there is an awful lot in them! But just to summarize the main point: the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan by John the Baptist is to be interpreted as THE AWAKENING, and the paradigm for all awakening to the deepest mystery within one. Jesus awakens to a realization of an unimaginable intimacy with the one that his culture called “Yahweh”–and here you have to recall how absolutely transcendent this Yahweh was in the Old Testament, how absolutely “other,” how supreme and utterly “beyond” he was, how “unnameable” he was, etc., etc. And so the unspeakably radical and revolutionary nature of Jesus’ ability after this to speak of this Yahweh as “Abba,” points us, as Abhishiktananda indicates, in the direction of a Semitic-Christian version of advaita, of non-duality with the Ultimate Reality. What this means for each of us, then, needs theological and spiritual-mystical elaboration and unfolding that may take us into unexpected places, may scare us, may leave us dangling on the edge of a religious precipice so to speak, may lead us into controversial and paradoxical realms, etc. More about that in forthcoming posts, but let us conclude with just one more note: Abhishiktananda’s laser-like focus on the Holy Spirit as the “sign” and instrument of Christian advaita. This coheres well with the fact that in Western Christianity the Holy Spirit was less and less in focus as time went on; and so Western Christianity became more and more dualistic, preoccupied with externals, institutions, authority, laws, rules, morality, seeing Jesus as this exemplar, a model for imitation, God as someone “out there” to please, etc., etc. Interestingly enough, one of the greatest of the modern saints of Eastern Christianity, St. Seraphim of Russia, said, in contrast, that the whole point of the spiritual life, the whole point of it all is to “acquire the Holy Spirit.” Indeed. “To have the Holy Spirit” is to hear within one’s heart the call of your true identity: “thou art my child.” It is to stand now within the advaita of the Divine Trinity.

All this is at stake in this feast that is now relegated to an uneventful weekday Mass where in most churches there were only be a few devout persons, most of them little old ladies who come to Mass every day; and in other churches the doors were simply closed and no Mass was celebrated. Interesting.