Thursday, September 29, 2011

Michaelmas: Rood Screen, Daisy and Academic Terms

Here is a picture of St Michael from the rood screen at Ranworth church in East Anglia, England, for the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels. I have posted other pictures of the church and screen below. I understand that the church is 14th century and the screen is 15th century.

Also, just to set the tone, and to continue with a past theme of looking at the book of nature, I have included at the bottom some photos wild asters, which grow wild in New England where I live. I recognise them as Michaelmas daisies from the gardens of England and so remind me of home too. As far as I can tell, the reason they have this name is simply that they flower around the time of this Feast. Nevertheless it is a good way to reinforce the fact that all of creation is directing our praise to heaven, through its beauty, and the cycles and rhythms of nature are an earthly sign of those of the heavenly liturgy.

Michaelmas has an additional significance for me as my high school and university in England, neither of which were Catholic or religious, still called the first term of the academic year Michaelmas Term (the other two being Hilary and Trinity, after St Hilary of Poitiers and Trinity Sunday). This is a remnant of the days when all of life was ordered around the rhythms and patterns of the liturgy. So even the calendar of non-religious institutions drew from and therefore pointed to the liturgy.

We have just started the new academic year at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, and in common with most of American colleges academic year we have a two semester system. I decided therefore to refer to first as the Michaelmas Semester; and the one after Christmas as the 'Hilary and Trinity Semester' in my Way of Beauty class in order to emphasise the point.

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