Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sunday of Doom

"Dr Doom Loves You" by ChibiCelina
Christ the King is coming up, with its annual rehearsal of the same familiar themes:  a king, but not the kind they expected; his throne is the Cross; rule not merely of Israel nor of the earth, but of the cosmos; a rule that, although we wait for its complete expression, has already begun.  For inclusive-language buffs, there is the wrestling with language -- "Reign of Christ"?  "Together with Christ"?  And so on.

Don't let this sound like complaining.  These are swell themes, especially as a lead-in to Advent, and Father A. looks forward to preaching on them.  Nor does he mind a little language-wrestling, so long as it does not overwhelm the central points.

But he just learned that the Church of Sweden never followed the suggestion of Pope Pius XI, in 1925, and instituted the feast of Christ the King.  Instead, since 1921 the Swedes have called the final Sunday of the church year Domssoendagen, or "The Sunday of Doom."  (Here are the propers.)

Say it again:  "The Sunday of Doom."

Of course, we savor the forbidding sound of it -- so forbidding that it is almost campy.  Think "Indiana Jones and the Sunday of Doom."  Or a holiday devoted to the greatest of all Fantastic Four villains.  But we also like the Germanic-ness of it; "doom" is a word that owes nothing to Latin.  Indeed, neither fatum nor iudicium, the most obvious translations, quite gets at the English sense.  In English, of course, "doom" also reminds us of a great historical treasure, the Domesday Book, a detailed census of England undertaken by its then-new Norman overlords.  It is as near as we can imagine to an earthly image of the Lamb's Book of Life.

"Doom" is a word that combines fate, destiny and judgment -- four letters that sum up, at least for English speakers, a bundle of related ideas.  By itself, it is a disturbing, even frightening word.  (That's why a supervillain uses it as his name, right?)  But when we add to it the name of the Lord's Day, the celebration of Christ's Resurrection which contains within it the promise of our own, then the scariness of doom is softened, even mooted, in the minds of the faithful.  Just as Easter turns death to life, so it turns doom from a curse to a blessing.

So maybe, as we preach on the threefold office of Our Lord, or on the radical redefinition of messianic expectation, or on the fulfillment of the Torah and the New Commandment -- whichever theme comes out of our mouth -- we will stop now and then to remind our friends that they are living in the last days, the last hours of a broken world -- and the first moments of a world which has been restored.  The good news is that, for us, Doomsday is the Lord's Day.

2 comments:

Jonathan Conrad said...

F.A., Thanks for the inspiration! I admit when I was researching Christ the King day and saw on Wiki that the CoS call it "Sunday of Doom" I immediately had flashbacks to my comic book days.
I am glad I wasn't the only one.
-Jonathan

Jonathan Conrad said...

F.A.,
Thanks for the inspiration. When I saw on WIki this week that the CoS calls it "Judgement of Doom" I immediately thought of my comic book days.
Glad I wasn't the only one!
_jonathan