Monday, June 15, 2009

Dies Natalis

In the Church calendar, the "Dies Natalis" (birthday) is usually the anniversary of someone's death. Generally by martyrdom. Unless you are John the Baptist, the Blessed Virgin Mary or Jesus Christ, all of whom have feast days celebrating their actual birth. And in the case of John, also one for his martyrdom; for Mary, for her Assumption into Heaven; and for Christ, the 40-days-in, 50-days-out centered on the Triduum of his death and resurrection.
So much for birthdays, then, right?
Well, technically, yes.
But today is the "Dies Natalis" of the Daughters of St. Paul. It is the anniversary of our founding. Not a founding as in, holy leader and devout followers make some public step consituting a new religious order. In our case, we celebrate as the day of our founding the day 24-year-old Teresa Merlo, invited to meet "The Theologian Alberione" in the sacrisity of Sts. Cosmas and Damien Church, came from Castagnito d'Alba to the big city (Alba itself) with her mother, left Mom praying in the church while she listened to the young Fr. Alberione's plans for a future religious congregation devoted to the "Good Press" (although for the time being, they would support themselves by sewing uniforms for the Italian army). His spiel finished, Alberione invited Merlo (who had already been rejected by the local religious communities on account of her weak health) to join a fledgling enterprise that had nothing at all to offer her by way of external signs of its future: no habit, no community (although a few women, catechists from the parish, were already sewing those uniforms), no mission for the time being.
When Teresa returned to the pew, her mother whispered, "What did he want?" Teresa gave a summary of what "The Theologian" had said.
"What did you tell him?" Mama Merlo wanted to know.
"I said 'yes'."
All of which makes this a very Happy Birthday!

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