2023 Begins with a Laugh and a Tear

Happy New Year to all!

To quote the sheep who gave her fleece to line my jacket, “New year, new ewe.”

The dad jokes only improve with age.

I stayed up well past midnight last night hosting a big bash and then woke up for the Sunday Mass. No anticipatory liturgies for us, thank you. And thanks to the traditional calendar, I got the joy of figuring out how to answer the question “What’s circumcision?” Next year, the kids are getting dictionaries for Christmas.

On a more serious note, I am actually sad about the death of the Holy Father. I remember well the day in April 2008 when my very pregnant wife and I stood along Fifth Avenue and watched the Popemobile roll past in the most impressive motorcade I have ever seen. One week later we had delivered our son. Since we did not know the baby’s sex ahead of birth, and convinced we would be having a girl, we did not have a boy’s name picked out. The night of his birth, we had narrowed it down to two – one of which came to us based on our admiration for the pontiff we had just seen. Leaving the hospital that night, my wife tasked me with selecting the name. I thought this was unfair, that we should both agree to whatever name our son would be saddled with his whole life.

Upper East Side papal parade. Check out the ancient flip phone.

I went home and thought. I tried each of the names in my mind, imagining situations where I’d have to use the lad’s name. “X, give your old man a hand with this project,” or “Y, next time fill the car back up when you take it out,” or “Z, that gin and tonic ain’t gonna make itself. Chop chop, pal.”

I returned to the hospital the next morning. On my way I made a few stops. I picked out a Tiffany charm for my wife’s bracelet to commemorate this most significant event. It was a silver lollipop with a blue enamel swirl. Then I hit up the religious articles store. I walked into the hospital room with both hands behind my back.

“Well,” asked the wife, “what are we going to call him?”

I looked at her and said, “Behind my back are two holy cards. Pick a hand and the card in that hand is going to be his name.”

She protested. “I wanted you to pick it,” etc, but I insisted.

She pointed to my right hand. I drew out a card. The founder of Western monasticism. “Oh good,” she said. “That’s the name I had hoped you’d pick.”

“Glad to hear it,” I said as I flashed the card in the other hand. It was the Vicar of Christ. Seems we were in sync.

Pray for him. Pray for his soul. Do not canonize him. Don’t declare him a Doctor of the Church. Pray for him. I named a son after him and he kind of let us down (just a bit)…

And pray for each other. We know the trad world is small. It doesn’t take much to offer three Ave’s a day for the intentions and good health of fellow trads.

Happy New Year, everyone!

St. Benedict, pray for us!

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