Kyiv. On the night of December 10, 2013. Ivan Sydor ran up to his boss and asked if he should ring the bell. The last time the bells of the Monastery of St Michael’s Golden-Domed rang in alarm was in 1240 – the siege of the city by the Mongols.
Perhaps hundreds of years later, the danger comes from within: security forces, Berkut, round up the Maidan protesters.
Elsewhere, my father died that morning. Now, as Kyiv faces Putin’s crowds, I examine the ritual surrounding his death. Homecoming ceremony by undertakers in fine navy suits and ties, lying in state in the living room, younger grandchildren hiding dolls and toys in their caskets.
In Sunday’s Well, where he served Mass, joined the country council and choir, played Buttons in the dining room and put his arm around his siblings, the dead bells rang as their children and grandsons he put his arm around him through carols, mourning and incense.
Illness confined him to the care of strangers, his life controlled by machines, number of labs, shift changes, stealthy ice cream, electronic hum, complexity the amazing complexity of swallowing.
But the rituals surrounding his death – lighting candles, praying for the dying, singing songs, closing eyes, blessing with water, offering icons, ringing bells, presenting his soul to God – not only rescue him from physical breakdown. , the invisibility of the old man, death is certified, but also illuminates and reflects the ritual practice of his life: love of God, nature, music, life; faith in humanity; kindness to the community; devoted to family.
In modern society, tradition is denigrated as “just ceremonial”. Religiously, Ireland’s Catholic history is rooted in this attitude.
Married mothers after giving birth had to “run away”. The girls were left out for fear they would become unmarried mothers through the miracle of “self-pregnancy” and were left to roam the streets in white veils, silver medals and blue Children’s gowns. of the Virgin Mary.
Perhaps, this lingering memory left a lot of knowledge about Angelus on RTÉ. As a person who values etiquette, I want the bells on the national television station to ring, whether the sound is coming from a “hoof” hanging from an old tree at Ardglass or a golden-domed monastery. around in Kyiv.
Origin is immaterial; punctuation of the day, call to attention, perception, intention are intrinsic value.
Ritual goes beyond religion or liturgy and is found in every sphere of life, public, private, state, social, cultural.
Here, the rites of first Communion and confirmation are important signs of accomplishment and belonging to the Christian rites. In recent years, they have taken on a more social aspect, with many parents worried that their children should “make” them a milestone in their childhood instead of religious beliefs.
To be sure, the fall in church attendance leaves us with no opportunity to come together openly for the ceremony, and to “participate” in every sense of the word, to symbols, to images, to dots. , rituals, shared intentions.
But the decline in religious practice has not diminished our interest in spirituality or the sacred, or the pursuit and practice of private ritual in our lives and families.
In the winter, at the end of the workday, I put my laptop on a specific shelf, wash my hands with warm water and lovely soap, and turn on a favorite yellow light. Then I light one candle on the coffee table and another on the lantern outside with some incense.
A good habit, you might say? Probably. Except habit, by its very nature, tends to be automatic. On the contrary, whether it is reciting the Psalms or reciting the rosary or pouring a glass of wine, taking a bath or making a cup of tea, doing so at a particular time, with specific action, awareness and intention, causes it becomes a ritual. , which connects us to the continuum of humanity, to existence.
In that ceremony, we confirm our presence and take our place.
Before Christmas, I heard the English writer Madeleine Bunting talk about the ritual. Her argument makes immediate sense: how it comforts, reassures, affirms our belonging, helps us feel more at home in ourselves, our lives and world.
I have written here about abandoning the Holy Days and regret that we have not followed the French and Italians in keeping them as punctuation marks in our increasingly crammed existence. Italian news media and weather forecasters are not consciously referring to Immacolata days in December or Blackbird Days in January.
Today we are constantly commanded to produce, buy, sell and consume. but even a glimpse of life reveals that what we are devouring is that we, the Earth, are each other. If there is a need for higher things, then ritual, whether religious, spiritual or personal, can help us achieve and manifest them.
These nights, like many others, I light a ceremonial candle to Ukrainerecall how in 1240 the people of Kyiv rang the bell.
In the year 2022, their bravery rises like incense over the chrome-steel shell, the symbol of Byzantine.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/the-decline-in-religious-practice-has-not-reduced-interest-in-pursuit-of-private-ritual-41455439.html The decline in religious practice has not dampened interest in pursuing private rituals