18 March 2023


Of course, the Statio today has to be at the Roman Church of S Susanna, who might have died a dreadful death if Daniel hadn't shown his detective skills. Dorothy Sayers included this delightful story (from what Anglicans call the Deutero-canonical parts of the Book of Daniel) in an anthology of detective fiction, with the comment "Susanna ... may be taken as foreshadowing the Gallic method of eliciting the truth by the confrontation of witnesses."

In the Missal, of course, the story is paired with the Johannine comma, in which the Lord protects (not an innocent but) a guilty woman. I think there is some evidence that this pericope came from the lost Gospel according to the Hebrews, which had (judging from quotations given by S Jerome) some stylistic links with S Luke.

The story of Susanna being a bit longish, the Novus Ordo offered, as an alternative, a shortened version. In a Collins Missal we used in the College Chapel three decades ago, there was a line down the margin: if you read just those bits, you would get the abbreviated essence of the story. I had a colleague, now departed this life who, instead, read the bits which lacked the line. This resulted in the most incomprehensible narrative of the purest gibberish I ever heard in Christian worship.

Hippolytus gave a typological interpretation of this story (I summarise the story and interpolate the typological interpretations in red).

"On an opportune day On the Pascha Susanna desired to be washed a bath was prepared because it was hot (kauma en), for those who were 'burning'. Two companions Faith and Charity prepared soaps (smigmata) the Commandments of the Word,  and oil Chrism to confer the Spirit. Susanna was bathed The Church is cleansed by a bath of baptismal water."


Expeditus said...

At Horbury in the good old days (they made a new foundation in the Newcastle diocese in the early 60's!), Fr Plumridge used to substitute another reading for the Susanna one. It wasn't the length that bothered him but the sensibilities of the nuns!

Grant Milburn said...

Then there's the parlour game Alibi, in which two players, as the crims, concoct a plausible alibi together. Then the others, as the police, interrogate them separately.

Officer: OK, sunshine, where were you two at 10 pm last night?
Crim1: At the Mall.
O: Which one?
C1: Casablanca.
O: What were you doing?
C1: We were watching a movie.
O: Which one?
C1: Avengers… Infinity War.

Officer: OK, sonny, where were you two at 10 pm last night?
Crim2: At the Mall.
O: Which one?
C2: Casablanca.
O: What were you doing?
C2: Watching a movie.
O: Which one?
C2: Avengers… Endgame.

Officer: I reckon it's the endgame for you and your pal, and checkmate too! OK, take 'em away.