Recently after a family dinner, our two and a half-year old son, John, provided us with a laugh that still infects us even today causing all of us to grin ear to ear… Thank God for the wonderful gift of children, and the extra blessing that an unexpected child “late in life” affords to mothers and fathers, and to the entire family. John, like every child, is a treasure…a gift from the Holy Trinity, a constant and daily reminder of the very essence of Orthodox theology namely that, “God is good – and loves mankind”, and in the person of John Patrick Cook… indeed there is no doubt that God is good – very good – and loves both him and us.
So each day after dinner our family reads the appointed lection (Bible readings for that day) a portion from an epistle and a Gospel and we often read the accompanying notes in the Orthodox Study Bible (an awesome Bible) , which always illumines the text in light of what the Church has always taught and believed over the centuries about those passages. Then we read the Hagiography, or lives of the saints. In the Church, everyday is a feast day, as the lives of countless numbers of saints and martyrs are appointed and remembered and celebrated. This has been a practice since the beginnings of the Church when She was severely persecuted, and when martyrdom was not an “if” but a reality of “when” in most Christians lives. The early believers began to remember the days that these martyrs left this world for paradise – for that day was their real ‘birthday’, and so we comemorate today our brothers and sisters, and prayers are prayed remembering them in love as family and prayers ask them to continue to pray with us, and for us, that we might finish the race as nobly as they did. They are our ‘kin’ and it is so good to get to know them now, so that on that glorious day when we see them in the New Jerusalem… we’ll recognize them as ‘old friends’ and carry on as only ‘family’ would.
So in the middle of one of these saints’ stories it read, “…and he reposed peacefully in the Lord in the year 315 AD…” Just for the heck of it, and as a quick way to measure the quality of our children’s education these days I said, “Does anyone know what A.D. stands for?” Immediately I saw the eyes of our oldest two children light up (both in High School) and they were ready to answer out loud when I held up my hand and said non-verbally, “…wait…” Then I looked at our other two children and they seemed a bit perplexed and stumped, doing their best like most kids do, to look like they are searching the deepest recesses of their mind for of all their stored knowledge hoping to find somewhere the answer… but it was obvious nothing was coming…
So, in a move of pure comic relief and Divine grace, I looked very seriously at our two-year old son John and said, “Johnny do you know what AD means?” And of course you had to be there, but he saw that everyone, all 12 eyes were looking intently at him, and that gave birth to that immaculate and beautiful smile that is his, and with his sky blue eyes twinkling due to the sudden attention on him. He knew the stage was his – he looked at me again smiling ear to ear, and I said, “John what does AD mean…?” and he said…
“Ah Dunno…” (translated “I don’t know”) but clearly it was A – Dunno
So there you have it the real meaning of the letters AD… not Anno Domini (the Year of our Lord) but ‘ah dunno’
Now we laugh every time we hear AD in any context and that’s why when John gets into school he will get that question wrong on every test, like I did when I was a kid, when I answered and said that thunder was when clouds “bumped” into each other… because someone once told me when I was impressionable that’s the way it was. The good news, is that I survived. The kids in class all had a good laugh at my expense… and I laugh about it today – but “ah dunno” that seems to be the best way in life to learn – for to receive a dose of humility mixed with a handful of laughter breeds saints in every age. Saints like our little Johnny. Many years to you – our precious son.
Read the Saint’s Lives HERE
Read the Lection of the Day HERE