Sunday, 6 April 2008

A puzzle for Eastertide

Having received a prompt, I have spent the last week trying to come up with meme suitable for the Easter season. This was meant to follow up from la mamma's Lenten meme. I haven't really succeeded, so it has transformed into a puzzle. You can post the answer (sorry, an answer, any answer, if there is one) on your own blog, but do put an alert into my comment box so I can link to it.

The Gospel for the Friday of the Easter Octave is from St John, and includes a description of Simon Peter bringing ashore is fishing net "full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them" (Jn 21:11). Various interpretations of the number 153 are given by the Fathers of the Church - St Augustine, for example, starts with the number 10 as representing the Decalogue, the "law"; the "law" without the "spirit" is dead, so he then adds "7" as the number representing, in his gifts, the Holy Spirit; we thereby reach the number 17; St Augustine's calculation then continues as 1+2+3+4+...+16+17=153. [Source Augustine on John 122, consulted on Biblia Clerus]. The figure of 153 is meant to represent the sum total of all those who will be saved, the sum total of the holiness that is in the Church. Another approach to this can be found on pp.82-85 of Hans Urs von Balthasar's First Glance at Adrienne von Speyr.

The puzzle then: is there a hymn or poem for Easter with exactly 153 words? or, (perhaps?), exactly 153 lines? Or 153 verses (well, probably not this last one!). I suspect that near misses will have to be counted as well. You might even feel inspired to write your own ...

PS. Do sing at Mass this morning, as well as counting the words!

1 comment:

Rita said...

I was hoping the Pange Lingua would weigh in with the correct number of words, but it falls short with only 115.

The Stabat Mater does better with 143.

Just out of interest when did the commandments given to Moses by God first get known as the "decalogue"? St Augustine counted a different 10 to the Jews and as far as I know they don't appear to be numbered anywhere in scripture.

I'm not a great fan of giving numbers significance, the relationships between numbers possibly, but not numbers themselves. Wikipedia tells me 153 = 1cubed + 5cubed + 3cubed and that 153= 1!+2!+3!+4!+5!. I wonder if there is any number that doesn't have a mathematical trick up its sleeve?