Saturday, May 16, 2015

Saintly Saturday: St. Musa

Today is the Feast of St. Musa. Rather than have me summarize her life, I am simply going to quote St. Gregory the Dialogist and his account of her life:
Neither must that be forgotten, which the servant of God before mentioned, called Probus, used to tell of a little sister which he had, called Musa: for he said that one night our blessed Lady appeared unto her in vision, shewing her sundry young maids of her own years, clothed all in white: whose company she much desiring, but yet not presuming to go amongst them, the Blessed Virgin asked her whether she had any mind to remain with them, and to live in her service: to whom she answered that willingly she would. Then our blessed Lady gave her in charge, not to behave herself lightly, nor to live any more like a girl, to abstain also from laughing and pastime, telling her that after thirty days she should, amongst those virgins which she then saw, be admitted to her service.

After this vision, the young maid forsook all her former behaviour: and with great gravity reformed the levity of her childish years: which thing her parents perceiving, and demanding from whence that change proceeded, she told them what the blessed Mother of God had given her in commandment, and upon what day she was to go unto her service. Five and twenty days after, she fell sick of an ague; and upon the thirtieth day, when the hour of her departure was come, she' beheld our blessed Lady, accompanied with those virgins which before in vision she saw to come unto her, and being called to come away, she answered with her eyes modestly cast downward, and very distinctly spake in this manner: "Behold, blessed Lady, I come, behold, blessed Lady, I come": in speaking of which words she gave up the ghost, and her soul departed her virgin's body, to dwell for ever with the holy virgins in heaven.
St. Gregory is a very interesting person. He spent many years in Constantinople as a papal legate, returned to Rome to become bishop, is credited with one of the liturgies that the Orthodox Church uses to this day and, using Byzantine Chant as a basis, created what is now called Gregorian Chant. The above quote comes from one of his many writings, most of which were written in the literary form of the dialogue (thus his title).

St. Gregory the Dialogist

It reminds me that dialogue plays a critical role in the history of this hobby. For me, at least, the most useful and formative texts found in the various editions of RPGs still are the examples of play, which take the form of the dialogue.

These introduced me to the idea, not only of how to play the various games we play, but that the creative process can be a collaborative experience. Indeed, I must confess that as much as I enjoy writing, drawing, painting, etc. all of these pale in comparison to those moments when my own creativity collides, conflicts and cooperates with someone else’s creativity.

RPGs are, in a way, a singular form of creative expression. I have spent many hours of my life creating worlds with their own rules, characters, histories, etc. I have, however, never really been interested in producing novels, novellas or short stories about any of them. As much fun as it is to create them, they never become alive to me with out the interaction with other people via an RPG.

Life is full of surprises and it is only when one of my worlds collides with the manic force of other people’s creative personalities that my worlds truly surprise me and become living things. This is especially true when dialogue happens at the table when NPCs and PCs interact. When it comes to the most important and critical moments in any campaign I have ever run, all of them are because of a relationship the PCs formed with a monster and/or NPC.

The wonder that I hold for that moment, when a world breathes for the first time because someone else’s creative spirit collides with my own is why I have played RPGs most of my life. This moment in time cannot be found in writing novels, plays, or movies. It cannot be found in playing or writing computer games. It cannot be found watching great TV or movies. It can only be found at the gaming table. It is why when (as now) I have not been in places, times or situations where I can play, I pine for the moment when I can. I expect to feel this way for the rest of my life.

1 comment:

  1. The advent of television did not replace the public’s demand for motion pictures. Table top fantasy role-playing has not disappeared with the advent of the home computer and television video games; nor is extinction of role-playing games upon us. The enjoyment derived from pen-and-paper or traditional role-playing games (RPG) is different from that provided by interactive video games. There is no substitute for the collective, cooperative, willing suspension of disbelief as a group of friends gather around a large table for a night of gaming.

    OR to site another blogger

    “You really, absolutely, definitely, indisputably do not need a detailed character background before play begins. In fact, all you really need is a name, a class, stats, and some equipment, and you're good - because within five minutes of the game beginning you will without fail find your character beginning to take on a personality of his own. This strange and almost mystical emergence of character through play is one of the best things about the hobby, and it amazes me that people have been so determined, for decades, to kill that concept.”
    Monsters and Manuals Blog, 21 October 2011