My father and I were sitting on the back porch and saw the first robins of the season hopping about on the dewy grass in our back yard. Several days earlier, I had observed that tulip sprouts were shooting up by the driveway. "Wow, is spring on the way already?" I queried to myself. Then I felt my nose tingle and my ears plug like they always do when anything resembling life pops its head above the barren ground. Yep, spring's a-coming, alright. Good thing I decided to start taking my allergy medicine early!
The end of February and the beginning of March, brought into transition this year by Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory XIII's ingenious "Leap Year" extra day device, makes me realize just how fast time is moving. And speaking of fast, the Forty Days of Lent are upon us! For me, that generally means grinding my secular reading list to a halt and picking up religious volumes instead. Also, it means those never-ending Fridays without computer, subsisting off a bowl of applesauce and an English muffin until dinnertime. Yes, I know it's not heroics, but in a culture where one is used to satisfying one's desires instantaneously, it's against the grain. And did you ever notice how everything starts looking like food around the house when you're on a fast? The clock is transformed into a pizza pie and pencils start looking like licorice whips! But alas, raiding the Lazy Susie for a snack is strictly forbidden. "Get thee behind me....."
At my parish (or at least one of parishes we attend....you see, we are really "Roaming Catholics"), the preparations for a Living Stations of the Cross production are under way. This is a good opportunity for teens and young adults to get involved in a church program for Lent. I am going to play Veronica, so I hope to watch one of my favorite Lenten films with the group so that we can all get the feeling of our parts. The movie is called The Redeemer, produced by Fr. Patrick Peyton. In my opinion, screen depictions of the Passion do not have to be excessively gory in order to be moving. This cinema oldie portrays Our Lord and Our Lady with tasteful tenderness and does an emotionally engrossing job of contrasting the base cruelty of mankind with the fathomless mercy of God.
For the celebration of spring, I am listening to a marvelous CD of seasonal English and early American folksongs. Contained within are rustic hymns, rowdy tavern toasts, and ritual ditties referring to planting, "pace-egging", and Maypole dancing, among other things. The amazing thing about folk music in general is the sheer depth and impact that can be contained within a simple rhyme and catchy tune. The nearness of death is often the back-drop of seemingly light-hearted songs, and after-life is shown as a looming reality and ultimate destiny. Lord Nelson and his crew return as ghosts to collect eggs; plants are depicted as men who are cut down only to spring up again; barleycorn (used for making beer) is cheered as a battle-hero who will "shed his blood for
England's good." Perverse,
darkly humorous, ghoulish? Perhaps. Profound and thought-provoking? Most definitely.
This is a season for thinking deep thoughts, after all. Christ is wandering in the silence of the desert, resisting temptation, thinking on His mission, and probably contemplating His prophesied death. I wonder sometimes if He saw us all in his reflections, just as He saw us all during His Agony in the Garden. History was an open book to Him, and everything hinged on one paradoxical act: His own death. So we are invited to enter into communion with Jesus Christ in this Lenten Season, confront our own demons, and reflect on the things of God. With His Grace, we hope to emerge as better Christians, strengthened for the battle of Life that is brought to the forefront on Good Friday, and prepared to draw new hope from the Rising of the Easter Son.
So tell me, my dear readers, what do you all plan on doing for Lent?
Christ Battles with Satan in the Wilderness