Saturday, April 08, 2006

Oh, Let's Go Back To the Start....

Just in case any of you were curious, I spent yesterday recovering from an amazing experience.

My sister and I were lucky enough to catch the final night of Coldplay's US tour on Thursday, as Chris Martin (Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow) & Co. closed out a year of sold-out shows on these fair shores of ours. Great seats, all the songs we love, mind-blowing production with the lighting and staging, and some of the most beautiful female fans in creation -- all of which combined to make for rock liturgy at its finest.

God is good, dear friends. All the time.

My sis and I have both loved the band for years -- the moment I first heard "Don't Panic" as a freshman in college remains impeccably clear in my memory -- so to get to see their last US gig for quite some time was a real thrill.

Thanks to "The Scientist," I woke up with no voice. Not the best way to start a day when the phone was ringing early and often with Curial meeting buzz.

Nobody said it was easy, after all.

Now all that's left is to (finally) catch the long-elusive U2 gig -- the Holy Grail of concerts, at least in my book -- and I can sing my Nunc dimittis. Or "Yahweh".... And I want Diarmuid Martin there for that show....

It's not too much to ask.

Back to business, however, I was on the phone with a reader at the start of Lent who told me that his usual penitential fast was to refrain from news and media, using the time he'd spend reading those to devote to prayer, recollection and good works.

I really liked the idea. But I know myself enough that I couldn't do it through the whole of Lent.... This week called Holy, however, urges us to push harder, to pray more fervently, and to rid ourselves of any obstacles which would prevent a wholehearted, and wholeheaded, immersion in the reliving of the greatest story ever told: the ultimate testimony of God's love for the world, for each of us.

And not even a comprehensive rejiggering of the Roman Curia, or whatever else is in the cards, should divert our focus from that.

Of course, this week will mark Benedict XVI's first Holy Week on Peter's chair. It's the peak of pilgrimage season in Rome but, more importantly, it's a time when the relatively little things fade to the background and the Paschal mystery becomes the story, as well it should. One of the great identifiers of Joseph Ratzinger is that he lives liturgy; the cadences of the calendar are something he integrates meaningfully and constantly into his life. And there's no better time for the rest of us to try and follow suit than in the wonder, the emotion and the depth of this week of weeks, so we can truly experience it in all its richness.

The point of all this is to say that, in the name of keeping our focus on the most important Story of the days to come, Whispers will be on hiatus for Holy Week. My Lent's been chaos, and I've done little of what I set out to do, so this is my last chance to get some (much-needed) spiritual housecleaning taken care of before Easter. Know that each of you, your loved ones, and all your good intentions will be in my thoughts and prayers through the Masses and Offices of the week, and it'd mean the world if some of you would do the same for me.

It's been said that the church was born when the blood and water flowed forth from the side of the crucified Christ. With that in mind, let us all pray that in reliving the moment when salvation history reached its culmination, we may rise to the joy of Easter day purified and strengthened.

A blessed Holy Week to everyone!