Friday, February 24, 2012

"Gone Fishin'"

Much as the whole of Lent calls for a spirit of prayer, penance, generosity and renewal, it's no secret that Fridays have a special pride of place on the journey.

If they didn't, why else would we have the Filet-O-Fish?

After Ash Wednesday itself, this Friday and the five to follow bring us again to what's arguably the last great remaining public manifestation of mass-scale Catholic identity, between (at least, in the English-speaking church) the obligatory abstinence from meat and, in no shortage of locales, the traditional start of the weekly fish-fries that turn the season's individual practice into a beloved community-building act.

Still, much as their customs remain cherished and widely held, even if they're just six days each year, the temptation to let Lenten Fridays become rote still remains, and something seems to say we need to .

There's a reason they're here, after all, explained by another popular ritual of these Fridays to come: the Stations of the Cross, whether on one's own or come nightfall with a group. And however we might mark this Day Three beyond the basics, it all goes back to that: week by week, an intensifying of the road toward The Sacrifice, a "Death on a Friday Afternoon," that each in their own way -- and even with the inevitable stumbles along the path -- these days' little "deaths" of self-denial might find us led all the more to newness of life on their other side.

In other words, one by one, these Fridays make for a moment too important to lose. So in the hope of delving into it head-first, let's return again to the most moving mini-Passion we'll ever hear -- Isaiah's prophecy of the Suffering Servant as arranged by Handel, performed by the alto soloist Virginia Warnken and the Choir and Orchestra of Trinity Church in New York....

And with a vintage reflection on how to live the call of these days to their fullest, here now, a word from our Shepherd:

On a Calendar Note, late weekend brings the beginning of the Pope's annual Lenten Retreat with his Curia, to be given this year by the head of Africa's largest diocese, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, on the theme "Communion of the Christian with God."

During the weeklong gathering, Vatican business essentially grinds to a halt, so expect the news-cycle to slow down accordingly; truth be told, B16's far from the only one who could use a "desert" getaway right now.

All that said, on to the First Sunday... and, again, all the strength, hope, results and richness of the walk to you and yours.