Sunday, February 22, 2009

Prepping for the Ashes and the Palm

Because it's 'movable', Easter doesn't so much 'sneak up on me' as it steals a march and surprises me. Reading some notes from around the world on line, I realized tomorrow in Mainz, Germany (and elsewhere) is Rosenmontag followed by Fastnacht Dienstag. Meanwhile on this side of the pond it's Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

There are many variations of an 'eat, drink and be merry' mentality as we rush towards Ash Wednesday. Tradition has it, that the ash placed on your forehead by the priest who reminds you to 'remember man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return' is actually made from burning the palm that remained from the previous year's Palm Sunday (the day that starts Holy Week and marks the triumphant arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem).

As a loyal son of Holy Mother Church, I know all the rituals and the words that accompany them--my memory isn't the problem, my heart is, but that's not my point today. As kids, and even as adults, we sometimes lose sight of where we might best concentrate on the calendar in terms of whatever you might wish to call spirituality. It's easy to celebrate Christmas and to believe in its importance and of course, the Birth of the Saviour should more often that not pass the "huh?" test.

But I think the defining points that make me a Catholic and a Christian (or the other way around, I'm never sure which is a subset of what) is the death of Christ and His Resurrection. I'm not sure how we in The West (capitalization? Why Not?) have managed to balance the passion of the Christ, His Crucifixion, burial and His Resurrection with pieces of chocolate and the Easter Bunny. I'm not sure this entry will get reposted in the Cadberry Factory newsletter or be read aloud on Easter Monday in Hershey, Pennsylvania, but that's how I see the world.

I'm not Cotton or Increase Mather, early colonial ministers one of whom purportedly noted that 'the purpose of life is to prepare us to be dead for a long time.' Talk about harshing your buzz. Maybe that's why you never saw a Pilgrim smile or maybe, if you have that as a perspective, life isn't quite as much fun as it could be.
-bill kenny

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