Sunday, March 28, 2010

Faith of Our Fathers

As a child, this was a big deal Sunday in my house. And I have to be honest, I was almost a teen before I even fully grasped why--Palm Sunday was up there near, though not quite at, Christmas Mass and Easter, and when my first name still had a 'y' on the end of it, I never really followed the reasoning as to why. Behold the Man, indeed.

Palm Sunday always seemed to be the deceptive handshake. The New Testament has accounts of the triumphal entry of the Son of God into Jerusalem, being welcomed by those who (as John Lennon would offer later), were 'lying with his eyes while his hands are busy working overtime' as part of the inevitability of a week that had Him crucified on Friday (a more excruciating way to die at the time was unknown) and resurrected on Sunday.

I never impressed any of the nuns at St. Peter's School (now called Saint Peter the Apostle I guess to distinguish him from the St. Peter who played shortstop for the Newark Bears in the middle seventies) in New Brunswick with my scholastic aptitude or ability to interpret scriptures (I was almost married myself before I caught on to the importance of 'for I know not any man' and Joseph not having Mary stoned and why) and yet I still experience a dryness in my mouth dreadful foreboding as the events of the Passion Week unfold.

I couldn't stop reading about it as a child and I couldn't look away. When Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber cashed in with Jesus Christ Superstar, if nothing else, they linked the inquisition of Christ forever in my mind with a jaunty little music hall number that I can hear even as I type this. Another reason I'm confident of my destination in the next life.

Today is a day for many to visit the church of their choice. Sidewalks are crowded as families make their way to retrieve fronds of blessed palm (my mom's mother had a piece that never left its location, behind a framed black and white photo on the wall. Only now do I realize I have no idea of whom the picture was, nor any idea who I might ask). The blessed palm that doesn't end up scotch-taped to auto rear-view mirrors or suspended by a thumbtack alongside the front door will be collected after all the Masses today, at least in the Catholic Church of my youth, and then burned to become the ashes used on our foreheads for Ash Wednesday.

Intro ibo ad alteri Dei. I think I still know the words and know that I always will. I once had the faith to believe in their meaning but I lost that, or perhaps threw it over the side to help speed me on my way, and then I lost my way. I have the charts and maps spread out on the floor, but it's starless and bible black and I can't find my way home.
-bill kenny


Anonymous said...

Easy first...thanks for the Blind Faith link...YouTube has nearly everything (still trying to see Duane playing slide on Layla).
Hard one...I go most Sundays and while not always totally uplifting, inspiring, illuminating, it is nearly always comforting and a bit of a refocus. Still, must admit the best part are the friends who also come.

dweeb said...

I envy you the comfort that the beliefs and the ritual brings and hate my own pride for being too stiff-necked to be able to do the same.

I sometimes feel like Honore de Balzac writing The Atheist's Mass which adds a whole new meaning to cold comfort and change.

Thanks for reading, and after all these years, and thousands of miles, for still willing to be my friend.