Saturday, March 31, 2007

Palm Sunday

Whether in the pre-reform liturgy or in the present, the Latin Church's way of celebrating this day truly reflects life when one thinks of how quickly the Hosannas of Passion Sunday pass and the palm branches are laid aside for the reading of the Passion (this year from Luke's Gospel). Even the Jerusalem procession on Palm Sunday afternoon from Bethphage to St. Ann's just inside the Sheep Gate (as close as a Christian in procession dare get nowadays to the site of the Old Temple) is more marked by the view of the City from Dominus Flevit than by any idea of the stones crying out should the children remain silent.
Here in the neighborhood the surface of the pond was rippled for a couple of weeks by one man's exasperated and exasperating plea for more hosannas and palm waiving in our Catholic life and church services (?) after the example of our separated brethren, who scour the islands always on the lookout for an unreflective, frustrated or bored soul susceptible to the temptation of settling for a Sunday morning jump and shout marathon instead of worship in spirit and in truth. Our man seemed willing to call for a casting aside of the more restrained and sustained Catholic reading of the Scriptures, of the silences not often enough respected and even of the Holy Sacrifice. Waiving of palms, dancing and shaking up and down the aisle, packing 'em in seemed to him to be viable alternatives and adequate signs of the presence of a Holy Spirit, who evidently isn't to be counted as present if sumthin isn't burnin... at least to his mind.
I had a friendly intruder in the yard at breakfasttime the other day, who told me he had abandoned the Catholic faith of his youth for a race related confession set up by some 1970's social theorist. Why he did it for this guy or when he did it, he didn't say.
A certain Milingo keeps telling the press he doesn't put any stock in the canons and what they have to say about certain acts as violations of Catholic communion which leave one outside the fold (excommunicated). One wonders by whom and why this old man is being bankrolled to fly to Brazil and beat the bushes for sympathizers for his liason with a Korean acupuncturist on the eve of a visit from the Holy Father and a celebration of Catholic faith for Latin America. Does he miss us enough to say I'm sorry and return, or will he continue to jump and shout in search of company who will to accept him on his terms?
Meek and riding on a donkey He came, the Son of David. Somewhere on the Mount of Olives (we call the place Dominus Flevit) He stopped and shed tears over the City and its inhabitants who did not recognize the hour of its visitation. They were expecting a different sort of Messiah. Many folks today must be doing the same.
We'll waive our palms and sing our Hosannas; we'll shout them loud, children, maybe so. But we'll quickly lay them aside in respect for His obedience to the Father's will, even unto death, death on a Cross.
I always understood as a child that in Catholic Liturgy we were caught up into the great things, the cosmic things, the ultimate things, the things of heaven. I never doubted, no matter how long the liturgy, that I was where I was supposed to be. In the children's choir we worked hard to learn Latin antiphons we didn't comprehend; we sang Kyrie's, Sanctus' and Agnus Dei's. It was all great and God was there. It still is great and God is still there. From the simplest chapel to the greatest cathedral we sing our hosannas and then do our best to accompany the Son of David from the Upper Room to Gethsemane to Pilate to Golgotha... and beyond, of course!

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