Today is Ash Wednesday and Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent. Or to put it another way, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Church’s observance of the Lenten season—six weeks set apart for the purpose of drawing closer to God and seeking him with greater intensity.
However, most of us see this as a time to give something up we enjoy like chocolate or alcohol. Or both if we have strong will power! How many of us though will give up our job? Or our calling?
Perhaps only one man – the Pope!
That’s right, Pope Benedict XVI has decided to leave an office from which most previous incumbents have occupied until their final breath has left them. And who can blame him? This is an office into which he was appointed when he was 78 years old. Now, at the age of 85 and with failing health he needs a rest.
Oddly enough, shortly after he announced his resignation, St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City was struck by lightning.
Was this a message from God? Was God saying “YOU’RE GIVING UP WHAT FOR LENT?”
Many cardinals from around the world will now have to give up their nice comfortable bed for Lent as they head off to Vatican City to start the whole process of electing a new Pope. During this period the cardinals will begin to discuss – discreetly of course – the merits of likely candidates. And with all those cardinals in one room, one wonders whether the discussion could turn into the Spanish Inquisition!
As Monty Python once said “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope…. Our *four*…no… *Amongst* our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise…”
I thought I could help the cardinals by placing an ad in the Situations Vacant pages of all the national papers:
Full Time 24 hours a day – every day
Suitable for persons of retirement age looking for something to do other than gardening. You will provide day to day spiritual support within the Catholic Church. The post is residential and you will operate from ‘home’. You should have a proven Catholic background. Excellent travel prospects and company vehicle provided. Uniform will be provided. Successful applicant must be able to take up this position at the end of Lent in time to conduct the Easter service.
The Catholic Church is NOT an equal opportunities employer and women need not apply!
Now, having been a little blasphemous, I’d better get on my knees and say a few Hail Mary’s!