Flevit super illam

Has anyone noticed that the darkest days of our pandemic, if the epidemiologists are right, will coincide with Holy Week, the darkest days in the Christian calendar. And these are now upon us. The first statistical indication that the pandemic is lifting, having done its worst, may well coincide with Easter.

But the churches are “locked down.” A week from now, they will still be closed, by order of the civil authorities, for a good hygienic reason. Perhaps on some South Sea Island there is one still open, under the palms. We aren’t allowed to travel, or even be out of doors under the virus-bleaching sun in places like Italy. The spring itself we may still glimpse, up here in the Northern Hemisphere; through windows.

Or I from my sumptuous concrete balcony, to which my sweet housefinches have returned from the far south. They must have heard the news, about social distancing, for they fly off if I come within six feet of them.

From the Internet I learn of sheep, and other farm animals, seen wandering into towns and villages, puzzled about where all the people have gone. They probably assume that someone will still feed them: there is no rebellion in their blank faces. But their pasture has been indefinitely enlarged, thanks perhaps to some keeper who left a gate open. At first they didn’t surge through the gate; they are not, after all, libertarian by nature. But there is always one sheep to find the gate open, and he will have many followers.

Another picture, from one of those countries which lives closer to nature, shows a jaguar taking his paces. I’ve never seen a real Jaguar on a high street, only fake motorized purring metal ones. But give it time, and all the world would be closer to nature. And then we would be wise to stay indoors.

Except for the sirens of some first responders, out there somewhere, the world is at peace. The Son of Man, descending from the Mount of Olives, has come to be glorified.

Astride farm animals, comfortably saddled upon disciples’ cloaks, he will pass through Jerusalem Wall. He will be greeted by the palms, from those who now have reason to suspect that He is exactly who He says. The news has been circulating. There were witnesses. Bodies so advanced in decay as that of the entombed Lazarus do not normally rise from the dead, as they know. Not even when they are told to.

Something remarkable has happened; the occasion for Lazarus Saturday to the Orthodox, and through the Eastern Churches; where they have read the Gospel of John.

The season of death and resurrection is upon us. It has come, from Bethany. That donkey and that colt — they have now entered Jerusalem Town. Oddly, they carry Christ. If it was through what later became Saint Stephen’s Gate that they passed, then they passed into what later became the Via Dolorosa. But who can know about these things, before they have happened? For all the rich symbols that are converging, the world cannot yet know.

I saw a man on the steps out in front of Holy Family, here in Parkdale the other day. He was saying his Rosary. I’d often noticed this man at his devotions in the church itself, through all the various seasons of the year. I imagined him for a moment as the last Christian, in a world where the streets were empty, and a fresh spring breeze was blowing dried rubbish about. A sorrowful statue of Our Lady was his last companion.

There is more than anyone can say; through the coming week I shall keep my silence. I have anyway said too much over the last several. Let us wait and pray.