Feasts and fragility

What a week it's been!

It began and ended with fragility. On Monday, to universal, open-mouthed incredulity, the pope announced not just his intention to retire, but his increasing weakness and fragility. Suddenly, all eyes were on every tremor, every halting step or slurred word, whilst the fragility within the Church was picked over. And amazingly, a world which lauds youth and strength declared its respect and appreciation of his admission. So we began with fragility and certain certainties turned upside down.

And we ended with more fragility as we watched, again open-mouthed, the news unfolding from South Africa. Oscar Pistorius, an iconic Olympian and Paralympian whose struggles and tenacity had inspired countless athletes, especially disabled ones, was accused of murdering his girlfriend. A hero came crashing down from his pedestal, and we could see how fleeting and fragile are all those medals and awards, all those words of praise.

As if that wasn't enough, we ended, a few hours later, with our universal, cosmic fragility, in the shape of meteorites and asteroids; a reminder of just how small and vulnerable we are in the grandest of grand schemes of things.

And in between all this, Lent began with not two but three feast days: Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and St Valentines. Here in Britain there's no Mardi Gras, no Carnevale: our feasting is somewhat more restrained than on the continent - though we still end up eating more pancakes than we normally would! But the transition into the sombreness and sparseness of Lent is there, though perhaps less extreme than if we had spent the previous day - or few days - partying in the streets. And then, so randomly this year, straight into St Valentines, a day often marked by special meals, champagne and chocolate, as well as marriage proposals and declarations of love.

Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, St Valentines... or as one of my sisters put it, Eat-Pray-Love. Which is a lovely way of grounding us in normality, reminding us, in a week of crashing asteroids and heroes and ecclesial uncertainty, that this is what is essential: to nourish ourselves, to pray and to love.

But what will next week bring...???


  1. Lovely - thanks Silvana, much to reflect on and I like the way you connect it all and now, in the last few hours, April's death, swift and without struggle. How good God is though we are left bare again. Mary


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