A.J. DiCintio
Eastertime lessons
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By A.J. DiCintio
April 8, 2012

When I was a teenager, I often fulfilled my obligation to get to church on Good Friday by walking a few blocks to the Polish Catholic Church, thereby solving the problem of taking the bus into town to the "Italian" Church.

Now, as fate (or an infinitely greater Power) would have it, something I experienced during one of those occasions lasted just a few minutes yet turned out to produce an ever expanding body of lessons over decades.

What happened was this: Having been prevented from entering the church by an unexpected crowd at the entrance, I waited and in a short time discovered that a custom previously unknown to me was the cause of the backup.

Specifically, the congregation's adults, whom, as a teen, I distinguished only as old, older, and oldest, were progressing from the back of the church to the altar in two single file lines...incredibly, on their knees.

Reluctant for a moment to participate in a custom I knew nothing about, I soon concluded that if the old folks could do it, I certainly could. Not to mention that by the advanced age of 16, I could proudly boast of grasping the meaning of the injunction, "When in Rome..."

And so the boy of Italian heritage got on his knees, already thinking about how he'd relate the experience of behaving "as the Polish do" to his friends on the block.

For the longest time, I haven't remembered what was on display at the altar. Perhaps it was the Eucharist, wonderfully appropriate, given what Christians have to be profoundly grateful for on Good Friday and that the word "Eucharist" comes from the Greek for "thankful."

Perhaps palms, on this day serving as a particularly powerful reminder of the transience of earthly things.

Or perhaps nothing special; for if there is ever a day for Christians to simply get on their knees it's Good Friday.

But that forgetfulness notwithstanding, I have always recalled that instead of reacting as a teen might and become fixated on the "weirdness" of the custom, I came away from church that afternoon appreciative of having experienced the unashamed manner by which the congregants humbled themselves before God.

As the years passed and I reflected on the day, I associated other thoughts with it, especially those regarding the significance of religious faith, which has so universally been an aspect of human behavior that modern biologists speak of the possibility of discovering a "religion gene."

I thought of the morally upright, intellectually sound behavior exhibited by people who openly admitted to faith as the reason for their religious beliefs, resisting the temptation to imitate those who hocus pocus a million lying words in support of the scientific nature of their essentially metaphysical concepts and theories.

I came to reflect, too, upon how the believers in that church as well as their literal and figurative sons and daughters in houses of worship across this nation have humbly practiced their faith despite the anger, mockery, and filth spewed at them by blustering buffoons, mostly of the political left.

In fact, to this day that lesson causes me to contrast the behavior of human beings who worship God only with that of moral and intellectual frauds who make a religion of politics and gods of politicians.

But in the positive, my experience in a small church and the life lessons that have flowed from it impel me to pause during this season to remember that just as their ancestors did for two millennia with a variety of beautiful customs, pageants, and songs, millions across the globe continue to live their lives bearing the sorrows of Good Friday, bolstered by a proud, unwavering faith that promises, in all its wondrous hope and glory, the Resurrection that is Easter

© A.J. DiCintio

 

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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.

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