One of the many, many reasons I am a Catholic-- one of the many reasons that I believe Catholicism is true-- is because I think it gives satisfaction and legitimacy to all the deepest human urges.
My father is watching TV downstairs as I type. A few minutes ago, while I was in the living room, he was watching a programme about the re-instituted veneration, in the Church of England, of the relics of St. Alban. An Anglican priest was defending the resumption of this practice, which was obviously one of the bones of contention (pun intended) of the English Reformation.
Sooner or later the veneration of relics was bound to re-emerge, because it is one of those quintessentially human things-- one of those things the heart and soul cries out for-- that the Church blesses. Like the oral confession of sins, and the acceptance that men and women are different in important ways, and splendour, and austerity, and stories, and heroes.
And one of the human yearnings that the Church blesses is the yearning for special places and times. Prigs, and the prig within all of us, likes to complain that God is everywhere, and always present, and not more so at one time rather than another.
But the good news is that the Church not only indulges our need for special times and special places, it positively encourages and exalts it. It enjoins us to go on pigrimages, to enter places of worship, to pay a special reverence to the altar and the tabernacle.
And, of course, it gives us special times, too.
This evening, as the priest and deacon in my parish church washed the feet of parishioners, and the purple drapes covered the familiar statues, and the blessed Sacrament was moved to the Altar of Repose, some unfathomable appetite in my soul was fully and magnificently satisfied.
Sometimes it becomes so frustrating, not being able to fully convey to other people that one's membership of the Church is not a matter simply of belief, or of assent, or of consolation or aspiration or yearning, but of gloriously fulfilled love.
May this holy and solemn season bring us all to a deeper communion with our crucified and risen Lord!