Do you like standing in line? I guess that depends on what we’re standing in line for!
I don’t mind standing in line for a Shake Shack hamburger (except on the Fridays of Lent!), or to get into a Yankee game. I do get bothered standing in line at a grocery market checkout line, or to board an airplane.
Last week, early on Ash Wednesday morning, as we began our forty day journey of Lent to Easter, I was at St. Francis of Assisi Church on 31st street in Manhattan, and was moved by a lot of people standing in line.
First, there were more than two hundred homeless standing in line, as they do every morning, to get a hot cup of coffee, orange juice, hot oatmeal, and a sandwich. They were thrilled to stand in line for what might be their only meal that day.
Then I went into the church and saw people standing in line for blessed ashes, and they appeared rather reflective and prayerful.
I noticed yet another line of dozens of folks standing in line, waiting to go to confession, as two Franciscan friars patiently heard their sins.
Finally, yet one more line, with hundreds of people approaching the altar to receive our Lord in Holy Communion.
Lots of lines, hundreds of people standing in line, none seeming to mind a bit, for at the top of that line was something—Someone!—they really needed.
Come to think of it, in the Church we have a lot of lines, especially in Lent!
Sunday, hundreds stood in line at St. Patrick’s, catechumens and candidates waiting to enroll their names for entrance into the Church at the Easter vigil.
Friday evening, I watched as many stood in line at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to walk the Stations of the Cross.
When we begin Holy Week, we’ll stand in line to process with the blessed palms.
On Holy Thursday, we’ll stand in line to walk with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose.
On Good Friday, we’ll stand in line to venerate the cross of Christ.
At the Easter Vigil, we’ll stand in line to process into Church with our candles lit from the Easter fire.
“Onward, Christian soldiers!”
“When the saints come marching in.”
Lots of standing in line...but is it ever worth it!