For those of you who haven't been subjected to my countdown, every year I get mighty excited for my birthday on 9 May and, well, today it's only 18 days away. I thought: how cool would it be to spend part of my birthday with His Holiness? So, I sent off the following email to him:
"Dear Pope Benedict XVI,
I am a Canadian graduate student, affiliated with York University in Toronto but currently studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem as a Visiting Graduate. My Master's Thesis focuses on Judges 4 and 5, and learning in the land where the biblical narrative occurred is what brings me to Israel for a year. It is with great excitement that I am sending you this email: your visit to Israel in the second week in May coincides with my birthday. I am aware that you will have a detailed, busy schedule during your time in the Holy Land, but would love to have coffee with you. Obviously, this would be a great honour for me, but I ask for this privilege not only as something special for myself (since turning 40 only happens once in a lifetime) but moreso for my Italian Catholic grandmother and the Roman Catholic members of my family and friends. Although not a Catholic myself, my ancestry as an Irish Canadian includes great-grandparents who were Catholic and this would also honour their memory.
I completely understand if you are unable to accept my invitation, but still wanted to extend it and do hope you consider it. I wish you a safe journey and thank you for your time and consideration in granting a humble birthday wish."
Obviously, I stretched things a bit...ok, a lot. I might be irreverent, but I am not insensitive. This is the reply that I received today:
"This is the mail system at host lists.vatican.va.
I'm sorry to have to inform you that your message could not be delivered to one or more recipients. For further assistance, please send mail to postmaster. If you do so, please include this problem report. You can delete your own text from the attached returned message.
The mail system
mailbox temporarily disabled: email@example.com (in reply to RCPT TO command)"
"Temporarily disabled"? Does this mean that if I send a message later that it'll get through? Or, is this the Vatican's passive-aggressive way of saying: "Nice try, kid"? I sure am glad I didn't have any pressing, grandiose theological problem, or an exorcism I desperately needed help with. Although, from what I understand, Jewish tradition relies on legal contracts drawn up by a rabbi and served to a demon, like a subpoena. Anyway, I guess I'll try again, otherwise I'll have to see the Pope in the streets, like everyone else.