Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Almost There!

Lent can be and is a trying time for some people. Several of my co-workers at the parish became quite ill this past month. Grandparents of friends became ill and one has passed away. We can get bombarded with stories of pain and suffering, whether our own, our friends, or from the news and media. As I was talking to my mentor yesterday, she said it feels like evil is winning, with all the bad things happening in the world around us. It could be easy to believe, but as Christians, we know the ending.

All the beauty and glory of our faith will soon be brought forth in churches across the world! The Triduum represents SO MUCH! Faith and servitude we are to take up (washing the feet of others), pain and suffering, but also mercy (venerating the cross), and finally hope and new life! Jesus's death was not in vain, our Savior did not die so evil can win. He died so that we, his followers and believers, can have hope and combat the evil of the world with our love.

Those in RCIA at my parish will be experiencing the full Triduum, plus our own "holy hours" and prayer services. Although they have been going through this journey for about 7 months now, this is the time where hearts are converted and truly opened up. I am excited that I am able to participate and witness their conversions and their entry into the church. Triduum, here we come!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Week!

I am back from Mexico.
I got a sinus infection, probably while I was in Mexico.
It's finally Holy Week!

Sometimes Lent seems longer than it is. Can't we sing the Gloria yet? Can't we use the "A" word at Mass? When do we get to celebrate!? Well, here it is, the holiest week of the year. It's actually hard to believe that this weekend we will be celebrating the Triduum. I only have two more days of work and then I have a 5 day weekend, except, of course, for the RCIA obligations I must attend.

I've been thinking lately about how awesome the Triduum is; it's a liturgy that expands over three days! That's pretty darn awesome! Last year was my first time to experience it at a different church, and it was beautiful. My parish really does look empty when everything is taken down and the doors of the tabernacle are left open on Thursday and Friday. There is a feeling of emptiness... But then at the Easter Vigil there is a sense of great rejoicing with the Gloria and all the lights turning on. He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Too Long

It has been way too long since I've posted on here! I'm getting terrible at this, and the posts will be taking a break for at least a week because I'm going to Mexico with my family. Maybe I'll actually have some time at a computer where I can update though.

I am slightly concerned about my prayer life while on vacation. My spiritual director said I just need to make the most out of the little opportunities to express gratitude to God and simply remember Him. Larry Cunningham, a professor at Notre Dame, says that a simple act of remembering God is an act of prayer. I'll be in Mexico for a whole week, so I hope I'll have some time to reflect a little bit, perhaps journal. I have zero plans for this trip and have few expectations - although I do plan on relaxing, enjoying myself, and getting some reading done!

I really need to pack...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

You Are You!

If you'd never been born, well then what would you be? You might be a fish! Or a toad in a tree!... or worse than all that... Why, you might be a WASN'T. A Wasn't has no fun at all. No, he doesn't. A Wasn't just isn't. He just isn't present.

But you... you ARE YOU! And, now isn't that pleasant!... Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! Shout loud, "I am lucky to be what I am! Thank goodness I'm not just a clam or a ham or a dusty old jar of sour goosberry jam!... I am what I am! That's a great thing to be! If I say so myself, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!"

Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to Me!, 1959

Doesn't that just bring a smile to your face?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lent? Oh yeah.

Today in Fort Worth it is a beautiful sunny, 75 degree day. Days like this one remind us that spring is on it's way, if not already here, and that means new life and new things to do in the city. I don't know what it is exactly, but I am excited about Spring in Texas. Not only will that mean more beautiful days and warmer weather, but it also means longer days are soon approaching (Daylight savings is Sunday). And warmer weather and more daylight means more opportunities to do activities outside. There is so much to do in this city that I have yet to experience.

Days like today make me somewhat forget that it's still Lent. This is Easter weather, not Lent weather! But then again, why do I think that everything about Lent must be about suffering? We still have to live our lives as they are, and that does not mean going about the day passing up laughter and joy.

Today simply feels different... in a good way. This morning I had chapel time with the kids from The Learning Center, and while it has never been my favorite thing to do at the parish, the children always bring a smile to my face. It always feels nice to have it done with for the month as well. This afternoon I decided to rearrange the top of my desk and after doing so I felt like I had more energy and I was happy. What, happy at work!? In the afternoon I usually get super tired and my eyelids start to droop when I read things, but not today! Hopefully that "fresh desk feeling" will last the rest of the week.

I also thought about Lent and how I haven't been doing the absolute best with this blog. A friend decided to blog on the daily mass readings while I decided to pick something inconsistent and unplanned to blog about. Maybe it's ok if these Lenten blog posts aren't always based on something I read, but rather, a mere reflection of the day. That was the part my spiritual director really liked, that I was taking time out to reflect. Does it really matter if it is about a specific book and what stuck out to me? I was reading the Diary of St. Faustina this afternoon and it was all about despair. Sorry, but at this point in my life, I cannot relate to those specific writings.

A lot is going on right now, and amidst the busyness of work, school, and relationships, the most important thing is to always remember that I am in the holy presence of God. He is the life I breathe and the love I give, the support I need and the love I seek.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Our Mentor for Life

Last week was quite the busy week! The two Echo apprentices who were before me at my parish flew in to hold a surprise dinner for our mentor. This is the last year that she will be mentoring, partially due to our diocese not renewing the program. We wanted to honor her for all she has (and still is) teaching us and simply for being an important part of our lives in the two years we each have spent at St. Andrew's. It was a surprise dinner, she had no idea! She simply thought that our director of liturgy and music was taking her out to eat to spend some quality time together. Alice was shocked and the night was amazing.

Wednesday night was also the first time that all three of us have been together at the same time. Words cannot describe how awe-inspiring it is to have a shared experience of a mentor-apprentice relationship with Alice. What was really beautiful was hearing about what the other apprentices learned from Alice and how their time at the parish still affects their lives today. I have yet to experience this, since I am still an apprentice, but I hope to be able to reflect, for years to come, on the many words of wisdom from Alice. She is, after all, our mentor for life.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Yes or No?

Lent seems to become a time when we are confronted with the word "no." We fast and we give up things and we have to tell ourselves "no" when the temptation arises to forego our Lenten "resolutions." But why are we telling ourselves "no?" Hopefully it is because we're telling God "yes." At the end of Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen has a beautiful quote:

God not only says: "You are my Beloved." God also asks: "Do you love me?" and offers us countless chances to say "Yes." That is the spiritual life: the chance to say "Yes" to our inner truth... And at every point of the journey there is the choice to say "Yes" and the choice to say "No."

We try to say "yes" to God in many areas of our lives, especially when we are trying to discern His will us. I think we can answer "yes" to God's question of loving Him in various ways, through our words and actions, without realizing it - but how many times during the day are we conscious of this question and of our answer?

In 1962, The Contours asked the same question, but perhaps to a different beat...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's About Us

This past weekend our parish held its annual Lent retreat. It takes place on a Friday night and continues Saturday morning and concludes with the vigil mass. Our retreat director this year was a priest who works in a city close to Fort Worth. I have heard him on two separate occasions and I always find his words so inspirational and I find, within myself, a deeper desire to grow in relationship with our Lord. He is a phenomenal story teller, but those are just stories that often lead the audience to laugh.

At the heart of his talk, he wants us to realize that we are Christ's. We are his ambassadors and we are citizens of the kingdom of God. This isn't our world and this isn't the language we truly speak. God doesn't choose the prepared, He prepares those He chooses. We are chosen. We are the beloved. Are we acting like we are, though? Honestly, how is our prayer life? Are we seeing Christ in others as well? We have to see Jesus within ourselves before we can even begin to recognize him in those around us.

These are just ramblings... it's difficult to put into words how Fr. Hector's words touched my heart. One simple phrase that I will take away from the retreat is: God is so excellent. Would you like to know why? Because He didn't have to wake me up this morning.