Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Weird Pang

I actually had no intention of blogging tonight.  "Too much to do," I thought to myself today.  "Maybe later in the week I will have the opportunity."  But here I am.

Tonight (ok Monday night since it is now Tuesday morning) I went to Mass, the first Monday of Holy Week.  It was being offered for the repose of the soul of my memere and, as I've said, praying for her is something I want to make a priority.  I have prayed for her already during private prayer but I was appreciative of the mass being offered for her and wanted to be there with the family.  So after getting Alicia to take a nap, picking up the house, waking Hannah to eat, then waking Alicia to head out the door, I made it to my parent's house.  We ate supper and off we went to church.

Both of the girls are really good in church, so, knowing that my aunts and uncles would probably want to sit up front, we headed up to the second pew, walking by our parish priest and one of the five seminarians (YES THAT'S RIGHT FIVE) from our parish who happens to be home for Holy Week.  My whole family, parents included, pretty much always sit in the last pew in church in case we need to make a quick exit to the "cry room."  So anyway, after a quick prayer, worried that Hannah would start fussing, I took Hannah out of the car seat and we sat there in the silence as people trickled in.

Since the church was fairly empty, Hannah's cooing sounded louder than usual.  I smiled and did try to hush her a few times, but it wasn't so bad really.  There was a young couple behind me that she was smiling at, and another parishioner she grinned at a few rows back that we know from the Coming Home program my husband and I are a part of.  When Mass started she started looking around during the singing, then during the readings she seemed to want to face forward.  Usually, maybe because we are in the back, she has no interest really in seeing what is going on.  "Well that's funny, " I thought.  Then Alicia came over and snuggled up next to me during the homily.  "Maybe going to Mass just the three of us wouldn't be so bad," I thought to myself.  "I guess I should have at least tried it once during Lent." 

After the gifts were brought up, I sent Alicia down to sit with her memere and pepere and headed to the cry room with Hannah to change her and give her the last bottle of the night since she was starting to show signs of becoming fussy.  I wasn't sure if the timing would allow me to go up to receive communion, but I thought I had a shot at it.  But as I was feeding her, I realized that I wouldn't be going and I felt a weird pang in my heart, a dull ache if you will.  "Well, this is something that I have never felt before."  It dawned on me as I sat alone in the "cry room" with Hannah, that I was sad that I wasn't going to communion.  Could it be that suddenly I realized what I was truly missing by not going for communion?  After all this time of not being sure that I truly "get" transubstantiation, that I actually do realize that it IS in fact Jesus that we receive?

I've been thinking about trying to get to the Triduum with my little ones: mass on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil.  The only thing is, if I do go to mass on Holy Thursday, this may be the first time I head to mass with just my girls.  As I said above, it may not be as bad as I've imagined it to be.  Good Friday my husband will not be working so I'm pretty sure he'll be there and I think that for now the Easter Vigil will be too long for our littles ones, so we'll probably all be together at church on Sunday morning as usual. 

But just maybe, I will head to Holy Thursday, even if it is just myself and the girls.  I wonder if it happens again that I cannot go up for communion, will I once again feel that weird pang?  What was once something I knew in my head, now seems to be transmitting to my heart.  God is certainly revealing His mysteries to me in marvelous ways.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Knock it Off!

When I checked the temperature gauge in my minivan this afternoon it read 78.  What a gorgeous day it was today in NH!  A perfect day for going to confession.

Yes, confession!  This is a sacrament that is maligned.  I think that sometimes it keeps some people from returning to the Church, when they learn that we haven't done away with this one.  And contrary to what some people may think, it is a beautiful sacrament.  Yes, that's right, beautiful.  Some of you may be thinking, "Confessing my sins, beautiful?"  Yes, the mercy of our God is beautiful.  Going to Him with a humble heart, admitting our faults is beautiful.

We all have our reasons for not going to confession; some people feel they can go directly to God, others aren't even ready to forgive themselves; still others feel they are confessing the same things every time.  I fall into the last category: there are things I struggle with time and time again, but at least, most of the time, I'm not adding new shortcomings.  The last time I went was just before the birth of my now seven month old daughter.  Which is FAR too long ago for me.  I'm not going to get into listing my sins here, that's between me, the priest, and God.  (This is actually a good place to point out that part of the reason for going to a priest is because we don't just hurt God when we sin, but we hurt the community, the Body of Christ, when we sin.) But I do write this blog trying to give witness to living out my Catholic faith.  I hope that my writing conveys how I am trying to live my life.  I am in no way trying to be showy or believe that I am better than anyone else who does not go to church, or to confession for that matter.  But I have to say that going to confession today has left me feeling free, unburdened.  His mercy can work wonders if we let it.

The problem is that sometimes we try to hide our true selves.  We say something that is only a partial truth to look good.  We don't tell it like it is.  Take Lent for example:  I could say that I've been doing everything I set out to do, but that wouldn't be the truth.  I took on a lot this season; I'm not sure why I didn't focus on just a few things.  But I have failed (should have confessed this tonight but I had other things on my mind - maybe I will have to go back again later this week). 
  • I intended to take my girls to mass one morning a week and one evening every week in addition to Sunday mass.  Hasn't happened. 
  • I intended to read through the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Creed.  I started to do this during the evenings, but find the material dry and difficult to read at night, so this is something I will have to find time for during the girls' naps as time allows.  Instead, I did start reading the Matthew Kelly book, "Rediscover Catholicism" which is a more light read and very interesting. 
  • Other things I took on: Writing Wednesdays (it doesn't always happen on Wednesday but I have been blogging once a week),
  • no TV Thursdays (when Alicia was sick I renegged on this one for her, but she's been doing it every Thursday since) and
  • no FaceBook Fridays (ok, so once I completely forgot I was logged in and one time I forgot it was Friday - it is such a habit!). 
The point I'm trying to make here is that trying to "look good" with God, doesn't work.  He knows it all.  The reading from the Gospel a few weeks ago was John 4: 5-42 the story of the Samaritan woman at the well.  As Jesus is conversing with her he says "Go call your husband and come back."  The woman answered and said to him, "I do not have a husband."  Jesus answered her, "You are right in saying, 'I do not have a husband.' For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband.  What you have said is true." (Jn 4:16-18)  Jesus doesn't mince words here.  He speaks the truth back to her plain as day.  He's basically saying, "I know you've had five husbands and the guy you're shacked up with isn't your husband.  Knock if off lady!"  God knows all, so there's no reason to be cute and play games with God.  He knows the truth.  Confession allows us to go own up to it.  "Knock it off!"  Jesus says.  Are we open enough to answer him with the truth he already knows?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hope Doesn't Disappoint

This weekend while at a funeral mass for a friend's loved one, these words rang true to me during the homily.  "Hope doesn't disappoint!" The priest was advising those present to not mourn or grieve like those who have no hope.  We must keep hope alive and as a Catholic we find that hope in the Eucharist.  "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life." John 6:55   The priest said that the Eucharist is not food and drink for saints; it is there to nourish us!  Praise God!

For anyone going through difficult times, hope is crucial.  Whether it is mourning the loss of a loved one, financial difficulty or a long awaited miracle, we must look ahead toward better days with hope.  If we don't have hope, we can become filled with self-pity or despair.   Every night, our almost three year old "reads" a book called, "The blue day book."  It is a short story that goes through what blue days are, accompanied by cute and silly pictures of all kinds of animals.  There is a part that talks about that hope, "The world is full of amazing discoveries, things you can't even imagine now.  Who knows what fantastic things are in store just around the corner?"

We all must wait in anticipation for what's to happen next and I think it is important for us to realize, WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL.  While we can try to position ourselves for the best possible outcome, God is the one in control.  When I worked at NH Catholic Charities, I heard the saying, "Let go and let God!"  I had never heard it before then, and didn't ever really have any reason to think about this saying more.  But I find myself thinking about it often these days.  We can do our best to "plan" our lives and prepare ourselves or do it OUR way, but God's plan is way better than anything we can even imagine.  We have to trust and hope in Him.

Yet another sign we watch a bit too much TV, there is a song in the Veggie Tales Movie "Josh and the Big Wall" that is relevant here:

The Lord has given this land to us
No need to fuss, He knows what He's doing
We know that He will take care of us
If we will follow Him.

For anyone struggling through a difficult time right now, know that God DOES have a plan for you.  He WILL take care of you.  Just trust in Him and follow him.  God has given us the gifts of faith, hope and love. 

Go to the Eucharist for nourishment and know that HOPE DOESN'T DISAPPOINT!