M and I have not yet progressed to celebrating the Easter Vigil Mass. When I served in a different parish, I was always a lector during this holiest of masses. It is a beautiful mass with multiple readings, the lighting of the Paschal candle, and the initiation of new Catholics. I do miss participating. But my daughter is overwhelmed by the reading the Lord’s Passion on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. I know there will be a time when we can celebrate the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday with the rest of our parish. For now we will continue our tradition of joining my parents for Easter Mass at my old parish. My daughter was baptized there so it is homecoming for both of us. So how did I spend my Holy Saturday? My answer may not surprise you.
I’m feeling a lot better post fender bender. I followed through on my commitment to flash mob a 40th birthday party. While my plans were not directly related to Easter, dancing is a great way to mark the change in seasons. My seasonal social media fasts often separate me from the members of my dance community for some time. I’m not completely out of the loop due to posting blogs and checking messages from those whose main form of communication is via social media but there is definitely a period of distance. It was a great night to reconnect.
I do not see dance and faith as mutually exclusive. There’s a reason we used to call our Sunday afternoons in the clubs church. Dance, like song, reconnects us to our bodies, hearts, and souls. Dance is a great way to give praise and thanks for all our blessings.
Last year I took part in my parish’s Holy Thursday celebration for the first time. The Eucharistic ministers were asked to sit together. At the conclusion of the mass, we were asked to take part in a procession during the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. I was moved to tears. I have anticipated that moment all year. There are several moments at Mass when I get teary-eyed and other liturgical feasts that I love and enjoy there are others. I gain something out of every Mass I attend. The procession on Holy Thursday is a special occasion.
I wore all white as Sister suggested and sat with my fellow ministers. Once Mass came to an end, we walked to the back of the church. Dressed in our various shades of white, we quickly gathered together in the vestibule and formed two lines. We each got a candle. We filed into the church and knelt. Then, we processed through the entire church as Father displayed the Blessed Sacrament to the congregation. Our entire procession stopped at several points in the church, turned to face the Blessed Sacrament, raised our candles and bowed before continuing. Everyone in the church sang in Latin. We concluded by kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament. It was a beautiful conclusion to the evening.
As I looked around at the faces of my fellow parishioners, I realize some of them were looking at us in awe or as if moved by what they were seeing. I felt grateful to be there in that moment. I made eye contact with many individuals and gave a quiet smile or nod. I felt grateful to have the privilege to serve as a Eucharistic minister. I felt grateful to take part in something so special despite the challenges of the week. When I looked at my fellow parishioners, I knew they had no idea what I had experienced that week; they saw me as representing their faith.They saw a woman at peace, filled with serenity, joy, and strength in my faith. They saw me.
I am grateful for those moments when I am truly touched by God. I am grateful that my faith allows me to reveal my true self. Every moment, every day, and yes, every challenge is a gift. This Lent has been a blessing and I feel closer to God. I am ready for Easter.
Holy Week 2018 has arrived. It’s amazing how 40 days or 6 weeks initially seems like a long time. For those of you who gave up alcohol, chocolate, or swearing, maybe that amount of time felt daunting. For those of us who chose to work on virtues like patience, forgiveness, or mindfulness, perhaps we needed more time. This is an important week in my faith life. It is a good week to revisit what I have learned and to spend more time being grateful.
I intend to make this week quieter. Though my reading choices and viewing choices haven’t always made sense given the Lenten season, I want this week to be more focused on the meaning of Lent. I told my daughter yesterday that we would only be watching appropriate films on TV this week. As for reading, I’m going to shelve certain books until next week.
I would like to resume the Liturgy of the Hours this week. The Divine Office used to be a part of my daily life. I used to do morning prayer every day. My daughter and I used to do night prayer together. I miss the routine and the rhythm of those prayers. I miss the imagery and language of the Psalms. I have missed that time to reflect on my life and all its blessings.
May this week be a blessing to all. Though you may not practice any religious faith, everyone deserves a time of quiet, stillness, and peace.
For Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday), my parish priest gave a homily about Christ’s Passion in the Gospel of Matthew. It was one of the shortest homilies he has ever given, approximately two minutes. He explained that Holy Week is not made holy by Jesus’s suffering but by his love and by the love we have for one another. It was poignant and important.
This Lent for me has involved my struggle with forgiveness, loving my enemies, loving myself, and fully expressing love for my child in the way she deserves. So often, dealing with other people or my own demons or as a parent, I get focused on all the sacrifices I make. Given my self-righteous streak, I’m quick to say, “Look at all I’ve endured and done for myself, my child, and all these people.” I focus on the sacrifices. Sacrificing for self and others is hard work; it is much more giving to sacrifice rather than be apathetic and walk away or to be angry and attack. Yet I lose sight of what motivates me to give of myself.
My best friend recently had her second child. We were discussing how traumatic and horrific the birth experience can be. I know many women and families who were fortunate enough to have a positive birth; for the two of us, birth was painful, tiring, overwhelming, long, and difficult. Because as mothers we love our children, we somewhat block out those bad memories. Despite the 34 hours of labor and the two years she never slept through the night, M is my greatest love. The sacrifices involved in being her mother I would gladly do over again.
I have reflected often on the hard work it has taken to love and appreciate myself. It took years, effort, pain, and sacrifice. I want to love others in that same way. I’m praying for more love in my heart so I can forgive my enemies. It’s easy to forgive my loved ones. I have to forgive those who have injured me. During Holy Week, I’m praying on and for love.