Worth Revisiting: With Open Mind, Eyes and Heart

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

Though written originally for Advent, the call to reexamine our focus as we seek to live out our discipleship is our continuous invitation to conversion. This past Saturday my son and I spent the morning with our local homeless community through Matthew’s Kitchen. I am reminded that while so many have so little..God’s love and mercy for the least of these is so great!


With Open Mind, Eyes and Heart

(Originally posted December 11, 2014)

This Advent season, I find myself disenchanted with the stores, and the constant promotion of items to be bought in order to win smiles and love. Some years are like that we say to ourselves, and yet I know that there is something much profound at work. Searching, I recognize that while society hasn’t necessarily changed, I have.

The other day, I took a moment with a local homeless man just to talk. As he stood there, leaning uncomfortably against my church, I could not pass him by. That is, without sharing a smile and asking him how he was doing. Even from a distance, I noticed that the cold weather had left his skin and lips weathered, and reddened.  I suddenly realized that I had come prepared. For, inside my car were a new pair of tube socks with lotion, wipes, chap stick, toothbrush and toothpaste enclosed. Gladly, but a bit surprised, he accepted the gift.

Examples of items to include in a care kit..

This morning on my way to take my son to school again I saw him, with a huge smile on his face walking with a couple of other men. What a gift he had given me to see him enjoying a bit of happiness and company. The homeless life can be so very isolating, for mental illness and addictions have often served to distance them from relationships and even recognition. In our hurry and perhaps even fearful, we are accustomed to look straight ahead towards our destination.

Where are our eyes focused ? Upwards toward heaven, forward in completing the day’s events, or all around seeking God in everything? Are we, as Mother Teresa observed, “seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor”?  [1] Times have been difficult in my suburban community, and many more families are either finding themselves cutting back, overextended, or without.  Yet, while we can’t do or be everything to everyone we can greet, love, and support one another in whatever way we can. Today, an invitation was extended for more volunteers at our parish food pantry in order to serve more people, and provide rest for regular helpers. Maybe an hour this Advent season is a gift you too can give.

How are our hearts? If we are serious about preparing for Christ’s coming, it’s time now to think about the condition of our hearts. Are we hardened by our own circumstances, and the pitfalls we have found ourselves in? Where are my thoughts? Trusting the path and journey we are on isn’t easy to do alone, for the temptation is to seek control.

Prayer and the Eucharist– are for me the most transforming corrections for my squinted vision, stiffening heart,  and human tendencies to control my world.  In quiet prayer, I can silence the noise and hear Jesus’ voice once again. All my pretences fall away, as I stand like a child at his feet. Feeling his embrace, my heart melts and I long to stay with him. His smile reminds me who and whose I am. Created and loved I am asked to see as he does. His daughter, I am called to be ever close to him. This intimacy of the Eucharist draws me not inward but outward.

 I am called to be more than I could have ever imagined, and all that you know I can be.  “Let faith arise..open my eyes!” 

[1] Mother TeresaIn the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

Praying: Kataphatic or Apophatic?

How do you pray? Do you find your prayer overflowing with images, thoughts and conversations or instead find yourself wrapped in silence surrounded by God’s awe inspiring presence? While at various times we may find ourselves practicing both of these, understanding the shape your prayer takes helps us to simply understand how we personally connect with God.

The first form of prayer, kataphatic, is my own prevailing mode of prayer. At times our prayer begins in seeking God, in a desire to feel the immanence and closeness of God when our mind seems busied with the affairs of this world. In these moments, as I reflect on the presence, ministry and Passion of Jesus, as Word revealed, I recognize that I am being beckoned closer. In an instant, behind closed eyes, I am enveloped by the sights, sounds and scripture intended to speak to my heart. Aware of my own transgressions and surrendering, I find myself humbled by the love and grace so undeservedly but gratuitously given. A beautiful intimate conversation ensues, an exchange of wills- that of mine for His and a resolve to change.

While other times our prayer can be an exercise of self emptying and centering (apophatic), as Christ in the desert, in a desire to rest solely in God’s presence. Using a simple centering prayer, perhaps one word only, we can become immediately aware that there is no need to seek God for he is already here beside, within, and all around. Here, in this moment, we feel that images are incomplete for the magnificence of God simply transcends everything that we have ever known! Not an end but a beginning, in our seeking to understand God further, we realize that whatever our perceptions of God are that the Divine Other is so much more! Here we find a quiet contemplative aspect of our prayer whereby we are drawn into indescribable amazement at the mystery of God. When words are few, “How great Thou art!” sums it up pretty well.

On a very personal note, growing up without an earthly father figure in my life, I have often visualized Jesus welcoming me as a child to come and just “be” near to him. Amidst fields of tall grass, on a warm summer day and a light stirring breeze there is peace and joy. More than anything I could have ever asked for, this relationship has taken away the painful loss that I believe otherwise would’ve felt incapacitating. As an adult, I still experience this joyful purely childlike prayer, most often in those moments when God understands that I am most in need of a Father. And yet I find that as I have grown older so too have my conversations with Christ. In the desire for greater understanding, and the fullness of the gift that God has given through Christ, our responsibilities as a disciple continue to grow.

In a beautiful affective way, our experience of God’s love from both modes of prayer can be felt so strongly, that it seemingly overflows out from our prayer to praise for God and others. For through our daily activities, we are continuously invited to recognize God’s creative handiwork in the world around us, and celebrate its discovery in those we encounter. It’s a visible joy that sparks others to notice and ask, “So, what made you so smiley today?” It’s a deep sense of compassion that calls us to extend that love and mercy to those most in need. Be careful though, you’ll find its authenticity contagious and truly the best witness of faith that you can ever hope to give!

 Peace,

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The Case for Asceticism

Today humanity has  “enjoyed such an abundance of wealth, resources and economic power, and yet a huge proportion of the worlds citizens are still tormented by hunger and poverty, while countless numbers suffer from total illiteracy. Never before has man had so keen an understanding of freedom, yet at the same time new forms of social and psychological slavery make their appearance. Although the world of today has a very vivid awareness of its unity and of how one man depends on another in needful solidarity, it is most grievously torn into opposing camps by conflicting forces. (Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes)

This begs the question, could there be a modern role for the practice of the spiritual discipline of asceticism found through fasting, prayer, spiritual direction, almsgiving, corporal and spiritual works of mercy in our lives today?

To this I would answer yes, most definitely!  The traditional practices of asceticism are relevant for our time, especially when taken out of a monastic framework and considered within the broader context of our everyday life. While most of us perhaps are not disposed to a total life of self denial, there is immense merit in seeking order, centeredness, and being open to God’s presence in our lives. In a world that often strives, or so it seems, to ascribe the attributes of beauty, intelligence, position, and wealth, or lack thereof -what a gift it is for our souls to discover who we really are! That is to shed all opinions and titles other than how God might call us as his own beloved children. In this way, we are both humbled in all of our preconceived notions of self, and yet raised to see how wonderful it is to be made in the image of God!

It is here that we recognize the importance of prayer, for this is how we come to be familiar with the voice of our Abba, and to know that whatever the world perceives of us that each of us have been divinely special, and loved dearly. God’s opinion, and concerns then can be seen more clearly and put in the right order as first and centermost in our lives. I believe, therefore that this practice of asceticism, of prayer, perhaps helps us to understand how to go about and truly practice the other disciplines. It is true, that the place of prayer is important because, at least initially, it must be one that encourages us to limit some of the outside distractions of life. I find that daily mass or morning reflection provides this time for me to center myself in God. Oh, how often I have found myself actually rushing in the mornings to find that time with God, and heard myself let out an audible sigh of thankfulness! Taking time to experience a retreat even further allows for the opportunity to tune out the noise and discover a way to live a more conscious spiritual life.

As for fasting, and abstinence they too are important when we consider the “why” or the purpose for this practice in our own lives. Too often, I believe that we as a church could do a better job at teaching and emphasizing the deeper intentions. Without this, the “Rice Bowl” or almsgiving box simply becomes a collection device during Lent for all the times we break our renewed intention to God. On the contrary, I believe it is important to ask ourselves each time,

Why am I fasting or abstaining? Is it to be in solidarity and to understand if for but a day what others in poverty feel every day? Or is it for an intention that I hold in my heart and desire for God to know its importance in my life and request for help?

This brings us to the immense value of works of love, mercy and justice when they are sourced in Christ, and practiced in community. This is not to say that other faiths cannot and have not practiced similar works of mercy. Rather, as a Christian community they are essential, in changing our perspective from that of the world to recognizing Christ in others, and actually in being Christ in the world.

These athletic exercises or practices are our warm-up so to speak for the real thing- that is working for the kingdom of God.

How can we say, “Put me in Coach!”  if we haven’t even shown up for practice?

Peace,

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¹Definition of asceticism taken from The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company

Worth Revisiting: Currently, Chicago Edition

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

With my upcoming trip for commencement in less than two weeks, I am excitedly awaiting all the sights, sounds and tastes of Chicago! Not to mention, catching up with close friends, colleagues and the esteemed faculty at Loyola. Thankfully this time will not be as short- since Chicago has so much to offer!


Currently, Catching My Breath and the Spirit

(Originally posted October 13, 2014)

Currently (1)

giving thanks and praise for // A safe journey and the company of good friends with my whirlwind trip to Loyola Chicago’s beautiful Madonna della Strada Chapel on their Lake Shore Campus! Consisting of less than 24 hours, this trip was certainly not long enough to see all of Chicago or to visit with everyone that I had wanted to but it was an incredible experience.

Staying with my former roommate while in Rome, I was welcomed with Chicago deep dish pizza, Italian pizzelle cookies, wine and the best of late night conversations.

The next morning, we attended the 7:30 mass led by Fr. Mike Solazzo at St. Tarcissus on Ardmore Avenue. The interior of this beautiful church constructed in 1927 is filled with marble, stained glass, statues and pieta. As graduate pastoral studies students, Paula and I both remarked how engaging and on target Fr. Solazzo’s homily was with what we have been studying.

Reminiscing//

the brunch that followed with Paula, her daughter Katie and boyfriend, our friend Art and his wife Madeline at Mia Figlia in the Northside of Chicago. Not only was the food scrumptious, an ample serving of sunny side eggs and polenta, but once again the conversation was a true joy! What a blessing to be able to meet the family of my two close friends and fellow colleagues, putting faces and embraces to the people I have heard so much about.

Humbled by//

the whole experience of being nominated and selected for inclusion into Alpha Sigma Nu with such an amazing group of students dedicated to both academic excellence and service. Spanning ethnicities, and continents they embody God’s incredible diversity and gifts of the Spirit at work in the world today. Through them, I experience community and recognize the consequences of my faith to work for peace and justice, trusting in the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. How appreciative I am for those who have continually challenged and inspired me to reach deeper and go further in my faith.

Fr. Steve Krupa, S.J. professor of Christian Spirituality and Ignatian Spiritual Direction at Loyola Chicago.
My friends Art Blumberg and Paula Kowalkowski

Reading//

The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis (Loyola Press Publishing) on my flight to and from Chicago. What a truly engaging and motivating “vision for the Church” is presented in this collection of homilies, addresses, and excerpts taken from Evangelii gaudium, Lumen Fidei and Regina Coeli. Led by a deep sense of mission to care for the poor, welcome the lost, and renew the faithful Pope Francis’s message is a humble but passionate invitation to transformation. This renewal and change is to occur within through attentive listening and “abiding in Jesus”.

Yet, there is also the necessity of “leaving ourselves behind and going out to encounter others” in service with courage and creativity.

This is not accomplished alone, but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we as faithful are called to respond to the “cry of justice” and the need for “harmony in our families, parish and communities”. This mission, however, is not reserved for the clergy  but is to be taken up by each one of us in our discipleship. In accepting the unique gifts that God has entrusted to each one of us,  we are compelled to also undertake this mission of evangelization and reconciliation in living out the Good News of the Gospel. This is a must read, I believe, for each Christian seeking to understand the path necessary to move forward as a people of God in our world today.

So, in this busy, messy, beautiful world that we live in..how do you Currently, find the Holy Spirit guiding you in your little part of the world today?  

                                         In Peace and Joy,

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Walking a Mile With Another


How often are we quick to judge someone who we see as disagreeable, strongly opinionated or assertive? Feeling our own sense of pride offended, and leaving indignant we frequently proceed to telling others or instead harbor that annoyance within. Yet, neither of these options can be understood as beneficial either to our relationships or to our spiritual growth.

Scripture firmly emphasizes the importance of conflict resolution as a community if we are to be the body of Christ in the world. No pretenses, we are to leave our gift on the altar, and work towards reconciliation. Moreover, we are to speak to that person privately first. “If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ (Matt 18:15-17)

In doing so love, and not self righteousness, needs to be the intent of reconciliation. For “if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2-3)”

Only love connects us divinely with God, unites us in faith, and holds the promise of our salvation.

Yet, how do we walk this path of reconciliation equipped only with love? With humility, leaving our pride and righteous offense at their actions aside and choosing love. We cannot hold both love and pride in our hearts. We must look at ourselves, ask for God’s grace and desire our own conversion of heart. Though it has taken me a lifetime to understand, this is for me the meaning of turning the other cheek. It does not mean that we are to become a “doormat” for others to walk on, but that in following Christ we are to seek to meet all-even those most difficult-with light and love.

With this being said, a few days ago I spoke my goodbyes to a dear friend who had lost his very painful battle with cancer. To many, including members in the family he was commonly referred to in words of frustration, and actions of avoidance. An extremely intelligent man, who had so much to share, he would habitually though unintentionally irritate others. And because those around him seldom found it easier to talk to him than to one another, true reconciliation was difficult. In the months before he died, he asked me to call him regularly while just to chat briefly. He had lost so much in life- his daughter to drugs, his first wife to cancer, and his son still battling addiction. Looking at the end of his life all he sought was forgiveness, acceptance and love.

How is this so different from our own desires in life?

So, today I ask you to unstrap your sandals, step into those of another and walk a spell. How would Christ meet the difficulty in your life today? If you feel challenged to make a change, put your feet in motion and seek reconciliation. The first step towards peace, and forgiveness of others is to make time for the sacrament of reconciliation in our own lives. Only from the depths of God’s love and mercy can we truly understand the steps that Christ has walked and where He is leading us to go today.

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: Examen-ing Procrastion

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

Poetry, prayer and reflection are all loves of mine! My grandfather had written many poems before his death, some of which were published through a small circulation. Almost all of these poems, much like mine, speak to this deep love and awareness of God in everything. Look for God today-He’s waiting to be discovered!


Examen-ing Procrastination

(Originally posted January 8, 2015)

Procrastination

thy name is mine- Reminiscing.
Warm sand, waves crashing
I am engulfed by your inspiring presence.
Laughter of children
Amazed by your splendid treasures,
My soul sings with joy.
Little palms upturned, bare feet carrying such gifts.


And yet I hear you
Not in a rushing wind rather
A small gentle breeze
Instantly mindful of the infinite ways
 
 
 
 

You long to converse
Desiring to be discovered
You hide not from me.
But smile-sunlit rays dancing upon sea sprays.

 
 
 

 
 
 

Suddenly I find
Myself exceedingly thankful
Gifted graced moment
Aware that I am unbelievably loved.

Oh yes, procrastination thy name is mine! Returning from Winter Break I honestly felt that I needed a day to recoup, a time to catch up on neglected chores and conversation over a cup of coffee with a close friend. Back to school for my children, work for my hubby and I find I am finally enjoying my groove in the normalcy of a routine.

Yet, there is definitely a need in our lives for retreat and a break from the everyday. A time to reflect on all of our commitments, re-examine our priorities, as well as to appreciate all that God has given us. As I sat on the sand, my children laughing as the waves were crashing I was reminded of the joy intended for us. Moreover, that through the ups and downs God is always there, breaking into our day to allow us a respite, moments of peace, clarity, joy and love.

What then is waiting for me? There is that elusive final integration project (aka thesis) needed for my Master’s degree.  Procrastination in part stems from placing extremely high expectations on myself while knowing full well that perfection is not what is required, or even possible through my own efforts. I find solace in recognizing that if meant to undertake a task, speak to a situation, God will give me what is needed to do all these things and more.

 So the other part to this picture is discernment and that is the better part of delay. The time that I spent with my family and with God was necessary. Can we continue to race forward with endurance if we do not pause to reflect on where we have been, where we are and desire to renew our spirit? Connection, we were never meant to do it on our own, the love, support and guidance are there to be discovered.  With this, I ask for your prayers as I embark on the path ahead.

 Peace,

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Conversion: This Journey of a Lifetime

Some time ago, I had promised to share my own story of conversion to the Catholic faith. The anecdote, if you will, of how a young Southern Baptist girl found herself walking in the doors of a Catholic church and leaving forever changed…


Freshman year at Mount Holyoke College was an exciting time of rigorous study, new friendships, challenging adjustments and unbelievable growth. Over 1,200 miles away from home, I found myself both seeking comfort in the familiar but also joy in discovering who I was to become. Though I studied hard and partied equally so, I still made time to attend church either on campus or locally in town with a classmate. Yet, I was noticing that something was missing, something I couldn’t define but leaving me incomplete. Perhaps the experience of worship service had changed, or I had –even a bit of both.

Then one Sunday as the minister spoke of metaphorically of finding one’s center, I realized that was it! While I knew my center was Christ, I could no longer feel his presence as near and tangible. My soul yearned for so much more. This internal pull was intense, and over the course of the proceeding months I truly felt God working within asking me to let go and let Him lead.

That morning getting myself ready after a late night out had caused me to miss the first half of service.

I could just go back to my dorm room I thought.. but wait, there is a Catholic mass starting soon. Rather than being uncomfortably late, I could be on-time. Yet, I know so little of Catholic practices…will my unfamiliarity be too easily distinguishable? What I heard in response within my heart, was “This is an opportunity, to find what you have been searching for.  God is here.”

As I turned the handle on the door of the chapel and took my seat towards the middle of the church, I knelt before God for the first time. In this silence before mass began I found such peace and comfort in my anonymity. Here in this sacred time and place, I whispered  “I am here too Father”. Admittedly, as mass began it was all too obvious as I looked to my left and right for guidance, that I was a newcomer. Yet, just when I started questioning the reasoning that had brought me here, God reached out and drew me close. On either side hands outstretched were the beautiful recognizable words of the Our Father echoing throughout the chapel space. I was home.

Soon thereafter, I was to discover the love of my life in the deep friendship that had begun previously that fall. (That story featured here) A Catholic and sophomore at UMass Amherst, I couldn’t believe how blessed I was that God had planned it all! Though we frequently attended mass together I still held back, for some time, in telling him how God was moving me ever closer to conversion. With prayer and discernment so significant in my life, I was cautious and wanted to be certain that this was indeed where God was leading me to go.

Yet, when that moment did arrive, there was no looking back. My searching heart had been filled with a fullness of faith, joy and love. And to my surprise, my family not only respected my faith decision, but prayed and supported me throughout it all. To this day, I still remember the phone call to my mother. After sharing the events that had brought me to this place, there was a long pause for what seemed like an eternity.

“It all makes sense now” was her response.

“What makes sense?”, I curiously asked.

“Before you were born I had a dream that you would be a Catholic. Standing before a multitude of others gathered, you then spoke passionately of your love and faith in God. I know now that God was preparing me for this day.”

“Mom, why have you never told me this before?

“Well, I didn’t want to persuade you should that not be God’s will. I knew that if it was, that God would certainly lead you there.”

Twenty one years have passed since this conversation, yet I thought of this moment again this weekend as I was asked to speak at St. Patrick’s in Wareham. Through these years, I have been blessed with countless invitations to serve, witness and grow in my faith. For me, it is the journey of a lifetime-one I joyously embrace and continuously seek each day.

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: Whose Calls Are You Taking?

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

Prayer is essential dialogue with God. Whether it be silent and contemplative in the stillness of your heart, or more verbal and conversational-God desires this time with you. As a child my mom described her prayer as an amazing telephone conversation and that image has remained with me to this day!


Whose Calls Are You Taking?

(Originally posted January 18, 2015)

Some time ago I was approached by a friend’s mother who was going through an extremely difficult family situation.  As is often the case, I had not planned to be there at that moment, but had felt an inner pull to change my plans for the day.

Seeking advice, comfort and direction she began relaying the details as well as the inability to find any peace. Listening, I wondered initially if we should perhaps relocate to a different setting. Then quite suddenly,  I became keenly aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence.  As she spoke I could feel her anxiety and fearfulness and knew that this was the time and place that each of us was meant to be.

Father, help me to let her know how much you love her. Let your Spirit guide my words and her to find you once again.

“Have you prayed recently?”, I asked.

“I still go to mass on occasion, but I can’t say that I feel close to God. I know the prayers that I was taught as a child, but I really don’t know how to pray any other way.”

“Can I ask you another question? Whose calls do you answer each day?”

“You mean on the phone? Well, that would be from my family or my close friends.”

“Those moments are meaningful because conversation is so essential in our relationships. There is a give and a take, a time to listen and a time to speak. And when you do so, you each share in one another’s lives.”

“Yes, that is so true! Though lately, I want to help but question whether I am being listened to.”

“God feels the same way . He is there waiting for us to talk to him and yet we so often let his call go unanswered.  He wants so desperately to be in relationship with us, to be invited into our day and our problems. Sometimes, we simply need to start small.”  “Ever notice a particularly beautiful sunset or a gift of a new day or grandchild and feel compelled to say Thank you?”

“Oh, I have! I had forgotten about that!”

“Gratitude is a indelible part of becoming aware that God is near, noticing all the little ways that God is there for us in our everyday. Today, I can say with certainty that God is here with us. If it’s fine with you, could we pray together and ask for His help in this situation?”

“Yes, but how do we begin?..”

Read More..

Holy Week: A Behind the Scenes Glimpse

The sights, sounds and scents of Holy Week that so permeate our remembrance of Easter are indeed rooted in centuries of tradition. One look around and one immediately sees layers of history and meaning in every ritual movement, prayers embedded within the hearts of a people of faith.  From the swish of the robes, to the smell of frankincense and lilies, and the lofty notes of the Exsultet sung we are drawn into the sacredness of this moment in time. More than a sign, these symbols call us to look beyond the object itself to something deeper, more meaningful, and often mysterious to be truly experienced in this same multi-layered way.

Was there one special moment that stood out for you? Did you feel the invitation to connect, to go deeper and answer God with the fullness of your heart?

After countless Triduum masses, I have found that only rarely is the answer ever the same. That is the beauty of opening yourself up to the experience of the mysteries of Holy Week again and again. Personally, I never tire of hearing the profound impressions and recollections that are taken forth from a mass. Or even the silent expression of joy or love that rests of the faces of those in attendance as they leave the doors of the church.

This all happens in spite of our best efforts, our missteps and last minute adjustments made in the course of preparation of the mass. God perfects and works through all of our faults to reach out to each person gathered in community. If but for an instant, I am certain of the unworthiness of my own efforts I am also reminded of the One far greater than myself. For that I am so truly thankful!

(The Columbus Dispatch / Alex Holt)

With that being said..those that serve for these masses carry with them the stories of errors and omissions and how God worked through all for good. One such year, due to windy weather, the option to light the Pascal fire indoors was made. Needless to say, the addition of extra isopropyl alcohol was a perfect mix to set off the silent smoke alarms, thereby alerting the fire department. The dark church, gathered for Easter Vigil, was filled with swirling red lights, and the entrance of several concerned firemen. All this unbeknownst to our beloved priest who was enthralled in singing the Exsultet and had his back to the congregation. None noted that evening that this detracted from the mass, but had in fact added to the sense of community already present.

I thought of this story as we were waiting to make the call for the fire at this year’s Easter Vigil with the promise of high winds throughout the day. Though this concern was averted, just minutes before the start of mass we found ourselves furiously working to put together more individual votive candles. The box of holders, placed near the ceiling could only be reached with the hook of the snuffer and the long arm of the priest…while standing on the counter top!

“Ministranti-ctyrak” by OndraZ

 With God’s presence as the only guarantee- through the years, I have determined these are my top 5 tips for altar servers.

  1. In serving, it’s all about what God does in the celebration of the mass. Work as if to blend into the scene. Be well rested, fed, on time, and joyful.
  2. There is a significant need for ponytail holders. Why? Because, girls, the overabundance of candles present at Holy Week and long hair do not mix well.
  3. Thurifers: Do not rest the thurible on the carpet or under the hem of the your robe. There is no need for a new martyr of the faith due to complacency.
  4. Do your best and give God the rest. Rather than becoming anxious over what you did or failed to do, let God work through it.
  5. Sing and pray- You are there to serve but it’s important that you too recognize the invitation to participate and pause for God’s voice.

With Easter Joy,

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