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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Today's Desire

Today I woke up, got out of bed and went in to pray my morning prayers.  After just a few minutes I realized I had an overwhelming desire to go to Easter Mass right now!!  But the Mass I wanted to participate in was not the one I will be attending today at 1 pm local time.  This Mass of my Dreams would be held in a cathedral or other beautiful, old church (or a beautiful new Church!,).  When I arrive early to pray, there will already be others there, in silence, praying.  As Mass begins, the building will fill with all ages and all walks of life.  An organ and trained (or at least practiced) choir will lead us in hymns - old hymns, some in Latin.  The priest will be in stately vestments, altar boys in cassock and surplice, there will be candles in the procession.  Copious quantities of incense will be used - the good, "smells like Heaven" kind of incense.  The black will be prayed, the red will be done.  The Liturgy of the Word read by strong and prepared readers.  Homily well prepared and relevant, delivered with some passion.  Liturgy of the Eucharist to be prayed ad orientem.  Eucharistic Prayer I used, and there are kneelers in the pews!!  The Sanctus and Agnus Dei and Mysterium fidei in Latin, and no hand holding during the Lord's Prayer.  Kiss of Peace could be omitted, but if done, done reverently and quietly.  And there is an altar rail, which is used for its intended purpose.  And silence ... there are many moments of sacred silence throughout the Mass.  Then, once the Mass is finished, many people stay to pray for a few minutes, and those who leave do so in silence out of respect.  People genuflect toward the Tabernacle, which I almost forgot, is right where it is supposed to be:  centered behind the altar.

Quite the dream, isn't it?  Unfortunately we have none of this here in our little Mission Parish.  But a girl can dream, can't she?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy Easter!!

Happy Easter to all!  May you rejoice . . . He is risen!  Alleluia!

Holy Thursday, Rubrics and Pope Francis I

There has been much brouhaha over Pope Francis I's washing of, dare I type it?....the feet of two girls at the Holy Thursday Liturgy.  Can we all just take a collective breath here?  I've seen many people comment on this, and many of them have stated they don't want to offend anyone, well, if you want to be offended - go ahead and be offended.  Doesn't bother me any!

I may have attended a Holy Thursday Liturgy when I was young, but I don't remember it.  Tomorrow, Easter, will mark three years back with the Church.  I missed a lot in those 20 or so years I was away.  When I returned, I returned to what seemed to be a completely different Church - the Mass was not exactly as I had remembered it, there was no encouragement of devotions, very little beauty in the building, no pews, no kneelers, etc...  Well, I found that some of that was just here, and some of it was pretty universal.  Only in the past year or so did I begin to study and learn and realize that many of the changes were "illicit".  This study began in earnest with the new translation of the Mass, as I took it upon myself to learn and discover the reasons behind the changes.  But I also learned a lot more in the process, and became somewhat of a stickler for sticking to the words, actions, etc....

Last year, I was asked to be part of the foot washing on Holy Thursday Mass.  Not only did I say "no", I also launched into a lecture explaining why washing women's feet was not allowed and how we shouldn't be doing it. . . .  I'm surprised the sacristan still talks to me :-).  Part of this was a reaction to our Pastor's proclivity to playing it free and loose with the Liturgy and other specified ceremonies.  He usually sticks to the words for the Collect/Preface/Eucharistic Prayer ... though he may add some extra text here and there, but he changes other parts, leaves required sections out, and adds in some annoying (to me, at least) "explanations".  I spoke to him about this, and though not in these words, he essentially told me "to get over it, and get used to it" because he wasn't about to change.  It got to the point that I did not want to come to Mass, though I always did, and walking into the building for Holy Mass was causing me emotional distress.  I have always loved the Liturgy - even as a child, I found it beautiful and was always happy to go.  So for me to not want to assist at Mass?  It is a big thing - and honestly, I am almost back to that point again - at least here, at this Parish.

But back to the point of this post:  Holy Thursday.  Being rather annoyingly introspective, I began to think and pray about my reactions and emotions.  What I began to realize was that I enjoyed letting people know how much I knew.  Sure, the deviations bothered me, but it had become more about me, and what I knew and what they didn't know.  I was quite prideful about this.  Once I realized from where my reactions were coming, I tried to go even deeper and figure out why the changes bothered me in the first place.  I only figured it out once I was able to attend some reverent, "correct" Masses.  In those, I was able to relax.  I knew exactly what was going to happen, what was going to be said, and I could more easily focus on my internal process - my personal act of assisting at the Mass.  When the words changed, or were omitted or added to, it would throw me off and make it more difficult for me to remain focused.  I figure the specific words and actions are there for a reason (and in studying this, I KNOW they are there for a reason - most of these reasons being perfectly valid), but I also discovered that a lot of my reaction was due to me and my personality. 

Intellectually, I have many reasons why the words should not be changed, but I am not going into those today.  Today, it's all about me.  Please, go ahead and laugh at that last statement if you didn't already.  But when I was asked this year about having my feet washed, I went right back to that place of pride - I know something you don't know.  HA!  Haven't learned much over the past year, have I?  Sigh.  So when Pope Francis I washed the feet of two girls, I was saddened and bothered by it - but after thought and prayer, I pretty much got over it.  There are much bigger Liturgical fish to fry, and though we shouldn't excuse something based on "intent", I do think it is important to look at intent.  I do think, sadly, this will provide more ammunition to those who like to play free and loose with the rubrics, and I also think this is confusing to people who know what the rules are and have now seen the Pope "break" them.  But can't we look at the big picture?  Can't we think for a moment, too, that the Holy Father is human, plunked down very recently into a position for which he had not planned, and that he is perhaps still a bit like a deer in the headlights?  I think this next year will be much more telling than these first few weeks.  Were we all perfect right off the bat when we began a new job - even one for which we were eminently qualified?  Give the man a break - and then prayerfully discern your own motives.  If the foot washing bothered you, why?  If it didn't, why not?  It's good to know both sides.  It's good to look, as well, at the big picture and remember where our focus should remain:  on Christ, on the Cross, and not always so stuck in the minutia of precise adherence to rules (though they are important).

OK, rant over.  Now, back to work.

Holy Saturday

Today all I hear is the silence. . . No one else seems to hear it or want to hear it.  They surround themselves with noise and amusement.  Today is a day for prayer and reflection.  Maybe next year I'll plan better.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

Today my desire was to find myself curled up at the foot of the Cross, allowing our Lord's blood to wash me clean.   
"We adore you O Christ, and we praise you.  Because by your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world."

Sunday, March 24, 2013

There Are Days

When you have a son who, for a vocabulary assignment to write a story using all the words for the week comes up with this:

On the planet Natharaxia, sentient nettles were wreaking vengeance on their prim masters, the Unified Sector 78 Peoples.  They had come to Natharaxia with fantastic stories that captivated the nettles.  However the people sent to govern the nettles were the pedestrian Slakaars, and this nettled the nettles.  They were filled with revulsion at the Slakaars.  Over time, the Slakaars became very surly.  Eventually, an anonymous, impulsive nettle declared war on the Slakaars and exhorted others to do the same.  So, the nettles ceased making long elegies and debunking fraudulent foxgloves and went to war.  They clambered over the hills of Natharaxia and attacked the Slakaars.  Having no initiative whatsoever, the Slakaars soon surrendered.

...you begin to wonder why you try so hard.  Sigh.

Turkey-White Bean Soup

I enjoy playing in the kitchen, and every now and then I'll write down what I've come up with.  One yummy soup I came up with as a post-Thanksgiving use of turkey:

Chicken broth to pot (4 cups),
with one can drained and lightly mashed white beans (white kidney beans),
cumin, 1 tsp + (I use 1 Tablespoon),
oregano, 1 tsp,
minced garlic, 2 + cloves (I use 4 cloves),
salt, 1/4 tsp,
black pepper, 1/4 tsp,
shredded, chopped, pulled (whatever) turkey breast,
frozen corn (or fresh, off cob), 1 cup,
juice of one lime


Bring to boil, then simmer for 30 or more minutes.

Serve with Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese and tortilla chips.  Sour cream if desired.

The turkey breast I used had been roasted with a rosemary, thyme, garlic rub.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Infused Contemplation

"Prayer, contemplation, infused:  an infused supernatural gift, that originates completely outside of our will or ability in God, by which a person becomes freely absorbed in God producing a real awareness, desire and love for Him.  This often gentle or delightful encounter can yield special insights into things of the spirit and results in a deeper and tangible desire to love God and neighbor in thought, word and deed.  It is important to note that infused contemplation is a state that can be prepared for, but cannot in any way be produced by the will or desire of a person through methods or ascetical practices (Author)."     Navigating the Interior Life, Daniel Burke

Before this dark night descended upon me, this state of infused contemplation was a fairly regular occurrence.  "Delightful" is certainly a good word to describe it.  I will admit I have missed these times, so when yesterday morning I found myself quite unexpectedly in this contemplation I felt as though I were glowing.  These rare moments seem to come only when I am un-self-conscious and have for a brief moment abandoned myself to Divine Providence.  "I Want to Be Home" is a result of this brief time spent in infused contemplation, and is a very poor representation of what I actually thought /felt for that moment.  Words are unable to express such things with any precision.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Grilling in March

I had gone through our freezer, finding food items we needed to eat and I came across two nice pieces of top sirloin.  Hmmmm....sure it's windy and cold and raining - but surely I can grill these outside.  So, I did!  It probably looked a little funny, to watch someone bundled up and grilling with the wind whipping her hair around.  Luckily it didn't rain.  The grill didn't get as hot as usual, and complained when the wind kicked up, but it worked just fine and we had a green salad (from over-wintered greens in the garden), sweet potatoes and top sirloin.  Mmmm, mmmm, good!  And I didn't have to worry about being attacked by the multitudes of yellow jackets that are here in the summer.

I Want to Be Home

I remember being 6 or 7, and seriously wondering if I had been adopted.  I did not fit in with my family.  I was so different.  Years later, I discovered something which showed me I may not have been too far off the mark!  But today, as I sat to pray, reading Scripture, it occurred to me to ask how I could be of this world? This is not where I was meant to be.  I want to be Home with my Father.  I want to be Home.

How do I live now so that can eventually happen?  My faults are great and my sins are many, and I see nothing around me right now that shows a path, a way, a light.  How do I find my way to trust in God again? 

These are just questions I ask myself, as I long so for my Lord.  I know and believe in His Mercy, without which I would be completely lost.  I see my own wretchedness and see how great it is. . . but I KNOW that God's Mercy is ever so much greater than my wretchedness - and because of that I can continue living as best as I can, with His Grace, growing closer and closer to Him and my ultimate goal.

Two Reactions - Which Is More Vocation Friendly?

My 5-yr. old has been saying for almost a year now that he wants to be a priest.  When he told our pastor this a few weeks ago, Father just laughed and said something to the effect of "well, there's a long way to go before that can happen."  Today, my little extrovert asked when he could go talk to our former, now retired, pastor who had come over for a daily Mass.  I said go ahead and talk to him now.  So he went up to him and said "I want to be a priest."  Leaning down toward my son, Father said (cue Irish accent) "Well, that's great!!  I can't keep doing this forever!" 

Now which do you suppose is more vocation friendly?  Our current pastor does not encourage vocations at all.  One of our parishioner feels called to the diaconate, and I heard him ask Father about this.  Again, all I heard from Father was the "there's a long way to go before that can happen" talk.  He seems to only see the difficulties, and not the beauty; the long road, and not the passion.  I wonder if this has more to say about him than about anything else.  He seems to be a nice man, but we have no encouragement for vocations, no encouragement to go to confession, no discussion on sin or hell or even heaven.  The handful of times our retired Pastor has come over, I think every time he has mentioned confession, today mentioning the fact that God is always willing to give us another chance but there will come a day when we have no more chances - so be ready, and go to confession!  We have heard of the seven deadly sins, the corporal works of mercy, lots of good history, the occasional recitation of Shakespeare - all from this wonderful, old, Irish priest.

And at night when he says his prayers, my son always asks God to bless our retired, Irish Father.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

No Shortcuts

Message for the day, caught in between a dream and the fourth decade of the Rosary - Sorrowful Mysteries, "The Lord Carries His Cross":

There are no shortcuts.  Go back, pick up your cross, and bear it.  Follow me.  Follow me alone.  Follow me all the way.



Monday, March 11, 2013

Will It Always Be Night?

It began just as a light fog - things weren't as clear as they had been, but the fog thickened.  I could feel it closing in around me, but still the path at my feet and just ahead was visible.  Then it started to rain - a cold, drenching rain - causing me to huddle inside, making my way slippery and slow.  And then I saw the night approaching.  Here I sit, in the middle of a foggy, rainy, night with no stars since clouds are low and thick.  I dare not move.  Every now and then I get a glimpse of light, but it does not light the path or show me what surrounds.  It is too quick, too brief.  Will it always be night?  How long must I stay in this desert?  It seems like it has already been a long time, though I know I can count it in mere months.  I would say I am lost, for that is what it feels like, but lost doesn't seem quite right.  There are things I know, and it is to these that I must cling.  For even when I can see nothing around me, even when I cannot see any light or any path, I know that He has not abandoned me.  I know where I want to be, even if I don't know the way.  What did Frodo say?  "I will take the Ring to Mordor. Though-- I do not know the way."  I cannot be completely lost, for I know my goal is Heaven, to be with God for all eternity - even if at the moment "I do not know the way."


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What to do?

Our parish hosted the "Ecumenical Lenten Soup Supper" tonight, and I was asked by our lay leader (he is trained to lead a Communion/Word Service in the absence of a priest, which does sometimes happen here) to assist him in leading one half of the group as we prayed the Liturgy of the Hours/Vespers tonight.  I also read one of the readings.  Even though I am an incurable introvert, I don't mind being out in front of a group of people.  I have been trained in public speaking, and specifically in Scriptural Reading (thank you Sr. de Lourdes!).  I minored in Drama in college.  Speaking in front of large groups, even though I do get nervous, is something at which I am fairly good.

But here is the dilemma:  I was asked tonight by the lay leader if I would like to be trained as a lay leader.  I don't think women should lead services which might be construed by some to be a Mass - for even though it is made quite clear, I know that there are some who don't really see the difference.  There are many in my parish who are in favor of women priests.  My "being raised" to this lay-leader position would bring even more attention to the debate here about women priests.  My gut tells me not to accept the offer.  But could I, in a position of leadership in the parish, possible bring about some changes?  Bring more orthodoxy, more devotions, more Catholicism to the parish?  For example, we do not have Stations of the Cross offered during Lent - is this a way to bring more orthodox Catholicism to this progressive little parish?

I am torn and do not know what to think.  I will certainly pray and ask for guidance, but if anyone has an opinion I would be willing to hear it.  I am in the middle of the desert right now - only small glimmers of light come to me.  I know now is not the time to make a change, until this time of personal spiritual darkness is over, but....  I am conflicted.  Of course, this could just be the adversary baiting me and trying to get me to change my focus. 

And then there is this:  the primary reason my husband gives for not attending this parish is because of two men in the parish.  Guess who they are?  One is the current lay leader.  The other has accepted the offer to be another.  I already have to be careful that I do not mention these two men's names to my husband - what would it mean to be working very closely with them?  I don't know.  Please pray for me as I try to make this decision - and any good advice would be appreciated.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Really, I'm trying!

I have no less than three posts sitting in draft form.  Everything seems trite.  Sigh.  I'm just having one of those periods where nothing in my brain can make it to paper in even remotely the same form in which it forms in my brain.

Of course, it could just be that my younger son won't stop talking to me...and I can't think with all that constant chatter.  ARGHHHHH!