I came out of my prayer time in the chapel to find Father Jesse across the way, wearing a cope over his shoulders. I knew what that cope meant. I went into the church and sat down.
Father Jesse, preparing for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, urged the students (and their teachers) to see that this piece of bread that was about to be positioned before them was not the same as a slice of bread for a sandwich. This was their God. This was their Friend.
“… These are my sins, Father.” The good priest folded his arms and looked down, thinking intently about my laundry list of sins and grievances I had brought to Confession. After a few moments, he met my gaze and asked, “Are you familiar with the Angelus?”
The day I married my husband was one of the happiest days of my life. While true, that’s an unremarkable statement, one we’ve all probably uttered at one time or another. But for me there was a shadow behind it: the day I married my husband was the day I accepted that I would never walk into a Catholic church again.
Dear Aine, You’re three-and-a-half years old now, which means you’re an expert at asking questions. “Why is the sky blue?” “Why do we walk on the street on Halloween?” “Does Jesus live in our bodies?” That last question is one that I never thought I’d hear.
My mind wandered off a little during the Alleluia of the first Mass of the school year at Saint Louis Catholic School. My eyes were still looking at the music teacher singing the Gospel Acclamation, but I was suddenly thinking about the story of Abraham when he agreed to the Lord’s command to slaughter Isaac.
By the time I looked up from my songbook during the Offertory, I knew why I was thinking of Abraham: my daughter was bringing up the gifts.
One day about 10 years ago, the Martinez family, St. Louis parishioners, received a sample roll of toilet paper in the mail.
They had never received one before, and they have never received one since. To most of us, this might seem like an insignificant occurrence, but for Susan and Glenn and their children, it marked a definitive confirmation of a leap of faith they had just agreed to take.
I never called anyone by their nickname except for my cousin Jose. He was always Pepito to me. Jose never seemed to fit him because it was always too serious of a name for someone who was as silly and fun as he was. Pepito was the name my mom used when she called to tell me the bad news.
Much is said, and much is written, about learning to live “in the present moment” but most of us manage not to do much of it. We are so given to living in the past or the future, but of course this instant, in this time, is the only place we can live at all.
August 8th marked one year of work and life for me at St. Louis parish. And even though some days are downright difficult and others are overly joyful, I can definitely say that over the past 365 days, I have grown to learn more about myself as a lay minister, as a Catholic, and as a person.
I could tell that the Lord was working through me and that this person I looked up to and assumed didn’t need some lay person’s prayer really did need it. He was just a regular person like me who needs prayer from any person who cares enough to do it.
Some of the most special and unique moments I have been privileged to participate in my now seven-year-long altar serving career are funerals. Put most simply, funerals are a celebration of a life. Not only is the funeral a big moment in the journey for the person who has passed away, it is also a big moment for the community of which the deceased is a part. I have attended many funerals, and each one has taught me something.
There are few moments in our lives when we are both fully known and fully loved, but those are defining moments when we see that our identities are not our masks or our failures or our successes. In moments of authentic knowing and loving we can see that our identity is "child of God", broken, redeemed, known and loved.
Looking at the man, I started to cry. How could someone have received Jesus in the Eucharist every single day for 22-years — more than 8-thousand times — and quite possibly have never met Him? I have prayed a lot for that man, for his healing and his pain. I haven’t seen him in years, but I hope he found authentic joy.
When I came back to the Church I was haunted in by the above phrase referenced in the Mass. It appears in quotes and is followed by the phrase “as even some of your own poets have said” during the description of Paul’s address to the Athenians about the “god unknown.”
As it happens, last week their son had to have a biopsy to test for recurrence of cancer he was treated for several years ago. They were worried as the test itself carried significant risk, due to the location of the tissue to be biopsied, so I went to sit and pray with them at the hospital while it was done. Today they await the results.
As I scrolled through the pictures and tributes to their dads posted by friends on Facebook, I was suffused by a bittersweet (more bitter than sweet, I fear) sense of nostalgia for what never was for me.