Tag Archive | Catholic

Morning meditation

20180405_105215“Morning has broken like the first morning…”

During Lent, I had a goal of getting back into praying the Liturgy of the Hours.  I had not done so in about a year until Good Friday. I finally prayed morning prayer. I prayed it every morning for years. Most of the time, it was therapeutic. Sometimes it was sustaining. A few times reciting the prayers kept me afloat. I cherish what it did in my life. Because it is an old friend, I can resume as if I had never stopped. But because time has passed, I see it with new eyes and a deeper understanding.

The morning prayer is set up the same way every day I follow the shorter Christian prayer which consists of morning prayer, evening prayer, and night prayer. It opens with the invitatory psalm, usually Psalm 22 but there are others.You recite an antiphon that changes depending on the day. This is followed by two psalms and a canticle from an Old Testament prophet, again with antiphons that are fitting to the season or the feast. There is a short reading, sometimes from one of the prophets or a letter of Paul. Then you recite the Canticle of Zechariah with an antiphon, prayers of intercession, the Our Father, and a concluding prayer and a blessing . Some of these prayers I knew by heart; I’m sure with more recitation I could I could do it by memory

The Canticle of Zechariah has always been one of my favorites. It comes from the Gospel of Luke which is my favorite gospel. It is a song of joy following the birth of John the Baptist and recalling the history of salvation. The lines that consistently strike are the ones that say, “ he promised that he would save us from our enemies  from the hands of all who hate us.” Sometimes those words make me cry. That is what happened in my life. I have been burdened by people full of self-loathing and hatred of others. I have had to fight back against their toxic poison. I prayed for deliverance. I prayed for their conversion. But mostly I prayed for God to prevail and to keep me safe. He did. He always has. I am forever grateful.

Morning prayer may only take about 15 minutes but it is a wonderful time of serenity and silence. When I recite these prayers, I enjoy peace and stillness. I definitely need more of that in my life instead of the usual piles of folded laundry or checked work emails that I tackle weekday mornings.  So far during the Easter season, I have been praying the Liturgy of the Hours daily. Those moments of quiet reflection are much needed and appreciated.

Advertisements

Procession and process

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.  29683620_1980737562175453_2343870968512959220_n

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.

29597492_1980737552175454_4484460233475374210_nAs 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.

My wish for this week

retreat-holy-week

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. 

An example of growth

holiness

Recently on a Sunday morning, I heard Donnie McClurkin preach about being an example. He noted how often in the church we are told to be examples which we interpret to mean examples of perfection.  We no longer strive to be examples. We give up.”Well I’m not perfect so therefore I’m not a good example for folks.” McClurkin pointed out that we need to be examples of growth. Our testimony needs to be about the mistakes that we have made and the progress that we’ve made.

Growth is central to my faith life. I base the majority of my writing on my growth. When people ask me for advice, I’m good at couching my words appropriately. I’m  aware of how it could be taken. If we have a trusting friendship, I’m going to open about my progress. I am not perfect. I am honest about my weaknesses. The majority of my blogging in the last decade has been about where I need to grow,  where I am weak,and where I struggle. I struggle with fear, pettiness, and the desire to be vengeful.These are all challenges with which I continue to mature. All of the struggles that I have endured, whether they have been emotional, professional, mental, or physical, have helped me become stronger through faith. Like everyone who practices a religious faith, I experience periods in which my faith is shaken, weak, or lazy. It doesn’t waver. There are times when I don’t feel like praying, reading the scriptures or doing spiritual reading. II don’t make an effort to be disciplined.  Even during those periods of struggle, I find great comfort and inspiration in my faith. It is my faith that has given me the strength to grow as much as I have.

One complaint I have heard others make about people of faith is the feeling that we presume those who not practice or believe do are lesser than. The term “holier than thou” arose because people have used their religious practice or faith as a means of shutting themselves off from others. This is a mistake as people striving towards holiness because holiness is about wholeness. I cannot be a whole person if I’m not part of a whole community. If I look at others as sinners or judge others as not worthy to be saved, I have missed the meaning of what it means to be holy.

In last Sunday’s Gospel, we learn that God loves us. He loves our imperfect world. He loves humanity, which, by its nature, is flawed. He loves us.. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He wants us to grow. He gave us an offering of his love and faith in us through his son. That is hard for us to understand. One of my struggles is to truly accept His love. I feel pressure to be perfect I’m not perfect. I’m loved but I’m number 57 or 338 or 1250 on his list.  Those thoughts are about me not about His love.

I’m thankful to Pastor Donnie McClurkin for sharing his wisdom and helping me to reflect on the Gospel.  I’m grateful to Dynamic Catholic for continuing to push me to reflect on questions about myself and for always reminding me that my faith will help me find the answers. I hope I have the courage to share how I am an example of growth. My faith does not make me different from others. It is part of what makes me strong.  if you’re a person of faith, I encourage you to read the scriptures or find some spiritual reading to help deepen your growth. If you are Catholic, visit Dynamic Catholic and take part in Best Lent Ever. It has changed my faith life and therefore my life. Whatever your stance on spirituality and faith, find something that brings you closer to feeling whole. That will bring you closer to being holy.

Marching with saints

56a0da93abee42a2d3df606756c214ac

We celebrate All Saints’ Day. All Saints’ Day is a Catholic holiday. In the past, it rivaled and even overshadowed Halloween with parades of children dressed as patron saints or their saintly namesakes. When I was a little girl, my parish celebrated the saints’ parade. I only remember taking part once. I was St. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. My mom made my costume.  I felt a connection to St. Elizabeth for years so much that I chose her as my confirmation saint and alluded to her story in my fiction writing in later years.  When I became a mother, I reflected on this holiday and how I might celebrate it with my daughter.

Our neighborhood parish still celebrates a saints’ parade. The nuns at my parish organize the parade every year and often commission seamstresses to make various costumes.  You can, however, create your own costumes and that is what we have done. I had always wanted M to participate when she got older. We talked about it for a few years and did not follow through. Then we finally decided she would do it. The first year she participated, she paid tribute to our heritage. M was St Rose of Lima. She dressed as a Dominican nun wearing a crown of roses instead of the traditional (and gorier) crown of thorns.

12027202_10153862934977784_2746629336698459820_oLast year, she asked to be the Virgen of Guadalupe, again paying homage to our culture and her Mexican roots.

20161106_085010This year, we wanted to continue honoring our culture.  We chose St. Kateri.

23120039_10156262658412784_851031464389115179_o

In creating her saints’ costumes, I do have to make time to research and also set aside money for expenses. I have spent between $50 and $60 for a few years. The first year, I purchased the nun’s habit. She already had the floral headband. Last year, I ordered a royal blue cape and ironed on the stars. It was difficult to find a plain pink nightgown.  I also purchased some black ribbon for the maternity sash.  This year, I wanted to keep the costume simple. We chose a soft brown shift dress with black leggings, gold sandals, and a bead necklace, all from M’s closet. Grandma did her braids. I already have a beautiful tree branch crucifix that hangs in our living room. The one thing we purchased was the silk tiger lily. This year, I only spent $10 since she had everything else.

All Saints has become a special holiday in our home. It’s a beautiful tradition celebrating our faith. It allows us to take joy in who we are.