Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Birthday Octave 2.0

I'm apparently not very creative with titles as of late. That, or history is somewhat repeating itself...

Last week was The Easter Alleluia 2.0 because it was my second time having my spring break after Easter and second Spring Break as a teacher.

This week is my Birthday Octave! My 31st bday is this Sunday, April 22 and my friends are meeting at one of my favorite wineries in VA to celebrate. Then on Monday, I leave for a 4 day Kairos retreat with some of our students. I'm actually really excited for this retreat. I personally have never been on a full Kairos retreat myself, but I've never heard a bad thing about a Kairos retreat. Kairos means "God's Time" in Greek, and I could use some of that me and God time right about now.

Finally, the Octave will end in Richmond with some of my favorite people this weekend. I can think of no better way to celebrate a birthday: wine, friends, Richmond (?), and Jesus ;)

But this is not the first time I've referred to my birthday in relation to an Octave (hence the 2.0). You all might recall when I was still with the sisters 4 years ago that my birthday was 7 days after another postulant and our birthdays were pretty much celebrated all week and very well. Seriously, it was one of my more memorable birthdays and the sisters were so good to me.

4 years (and age 27!) seem like a lifetime away, especially considering all that has happened these 4 years! But at the same time, I know 4 years is not a long time at all.

Last post, I referred to something I had been discerning and God revealed His answer to me yesterday. I don't think it was any coincidence that a Mass was also said for me yesterday because of my birthday and I believe that Mass intention, paired with my prayers, brought about that resolution. God has been always faithful to me and I'm happy to say He has confirmed that I am exactly where He wants me to least for another year :)

My plan has been to finish grad school (and hopefully that will happen this time next year) and then re-evaluate where God wants me to be professionally and just personally after that. I had an opportunity that kind of threw a wrench in that plan of late, but I didn't want to close any doors. Who am I to say "my plans" are better than God's?

But turns out God is in sync with me and I am staying put with the plan as of now :) So maybe that sheds some light on the vague last post I wrote!

I'm excited and grateful to celebrate my birthday with friends tomorrow! God is good, y'all. Let the Birthday Octave begin! Please pray for the students and adults on this Kairos retreat! Thanks!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Easter Alleluia 2.0

I am glad that my school's Spring Break coincides with the Triduum and Easter because I can then take in all that the Triduum and Easter are about. I can spend my Triduum in prayer and my Easter week REJOICING!

And I rejoiced pretty well this year, I'm going to go ahead and say that. You may recall that a teacher friend and I had the remarkable insight to book a trip to Puerto Rico back in February when we couldn't take any more of the cold or the iciness that comes from working with teenagers :)

Behold: the Lord makes all things good and new...Alleluia!

Rooftop deck and the Beach!
 Rooftop POOL!
 Colorful Old San Juan!

and yours truly outside of :)

Also, we toured the Cathedral of San Juan and I learned about this guy:

Manuel Carlos Rodriguez Santiago- a Puerto Rican layperson who has been beatified. I'm inspired by this holy layperson! Not too often you come across a beatified person depicted in a business suit!

Over this Triduum and Easter break, God gave me the opportunity to discern where I am at in my life and be open to saying "yes" to Him again. I am not sure yet what I might be saying "yes" to, but an opportunity has presented itself and I'm sure God will make it clear. I am however grateful for the opportunity to be open to wherever and whatever God might want me to do and to discern and say "yes" because He knows that brings me closer to Him.

Sorry to be vague :)

I know I have spoken about how I struggle with my work getting into my prayer time and it continues to be the case, but I did take some inspiration as I was lesson planning today and preparing to teach the History Books from the Old Testament again.

A couple semesters ago I HATED teaching this section. I didn't understand the history books. The Torah I got- all full of its covenants, laws, and symbols. Wisdom literature (Job, Wisdom, Psalms, Proverbs, etc) I get because they are also flowery and symbolic. The prophets are a little weird but they point to Christ so I get it.

The History books? The Israelites screwing up over and over again trying to appoint kings and defeat nations that I cannot pronounce and know nothing about? UGH. Not for me.

But with my Old Testament directed research last semester I learned a little more about Deborah, which helped me to understand female roles in the Old Testament better as well as the role of the "Judge." In my course with my students, we cover Deborah and Samuel , then quickly move to the kings- just the main 3- Saul, David, and Solomon.

I also love David. Saul and Solomon can be a tough sell for me like the rest of the books and characters in this history section, but David gives me hope.

David was a man "after God's own heart". (It is amazing to me how the students never understand what that phrase means. I should probably stop being amazed by now...) MEANING he may not always do exactly what God wanted him to do, but he tried real hard and God had a soft spot for him because of it.

When I think of David, I think of the scene of him trying to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. (I play the Lauryn Hill song "Zion" when I teach this lesson, too! 90s pop culture for the win!) He messes up the first time- doesn't do it the way it has been ritually prescribed to do. And people suffer for it. But unlike Saul who is a big cry baby and tries to cover his behind, David prays and tries again. David's prayers are always sincere, even when he messes up. And he rejoices and dances as the Ark of the Covenant finally does enter the Holy City.

David makes me ask myself: do I pray sincerely always? Do I try and again and rejoice even after I fall?

And the example David sets for me is one of joy and hope. As I was driving home after catching up on all the lesson planning and whatnot that I did NOT do over break, I had a David moment with Jesus. I just thought: " love me know matter what, Jesus!" (He's shmoopy like that sometimes) "You are just happy that I turn my thoughts to you and want to honor you."

So even if my prayer time isn't ideal or perfect, and even if I don't succeed at every moment or every opportunity, I can say Alleluia and rejoice because it pleases the Lord just to even have me turn to Him.

Alleluia! Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Triduum 2012- Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday is still my fave.

I know I have written about memorable Holy Thursdays past, but the memories continue to be made and remembered each Holy Thursday for me. I got more than one text and/or tweet about my amazing "Last Supper" in my 20s last year and a text from my friend who I traveled to Spain with in 2005 during Holy Week about her fond memories of this day, shoot, seven years ago. 

I try to make where I celebrate each part of the Triduum special. This year, I wanted to give my new parish a try, but was a little apprehensive. I love my parish and enjoy going to Sunday liturgies there. They have an awesome holy hour and Confessions each Wednesday evening. Amazing! But they are UBER traditional. Like Latin Mass traditional. Now, we know I love me some bells and whistles, but when it comes to the Triduum, I like to recall how it might have been in Jesus' day and that was probably more wood and dirt than gold and incense. 

But I am also kind of LAZY. And since it is my Spring Break, I am just kind of seeing where each day takes me (that is, of course, until it takes me to PUERTO RICO on Monday! :) I could have sought out a Mass that matched more of my spiritual taste, but my parish is within walking distance. So when I finally pulled myself away from the Hunger Games trilogy with minutes to spare to get to Mass, my parish it was!

And it ended up being really nice. I was a little overwhelmed with all the men and boys marching down the aisle  during the processional without even a woman in sight until the psalmist from the choir, but after that, I appreciated alot of their liturgical choices. (NERD!)

Father washed feet of twelve of (the many) altar servers. And I was struck by in all of my Holy Thursdays, I don't think I'd ever seen a priest actually kiss the feet of those he was washing, which Father did and I'm pretty sure Jesus might've too. It was a humbling gesture, I thought, and brought out the sentiment of the action of the washing of the feet. 

We sang the Gloria, but to remind us we are still (while not in Lent TECHNICALLY) not quite to the Resurrection, the organist did not play after that. Everything else was acapella which I also thought was an interesting move (liturgically speaking :) The altar server also did not ring the bells at the consecration, but rather hit a block of wood three times, again to remind us of the difference in the events of this evening some 2000 years ago.

My favorite moment of any Holy Thursday liturgy, though, is singing the Pange Lingua and moving to the altar of repose. That was one of my favorite parts of the memorable 2005 Holy Week that my friend texted me about and my parish tonight also made this part of the liturgy really special. 

They brought out the umbrella! Okay, so it's called an ombrellino (and I had to google "Eucharistic Umbrella" to find that out...I'm sure that is the true technical, theological definition...)

I've seen one used before in Eucharistic Processions on the Feast of Corpus Christi, but I don't think I'd seen on at a Holy Thursday service. But it makes sense. Even though there for sure wasn't one used on the fateful night itself, I do think it highlights the sacredness of the Eucharist and reminds us that Jesus, our King, is present:

They then had a beautiful altar of repose set up with plants around the tabernacle and I always like to feel like I'm walking with Jesus to the garden after the Holy Thursday liturgy to see if I can "stay up with him for but an hour." (I didn't make it an hour- 40 minutes, though :)

As I walked home tonight, I also thought of the Feast of the Passover from Exodus. I had gotten into a kind of awesome debate about the meaning of Passover and the Eucharist via Twitter earlier today which was kind of an awesome way to start me thinking about the meaning of this feast. (Twitter- the new evangelization, I tell you!) 

So as I walked home and saw lights on inside homes and the moonlight shining from above (a full moon at that) I thought of what the night of the Passover in Moses' time would be like. Nowhere near as comfortable as we have it now, probably eerily quiet or mysterious, fearful, and nerve wracking. I imagined the Israelites putting the lamb's blood on their doors in the hope of being saved.

All foreshadowing the blood that we remember tomorrow that was shed on the cross for us. 

I'm grateful for a great start to Triduum! Definitely more prayerful and subdued than last year :) What can I say, I'm 30 now! I'm OLD. 

Have a blessed Triduum!