Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cloud of Witnesses

So, okay. You guys. Today was kind of crazy. The Holy Spirit was all up and around and in my business today and I didn't know what to make of it, so of course, I'm blogging.

It all started after third period today. I have a very lovely new bunch of students as the 2nd semester has started. We had talked about some pretty intense stuff today- as you do in my line of work- and from time to time I will have to counsel some students when a topic hits them in a particularly personal way. No biggie. It's always a reminder, though, that this stuff that I am "teaching" is REAL. And personal. And did I say REAL?

I say "real" twice, because, crazy as it seems- even though I've given my LIFE to this Church, this faith- I can get SO caught up in the academics, mechanics, and day to day of it that I forget I am dealing with SOULS here; my own and those of whom I come in contact with. I'm sure many ministers have moments like this; where you are suddenly called back into why you have been called to this line of work.

Well, I had a double dose of it today as a different student sought me out after school to chat about something completely different but also very humbling and genuine and sincere. After twice in one day (which you would think, since i encounter 120 + students on a daily basis would happen more often, but this is a somewhat rare occurance) I went to God in prayer and said, "what gives? I'm grateful, but what is it about today?"

It's Feb. 5. Nothing has stood out to me about this date before. It's Lectionary Cycle C. I hadn't read the readings for the day (or gone to daily Mass, whoops!) so I decided to take a gander.

And there it was. Behold. A fav verse of mine that you might recognize:

"Brothers and sisters:
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us
and persevere in running the race that lies before us
while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,
the leader and perfecter of faith.
For the sake of the joy that lay before him
Jesus endured the cross, despising its shame,
and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.
Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners,
in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart."

Hebrews 12:1-3 y'all! The verse behind this blog!!

Well, I took this to mean that God was trying to get my attention for sure. First the students, then the verse. The Gospel for today was also a special one for me that I enjoyed studying in my Synoptic Gospels course and have used on retreats often:

Mark 5: 21-43: The death of Jairus' daughter and the story of the hemorrhaging woman. In the past, I've always focused on the story of the woman with the hemorrhage that is "sandwiched" (to quote my Synoptics prof) between the story of the dying 12 year old girl. But today, I was struck by Christ's words to the girl, "Little girl, Arise!" I felt like God might be preparing me for something! I'm not sure what, but I was on a roll in my prayer!

I also noted it was St. Agatha's feast day. I didn't know anything about St. Agatha, but after this sequence of events today, I decided in my prayer that we must be soul sisters. I mean, the readings used for her feast day are MY readings. And the spirit had moved me in a special way on this very day!

Ahem. Behold, St. Agatha:

Yup. Those are her breasts on a plate.

And this is her story.

I think I will just ask her to pray for me and leave it at that.

So the title of this particular blogpost today is taken from this reading from Hebrews 12 and one of the reasons I love it is that it calls attention to this "cloud of witnesses" that I believe to be the saints, the holy ones in heaven (St. Agatha, may she rest...), and the other faithful.

And as I was praying today...

okay, have you fully recovered from seeing St. Agatha's breasts yet???

I will give you another minute.


Okay. Moving on.

So as I was saying, I was praying about Hebrews 12:1 and also the virtue of faith as I have been trying to meditate on since this Year of Faith began. I was struck today by the community of believers our Catholic faith has. For better, for worse, Catholics have a strong tradition. I've been struck by this tradition and all it encompasses of late and now with my students coming to me today, and friends and relationships that I am blessed to have in my life, I amazed at the beauty of the community aspect of faith.

So there you have it, folks. Feb. 5, 2013. A date that will now mean something to me, even if it was the smallest movement of the Holy Spirit. I felt His presence in a special way today and I am grateful for it! May we all be more in tune to Its movements in our lives!