Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Triduum 2013

It's that time of year again. The time of year I geek out and write all of the blog posts and go on and on about how much I love the Church's liturgies during the Triddum. Exhibits A, B, C, and (phew!) D:

Last year's Holy Thursday 2012

Easter Vigil 2010

Holy Week 2010

Holy Week 2 2011

Holy Week 2013 began for me with the usual Palm Sunday celebration (while I love the drama of Palm Sunday, I want to give a shout out to the parish I went to for doing the "shortened version" of Luke's Gospel!!! ;) And I awoke Monday of Holy Week to this:

A Snow Day!

Snow in late March around here is pretty surprising. Our Spring Break for school begins during Holy Week and so my already shortened work week got even a little shorter!

I had set my alarm to go to Mass that Monday morning because it was March 25- aka the Feast of the Annunciation. That is USUALLY the day we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation, but as Twitter informed me in the form of one of my sassy priest friend's tweets: "Jesus is a preemie this year" (it's funny because the Annunciation marks when Mary conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. And then we celebrate Christmas Dec. 25...nine months later...get it? ) and since March 25th falls during Holy Week, the feast is being moved to April 8 (presumably after we also celebrate the Easter Octave). Ah, the Church in her infinite wisdom :)

But as we also know, Mary has an interesting place in my heart and I sometimes struggle with my relationship with her. But here I was! All ready to go to Mass and reflect on her fiat: her "yes" to the angel at the Annunciation! And now the feast was moved?! Humph.

I know I've also mentioned several times before on this blog (I really need new material) that this Ohio girl always scoffs at the reaction to snowfall around these parts. I was grateful for the snow day on this particular day, but I knew I could still drive wherever I wanted. We had about 2-3 inches, I think, of snow and it wasn't really sticking.

So I decided to make a little retreat out of my morning- feast or no feast. Snow or no snow. I hopped in my car and did a little mini-church pilgrimage (okay, so mine was like 2 or 3 vs. the Seven Church Pilgrimage that is custom during this time of year).

The snow and the silence of Lent, particularly during Holy Week, made for a very nice backdrop for my morning reflection, though I still couldn't get the feast of the Annunciation out of my head. I read the Gospel passage from Luke (Luke 1: 26-38) and thought of this young, unmarried girl who had "found favor with God" and was chosen for a special mission.

Earlier during my little "retreat" I was waiting in line for confession and the parishoners were praying the Litany of Loreto . The title "Mother of our Creator" really stood out for me- probably because I had just taught the Creation stories in my courses- but I tried to wrap my brain around that title for Our Lady. This is what she was asked to be at the Annunciation and was really set aside for since her Immaculate Conception in St. Anne's womb: to be the Mother of our Creator, the Mother of God.

The other moment in my reflection that gave me peace and hope was Luke 1:37: "For nothing is impossible for God." I have since found out that I PASSED MY COMPS! What I once thought might be impossible (though I know many of you told me that I would be totally fine...much easier said than done as we know!) has finally arrived: I will be graduating with my Masters in May! It is truly finished!!! But the question my aunt so immediately pointed out to me on Facebook is: "What now?"

What now indeed. Well, first, I am going to enjoy this Easter Triduum and wait with the Lord through this Holy and Easter Week (s). (Also, going to LA again...three times in less than a year! I just can't stay away from the beach and the sun!) And then I'm just going to wait. I'm going to move into my new apt and get my diploma and wait for what is next. I don't expect an angel to appear to me (though it might be nice!!) but I will contemplate with Mary and trust that all things are possible with God.

I hope you are able to enter into these Triduum and Easter festivities! We all know that I can't wait!
I leave you with a pic from one of the parishes I prayed in Monday morning. I thought it captured this spirit of Lent and Holy Week:

Oh, and a cute pic of a sign that some of my students hung up in my room after I found out I passed!

Blessed Triduum!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Francis: Rebuild My Church

So I'm in the midst of studying and taking my comprehensive exams to receive my Masters in Theology, as you all well know. After finishing my four hour exam IN two hours (never can tell if that is an excellent or terrible sign!) I head home for a quick respite and then pack up to go back to my *favorite* Starbucks library to claim my usual table to begin studying for day 2 of the exams. Day One was the catechetical stuff, tomorrow is the hardcore Theology. And as you all know, I am NERVOUS. Especially about the latter exam. 2000 + years of material! You can't screw that stuff up!

As I am driving to said Starbucks, the texts, the tweets, and the emails start coming in: Habemus Papam! We have a new pope! So instead of engaging in the texts and tweets, I turn on AM radio (for I'm pretty sure the first time of my life). I quickly park my car and run into my favorite 21st century library, take my usual spot, throw open my laptop and turn on CNN streaming. The crowd is waiting. Curtains are moving. We are gonna get the big reveal soon!

This takes me back to 2005 when Benedict XVI was elected. I was at my first real job after graduating from CUA for the *first* time. I was at the parish in which I was a youth minister and my colleagues in the Religious Education department had their computers and radios on trying to get word and catch a glimpse of who the new pontiff would be. I had heard of Ratzinger. I knew he was well written and a big name in Theology. He seemed like a solid choice, though I will admit, I was a little apprehensive. He seemed a little too "safe" in my mind. *Too* intellectual.

Eight years later, I am *still* very much involved in religious education and youth ministry and reading texts written BY Ratzinger as I wait upon my second graduation from Catholic University. Our methods of communication are a little more evolved this time. People were talking about "pope alarms" and websites, but I KNEW Twitter would not let me down. Any time I want to know what is going on, I immediately turn to Twitter, and so this is how I watched the election of the 266th pope: on my laptop, in a Starbucks, with Facebook and Twitter live streaming. As any 21st Century Catholic would :)

While I had my proverbial money on the 55 year old Filipino from Manila, Cardinal Tagle, in our second time running "pope pool" (yes, this is what CUA graduates do...) I am excited about our first Latin American pope. Our first Jesuit pope. Our first "Francis".

Twitter is my favorite because people are SO damn clever and quick and among my favorite tweets from others were: "A Jesuit name Francis? This IS a first!" and "Christ commanded Francis: Rebuild My Church."

That latter tweet. really got me. Francis of Assisi didn't understand that commission and tried to rebuild an ACTUAL church- San Damiano. We know now, though, that Christ wanted a new movement, a new ministry. One focused on a life of poverty and simplicity rather than the opulence of the time. I think the name Francis is much more enlightened and inspired at this time than any of us can even fully know right now...

I was a little disappointed that our new papa is a little on the older side- 76. I thought with this resignation we might learn our lesson. But my friend (who I was texting while live streaming and tweeting , etc :) said to me: "They weren't looking for another JP2!" But I replied to her: "But maybe *I'M* looking for another JP2!" I mean, come on...POLISH POPE! Even Babci - the woman who cried to the other sisters when I entered the convent about how she didn't want me to enter- has a picture of JP2 framed in her kitchen.

But I guess I need to realize that it is rare that for 24 years of my life I only knew one pope. And JP2 is already on the fast track to being canonized which is also special and rare.

I think these "firsts" with Francis already seem positive. I pray for him and for the Church that we can all embrace that commission to Francis: Rebuild My Church.

Also, can we just appreciate that it is amazing that I wrote ANY of this after taking part 1 of my comps this morning?!? Miracle of miracles!!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lenten Check-In: Laetare Sunday

The priests are all wearing pink (aka "rose") today...rejoice!

Rejoice(!), first of all, because pink is just so much more fun than purple. Some of you might disagree, but you see, my sister and I, close in age, would often get similar dresses, toys, etc. growing up. Except *I* would get the pink dress/toy/etc and *she* would get the purple dress/toy/etc to differentiate. I don't have anything against purple, but I have clearly always preferred pink.

Second of all, rejoice! because it means we are more than halfway through Lent! Last blog post, I wrote about how I couldn't believe that my friends were actually embracing (as opposed to abhorring, like I tend to) Lent. Again, nothing against Lent, but I am particularly glad that we are almost halfway through, though I do feel like this has been a pleasant and successful Lent so far (as far as Lents go :)

Other reasons to rejoice:

- Papal Conclave begins March 12th FINALLY! We have been two weeks now without a pope!

- I am FINALLY taking my comps this week! They will be OVER on Thursday! And there will be much rejoicing!

- My roommates and I are going are separate ways this summer, not a reason to rejoice necessarily, because that means another MOVE. And I dislike moving more than I dislike Lent. However, REJOICE! because I am FINALLY getting  my own place and have already found a new, cute apartment!

- Also, the obvious reason that EASTER will soon be here! My favorite season! And I'm going back to LA for Spring Break! Warm weather! Rejoice!

- Lastly, I celebrated this Polish nonagenarian recently...aka my Babci. 90 years of life! And vodka! Rejoice!
The Guest of Honor with the family...

 Honoring the Guest of Honor...

Um, yes, this is my 90 year old grandmother taking a vodka shot at the bar. May I still be doing shots at 90...:

Imparting words of wisdom as usual...

That's all for now...back to studying I go! I am feeling pretty confident right now, but only because I KNOW that people are praying for me, so please keep up the prayers this week and thank you for your awesome support!

ALSO- I will be starting a novena to this guy, St Joseph. To end on- um, duh- St. Joseph's feast day: March 19th! Join me if you wish!

O Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

O Saint Joseph, assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

O Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. Amen

O Saint Joseph, hear my prayers and obtain my petitions. O Saint Joseph, pray for me. (Mention your intention)

May the rest of your Lent be blessed!