Friday, June 21, 2013

A Solid Start to Summer

Today is officially the beginning of summer, though I have actually been honing my pool/couch lounging skills for about 10 days now!

I decided to take my annual Ohio summer trip early on in the season since I will be working as a nanny for the next 8 weeks or so. Gah! Working with kids when I don't have to? What was I thinking?! I guess I was thinking it was God's will or something. (Also, that it is good money and a new experience that will hopefully keep me moving and active instead of permanently fixated on my new couch. Though, I'm still not entirely sure why I told myself that wasn't an option.)

My trip home was a good one- relaxing and filled with family as per usual. I got to be home for Father's Day which was really nice. I usually just send cards for the Hallmark holidays, but there I was! In the flesh! Reciting my greeting much less poetically, but still sentimentally nonetheless. We spent the day (my parents and I) by going to Mass, watching baseball and golf on tv, and later hosting my Babci, sister, nephew, brother-in-law, and our neighbor at our house.

No one is surprised that I was particularly struck by the Mass on Sunday, though, I was also quite taken aback by my new-found interest in GOLF. I've never been able to sit through broadcastings of the sport for more than 10 minutes previously at best. Perhaps with each decade comes a higher tolerance for watching men in funny pants walk across green fields and swing clubs in silence? I may never know.

The readings for this past Sunday were all about forgiveness, as the priest who was presiding at my parent's parish pointed out (cue the Don Henley which was running on repeat in my head each time the priest said the above noted *f* word. Heh.)

The first was about David and God forgiving him for, oh you know, taking another man's wife for himself and then sending said other man to the frontlines to be killed. Just your typical biblical patriarch. KIDDING. But that really happened.

The second reading is from my beloved St. Paul and his letter to the Galatians in which Paul says it is no longer he that lives, but Christ that lives in him. The priest at Mass called that line to our attention as well as how dramatic Paul's conversion was. He reminded us that Paul was killing and persecuting early Christians but then completely renounced himself and his old ways because Christ called him. Again- Christ not only forgives but then uses someone who was once doing something evil to carry out his mission.

Lastly, the Gospel is the beautiful encounter in Luke with the woman who anoints Christ's feet with oil. Some say this woman is Mary Magdalene, and she is mentioned later in the passage as following Christ when he journeys from one town to another. But the part that I was struck by was Christ explaining the action to Simon with this story:

Simon, I have something to say to you.”
“Tell me, teacher, ” he said.
“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor;
one owed five hundred day’s wages and the other owed fifty.
Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.
Which of them will love him more?”
Simon said in reply,
“The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.”
He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

We like to keep a tally of people's debts and weigh them against our own. We want people to suffer for their error or feel shame. We quickly forget that being Christian is about forgiveness and that we should want everyone to experience the true love and forgiveness of Christ. And those with the bigger debts often are the ones who God uses significantly- like David, Paul, and this woman in the Gospel- and teach us about His truth and love.

One last bit of church-y nerdiness: I noticed while at my parent's parish something that I already knew- how much a difference good liturgy really makes. At my parent's parish people were singing. The music was modern (which I know is not how all like to worship. I myself do have a place in my heart for the traditional, but I like to switch it up a little here and there), there were drums and multiple instruments, the preaching was good and involved the congregation, and the Eucharist and Scripture were still the main focus for the community and the priest. I was excited to see these books being used which made me think of my Workcamp friends (who are working hard this week in the diocese!) and my friends at Spirit and Song:

This week in Ohio went really quickly! Here are some pics of other things that happened:

Hanging out at a marina on Lake Erie with a friend...

I love dive bars and they abound in CLE.  I also can't resist a Polish dive bar... see below:

I also got to start each morning with the sun, a book, and my mom's garden :)

And I didn't realize it until I was sitting back in my apt in VA and reading my aunt's post on Facebook that today is the second anniversary of my Grandma Mary's death. In some ways, two years seems to have come and gone quickly. But I think about and pray to my Grandma often. She was such a selfless and classy lady:

I wish I had a better pic of the two of us, but here is Grandma and I in 2007 at my "going away" party before I entered the convent:

Forgiveness, Family, and summer Fun are my words for the week! A solid start to summer indeed.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

"Ordinary" Time

So much has gone on since I last wrote! I graduated! Pentecost happened! My students have graduated! And summer is finally HERE! One more day of giving exams and it is time to grade, pack up the classroom, and be FREE!

Here are some snapshots from the past month or so:

 My mom, my grandmother and I at my MA graduation in May
 Getting that diploma!

After graduation with some of my fav student graduates 

I recognize now what I somewhat surmised before- that my some of my students have taken to reading this blog. So HELLO student stalkers! Are you surprised to see that this blog is pretty much exactly what I talk about in the classroom? That is- nerdy liturgy speak?? Well....WELCOME. You don't get extra credit for this.

My reflections have really started to center around the liturgical seasons, it seems. And with the Easter season now over and Pentecost come and gone, we are left to be sent out into summer and, well, ordinary time.

There are still plenty of feasts hidden within Ordinary Time, however, and I enjoy finding them as I go to daily Mass...which, I really need to get back into the habit of going to daily Mass. But that's what summer is for, right?

I've struggled to get into a routine with this new-found freedom of living in my own place and having all of the free time! But I'm making it a goal this summer to get back into a routine of prayer and daily Mass. It seems that I was able to do this much in the summer of 2011- my first summer after teaching. Last summer was a whirlwind of travel! Which has left everyone (myself included) what does this summer have in store?

An opportunity presented itself for me to nanny for two children ages 12 and 10. I met the family, and said yes. I didn't have any plans for this summer and although working with children in my time away from children wasn't in my plans, I also didn't want to be bored all summer. I wanted a plan, a routine. I think this opportunity will be a good experience for me and a good outlet this summer. I do feel like it's part of God's plan for whatever reason.

And even though I haven't been in much of a prayer routine of late, I do continue to see God's hand in my life all over the place. I know He is at work through His Spirit especially in this time post Pentecost. I really loved this line from today's reading from St. Paul (me? enjoying something from St. Paul? I know you are shocked):

I want you to know, brothers and sisters,
that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin.
For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it,
but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. - Galatians 1:11

I've been getting very wrapped up in the human aspects of our faith recently for whatever reason. And I've forgotten that religion and faith is about REVELATION and a personal revelation from Christ.

Hopefully, that is what our faith is for you all, too. Not solely the human infrastructure that can be broken and fallible at times. But the infallible movements of the Spirit of God in our Church and in our lives.

The last time I met for spiritual direction, Father suggested that I re-visit the writings of St. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle. I had tried reading it once before, but I found I couldn't get into it once again. I was praying, though, and realized that I really get inspiration from the documents of the Church and Vatican documents. (Once a Theology student, always a Theology student, apparently!). We have a new pope, so I thought I'd check out some of his new writings. Then I saw a former teen that I had worked with in my youth ministry days posted about this book:

and I was sold. I've only read the first few chapters but I am inspired by what our current Holy Father and this holy rabbi he is writing with have to say about dialogue between faiths and with non-believers. They don't speak about dialogue with non-believers in a "we must convert them way" but in a "we need to listen and meet them where they are at because they have value" kind of way. Love it! I believe the Holy Spirit is truly moving in our Church still!

I'm also excited because a friend of mine who I got to see ordained three years ago will be joining my colleagues and I as the chaplain at our school this fall!
Summer weather and some time off certainly help to put me in a good mood, but I also just love this "ordinary" time post- Pentecost to get back in a routine of my own with God and enjoy the fruits of His Spirit. 

Happy Summer, everyone!