Saturday, March 31, 2018

Selling the Drama 2018 Edition

Holy Week is coming to a close and the Easter Season is upon us. Not before, however, we unfold all that this week and salvation history has been about tonight at the Easter Vigil.

I have kept this blog for over 10 years which is insane to me. These 10 years, however, have been so much about growth and becoming the person that I am today. I looked back at some earlier posts in which I used this same title. I can see myself starting to grow. I had moved back to DC. Started grad school. I was starting to nerd out and geek out about my theological studies. I had a strong community of friends. I was becoming a teacher. 

And here we are today. In some ways, things are not that different. Still a theological nerd. Still a teacher. The location has changed, though only by about 90 miles, and I haven't shared a living space with a roommate in about five years, but I have rediscovered my need for community in new ways.

Another major difference between 27 and (almost) 37? No. More. Drama. 

The drama was on its way out, I think, towards the end of my twenties anyway, but by this stage in the game, the drama almost ceases to exist and it is glorious. 

Which brings me to Holy Week. In the aforementioned previous posts, I focus on the drama of Holy Week which is no doubt still there. The Church hasn't changed in 2000 years, it's not about to alter the celebration of Holy Week! However, my perspective on Holy Week has changed in my, ahem, older age. 

There is still no denying the drama that occurs during Holy Week, for that is what it is about. Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem in glory with Hosannas and palms on the back of a donkey, and by the end of the week, finds Himself in a tomb. There is a lot that happens in between. 

But something I experienced last year when I wasn't able to enter into the Triduum as I would have liked, made me realize that these Passion plays and rituals are good, but they are about us. We need the rituals to enter into this time in Christ's life. Christ doesn't need them. 

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't partake in the rituals of Triduum. That is not what I am saying. I went to Holy Thursday Mass and Good Friday service yesterday and I can't wait for the Easter Vigil tonight. I am entering in this year! But Christ has already won the victory. He has already died and rose. These rituals are designed to draw us closer to Christ. We are the ones who need to remember. He never forgets. 

And all of this newfound thirties drama-less mindset brings me to Holy Saturday. In the past, I don't know if I appreciated this day. In fact, when I teach the Triduum to my students, there isn't much to say about this day other than Jesus is in the tomb. But this morning, waking up to the stillness and sunlight after the dreariness of Good Friday, made me appreciate this part of the Triduum in a new way. 

I googled Holy Saturday and a lot of images of tombs and crosses came up. For some reason, I found this building with the door mysterious and relevant. Insert female emoji with her arms up here!

What were the apostles doing on this day? Hiding? Mourning? Waiting? I know that the women were going to prepare the body, which shows me how brave and loyal those women were. While the men were probably in hiding wondering if they would be next on the Romans' list, the women were not afraid and were loyal enough to make that trek to the tomb after the Sabbath. 

And what was Christ doing on this day? Taking the holy souls to heaven finally? Enjoying some peace and quiet? Having one day's rest with the Father and Spirit? It is fun to meditate on. And gives me new perspective on death and resurrection. 

We are quick to jump on drama. We love the action of the palms on Palm Sunday, the Passion play unfold on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Today is Holy Saturday, and I believe that it brings a stillness and peace that we often overlook. However, we can't stay in the "tomb" forever. We need the joy and the action of the Resurrection to bring about new perspective, new life. 

Looking forward to tonight's Easter Vigil! I was asked last minute to sponsor a 10 year old coming into the Church tonight! I always love celebrating with my RCIA community at the cathedral. Please keep all of those entering the Church tonight in your prayers. And Happy Holy Saturday.


Saturday, March 17, 2018

Lenten Laetare Check In- 2018

Happy 4th Week (almost 5th week) of Lent! I told my students that we only had one more week next week until Holy Week and they were amazed. I remember when I was that age thinking that Lent took forever! It's a little sad for me to learn that they think that time passes as quickly as I do now as an adult. I have many theories on that, but that is a blog post for another time.

It is also probably important to note that today is St. Patrick's Day! I am not Irish, but I do love celebrating this day. It involves a saint's feast day, beer, and the color green...what's not to love?
 Remembering our dear friend Dan who loved St. Patrick's Day in 2015
Throwback to disapproving Irish Car Bombs, especially when put in plastic cups way back in 2007

St. Joseph's Day is another upcoming feast day that I look forward to- not just because it allows me another day to break my Lenten fast! I always pray the Novena to St. Joseph at this time and I have entrusted many important prayers to him in the past- like passing my comps in 2013 and looking after our friend Dan in 2014. In this age of chaos and selfishness in our culture and community, I am in awe of St. Joseph even more for sticking with God's plan for him and his family. If he would not have embraced his role as a foster father, who is to say what would have happened to us. St. Joseph, pray for us!

Laetare Sunday was last Sunday, which means we are more than halfway through with Lent. Now is the time to check in and see how we are doing with our Lenten promises of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. If we have failed in any way, it's okay. There is still time to make preparations and commitments before the holiest of weeks in the Church coming up on Palm Sunday.

My fasting has been committing to the Whole 30 which is no dairy, no alcohol, no grains, no many things I love! I have certainly failed. But each time I did, I recommitted and kept going rather than call it a wash.

As far as prayer, this has probably been the most fruitful for me this Lent. I have been using the devotional book that the Christian feminist group I am a part of has been going through together this Lent. It examines the book of Exodus. The first couple of weeks were hard because we all struggled to understand why God would be so angry and vengeful towards Moses, towards the Pharaoh, towards His Chosen People. Exodus is also hard because there are so many sections about laws and practices that can be considered excessive and moot in 2018.

What I have taken away from the passages in Exodus:

- we need rituals and sacrifices and discipline, God doesn't. He gives us laws for us to learn and grow.
- rituals can bring community together. People can all use their gifts in different ways as offerings to God.
- We should not lose focus when other idols or "gods" tempt us from straying from following God
- Moses was given a really, really hard task. He probably should have delegated more! It would have been less stressful! His father-in-law, Jethro, tried to tell him to do so!
- We really need to trust in God and others, even when they seem untrustworthy or illogical
- Though Israel was the first to practice monotheism, God is for all of us. Christ expanded God's covenant so that salvation is for all people and we are all now chosen.
- We should not "veil" our worship or radiance for God. We need to share His light with others

And that's what I've got so far. I'm sure as we continue to journey towards Easter this salvific story will take new forms and meaning.

I also have been praying for many special intentions that were given to me at the beginning of Lent. If you signed up to be prayed for on my Google form that I posted around Ash Wednesday, know that I have been praying for you daily!

In regards to almsgiving, I always clean out my closets at this time and give at least 5 items to charity. I've done the closet cleaning, just need to take the items to the drop off location sometime before Easter.

Last year, I was searching for community, and so far this year, community has played such an important role in my self care and relationship with God. I continue to be grateful for His faithfulness and providence. I look forward to celebrating with all of the carbs and Alleluias in the Easter season!

Finally, this Sunday's Gospel for the 5th Sunday of Lent has so many beautiful and noteworthy elements. When I met with the RCIA group this week, someone was called upon to spontaneously lead us in reflection of this passage from John and the Holy Spirit really moved through her. It was awesome to see. We noted that the Greeks were following Jesus around, not just the people of Israel. And not necessarily because they were wanting to harm Him, but because they were curious about Him. We thought this was interesting for many reasons. For one, it truly shows that the Messiah is for all of us. And this really would have shaken the Jewish chief priests even more about Jesus' ministry. Do we want to be like chief priests who were intolerant of Christ and did not welcome His followers? Or do we want to embrace all who want to follow Christ like Jesus did, regardless of background?

Christ also uses this metaphor about a grain of wheat needing to die in order to live. He is foreshadowing His own death and Resurrection, but I think it is certainly applicable to our sufferings and deaths as well. Suffering and "dying" to self is necessary to produce goodness and new life sometimes. This is a good reminder as we near the end of Lent and prepare for new life in the Easter season.

Happy St. Patrick's Day and (almost) end of Lent!