Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bread of Life

In addition to feeling the bittersweet joy of the Easter season, this year's season is extra special because my nephew and godson made his first Holy Communion!

Even though I witness many first communions through RCIA and distribute communion to 2nd graders at school, it is another thing to go through the whole experience with a child, especially one who are especially close to.

It's hard for me to believe that it's been 8 years since his baptism!

As I was sitting there in Mass for his first communion, I couldn't help but think of my own. The night before, a childhood classmate and I were actually reminiscing a little bit about when we had made first communion together. The Church was in a different building than it is now at the parish and the Mass was of course somewhat different (I remember doing the first reading at my First Communion Mass. It also happened to be my 8th birthday!). But a lot of the routine is also the same: the dresses, the excitement, the preparation. Which is really one of the beautiful things about our faith: throughout the centuries, around the world, the Eucharist is and always has been the same.

Just had to give a little shout out to this special moment that marked the Easter season for me this year! I hope and pray that we all hold onto the excitement and awe that we have at our first communions. 

The Easter Alleluia 2019

For the past 10+ years that I have been keeping this blog, writing during the Easter season has always been a mainstay. The Easter season is so bittersweet. We certainly have the joy of Easter. That which we thought was gone and dead has been brought back to life. The weather is warmer. The clouds and cold have gone away and make room for the new life of Spring.

But as we hear in the readings of Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of John during the Easter Season, we also remember Jesus preparing to leave the apostles to their own devices. We hear from the passages of the Last Supper discourse where Jesus prepares them for his death but reminds them that he will not leave them alone. An advocate- the Holy Spirit- is coming. I recall these readings time and again in this blog because they seem to always emulate exactly what I am feeling at this time of year.

May is a time of endings and beginnings much like the early Church. Not just in the seasonal ways I have already mentioned, but as a teacher, I have witnessed years of graduations and the anticipations of new beginnings at new high schools and colleges for those graduating students. There is also the ending of the school year and the anticipation of summer.

Five years ago during this time in the Easter season, my college friend Dan lost his battle with leukemia. And each year it seems unbelievable that he is gone, but yet also very long since the last time we were all physically together.

 How I choose to remember Dan- senior year of college. 

Usually by this time of year in May, I have my summer all planned out. This is not the case this year. Since I took my big international trip this year in February to the Holy Land, I'm not sure what this summer will bring. I will have to leave it to the winds of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost in June to direct me.

By this time, too, I have typically already blogged about my Easter Alleluia- my experience during the Easter Octave. This year, my Easter was BUSY. As I have for the past 4 years, I helped to welcome new Catholics into the Church through the RCIA process, culminating at the Easter Vigil. This year, I was once again also called to be a sponsor. This year, God united me with a like-minded, fun spirited, sassy teacher :)

                                     Welcome to the Church! Easter Vigil 2019

Much like my summers, I typically like my Spring Breaks to be restful. But last year, I was selected to serve on an Advisory Council for a national organization of Catholic teachers. I had to attend meetings at their annual conference that falls during my Spring Break.

The conference was in Chicago this year, so I tried to make the most of it and bookended the trip but stopping in Ohio on the way out to the conference and on the way back to see family. My 38th birthday also happened to fall during this time as well.

         As if I hadn't brought the sass for the past 37 years, there is certainly no question about it now...

I was originally a little bummed to be spending my break on work related things instead of spending it on a beach, but I had gotten my trip of a life time earlier in February so I couldn't complain. And as most things do, the conference and break ended up being full of unexpected blessings.

I had known that a couple of my friends from college would be attending the conference, but we ended up reuniting with quite of few folks that I haven't seen in almost a decade. It was such a blessing to see people I had prayed with (and partied with) in college continuing to serve the Church in our respective ways. Pictured above are two Catholic school principals, two Catholic school teachers, a non-profit advocate for Catholic Schools and a priest!

The Easter Alleluia was different this year, but was still a renewal. I received the inspiration and drive I needed to go back and finish this year out strong.

In closing out the curriculum with my students this year, we have been talking about achieving holiness and discerning our vocations; very familiar subject matter for me. In talking to the students, I had the peace of sharing that I am exactly where I know God wants me to be. It took a lot of twists and turns and ups and downs and questioning along the way, but I now have the confidence in knowing that I have built the life with God that I want and believe that He wants for me. Alleluia!
But I am also awaiting that breath of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to see what He may want for me next.

Happy Easter, everyone! Even if it is the 5th week!