Friday, April 6, 2012

Prepare the Way - These last 40 days

Last night we enjoyed Holy Thursday mass at our parish. This has always been one of my favorite masses to attend. At our former church, the one Jim grew up in, there would always be a soup and salad supper after mass. Most of Jim's family would attend and we would take up an entire long table, I miss that tradition very much.
At our current parish we have a whole new tradition. We belong to a very diverse parish so our Holy Thursday mass is multicultural. We begin by having flags of various colors representing the Continents of our world brought into the church, the reading are spoken in English, Spanish and Tagalog. Our prayers of the faithful are said in even more languages that represent our parishioners. Since English and Spanish are the two main languages our parishioners speak the homily and prayers are alternating in both languages. I must admit it is a bit hard to follow the homily when every other sentence is in Spanish but it did force me pay attention more so I could follow. Alexa was a trooper for this extended mass, which was good practice for the Vigil on Saturday.
For today we will be going on our annual cross walk. This is one of my favorite traditions in our Youth and Young Adult Ministry. We are very lucky to have a beautiful regional park near us and each year we invite our parishioners to join us to take a walk carrying a large wooden cross as we pray the Stations of the Cross. It is so beautiful and each year we get more and more people joining us. I love watching people who are passing by watch us as we walk the trail expressing our faith. We have even had people join us mid way.
Saturday is extra exciting, we will be attending the Easter Vigil mass. I know we must be nuts taking our 16 month old to a 3 hour mass but it's very important. I have 2 teens in my high school program and 1 college student in my young adult program becoming fully initiated in the church. I also have 2 more young adults receiving their Confirmation. It has been such an amazing journey watching all of them grow to love their faith so much. One young man has been giddy for weeks knowing he will be receiving Christ. I bet today he is going nuts and tomorrow, well I'm sure it will be the longest day of his life. So you see why we can't miss it, I'm really praying that by 9:00 Alexa might fall asleep, if not I've got several books, some crayons, coloring pages downloaded from, a few stuffed animals, her blankie, her binkie, a bottle, her sippie cup and if everything fails I will bust out the cheerios, animal crackers and string cheese. The food will only be a last ditch effort because I really hate the idea of eating in church. I also made us a Paschal Candle this year for the first time which we will light at mass and bring home to light each night at dinner during the Easter Season.
Sunday, I'm so excited to be able to bring our Easter Bunny tradition back. He has always brought a basket for Jacob, but when he was younger the Easter Bunny would also hid eggs in our front yard. Of course Jacob got too old for that part but now we have Alexa to begin this tradition again. I even bought the most adorable Noah Ark Easter Eggs at Walmart for us to hid. The Easter Bunny will also leave the kids a basket with the usual goodies but our Easter Bunny makes a detour to the local Catholic Book Store to help fill their baskets. I'll share that on Sunday, Jacob sometimes reads my blog and I want him to be surprised.
As I reflect on how I was 40 days ago this has been a truly incredible Lent. I was in a desert and it was dry, lifeless and lonely. My depression would be handled one day and out of control the next, I had no desire to do much of anything but sleep or watch TV. When I sat down in February to make my plans for Lent I was really desperate to find something to do. But God turned the whole plan upside down and I ended up not doing anything I had planned except giving up Starbucks Frappachinos. Instead of saving our spare change to buy an Easter gift for a young child, God brought us a young couple who really wanted to attend the Engaged Encounter retreat before their wedding but could only afford the commuter option. We helped them pay for the weekend away retreat. I had planned to Pray in Color, a concept I've loved but had fallen out of the habit but God decided that I needed to pray a different way and brought an amazing prayer book called Bless My Child into my life. Now I am praying for my children each day like I never have before. I was going to read a Matthew Kelly book I've had for sometime but God said, "this is not what you need, instead I want you to read this Smart Martha's Catholic Guide for Busy Moms. So I guess the saying is true- Make plans and God's laughs and changes them.
I thank God for this incredible journey and the wonderful treasures he uncovered for me along the way. I'm looking forward to all that the Easter Season has to bring. It's even longer!!
Until next time,

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