Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Week, Russ, and Sister Mary Holywater

Today starts one of my very favorite times of the year, the Tridum!!!!  What's a Tridum?  It consists of Holy Thursday (today), Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.  Something special happens each night at Mass.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Three nights of Mass.  Tonight is the foot washing.  It's a reminder of how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.  Then, tonight is also when the strip the altar.  They remove everything from the altar.  It chokes me up every time.  Then, we have adoration lasting from tonight after Mass until tomorrow evenings Mass.  Adoration is where you sit in front of the blessed sacrament.  It is one of my favorite things to do.  Why I don't do it more often is beyond me.  Well, not really, I'm lazy.  I need to work on that.  We are invited to stay for adoration for one hour at any point in the 24 hours.  It symbolizes the time when Jesus was praying in the garden and asked his disciples to stay awake for one hour (*If I get any of this wrong, someone please let me know!)

During Good Friday service, we have veneration of the cross.  Another beautiful evening.  Veneration of the cross is when a six foot cross (it looks six feet to me) and we are invited to come up and kiss the cross.  It's a very beautiful thing.

Holy Saturday (Easter Vigil) is the culmination of the forty days of lent.  It's also when those who have been wishing to become Catholic, who have went through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) are welcomed in the Catholic Church.  It's a long Mass, about two and a half hours.  It is absolutely beautiful!

In preparation for all this beauty, my church offers many times during lent to attend confession.  In the beginning of lent, I had no intention of going to confession.  I'm heading for my silent retreat in April and I'll go there.  Then, as lent progressed, my loving husband reminded me that I could do both.  As a family, we decided to go to confession this past Monday before the evening Mass.  Being so crowded opted to go last night.  Confession was available from 6:30-9 last night.  Having a class at church, I couldn't go till 8:30.  when I got there, there was 50 people ahead of me.  Did you get that?  FIFTY PEOPLE!  And, by the time it was all said and done, we left at 10:05pm.  Let me make sure you got that.  Confession was to be over at 9.  I left at 10:05.  There were FIFTY people in front of me.  That's how awesome my faith and my parish Priests are.  They stayed until every last one who wanted confession, received it.  And, during this time, no one left.  Again, let me repeat that.  No.  One.  Left.  By the time I was done, there was one person left and then the Priests would be done.  It was absolutely amazing.

Now, as I'm standing in line (after the hour mark, I did sit down as my back was really sore) for a while, this woman smiles at me.  It seems she knows me.  I don't have a clue who she was, but that doesn't matter, I still smiled back.  She looked a little sad at one point and was getting up for something so I gave her a big hug.  A) I'm part Italian, B) I'm an emotional person, and C) I'm part of a bunco group called the Happy Holy Hugging bunco group.  There was no way, I wasn't giving a hug.  After a while she returned and I motioned for her to have her spot back in front of me.  She was reluctant and was just going to wait for her husband.  For some reason, I felt strongly that she take her place back, I mean, she waited all this time.  And, after a minute or two, she took her rightful place in front of me.  Now, as she's in front of me, we are chatting and she looks so familiar now, but I cannot place her.  Then she introduces me to her husband "She (me) put on my chrp!!!!"  All of a sudden, the cobwebs part, and the angels sing!  I look at her and say "you'll have to forgive me, I don't know you're real name, I only know you as Sister Mary HolyWater!!!!!"  Three years ago, I was part of a group of women who took a retreat to St. Marks Parish and she had attended.  Now, she belongs to St. Jude's!  She has been here for months!  SO COOL!

Not much later, my time in the confessional was done and I was about to start my penance as my husband was had just gotten in on his side.  Funny thing, while waiting in line, I said a Rosary with the sorrowful mysteries as they're my favorite.  You'll never guess what my penance was!  A Rosary with the sorrowful mysteries!  Too bad I couldn't use the one I just said! lol  As I'm starting the rosary, my friend Russ walks in.  Now, Russ, I know through his amazing wife Vicki who passed away a few years ago.  Russ is now two years away from becoming a Priest!  He is such a holy man and a good friend of mine and George's!  Russ walks right up to me, smiles and my face lights up!  He's going to school in Boston and is here for Easter.  He gives me the biggest hug and says "I saw you in here and I came to say 'hi'!  And we chatted for a few.  George even got to see him!

As we were walking to the car, sinless (for all of about five minutes because I like to say, 'If I'm breathing, I'm sinning' lol) I explain to my husband how I will never, ever, get used to that.  To beautiful moments like the one with Russ.  Call it left over baggage from my childhood, whatever you please, it just is foreign to me that people go out of their way to see me.  Who does that?  Oh yea, I do.  It's okay for me to see someone and make a point to go give them a hug, or tell them I miss them.  However, it just boggles my mind when someone goes out of their way for me.  I could spend millions in therapy on that one!

As I was going to bed last night, I reflected on what a blessing last night was.  Catching up with Sister Mary HolyWater, seeing Russ, going to confession, and being a part of something with so many people that was so bigger than any of us put together.

I don't claim to have it all together.  In fact, I'm the poster child for not having it together!  My faith while strong, sometimes, is weak at best, but it is there.  I question God.  I argue with God.  I cry to God.  I also laugh and joke and love with God.  I am reminded that He doesn't care that I don't have it all together.  It doesn't matter if my faith somedays is the size of a mustard seed and not a huge oak.  What matters is no matter how small my faith is, it is still there.  A little ember just there, that eventually will blow up into a big, roaring fire)  I am excited for tonight as it begins such an emotional time for me.  I warn you, if you see me over the next three nights, I will probably be crying at some point!  I promise you I am perfectly okay.  I am just having moments with God and that I am perfectly okay.

Happy Holy week, everyone!

Until next time, pray for all those who are coming into the church this weekend.  Also pray for safe travels for those traveling to be with loved ones.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lent, friends, and WebMd

You're never to old to learn.  Don't get me wrong, I learn things just about everyday, I learn from my kids, my husband and my friends.  Sometimes, I learn things and forget them.  Then when I learn them again I'm all "oh, I knew that! I just forgot".  I love lent.  Truly I do.  It's when I learn the most about myself.  At the beginning of lent, I'm all excited!  What's God going to work on me with this lent?!  What am I going to learn about myself?  What am I going to change?  Now don't get me wrong, it's not always 40 days of learning and working on me.  In fact, sometimes, He is so subtle, I don't really realize what's going on.  It's also the time when the devil likes to attack me most.   Sadly, he knows my doubts, my insecurities, my failings, my fears.  All the worst parts of me.  And, I am sad to say, some days, he plays me like a violin (cue the devil went down to Georgia).

I was reminded this morning of things that I forgot.  Important, truthful things.  See, I am a part of a group of women and we meet once a month.  Sometimes, it's the same few of us, sometimes, it's more.  but these women are a constant in my life.  These women, we all love and accept each other unconditionally.  We know each others weaknesses, failures, and challenges as well as triumphs and joys.  We laugh, we cry, we support each other, we love each other all under a blanket of confidentiality.  It is freeing to know that I can say anything and it is not going anywhere.   I met these women 8 1/2 years ago.  And, we have been though it all.  Together.  Marriage, divorce, pregnancy, kids, school, college, death.  There is nothing we haven't talked about or supported each other with.  These meetings are what keep me grounded (and my husband of course.  There is a string under his rib tethered to mine and keeps me grounded.  And, yes, that was a Jayne Eyre reference)

I have been having a bit of a rough time lately.  When I sat down to meet with my friends this morning I said "I cannot wait for this lent to be over".  At the end of the breakfast, I realized, that I'm not ready for it to be over, He's still working on something in me and it's not done yet.  I hadn't been to the breakfast in a few months.  So, this morning, I let it all out.  All of my fears and doubts.  All of my imperfections.  I constantly compare myself to others.  'She lost her sister and look how amazing she is doing!'.  'She lost her Dad and look how strong she is!'  You, you can't even handle a little arthritis in your knees or your back hurting you and you're complaining!  You are a failure.  Welcome to the voices in my head.  I am at war with myself on most days.  One of my (many) faults is that I tend to think that I'm the only one who is going through what I am going through.  The other day, part of my tongue was feeling weird.  I had to have my loving husband repeat ad nauseum that it was normal and sometimes it happens.  He also no longer allows me to go on WebMd because I always have some disease or ailment lol  Smart man, that husband of mine.  My whole life is like that.  See, I'm the only one who has this ache or pain that day.  I am convinced of this.  Panic and anxiety disorder is simply lovely.  I think I'm the only one who feels alone some time in a crowd of people, even if those people are my friends.  I think I'm the only one who doesn't want to be a burden and tell people I'm fine, when all I want is for someone to go "I know you're not, quit lying".  I think I'm the only one who is dealing with certain aches and pains.  And, truly, it is a very scary way to live.  However, through my husbands never ending patience and my group of women and friends, I realize that I am not the only one who feels this way, whatever way it is at that particular moment, somewhere, someone I know, even just an acquaintance, has felt this way.

That is absolutely freeing.  Now, mind you, I will forget this and sooner rather than later.  However, I know that when I see these women again, I will be reminded. This group of women and friends that God has gifted me with teach me something whenever we are together.  And, some of the best times I've had are moments in cars parked outside my house.   I often look at these women and others that God has placed in my life.  They are so strong, so wonderful, very Godly, faith filled women.  Then, I look at me and wonder why He gave me to them.  Most times, I think it's because they need a project to take their mind of of their own stuff.  Others, I think it's because I love them.  I love them, each of them, wholeheartedly.  And, who doesn't need love? 

Until next time,
Pray for peace.  We all could use some.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

The devil, the Pope, and Justin Timberlake

So, it's spring break.  Right now, I'm procrastinating.  I'm suppose to be dealing with crap.  Insurance crap from the accident, spring cleaning crap, the gym crap.  Crap, crap, crap.  And, since I'm big on procrastinating and I'm finally coming out of my foodgasm from last night, I figured I'd fill you all in on what's going on.

I had grand plans for myself this spring break.  I was going to clean the house top to bottom.  Get rid of all the junk and trash lying around.  Donate stuff.  And, read.  Read, read, read till my heart is full (which will never happen because I love to read so much!)  I did clean out most of my bedroom.  Threw some stuff away, and donated some.  But, I haven't called for pick up because I still want to go through the wet bar.  I know I have stuff in the cupboards.  I just keep putting it off.  Well, not exactly on purpose.  I over did it on Monday and felt it on Tuesday.  Wednesday was dealing with requesting insurance records (ugh), and a lovely dinner with friends, hence the foodgasm.  Yesterday started off icky.  I got a call from the insurance company who basically says "I believe you're in pain, you just have to prove it!"  So, yuck.  Then, I caught up with a friend over coffee. As I'm waiting for her, I see an email from another friend with a video of "All is Well With My Soul"  Perfect timing, Jesus.  I know everything is going to be okay.  So, I go to see my friend.  A friend whom I haven't really *talked* to recently.  You know, 'hi' and that kind of stuff, but not really meat and potatoes talk.   She's been one of my spiritual mentors for about 81/2 years, so to reconnect with her was just lovely.  Then, I head to my docs office to request records.  Fine.  Then, I get one set of my records and call my mom.

Growing up, I watched my mom in pain.  She has degenerative disc disease.  I watched her not walk, but crawl for a year.  She has had slip, ruptured, bulged discs, you name it.  She had surgeries, acupuncture, chiropractic work, again, you name it, all to no avail.  So, here I am, with a slipped disc and in pain.  Sometimes, all a girl needs is her mom to hold her and tell her it's all going to be okay.  So, while talking to my mom, she says "I know what you need, I just can't be there right now" and in my best Babe the pig impression said "I want my mum" and just cried.  My mom is great.  She makes everything better, even anxiety attacks.

Then George took Sarah and I to lunch (Maria didn't want to go and Jaime was working).  We had such a great time and on the way to lunch, WHITE SMOKE!  We have a new Pope!!!  I was/am SO excited!!!
The rest of the day was lovely.  And dinner was spectacular!!!!  George and I got to go out with some friends of ours and had just a simply marvelous time!  God is so good!  I was reflecting last night on the day and how it started off icky and ended just lovely and everything in between. 

Lent is such a hard time.  Heck, everyday is such a hard time.  And, yes, I am an optimist most days.  But man, some days, the devil hits you with both barrels and you don't know if you're coming or going!  Usually, I don't realize it's him until I'm all good and worked up over whatever it is at that moment.  Then, I'm all,'man, not again!' lol

So, today, today I choose to be different.  Today, I choose to focus on the good and not the icky.  The insurance company will not bring me down! I will check at least one thing off my list, and I will continue to pray.  And, if things start to go in the other direction, I'll just pop on some JT and his song 'mirror'.  Man that guy is smooooooooooth like silk.  That will make it all better fast :D

Until next time,
Pray for our new Pope Francis