Thursday, March 31, 2005

RIP Dear Sister

Terri Schiavo lost her battle to stay alive today. Her husband got his wish, she starved to death. An interesting end to a life that was plagued with weight loss issues, especially if the supposition is true that bulimia caused the health problem that led to her previous state.

I just think it is so sad that a man, who had no interest whatsoever in her being alive --after all he had another woman and children so one could hardly call him the faithful husband -- was the voice that the courts took to be hers. Why not the voice of her parents?

I guess what this teaches us is that you had better have it in writing and then have it notarized if you don't want someone to starve you to death.

If they had taken her Catholic faith into the equation perhaps then they would have seen that no extraordinary means does not extend to food and water. If food and water are the only things needed to sustain life then as Catholics we aren't just encouraged to continue to allow the person to live, we are bound to continue to feed and hydrate.

I am saddened by this news in a way I can hardly express. I grieve for her as a dear friend, whom I have loved and prayed for over many years now.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

My Favorite Time of Year

This is my favorite week of the year. In the Catholic tradition we are celebrating Holy Week. Each day the liturgy is filled with symbolism and meaning and it spills out over the assembly in a way that transforms everyone with its power.

On Tuesday evening the Chrism Mass is held in the Cathedral of the diocese. AT this Mass the oils that are used throughout the year are blessed, and the Priests renew their commitment to service to the Church (meaning the people to whom they minister).

On Thursday evening we commemorate the Last Supper in a very meaningful way. The Washing of the Feet that Jesus did in the Gospel is played out on every altar around the world on this night. This reminds us that we are called to be a priestly people, but to be priestly means to be of service. This is also the night that altars around the world are stripped bare in preparation for Good Friday. Everything that adorns the altar is removed, every flower, every plant, even cloths and candles are taken away. The Blessed Sacrament is removed from the Tabernacle and the Altar light is extinguished.

The Assembly processes behind the priest who carries the Blessed Sacrament to its place of repose and wonderful old hymns are sung about how important the Eucharist is to us. We say goodbye. Some keep watch at the place of repose for hours into the night. This is one of my very favorite things to do.

On Good Friday simple ceremonies happen in the church. The Passion is read from the Gospel. We venerate the cross with words like "Behold the wood of the Cross, on which is hung our salvation." Christ dies this day: it is the only day in the church year when Mass is not said. No music, no adornment, absence is the key to this day.

On Easter Vigil we pray, we listen and we learn. We hear the story of salvation in reading and song and prayer. We sing out Glory to God! And the bells ring and the sound carries again through the church. At this Mass we welcome those who wish to join us at the Table of the Eucharist in our Catholic Tradition. We baptize, and confirm, and we share the Eucharist with our new members. Some of those who will join us this night have been on this journey for years. They are now home.

And then Easter Sunday arrives. Mass is full of music and worship and praise and thanksgiving. Our Father in Heaven has given us the greatest gift we could ever imagine. His Son died on the cross for our sins and on Easter we remember that He rose to new life, allowing us to rise with him to new life in heaven when our time here is through.

Even if I didn't work for the church I think I could live in church this week very happily. The sights and sounds and smells of the liturgy heighten every emotion. And at the end we celebrate our victory, freely given and ours to accept.

Blessed Triduum to you all.


Monday, March 21, 2005

Moving On

I have decided to stop living in the past, or in fear of the past. Every time I make a decision at work I am not even going to consider what the previous pastor would have thought about what I am doing. It was made very clear to us as staff this morning that our old pastor is gone and not coming back and the new pastor wants things done his way.

Don't get me wrong, we loved the old pastor, but as an administrator he could be a bit of a bull in a china shop and he intimidated the staff into doing things his way. The new pastor is very laid back but knows exactly what he wants and tends to get it. We are all very happy to be working in this new less explosive environment. I have only seen the new pastor angry once so far and that was in response to hearing repeatedly "we always had to do it the other way before."

It will take us a long time to get over being under the old administration and to stop fearing every decision we make that moves us from the way things were when he was our boss. I have decided that the getting over time has begun.

No longer will I worry about how different things are, and how angry the old guy would be at the way things are being done now. I am going to live in the present, and relish the calm, and enjoy the communication that goes on so freely among the entire staff now. I am going to stop resenting the fact that I never got as much feedback from my old boss in the five years I worked for him than I have gotten in the first month with the new boss.

I am going to enjoy the easy way that I can communicate and joke around with the new boss. I am going to thank God every night that I am actually in a collaborative environment where my opinion actually counts for something and is taken into consideration when decisions are made.

And I am going to enjoy going to work again. The past can't be fixed, but the future holds much promise. What a blessed place in which to be.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Tomorrow is my Birthday: If you tell me I look old I will have to belt you!!

I will be 45 on March 17, 2005. I feel very old. I didn't mind at all turning 40, but somehow this one has me spooked.

I try to tell myself that another year older is better than six feet under, which is true I certainly am not ready to give up the ghost.

I just wish I could regain that feeling of joy that I used to get as a child when my birthday came around. It is hard to do that in the midst of the busiest time of the year at work, and with kids who are home for spring break and bored to tears from being in the house all week while mrangelmeg and I both work our tails off. Even my siblings won't acknowledge my birthday. It may as well be just another day that ends sadly, leaving me feeling like Eyeore, "if it is a good day, which I doubt"

I need to get a more philosophical outlook on this whole process: God has granted me another year of wisdom, which I can use to make more intelligent and spiritual choices in my life.

Hoo Hoo Hoo, Ha Ha Ha Ha. Yeah right.

Where is the green beer when you need it.

Happy My Birthday everyone.


Thursday, March 10, 2005

It's Twice as Hard When it Goes Both Ways

The other day I went to see my oldest daughter at her university. She was in a play. My mom happens to live in the same town, so I stopped by her house for a visit on my way. Mom pretty much ignored me and watched a movie on television. Even though I know that she has Alzheimers it still hurts when she does that. I guess I haven’t come to terms with losing my mom yet.

I finally just got up and left. Better to not be there than to be ignored.

Then I went to my daughter's play and while she did say hi after the play was over, she really wasn't into the idea of even going for coffee. It almost felt like she couldn't wait for me to leave. That hurt a little too. I took off work early and made a special trip to support her and it really didn't seem to matter that I was even there.

Oh, she was wonderful, by the way. Her performance was really good. Unfortunately the lines she had to say left something to be desired. Why do young women (this was a student written play) feel as though they can write convincingly about how married couples talk with each other. Way too much metaphor and exposition in thier dialogue I thought. All in all though I thought that the story was really good. It was about a crisis of faith and how a couple comes to make it through a rough time in their relationship.

I guess the hardest thing about that experience is that both my mom and my daughter are moving away from me at that same time.

Hmm, what is God trying to teach me in this? Now there is a question for some contemplative prayer and discernment. My spiritual director would be pleased that I could see this as an area for growth for me.


Monday, March 07, 2005

A Very Arid Lent

This lent has been very arid: no consolation, no desolation, just, well, nothing. I go along doing my devotions and keeping lent in my own way, and I haven't gotten that great insight that I ususally get.

One thing about this lent keep me praying is that it wasn’t too long ago that my big insight came in adoration after Holy Thursday Mass. I was sitting there in the chapel, just me and Jesus in his earthly substance, and it hit me that when the temple veil was torn into, it wasn't that light got into the Holy of Holies, it was that there was nothing separating us from God now. It sounds a little stiff when I write it, but at the time it was a quantum leap of faith for me that I could be so intimate with God that nothing separated us.

No big insights so far this lent. No wracking sobs at each Mass. No feeling of peace and contentment at praying the psalms. No daily insights gained from the books of devotions I have chosen.

But also, no feeling that I am totally unworthy and unlovable.

My Spiritual Director reminded me that the Holy Spirit led Jesus out into the desert. The Holy Spirit has led me here. Nothing is familiar; nothing gives me peace, yet somehow I know that my being faithful is the compas point that will lead me to wherever God wants me to be.

So, I continue. In my arid lent, not begin desolate, but not being consoled either. Maybe that is what God is trying to teach me. It isn't about extremes or even feelings, it is just about being.

"Be still and know. . ."


Saturday, March 05, 2005

I am NOT SICK. . .well maybe a little

This is one of my Gradual School Class Weekends. I woke up this morning at 5:15 a.m. to go to prayer with the Monks. I ached all over. I thought maybe it was arthritis so I took my arthritis medicine and decided to sleep a while longer. I fell right to sleep and woke up again through three rounds of my alarm ringing and hitting the snooze bar. I still hurt like crazy which told me one thing, It wasn't arthritis.

I am finally getting that cold that the kids have all had. I am also in the worst possible place to have it: away from home where there are expectations for how I spend my time. And with the prospect of a drive home tomorrow night.

I am not sick. I figure if I deny it with enough force it will be true. It could happen. The force of my will can keep me well.

But my eyes hurt and my joints hurt and I can't think straight.

So maybe I am a little sick.

Pray for me, and I apologize if I give my germs to any of you. Good thing the can't pass through cyberspace.

Keep me in your prayers.