Monday, January 31, 2011

Eucharist on the Tongue


(High altar at St. Stephens Catholic Church in Cleveland, Ohio - amazing, amazing, amazing church)

I know this sounds completely ridiculous but I have NEVER received the Eucharist, at Mass, any other way than in my hand. I'm a girl that made her 1st Communion in 1978 and we were in the swing of Vatican II reform so it wasn't even taught to us nor was it encouraged. I'm not one that tends to take a position on what is the "correct" way to receive the Eucharist. I believe that the intent is way more important than how you do it. I know that many think that it is irreverent to receive something so holy and special like the consecrated Host in your hand and I tend to find some compelling truths to that. I've seen people just willy-nilly walk up to the Eucharistic minister and stick their hand out like they're at a gumball machine. But, I don't know their hearts and their minds. These same people may very well have the purest hearts and the greatest love for Our Lord and why should I judge whether or not it is "valid" that they've just received the Eucharist by hand?

It opens yet more questions that I have...well, maybe concerns that I have. I have witnessed the watering-down of my beloved Catholic Church. Can anyone say the 80s? The sacredness of the Church suffered quite a hit in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The invention of the birth control pill, Roe v. Wade, the Women's Lib movement, and Vatican II all ushered in an environment, in the Church, of anything goes. We were taught that it was ok to have small families or no families at all - it's our body, after all. I remember a homily when I was in my early teens in which the priest, from the pulpit, gave "us" women permission to take back our lives. We didn't need to feel obligated to be wives and mothers. This is fine and dandy if that's where one finds oneself - some are not able to have children and/or some may not feel the call to be a wife but to say that to be a wife and a mother is akin to some sort of slavery option? Hmmm? I still struggle with the guilt I have that I don't have a real job. It was the culture in which we were formed. To break from that culture is tough.

So, here I sat at my third Latin Mass ever - my first one, I was a bridesmaid at my college roommate's wedding and, the second one, I left after a woman yelled at me because my head wasn't covered - I was having a minor freak-out because I really did not know how to receive the Eucharist on my tongue. I've always done the "hands as a cradle" communion procedure (sounds so sterile) and so I squeezed Bill's arm and revealed to him that I had never done this before today. He, very sweetly, took my hand, kissed it, and led me to the altar railing and reassured me that the priest would know what to do and for me to watch him. Well, I survived and, I must say, I was overcome at the beauty of the whole thing. I was, actually, surprised at how different I felt after Mass. I'm an "on fire for Christ" kind of a gal but, this time, it was amazing how I felt such an element of peace that it overwhelmed me with tears. To celebrate Mass in the Latin tradition was one of the most powerful experiences of my life (even if, most of the time, I didn't even know which part the priest was on) To have shared that experience with the man I am to marry was a gift that I shall be forever grateful!

Just thought that I'd share how enriching it was to attend a Latin Mass with all of its chanting, silence, incense, tradition, etc. I may be a convert to it if there were any churches around here that had Latin Mass. This doesn't mean, however, that I am an anti-Vatican II person. I do think that Vatican II watered down our beautiful traditions. I believe the intent of VII was to make the Mass more relatable to those in the pews and, for that, I am bowled over that I can feel a true part of the miracle. I do feel that, in the process, we've lost the sacredness of the Mass. It's become so ordinary to so many that the mystery seems gone.

I have more thoughts on the matter but, for now, I'll stop and maybe study some Latin so I won't look like such a dork the next time I go to Latin Mass :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Check!



On July 2nd, 2011, I will become Mrs. William White!! I wish that's all there was to it! I wish that I could just show up at St. Pius in my Notre Dame sweatshirt (it would be clean - I'm not a hillbilly!) and my jeans and kiss the man that I know was sent from Heaven for me and me alone!! But, at least the date and church are reserved for Kelly & Bill to be married and the rest will just happen. Yeah, 'cause I'll just magically lose 30 pounds so I don't have to wear a bed sheet as a wedding dress and the reception will just be Happy Meals for all guests at the play area and my flowers will be my neighbor's hydrangea blooms stolen on the sly the night before the ceremony and my hair will just suddenly be long and flowing like a freakin' ad from Estee Lauder and...

Well, all of that's just garbage anyway - I just can't wait to be married to Bill and to kneel before God and our families and pledge my love, honor, obedience, and fidelity to him and to God! Yay!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tears



I had this long story ready to be posted and I've decided not to post it. I attended a funeral today for the father of one of Keagan's kindergarten friends. He was not even 40! I, brazenly, thought that I would go in strong support of the family and they'll see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yeah, talk about a fraud. I lost it when I walked up to the church and saw the new widow (horrible word to describe anyone under the age of 70!) and her son. I tried to give them the, "I'll pray for you" and the, "I'm sorry for your loss" and all I got out was, "God bless you all" and then I dissolved into tears. Some pillar of strength I turned out to be!!

I was, however, glad that I went and I was glad that I took Keagan out of class to attend the funeral with me. Funny enough, his presence comforted me more than anything else. He stroked my face and handed me tissues and patted my back - it was as if God crawled into the skin of my 6 year old and held me! What a gift! It was a good thing to relive those feelings of loss perhaps so that I could truly reflect on all that I've found in the last year. It's been so easy to talk about Bill's death as some slide show and to forget that a real part of my life ended 3 1/2 years ago. So, although, it was very painful and very sad, I guess I could be the light at the end of the tunnel. I was there, I was brave enough to face that sadness again all in support of this lovely family. They have a tough road ahead and I will pray for them unceasingly.

After the service was over, I decided that I wanted Keagan home with me. I didn't want him to experience something like that and then go back to being yelled at because he moved or breathed wrong or talked. I wanted to preserve that special part of him for a little while longer! So, I walk into the class room to grab his backpack and ran smack dab into Keagan's teacher (we'll call her frickin' Snow White - the frickin' part must be added though) She knew where we were - that a 6 year old FROM OUR SCHOOL AND IN THE KINDERGARTEN CLASS lost his daddy! She knew, even though she didn't know me or my family, that Keagan, also, had experienced a loss and perhaps he/we would be a tad emotional. Well, then again, maybe she didn't know any of this! She greeted us with her high pitched "kindergarten" voice and asked why was Keagan going home and I gave her a generic response and she responded with, "OK, well have a fun day" Is it Confession-worthy to say that I wanted to pop that clueless, fake, rigid, awful woman in the face??? Well, I'll pencil in my Confession time for tomorrow but as for this evening, boy, I'm really struggling!

I'll leave it at that because I don't want to give her any more energy than I've already lost over her! I am extremely sad for the family that, today, had to say their final goodbyes to their son, their brother, their husband, their father, and their friend. I pray that, in God's mercy, Bill will be there to greet this newest member of the Heavenly choir and that an extra helping of comfort and peace is given to this family. I shall turn my tears, frustration, sadness, and anger over to God in exchange for whatever blessings I can offer them!

This stinks!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Prayer



I'm reading an amazing book about the life of St. Joseph and it has convicted me on my lack of prayer life. Yes, I pray but it's always a last second Hail Mary thrown out there to make myself feel better for having "prayed". Really? How would I feel if my kids neglected to talk to me or tell me thank you or I love you except 5 seconds before their eyes close for the night? Well, I know I would still adore them but I would long for their attention and their love. How, then, can I not see that the Divine Creator would not want that much from me? Why is it that He deserves my last 5 seconds before sleep? He doesn't!

The grand irony of it all? I feel extreme loneliness! Yes, I, who am surrounded my children all day - needing me, loving me, talking to me, laughing with me - am lonely. I realize that loneliness can be a blessing or an invitation to deeper prayer with Our Lord and I'm going to take it as such. I'm not going to delve into some "poor me" weep-fest because I'm lonely. I truly am going to treat this as my nudge from God that He misses me (golly, it's hard for me to even write that because who am I for Him to miss??) I am bound and determined to give God more than my final 5 seconds of the day! I truly have so much to be thankful for in my life. I have my health, my 3 beautiful kids, my wonderful fiance, my sturdy house, my friends, my family, etc. That, all by itself, is reason enough for me to give pause and shout my thank yous to my Heavenly Father - every.minute.of.the.day!!! But, alas, I don't and then I wonder why I'm lonely - seriously?

It's time for me to turn back to prayer as my primary source of support - in ALL things! I'm trying to plan a wedding for a date that has yet to be determined and move to a house that has yet to be determined with all details, yep, yet to be determined. What's left except persistent prayer? Well, lots of things are left but what makes the most sense is persistent prayer! So, instead of busting my hide to beat my high score in Pyramid Solitaire on Facebook or watch the latest episode of the Office, I am going to spend more time dedicating myself and my family to deeper and more meaningful prayer. At the end of the day, it's really all that matters!