Saturday, March 30, 2013

Reflections on Easter Vigil

     Easter is such an exciting time in the life of a Christian.  The resurrection of Jesus is basically the foundation of Christianity.  Growing up my parents were always avid churchgoers, so we had a close knit community that would come together every Sunday.  However, I remember that on Easter Sunday the church was filled with folks celebrating the resurrection of Christ.  In the Catholic church it is the time of year to see images of Christ resurrecting instead of suffering on the cross.  It is a time to rejoice and be glad that the Lord has risen! 

    It wasn't until 2008, while living in New York City, that I attended the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.  I had no idea this ceremony took place in all the years growing up in the church.  What a beautiful ceremony it is.  I remember walking to my parish and entering a pitch black church and someone handing me a candle upon entering.  There was just but a small spark of light coming from one of the altar servers holding a candle while the priest read from the book of Genesis.  I was moved by just seeing that tiny spark of light.  Then that tiny spark of light lit up a parishioner's candle and that parishioner lit up the next person's candle and so forth until it got all the way to me.  I felt so blessed and connected with my parish members.  It was beautiful to see us all provide each other with light.  From then on I knew I wanted to attend the Easter Vigil every year.  

    Unfortunately I did not attend this year's Easter Vigil, but I wanted to write about my first encounter of it to remember how special this day is in my life.  I almost felt like that day in 2008 it was a renewal of my commitment to Christ and to my neighbors.  I did not know about the Easter Vigil through my parents who baptized me Catholic and raised me in the church.  I learned about it on my own through the guidance of the Lord.  So this year I will celebrate the Lord's resurrection on Easter Sunday-just like old times.  It will be a day to remember my commitment to Christ and to celebrate life! 

This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Psalm 118:24

P.S. If anyone is reading this, I am wondering if you have any reflections on a time you felt you were making or renewing your commitment to Christ?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday Reflections

     Though I am swamped with schoolwork and did not allow myself to step outside of my house, I am grateful to Busted Halo (BH) for creating the virtual stations on the cross.  I was able to take some time out of my day to let reflect on Jesus and His journey on the cross.  Here are a few prayers and reflections that spoke to me:

Oh God help me to be courageous with Jesus like Veronica was when she wiped the face of Jesus on the Cross.

"Grow your kingdom with us, Jesus.  Be there for us  in our trials and sufferings, and let us do the same for others." (BH)

Oh God, help us to understand that just "being there" for others helps, the way the women of Jerusalem were there for Jesus during His carrying of the cross.

Oh Lord help us not to fall for the wrong reasons but if we do fall may it be for the right reasons as Jesus did.

"The kingdom begins with nothing more than a deep, personal, intimate and real relationship with Him." (BH)

"...we are Christians only if we encounter Christ...." (Pope Benedict)

Oh God help me to have a daily encounter with Christ Jesus.

"We cannot be part-time disciples." (BH)

Oh God help me to know and focus on the fact that the good outweighs the bad.

Help us Oh Lord "to let go of relationships that no longer give life, to let go of old opinions that hurt others, and to let go of old patterns of living that spread only bad."  (BH)

"Please free our fears of letting go.."  (BH)

"...and help us to know that you will be there to open new life for us." (BH)

     I haven't gotten to do as much for Holy week as I would have liked but I did go to Adoration on Tuesday at St. Malachy's on 49th and Broadway.  It was very comforting for me to return to this place I used to frequent when I worked in that area.  I met up with a good old friend of mine and as we sat there in adoration a few other friends and fellow christians joined us in silence.  After our quiet time with Christ we shared a meal and fellowship at a restaurant on 9th avenue.  I felt blessed to be gathered there with fellow young adult Catholics, some new and some old friends.  

     One of the topics that came up in conversation was how many of us are known as "cradle" Catholics and how difficult it has been to define or explain our reasons for remaining Catholic throughout our lives besides of course saying that "my parents are Catholic."  One of the difficulties mentioned were how we do not remember our baptism, and how we secretly long to renew our baptismal vows with Christ in some kind of rebirth ceremony.  I remember mentioning that I do have some recollection of my confirmation ceremony and process, but unfortunately do not remember who was my Saint nor much of what I was taught then.  I mentioned how I secretly would love to experience my confirmation once again in my young adult life and truly understand the magnitude of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit of Christ.  Though some did talk about remembering the ceremony and knowing their saint, they agreed that it would be a whole different experience as a young adult.

     The conversation made me further contemplate about how much we long for belonging and how much we are a people of ritual.  In our group there was one fellow who had converted to Catholicism five years ago.  He was not a cradle Catholic and remembers receiving his sacraments of initiation.  It was quite inspiring to see his conviction for Christ and the Catholic Church.  Though we "cradle" Catholics are fortunate to have been born into the church, I think most of us secretly long to renew our vows to Christ so that we can feel more connected to His church, the saints, and the Holy Spirit.  May God fulfill this longing for us through Christ Jesus.


Thank you Jesus!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

     As I sit here struggling to focus on my schoolwork, I think about how crazy it is that I am going to be done with grad school at the end of May (God willing!).  This will be a huge milestone in my life that I know is going to open many doors for me and take me many places.  I am looking forward to knowing what it feels like to grow in a profession and to feel that I was made for it.  I don't know where this journey will take me next but I am grateful and openhearted....