April 24, 2013

Why Easter Vigil ROCKED

p a x

I don’t know if it is possible to have a “favorite Mass”, but the Easter Vigil 2013 is going to go down in my book as one of the most life changing experiences ever.  I’ll give you a rundown of my favorite moments:

from holyfamilyfishers.org

Christ Our Light, Thanks be to God!
For as long as I can remember, the very beginning of the Easter Vigil Mass has got to be one of my favorite moments.  The Church is dark, the Easter fire is lit, and the celebrant walks into the Church with the light of the Easter candle singing “CHRIST OUR LIGHT!”  Slowly but surely the congregation’s candles illuminate the sanctuary.  There’s something about looking around the Cathedral at hundreds of candles that gives me a very concrete visual of what it means to be the Body of Christ.  Together we overcome the darkness.

The Exultet
Not only is it beautiful to stand there holding the light of our candles, we get to hear someone sing the Easter Proclamation!  #bestchantofalltime.

Front Row Seat
Working for the Church has many perks… like getting a front row seat to 28 baptisms!  Ok, so it wasn’t a front row “seat” it was more like “Deanna stand close to the baptismal font and help if people need help.” That was awesome.  I got to see the faces of women, men, and children as they walked into the font with our Bishop and the Pastor, and the radiant joy on their faces as they stepped out.  Neophytes are extra awesome.

He’s One of Us!
Another highlight of this Mass was seeing my best friend’s husband enter full communion with the Catholic Church.  It just made the mass that much more special ๐Ÿ™‚  They’ve been married almost one year and are expecting their first child in July.  I think I saw more joy and excitement on their faces that night than on their wedding day!  #Catholicandproud

L-R Me, Michael, Blake (baby Catholic!) and his wife Becca
Shortly after we took this picture, I suggested that Michael (my boyfriend of almost 3 years) and I take a picture together at the altar.  We hardly ever get pictures taken together, so why not do so when we’re in our Easter best!  We took our places at the foot of the altar when Michael said “Deanna…”  
Which was soon followed by “Deanna, will you marry me?” :

I, of course, said yes!  Which was followed by this pretty awesome shot:

I love love love this picture… Mostly because the tabernacle… the Eucharist is at the very center of it.  Right where it should be.  It reminds me of Venerable Fulton Sheen’s Three to Get Married.

And that is why I haven’t written since the Easter Vigil :-p  Life has been a bit of a whirlwind since March 30th!  Between work, grad school, and wedding planning… I haven’t really been sure where to begin on the next entry!

There’s a lot to share, and I think it is perfectly appropriate that I began this blog, “Getting Out of the Boat” on the night that my beloved proposed.  Preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage in the midst of one of the busiest years of my life will be an out of the boat experience for sure.  When I look at everything that I have to get done between now and the end of the year it can feel a little overwhelming… but there’s this beautiful peace in all of it knowing that on October 5, 2013 I will marry my best friend.

So at this point, I sincerely ask for your prayers.  In the midst of all of the wedding planning, writing a thesis, taking comprehensive exams and continuing ministry at the parish,  things can feel a little crazy! But I know that if I keep eye contact on Christ and keep Him at the center of all of this, 2013 is going to end up as one of the best years thus far!

There’s no way we’re going to be able to do this on our own.  But with Christ at the center we don’t have to.

be at peace
walk on water
be not afraid

d*

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death…”
Song of Songs 8:6
March 30, 2013

Lent is Not My Favorite

p a x

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Lent.  It’s my least favorite season of all… but in a strange, twisted sort of way it’s the season that I look forward to the most.

Truth is, I don’t like Lent because it forces me to realize what a weeny I am when it comes to taking up my cross.

Sure, I start out in those days before Ash Wednesday like:

But before we’ve even hit the halfway point I’m like:

from CatholicMemes.com

I have to admit that this year my Lent was a lot more like Jacque up there and a lot less like taking up my cross and following Christ.  The thing is, I don’t like being uncomfortable.  I don’t like making sacrifices, and I certainly don’t enjoy being reminded of how weak I am.  Whether it’s not praying like I said I would, or eating that food that I swore I wouldn’t touch until Easter Sunday, there comes a point every Lent where there’s a temptation to kind of throw in the towel because I’m not as strong as I thought I’d be.

Lent 2013 was definitely not my “best”.  Just when I thought I had conquered a deadly sin, there it was right back in my face again, bigger and uglier than ever.   It was like week after week I had a magnifying glass highlighting some dark spots on my heart that I hadn’t thought about in a long time.  I’m so grateful for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and that it was offered daily in my parish this Lent, but there were definitely moments when I had to ask myself, “Have I wasted my Lent?

But as we entered Holy Week, I was reminded that even though I wasn’t entering into the Triduum with a squeaky clean “Lenten report card” or basking in the feeling of reaching some new level of holiness, Christ had been walking with me through it all.  No matter how far or hard I fell, it wasn’t Deanna who was picking herself up again, it was always Christ standing there with outstretched arms of love and mercy.

And that’s what Lent is all about.

Lent reminds me that it’s not about Deanna.  It’s not about how organized I can be when it comes to my prayer life, and it certainly isn’t about how holy I can become by my own efforts.  It’s all about the cross and learning how to embrace it.  Not only that, it’s about relying completely and totally on God’s love and mercy to continue persevering in faith.

As we celebrate the Triduum I am reminded that what makes Good Friday so good and what makes the crucifix so beautiful is that it wasn’t the end of the story.

The same is true for our Lenten journey.  Lent is not the end of the story.  Sin and death did not get the final word.  And even though we may fall, perhaps even struggle with the same sins over and over again, Christ’s mercy triumphs over all things.  If we’re willing to take that one step towards God, God will always make us whole again in His love and mercy.

Lent is not my favorite.  It reminds me of how weak I am by my own efforts, and how challenging it is to really take up that cross to follow Christ.  And yet, this is exactly why I love Lent so much.  It reminds me that I am weak, but He is strong.  I am a sinner, but Christ is my Savior.  I am broken, but God will always make me whole again.

be at peace
walk on water
be not afraid

d*

“It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus].  Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession.  Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.”- Philippians 3:12-14