This, my friend, is what the Mass is all about. Everything in the Mass points to this moment, when these powerful words are spoken and heaven touches earth in an extraordinary way.
We begin Mass by readying ourselves to hear the word of God by asking forgiveness for our sins.
Next, we listen to a reading from the Old Testament, a psalm is sung, and then, the second reading is from the New Testament. A sermon follows, to help us live the message.
But the Eucharist, which follows, is the highlight of the Mass. It is here, in the consecration...a re-presentation of the Last Supper...that the priest, echoing the words of Jesus, transforms the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.
No words can explain my experience at Mass. When I receive communion, a divine exchange takes place. Without even trying, I give my worries, concerns and struggles to God and, in exchange, receive his strength, love and peace.
So often I've arrived at Mass worrying about something, only to leave humming and with a spring in my step.
But it's not all about me. Belonging to a faith community helps others too. After all, next Sunday someone may stumble into your sanctuary searching for hope. Imagine if no one was there?
So don't stay home this Sunday. Take a stand. Be a witness to your faith. Bring others with you.
In the end, God only knows the difference it'll make.
The song found here carried me through the dark times during my recent cancer treatments. It sums up what I'm trying to say in this post. Please listen and watch the video! The images are powerful. See you next week! In the meantime, have a great day!
I couldn't wait until Monday to deliver Part II (below) of the story, 'He's not dying or anything, but I think you should come now.' (You can find Part I here)
Peg, my stepmother, met me at the airport. We talked about trivial things as I grabbed my suitcase from the baggage claim carousel. When we reached her car, I threw my suitcase in the trunk, hopped into the front passenger seat, and asked about Dad. "Dad is very weak," she said. "Now he's developed a bad sore throat or something that makes it difficult for him to talk. I don't think these doctors are doing anything to help him. He's been in the hospital too long. He needs to come home." I listened. It was easy to read between the lines. The prognosis wasn't good when Dad was diagnosed with advanced bone cancer several weeks ago. It was dark when we arrived at the hospital. Peg parked the car and as we walked toward the entrance, she spoke again. "Thanks for coming," she said. "He will be glad to see you. I think it will be good for him." We entered the shiny hospital lobby, rode the elevator to the 8th floor, and exited. "Follow me," Peg said, motioning to a room on the right. "That's his." I walked in first, my heart pounding. "Dad," I called. He sat up in the bed, opened his arms wide and said, "Deb!" Instantly he leaned back, against the pillows, and closed his eyes. No, he didn't die. He appeared to be resting. To say he was weak was an understatement. That was the only word I heard him speak the whole time I was there. Although informed by the oncologists, Peg refused to acknowledge Dad's critical condition. Maybe she didn't want to see it. Maybe she couldn't handle the truth. Maybe she was still hoping for the best. Whatever the reason, she honestly believed he simply had a sore throat, needed a new doctor and should come home from the hospital. Knowing I'd traveled a distance, the nurses invited me to stay at the hospital in Dad's room. I was thankful for that. I couldn't leave him. I wanted to be with him. This was where I needed to be. Peg headed home. After she left, I kissed dad's forehead. The only response I received was a flutter of his eyelids. I offered a few prayers and slipped into the cot the nurses set up for me. I was glad to be there. The next morning, Peg called. She had busy plans for the day. She invited some family to come to the hospital and visit. She wanted to interview new oncologists. She wanted to find a way to bring dad home. Peg wasn't there when Dad's physician made his rounds that morning. I listened patiently as the oncologist explained the spread of Dad's cancer and the bleak prognosis. He mentioned that Peg was unhappy with the care, but assured me they were doing all they could. I looked the doctor in the eye. "Don't worry about that," I said. "The problem isn't you. I'll talk to her. She loves Dad. She just doesn't want to lose him." At Peg's bidding, some family members did come visit that afternoon. Dad never really acknowledged their presence, but it was nice to have conversation and laughter in the room. They left around dinnertime, and then, promising to arrive first thing in the morning, Peg went home for the night. I stood next to my dad's sleeping form, also exhausted and grateful for the quiet. Again, I kissed his forehead. Then I climbed into my cot, pulled the sheets up to my chin, read from my devotional and fell asleep with the book in hand. The next morning I woke, wished Dad a good morning. I stood at his bedside for an eternity. The best I could get from him was a flicker of his hand. No words. No expressions. I prayed, opened my Bible and read aloud to him. I don't even remember the verse I chose or if it was just a random passage. I just remember reading from the bible. In subtle ways, he seemed to respond...was there movement in the eyes? A twitch of the wrist? I'm convinced he recognized the readings. I headed downstairs, as Peg was meeting me in the parking lot at 9:30 am. She planned to pick me up so we could handle the process of finding a new oncologist for Dad, work on getting him discharged from the hospital, and rent the proper equipment he'd need when he came home. The morning was overcast, kind of chilly for a spring day. While waiting for Peg, I entertained myself by walking along the curb, pretending it was a balance beam. First dip a foot on one side, then the other. As I did so, I couldn't shake the feeling that Peg needed to spend the day with dad. Forget changing doctors. Forget renting equipment. Just spend the day with him. Gosh, how I dreaded that. Peg was outspoken. She was strong-willed. That might make her angry. After all, she had her plans. I wanted to support her, not anger her, right? Shouldn't I keep the peace and just go along with her? But that nagging inner voice persisted. Tell her. She needs to forget her plans and spend the day with him. Finally, I paused in the midst of my mock balance-beam act and threw my hands in the air. "Why me?" I called out. "God, why me? She'll get mad at me. Why doesn't someone else tell her?" But the nagging inner voice calmly insisted. Tell her. It has to be you. Okay, I thought. I'll do it. I looked skyward. You'll just have to help me. Help me, He did. God never lets us down when we agree to do His work. And I know it's His work when I resist, but the call persists. Of course, I also know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that is the right thing to do. Love is the driving force. The right thing to do....not the easy thing to do... I hopped off the curb and looked up. There, rounding the corner of the hospital parking lot, was Peg's gold Volvo. She spotted me, headed my way, pulled over and stopped. As I opened the car door, a knot formed in my stomach. "I'll tell her, but please..." I whispered, "help me, God." Thanks for tuning in! More to come!!! Click here to listen to I Could Sing of Your Love Forever by Hillsong. Great prayer! Great song! Enjoy!
This post returns to telling my faith story, sharing those times I found God alive in the ordinary events of my life...transforming everything.
If you've been following my blog, you'll know that my brother's death kick-started my search for God. Then, 5 years later, my own cancer diagnosis heightened my ability to see the little miracles surrounding us daily. And the story below, which took place a few months later, once again reveals the mighty providence of God in our lives. We have nothing to fear.
My husband and I had just built a new home, and my dad, states away, couldn't wait to see it. However, relentless back pain caused Dad to cancel his travel. Sadly, it was a trip he'd never make.
In the following weeks, Dad was diagnosed with bone cancer. Immediately, I flew to see him. Weeks later, when schools closed during Holy Week, I wanted to drive there and bring the kids to visit. If we had our car, we would have much-needed flexibility. "Oh, no, don't do that," my stepmother, Peg, said when I suggested the plan. "Dad's not well. He's in the hospital. How would that work? Our place is too small. When he comes home, it would be too much to have the kids here." It wasn't what I wanted to hear, but I conceded. She reassured me. "If I ever feel like you need to be here, I'll let you know," she promised. I phoned my brother, who lived somewhat closer Dad. "It's hard to be so far away with Dad so sick," I complained. I'll never forget Tom's response. "Deb," he said. "It's hard to be close with him so sick. It's just hard." They were right. There was no perfect scenario. Near the end of that week, however, Peg phoned. "I was sitting in the hospital all day thinking of you," she said. "Remember how I said if I felt like you needed to be here, I'd let you know? Well, all day I felt like you need to be here. It's not critical," she said. "You don't need to take the next flight out, but come quickly. He's not dying or anything, but I just think you should come now. Come as quickly as you can." No road trip now. Too late. School was resuming. Besides, a sense of urgency prevailed. I needed to catch the next flight, get there, and see what was going on. Our next-door neighbor agreed to keep the kids, transporting them to school with her own children. Oddly enough, my husband was leaving on a business trip the following morning that would take him to a destination close to Dad. We'd meet at the hospital. I booked a flight the following day. Driving to the airport, I pondered Peg's words. "He's not dying or anything, but I think you should come now. Come as quickly as you can." Checking my luggage, I wondered what awaited me. Little did I know that everything was unfolding exactly as it should. This precise timing would address the needs of each person in unique and mystical ways. God was in the details. Please tune in next Monday to read what happened next. See you then! Click here for a great song, and have a wonderful day, knowing God is with you!
God is always walking beside us, helping us and guiding us. He still parts our
Red Seas, multiplies loaves and fishes, and gives us what we need when we need
it. I was reminded of that last Saturday.
I’m rarely in
public, since ongoing cancer treatments zap my energy. Mostly, I’m homebound. But
the sacraments are important, and last Saturday, I went to confession.
arrived, I was next-to-last in a long, slow-moving line.
When there were
only three of us left, I saw the lady next to me check her watch.The evening Mass would soon begin. We
wondered…would the priest have time to hear our confessions?
was my turn. I approached Father Frank, confessed my sins, and listened to him
prescribe an unusual, and for me, a nearly impossible penance: “When you see someone,
smile at them,” he said. “Give everyone you meet a compliment. Say something
nice. Be happy to them.”
didn’t know anything about my predicament. Fairly new to our parish, he had no
idea that I was out-of-commission.
sounded tough. I can’t do that, I
thought. I’m stuck in my house. I’m never
out with people. How can I possibly fulfil that penance?
But time was
running short and, knowing someone else was waiting to confess, I kept quiet.
He absolved me of my sins, and I left.
descended the church steps and looked up. Everyone was coming to the church as
I was leaving. There, unexpectedly, right before me, was an old friend. Our eyes
met and we embraced.She’d recently
moved to an assisted living facility and the adjustment was difficult. Naturally,
I complimented her, encouraged her and laughed with her. Smiling, she headed
Behind her, another
familiar face appeared. “How are you
doing,” Lori asked. “Do I have to send you another get-well card?” We laughed. I updated her regarding my health, smiled, and
said how great it was to see her. I told her she was a beautiful, joy-filled
lady and thanked her for her prayers. We both walked away with a spring in our
later, a dear friend and her daughter appeared. “I remembered it was both of
your birthdays recently,” I said. “I didn’t get a card out, but here’s a big hug!”
I embraced each of them, smiling. “You look beautiful.” I said. “Both of you.”
remembered Father Frank’s seemingly unattainable penance: “When you see someone, smile at them. Give everyone you meet a
compliment. Say something nice. Be happy to them.”
mission I thought was impossible.
interesting? In my brief outing, several people crossed my path, allowing me to
fulfil my penance. Right then and there, God made a way.
This is what
God does for us each and every moment of our lives. He’s always beside us. He’s
always working little miracles. He always helps us.
Hurricane Irma ravaged our area last week. It's the talk of the town.
Yesterday, while describing damage sustained during the storm, a fellow parishioner made an intriguing comment. "We lost tree limbs but the trees stayed intact. We had no property damage. We didn't lose electricity." she said. "We're okay." Then she pointed skyward, adding, "God listened." I snapped to attention. God listened? What did she mean by that? As if God is some deity that we pray to and we order around? And when things go our way, God is listening?
So what if things don't go our way? Does that mean God is not listening?
I grabbed my bible.
We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with wordless groans. (Romans 8:26)
Maybe we don't always know what's best for ourselves. God's looking out for our eternity, not just for the comforts of this life.
Further reading confirmed God is always listening. God is always with us.
So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
Surely I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
I'm thinking...shouldn't our stance be the other way around? Shouldn't we be the ones listening to God? After all, in the words of Jesus:
Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-10)
Here, my friend, is where we find peace. Resting in the will of God. Trusting in His providence.
I'm praying for all of you. Whatever your situation, I know Hurricanes Irma and Harvey delivered a lot of damage, hard work, and sacrifice. If something awful happened, I pray you see the mighty power of God manifested in the help he sends your way. If you were blessed, may you become the mighty power of God in the help you can give to others. Peace be with you. May God bless you.
I'm thinking this song is appropriate! Click here for Oceans by Hillsong.
Did you ever think about it? We are all given different balls to juggle in this game of life. If you read my Monday posts, chronicling my faith journey, you'll see. Christ is where I find peace. Nowhere else. Christ is where I define the goal of the game. Nowhere else. Christ is where I find true joy. Nowhere else. How about you? Our search for God is a game of great fun, but don't go it alone! Join a church. Find a few well-schooled friends to help you along the way. And bring a few others along with you! Faith is the gift that gives forever. Sharpen your focus. Everything else is temporary. Click here for a song and thanks for listening!
God is always speaking to us, reaching out to us and helping us. I had a laugh when I read my own post from last Monday, which was written weeks ago, telling of a past event. When it posted, I was sitting in a hospital room. Not exactly where I expected to be. My husband and I were out-of-town on vacation, but my 'vacation' turned into a weeklong hospital stay. You can imagine my surprise when that post popped up. The story, written weeks ago about something that happened years ago, resonated with what was happening that very day: "The travel, the sickness and the outcome." .How ironic was that? God has a sense of humor, doesn't He?