Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Enlightened by Light: Holy Saturday

My third and final post on Holy Week...Thanks for sticking with me, people! 

Light is a GREAT symbol for God...(who thought of that anyway??)  I was brought to a deeper understanding of who this Jesus Christ character is through two ceremonies during Holy Week that used light in its worship.

First, was a Tenebrae service at Cardinal Ritter High School on Good Friday.  In a systematic way, the prayers of the evening are sung and candles are extinguished as you near the end of the service.  (symbolic of Christ's death getting nearer and nearer...)

When there's light from only one candle left, the priest takes the candle out of the prayer space and there you are, sitting in darkness.  This represents inside of Jesus tomb.  Dark. Silent.  I think it was the first time I ever realized just how FINAL Jesus death was.  He was dead.  It was over.

Then, unique only to a Tenebrae service, in the darkness arises some kind of loud noise (in Ritter's case, I think it was tympanies!) that symbolizes the closing of the tomb.  Dark.  Silent.  I wish I could have stayed there for a little longer in the silence and just felt what the Apostles must have felt those 24 hours after Jesus' death.  Seriously, what were they thinking?  I probably would have panicked...here's this guy that was saying all these incredible things about the universe and NOW I have to somehow live without Him.

Tenebrae ends with the priest bringing the lighted candle back into the prayer space so you end with one candle shining in the space.  It makes total sense and was a total relief...God is here.  He's never leaving.  And you may think He's gone sometimes, but there are always little reminders that He is ever present.

The Easter Vigil Mass of Holy Saturday ALSO has a theme of light and a beautiful prayer that the Bishop read about how the huge Easter candle's light NEVER dims, despite how many candles are lit from its flame.

This was an AMAZING fact for me that night because I usually feel very "spent" like I couldn't possibly give another ounce of service, love, or patience to ANYONE..and yet, here's this candle flame...giving, giving, giving and never becoming lesser.  With the light of Christ we received at Baptism, this unendingly charitable heart is the same within each of us---I'm just always limiting myself because I can't comprehend in my mind how I could ever give so much of myself to another person or group of people and still be happy.  But the point is, we are given an eternal flame immeasurable by our puny human standards.  I want to pull from THAT today when I'm in front of my students! :)

A Haitian Sensation Sweeping the Nation

To my blogger faithfuls (all two of you), I'm sorry to not have written in this more regularly.  Truth be told, I'm loving life right now way to much to sit at a computer and write it all down!  This is why all my life I've been terrible at journal writing, diary keeping, etc.  There's just too much to write and not enough time to do it!

And despite the fact that it's my first day back to school since my week-long trip to Haiti, I have three online classes for grad school needing things from me immediately, AND I have dinner with my family tonight, I sit here and type because I think my reflections on what I've learned from my most recent trek to Haiti are a helpful guide to how to live life TODAY...no matter what circumstances you find yourselves in.

This is my second trip to Haiti in two years with my Good Shepherd, Fr. Rick Nagel, and other young adults from the St. John's Catholic community in Indianapolis.  The invitation to go to Haiti came unexpectedly last year during a time where my life was being flipped upside down anyway...so why not go to Haiti?  All signs pointed to "yes," I was granted time off in my school year and I went.

This year was a little different in that I had to apply and was then appointed as a "young adult leader" for the team.  I was expecting to be with another (besides Father) who had been before and that didn't happen and immediately going to Haiti became this burden--raising money, taking time off, writing lesson plans, etc.  What had I gotten myself into?

As the trip got closer, and by God's grace, I found excitement in returning once again--seeing this opportunity as truly unique.  I mean, really, who gets to go to Haiti?  TWICE?  Better yet, who gets to teach kids (impressionable fourth graders, that is) about it later??

It would take days for me to type up all that I saw/experienced/learned in Haiti whether it be from the Haitian people we met, the priests and religious sisters that accompanied us, or my mission team of incredible young adults.  If you're my friend and you live life with me, you'll get to see all those lessons unfold and shape who I am in the future.  But, I'll put it in the cliff notes "Top 5."

Top Five Lessons Learned in Haiti

1. When you give your life to God, ridiculously amazing things happen in your life and you're given complete joy. Thank you, Columbian Sistesrs of the Sacred Heart for witnessing this to me.

2. Just because they aren't Haitian, you still treat others with dignity and respect that they deserve.  Thank you, Fr. Rick, for pointing this out to our whole team in the hotel the morning back from Haiti.

3. Mass by far is the greatest gift to the world and my life that there is.  Where else can you share something in common all over the world, no matter where you go?  There is beautiful unity in the Catholic Church and you see this when you celebrate Mass in another country.

4. God beautifully weaves peoples' paths together for wonderous purposes.  Thanks to my mission team and their informal (like really informal...on the back of a pickup truck) testimonies of how God has "interrupted" their lives and saved them from all their plans of destruction! :)  Major shout outs to Evan, K-Duff, Morgan, Brea, Leah, Veronica, Caitlin, and Nic for trusting me enough to share their life with me in specific.  I was truly blessed this week by getting to know you better.

5.  I'm stuck with Haiti forever.  There's a difference between stuck WITH Haiti and stuck IN Haiti.  Right now, I'm their advocate, encouraging those I know to share their wealth with a country that has so little.  But, awesomely enough, I don't despair for Haiti because the faith-filled people, just like me, know that the deepest longings of their hearts will never go unanswered.  God loves us and is ever victorious..even in the most dire of circumstances.