Pope Francis in Ireland

Pope Francis has been in Dublin, Ireland this past weekend for the World Meeting of Families, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I was blessed with the opportunity to see him!

I am studying abroad in Dublin this semester with Champlain College.  That in and of itself is incredible, and I am so excited!  I’ve had the dates of my travel for several months now, along with our orientation schedule.  So when I heard that Pope Francis was going to be in my new home city shortly after I arrived, I scrambled to check the dates.  Lo and behold, the free weekend I had available right after orientation was the exact weekend he would be visiting.

On Saturday, several of my fellow students and I took to the streets.  Pope Francis was driving through the city in his Popemobile, and we were ready with cameras.  The had barricades lining the streets where he would be, and my friends and I were able to get right up to the barricades themselves.  One friend in particular and I who share a love of photography and, incidentally, the exact same camera body, set up a competition.  When I arrived, he looked at me and said “All right, whoever gets the best picture of the Pope has to buy the other a pint—of water, because I know you don’t drink.”  I laughed and offered to up the ante by upgrading to the soft drink of his choice if he won.  Then we set up our shots and waited.

Almost an hour passed before the cars that preceded Pope Francis, and he whisked by in about a minute.  I snapped away furiously, and I was able to get some pretty good shots!  I love how he gently smiles and looks so friendly.

 

On Sunday, I bundled myself up against the wind and the rain to head to Pheonix Park for Mass.  Every street I walked along was closed to car traffic, and pilgrims were migrating to the park.  The further I walked, the more and more people joined the crowd.  We streamed along the red, green, and navy routes toward the heart of the park.  After a little bit of confusion, I was able to to find my section, and I settled in amongst all the people.

I was honestly surprised to find how empty my section was.  I expected, with sold out tickets, for every area to be packed, but there was really only a handful of people in my section.  The sections near me were similar situations.  I was a little bit taken aback, but I laid down my rain jacket on the ground and sat down anyway.  As it happened, the section that I was in had its view of the altar and stage completely obscured by a massive screen, but I was okay with that.  We were so far away, we wouldn’t have been able to see much anyway.

 

A half hour before Mass began, Pope Francis rode in the Popemobile again to greet everyone throughout the crowd.  As he drove through the channels, people in the crowd ran to his side just to get close to him.  The joy on people’s faces brought me to tears.

I am painfully aware of the abuse that has wreaked havoc on our church recently.  Between the McCarrick situation and the Pennsylvania grand jury report, it feels like the Church is falling apart around our ears.  Because of my travels, I have been largely alone in my faith as I’ve been learning about all of this.  I have not been able to connect with my faith family in the aftermath of this news, and it’s felt very isolating.  I have mourned in silence, and I have felt very alone.  But here, in this field teeming with Catholics, raucously sharing in their faith and eagerly braving distance and adverse conditions to come together and celebrate Jesus in the open air…  My heart became full.  I no longer felt as alone.  The only thing that kept repeating in my head was the phrase, “Our Church may be hurting, but our Church is here.”

I am not at all trying to erase the sadness and shame associated with this abuse coming to light.  But I believe that community breeds love and healing, and being around so many Catholics who were on fire in their faith despite the atrocities that have been rampant brought me hope.  It brought meaning to the messages of strength and encouragement that I have seen on social media recently as we all reel and recover from the headlines.

At the start of Mass, Pope Francis addressed the abuse scandals and asked for forgiveness on behalf of those who committed the actions, and on behalf of those who turned a blind eye to the actions.  He also prayed that this season of shame extend itself, and I thought that was really poignant.  We need to dwell in this shame for a time.  We cannot just sweep these difficult feelings under the rug and pretend they never happened.  We need to feel our shame, really feel it, so that we never allow it to happen again.  Catholics are no strangers to suffering, and we know that suffering brings salvation.  We cannot run from discomfort just because it is uncomfortable.  We run to the Truth, even when it hurts, and we pray that God bestows the necessary graces upon us.

Since the Mass ended, I have learned more disturbing news.  Pope Francis has been accused of covering up for McCarrick.  This claim has been disputed, but the truth is yet unclear.  And perhaps most concerning of all, when Pope Francis was asked about the account after the closing Mass, he refused to talk about it and told us to use our best judgement.  I am uncertain as to why he chose this response, but I am frightened for what will come next for our Church.  Even so, I have faith that our Church will survive, and I am grateful to have seen Her in stride this past weekend.

March for Life Memories

The March for Life is the largest annual national gathering of pro-life individuals.  It is a protest march held in Washington D.C. in late January.  (This date is chosen to commemorate the handing down of the Roe v. Wade decision on January 22, 1973.  That case determined that women have the right to an abortion under the 14th amendment, and that states have limited rights to interfere depending on the trimester of the pregnancy.)

I have been blessed enough to attend that March for Life three times.  The first time was in 2013, the second in 2015, and the third in 2017.  It is absolutely incredible to be around such an immense crowd of people who value life in the same way that I am.  We are most unified by our stance against abortion, but the diversity present at the March is incredible.  There are groups of people who proclaim their identities as Catholics, Christians, Jews, atheists, scientists, feminists, post-abortive mothers, and so much more.  All kinds of creeds arrive to demonstrate their support for the preservation and sanctity of life.

Each March that I’ve been to is tied to specific moments and memories.  In 2013, I most prominently remember walking through light snowfall praying a rosary with my theology teacher.  This was my first year of high school and my first time at the March, and I was in awe.  We were probably three quarters of the way through the course of the March when my teacher offered to lead some other students and I in a rosary.  Throughout the decades, the jostling of the crowd scattered us, and I ended up being the only one who made it through the whole series of prayers with her.

2013 was a very cold year, but 2015 was surprisingly warm.  The defining moment for that year’s March in my head was standing around at the start of the March before our walking really got under way, and one of my friends stripped off layer after layer until she was just wearing leggings and athletic shorts because it was so warm, we didn’t need to be swaddled in endless fabric anymore.   We all stuffed extra clothes into our bags, which puffed up like microwaved marshmallows and looked absolutely absurd on our backs.

2017 is the freshest and the most courageous year for me.  The previous two times, I had attended the March with my high school.  We left directly from campus, were chaperoned at all times, traveled in a group, and had a specific itinerary that we kept to at all times.  In 2017, I attended the March with my college diocese.  They organized a bus to go down to D.C., and I was the only person I knew who signed up.  I walked 45 minutes to get to the departure point, and our trip was significantly longer than I was used to because I was much father north than before.  We would drive through the night, arrive in the morning to explore freely, march, and then return to the bus and drive through the next night to get home in the morning.  This freedom was intimidating for me, but I made friends with the woman I sat next to on the way, so we were travel buddies and found our way together.  This was the first time I attended the March for Life Expo, and I got so many free stickers and resources, it was incredible!

My strongest memory from that March, though, was truly a glory story.  After a long night of driving, our bus stopped in a parking lot around 4 in the morning to let us get an early breakfast before we got into the city.  We stopped at a rest stop along the highway somewhere in Maryland, and I was sitting at a table nibbling my way through some hasbrowns when I heard a voice say “Hauer?  Is that you?”

I turned around, and two girls from my high school were standing behind me.  We squealed hello and hugged, and I realized that more and more faces I recognized were all around the rest area.  My high school’s bus had arrived, completely by chance, at the exact same rest stop at the exact same time to get food, so I was able to connect with some friends and mentors at 4 in the morning before marching during the day.

I have a few photos from that year, which I’ll include below, but my favorite media from it was actually not produced by me. Students for Life of America set up a camera viewing the street and compiled a time lapse of the whole March.  Check it out!

 

 

The March for Life is a fantastic and meaningful experience for which I am always grateful.  I really hope to be able to return next year, but moreover, I really hope that someday soon the March will transform from a yearly protest to an annual celebration of victory because true change has been made!

Source:

Roe v. Wade Fast Facts

7 Brilliant C. S. Lewis Quotes

C. S. Lewis is, in my opinion, one of the most eloquent Christian writers of recent times.  The man had such a way with words, it is absolutely incredible.  As a writer, he very much inspires me.  I first became familiar with Lewis through the Chronicles of Narnia, and was pleasantly surprised when my father pointed out the Christian undertones in the story.  Later, I read and loved The Screwtape Letters, and I have encountered many quotes from Lewis in my theology classes because he so neatly summarizes important concepts.

It saddens me that Lewis never became a Catholic.  He got so many things so right, that it astounds me he did not complete the journey, so to speak, and dive deep enough to find the fullness of Truth.  Some digging around online shows me that his main concerns were with Catholics’ devotion to Mary and the saints, and their following of the Pope and allegiance to the Magesterium’s guidance.  While those things can seems scary at first to a non-Catholic, with proper study and meditation, one can find their basis in Christ and understand that they are intrinsically ordered to His will.

Regardless of his Anglican ways, Lewis has a really strong grasp on a lot of the concepts all Christians can share.  The light of Truth still shines through his words.  Here are seven of my favorite quotes by him, and what they mean to me.

1) My idea

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I had never thought about it this way until I ran into this quote, but sometimes, we accidentally limit God.  God is beyond our human understanding; He is infinitely greater and more wonderful than anything we can comprehend.  Elizabeth Elliot said, “[i]f God were small enough to be understood, He wouldn’t be big enough to be God.”  But that doesn’t stop us from trying to understand Him – and of course, we will always fall short.  Sometimes, in our attempts to wrap our minds around God, we condense Him.  We relegate Him to a certain role.  We think He is definitely going to act a certain way, and we don’t give Him the opportunity to act autonomously because we have already decided for Him.  This can be as simple as thinking “Oh, I’m not going to bother asking God for this thing, because I know He is going to say no.”  While there are some safe bets as to what God will refuse, we also must remember that nothing is impossible for Him.  With this quote, I am reminded not to put God into a box and think He can only be a certain way.  I want to be devoted to who God really is, not who I imagine Him to be.

2) Love

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This quote reminds me of a form of tough love.  It is never loving to know someone is in sin and darkness, and to leave them there to suffer without trying to bring them to the Truth.  Truth can be painful, and a lot of times, we don’t want to make people uncomfortable.  But sometimes, a challenge is necessary.  Sometimes, we need someone to call us out on our problematic behavior so that we can grow and change and become better.  It can be really tough to approach someone in that way because it’s risky; emotions may run high, and it may lead to rash decisions, such as even ending a friendship.  But to love someone is to lead them to goodness and Truth.  It can be scary, but if you can carefully and effectively do good for another person, then that may be how you are called to love them.

3) Shine

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I love the humility that is the focus of this quote.  Another quote that I hold dear is the notion that Willam J. Toms states, “Be careful how you live.  You may be the only Bible some person ever reads.”  That is something that I connect with very personally right now, because I go to a very secular college.  I have run into many people who have never known a Catholic, and I do not take it lightly that I am their first impression of what it means to be a Catholic or a Christian in general.  It is a beautiful form of ministry, and I feel blessed by God that I get to work for Him in this type of outreach.  But this work is not about me.  I’m not doing this for my own recognition.  I want to use these opportunities to teach people about God, to bring them to His light.  With this quote, it feels like C. S. Lewis is cheering me on.

4) The Answer

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This is a great way to turn frustration on its head.  It’s very easy when talking with God to get upset when we don’t receive the answers we want.  Knowing that God is omniscient, it feels like such a strong denial, maybe even a betrayal, when He doesn’t wrap up information with a nice bow and hand us all the answers.  But God knows better than we do; He knows when we need answers and when we need to keep wondering.  I sometimes have to remind myself that God knows what He is doing, and I can trust in Him to take care of me.  I need to remember that God can satisfy every desire of my heart, and He is infinitely more fulfilling, just in His own nature and self, than anything else.

5) Paint

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Image from The Breadbox Letters

I talked in my post about Bible verses for anxiety that I struggle with a sense of control over my life.  I feel like I need to be preparing for everything in my whole life right now, and that if I am not working hard in every moment, then I will fall behind and fail.  This is a beautiful reminder that God is in charge, that He is guiding my life and helping build me into the person I need to be.  I need to remember to submit, to be still, and to allow Him to work in and through me.  I can trust His efforts because they will always be greater than I.

6) Soul

You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body. C.S.Lewis. Circle of Daydreams. www.circleofdaydreams.com.au
Image from Circle of Daydreams

Living in this world, we often get caught up in the physicality of our bodies.  After all, they are the vehicles through which we navigate this existence.  Our senses are our method of input.  They are the framework through which we learn, so it is only natural for us to get wrapped up in them, and forget the importance of that which exists beyond them.  But our souls are so vitally important to our selves.  This is a reminder to fix our perspectives and view ourselves as the mystical creations God has created us to be.

7) Humility

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It can be really hard to balance the needs of the self with the needs of others.  How do you balance self-care without being selfish, and charity with personal goals?  So often, we feel that we need to decrease our self-importance by trashing ourselves.  We focus on our flaws, we talk more about what we do wrong than what we do right, and we argue with people who compliment us in an effort to seem like we aren’t prideful.  But in a twisted way, that actually is a new form of pride.  You are considering yourself so important that you are the constant target of slander, but you are still fixated on yourself.  But this notion of thinking of yourself less frequently overall is a great way to explain humility.  You don’t have to trash talk yourself to be humble; you can be aware of your own goodness and still decrease in pride.

I could talk about these little nuggets of wisdom for hours, because they are so poignant and apply to so many situations.  I highlighted examples that jumped out at me right now, but these are so relateable that if I were to write this post again in a year, I probably could come up with entirely new things to write about that wouldn’t be any less fitting.  I think these are great to return to every so often and apply in new and innovative ways over time.

Featured image from Ligonier Ministries

Met Gala Fashion Round Up

The 2018 Met Gala took place last week on Monday, May 7.  Formally known as the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit, it is a black-tie event for some of the most famous names in the world of fashion, film, politics, and business.  This event raises money for the Costume Institute of the Met, and is held annually on the first Monday in May to accompany the opening of that year’s fashion exhibition.  This year’s exhibit follows the theme “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.”  While guests at the Gala are not required to dress for the theme, it is highly encouraged, and many celebrities rose to the challenge.  They incorporated Catholic themes and elements into their outfits, all of which carry a rich history to be celebrated.  Here are some of the motifs that made their way across Monday’s red carpet, and the story behind them.

 

Mitre (Rihanna)

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This pointy hat called a mitre is worn during liturgical celebrations by bishops and the Pope, though it is taken off during the consecration of the Eucharist to show humility.  Sources are split as to the origin of the mitre.  Some claim that it is based on the fish-shaped head covering wore by pagan priests worshipping the fish god Dagon in ancient Philistine and Babylon.  Others say that the mitre is of Roman origin; it developed parallel to the papal tiara as a descendant of the camauro, a red velvet or wool hat with white ermine trim that the pope would wear when it was too cold for a zucchetto, or skull cap.  A camauro looks something like a modern beanie mixed with a Santa hat, while a zuchetto is the flat looking headpiece Pope Francis is wearing here.

 

Mantilla / Veil (Nicki Minaj, Kate Bosworth, Priyanka Chopre)

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Chapel veils, also known as mantillas, have been worn by Christian women since the early days of the Church.  The word mantilla comes from the Spanish word “manta,” which means cape.  Veils are used for modesty, so that the focus is placed on the beauty of God rather than a woman’s physical beauty; mantillas also emulate the Blessed Mother.  They also reflect the role of women as a vessel who bears life.  During the Mass, the chalice which holds the blood of Christ is veiled until the gifts are prepared, and the tabernacle which holds the Eucharist is veiled between Masses.  The act of veiling gives dignity to that which carries life within it.

Prior to Vatican II, all women were required to wear a mantilla when attending Mass.  Since then, it is not longer required, but many women choose to veil at Mass or in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament to show reverence.

 

Halo (Amber Heard, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, SZA, among others)

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A halo is thought to show the divine light of God radiating from a soul, so it is often used in art to indicate holiness.  They are sometimes ornamented with beams to show that they are illuminating light.  Scholars point out that in the early Christian art of the 4th century, even Jesus was not depicted with a halo before His baptism, because it was debated whether His Divine nature was innate from His birth, or manifested at His baptism.  As time went on, halos were used to indicate particularly pious humans as well, such as Mary and the Apostles, though these halos are typically plain gold circles without embellishment.

 

Stained Glass (Gigi Hadid)

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Stained glass has a very long history.  It has been used in religious buildings since as early as the first century.  Since most members of the congregation were illiterate, stained glass would portray Biblical stories and themes in a captivating way to aid in education.  One of the oldest known examples of a stained glass window was found in the buried ruins of a monastery in Jarrow, England.  The window belonged to St. Paul’s Monastery, which was founded in 686 AD.  The religious applications of stained glass peaked with the magnificent churches and monasteries being built in the Gothic and Renaissance periods, though they fell out of prominence for some time after that.  In recent times, efforts to revive and reinstate this craft have produced beautiful works.

 

Iconography (Darren Criss, Stella Maxwell)

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Iconography is a mainly Orthodox tradition that was started by St. Luke the Evangelist.  He painted images of Mary and brought them to her.  She approved and blessed them, imparting the grace of her Son onto the images.  Since then, other sacred images have been produced of Jesus, Mary, and various saints.  These images are held in very high esteem; they are considered to be “windows to heaven.”  Even the creation of an icon is regarded as a sacred and prayerful experience.  Icons often feature a gold background and a flat, geometric art style, symbolizing the abstract yet ordered nature of heaven in our human understanding.

 

These are just some of the Catholic symbols that were featured in outfits worn at the Met Gala.  Many other designers found inspiration from the faith and featured those ideas in their pieces.  All of this was in preparation for the “Heavenly Bodies” exhibit, which opened on May 10 in New York City.

5 Christian Spotify Playlists I’m Loving Right Now

I love Spotify; I love having access to more music than I could ever hope to pay for individually, and I love the curated playlists that other creative minds have made and shared with the world.  I also love that Spotify has a specific genre to browse that is Christian music exclusively.  Especially during Lent, I am so grateful for a space that allows me to explore new music that can bring me closer to God.

Here are a few Christian playlists that I found on Spotify that I’m really loving right now!

1.) Everyday Inspiration

This is my go-to playlist right now.  It is chock full of my absolute favorites!  The description of the playlist boasts “[t]hese are the songs you can count on.  Always.”  I couldn’t agree more!  It has staples such as “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin, “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) by Matt Redman, “Just be Held” by Casting Crowns, and more.  So many of the most meaningful and comforting songs I know are included in this playlist.  I definitely recommend it!

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2.) Going Together

This playlist is a collection of Christian love songs.  It is a great opportunity to reflect on how my relationship with my boyfriend can – and does! – strengthen my relationship with God, and vice versa.  When I listen to this playlist, I like to play a game of sorts by guessing whether the lyrics are addressing God or addressing the singer’s partner.  Most of the time, it could go either way, and I think that’s beautiful!

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3.) epicPRAISE

Who needs caffeine when you have these bumping beats?  This playlist is really great at getting me up and going in the mornings.  Whenever I’m tempted to hit the snooze button (again…) I can hit play on this playlist instead, and I’m ready to move!  It has high energy electronic sounds and pulsing beats to invigorate my sleepy brain.  I especially appreciate this playlist whenever I work an opening shift.  It’s a great way to brighten up my days at 5:30am!  I am naturally a morning person, but it sometimes it takes a little while for that to kick in.  This playlist is the perfect pump up to wake up the morning person in me!

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Image from Spotify

4.) Cornerstones

Most people who know me are surprised when they first find out that I actually really love rock music.  Some of my all-time favorite artists are rock bands.  This playlist is a collection of Christian rock songs, so it is a blend of two of my favorite things!  It was a really pleasant surprise to scroll through this playlist and find so many artists that I recognized and had loved for years, but hadn’t noticed were actually Christian.  Some of my favorites on here are any of the songs by Skillet, “Anthem of the Lonely” by Nine Lashes, and “Courtesy Call” by Thousand Foot Krutch.

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5.) Flow Fast 20

Sometimes, I just get into the mood for fast lyrics and hype beats.  This playlist is perfect for the days that I’m craving some rap and hip hop.  I have always been drawn to the sounds of those genres, but have been repulsed by the filthy lyrics that dominate that culture.  I can only take so much before I’m disgusted and need to turn away.  But these rappers and hip hop artists speak from a fulfilling place of integrity that focuses on their faith, and I love that.  This particular playlist is always changing, because it highlights top songs of the week, so it’s worth revisiting frequently!

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Święconka

Easter is mere hours away, and that calls to mind many memories for me.  My family has a lot of traditions around Easter.  My immediate family lives in New Jersey, but some of my extended family lives in Indiana.  We would always make a yearly “pilgrimage” to go visit them for a week over my sister and my spring break.

That road trip became synonymous with Easter for me.  It was quite the endeavor, but it got easier over the years as my sister and I matured.  It was a 12 to 14 hour drive (depending on rest stops) with all four of us crammed into a car, and then a week at my grandparents’ house before another 14 hour drive back.

We developed some traditions around that trip.  Personally, I’m a very planning-oriented person, and I always have been.  I would write up specific packing lists and find excitement in cramming clothes into a suitcase.  We would always try to pack the car the night before whenever possible, and I loved to watch my dad play Tetris with all our luggage.  I’m not always very good at spatial awareness, so I was pretty impressed by his ability to pack efficiently.

When we were in the car itself, we had some games to play to pass the time.  A classic was the alphabet game, which is when you look for each letter on the alphabet, in order, written on surfaces outside of the car along the way.  An “A” in a road sign, a “B” on a license plate, and so on.  We also played the license plate game.  I would print out a blank map of the United States, and bring along a colored pencil(s).  As we would drive along, we would keep track of all of the different states we spotted.  One year, we even saw a car from Alaska!  Most of the eastern states were pretty common, and mid-western states became more frequent as we traveled along.  I distinctly remember, when my sister and mom fell asleep in the car, my dad would whisper state names to me as he saw them so that I could keep track without waking them up.

During our week with my family, one of my favorite traditions was the Polish tradition of Święconka.  Święconka, which we pronounce svfie-con-ka, is a pre-Easter food blessing.  On Holy Saturday, we would bring baskets full of our food for the next day to my grandparents’ church.  Their priest, Fr. Len, would lead us in a hymn, reflect on the meaning, symbolism, and history of Święconka, and then pray the blessing.  The prayer was said in Polish, and holy water was sprinkled over the baskets using a straw brush.  It’s been a staple in my Easter tradition for as long as I can remember.

When I started college, my spring break no longer coincided with Easter, so I stayed at school while the rest of my family traveled.  This meant that for the first time in my life, I wasn’t going to go to the food blessing!  So I took matters into my own hands, so to speak.

I had been building up a stash of chocolates throughout Lent (since I had given it up that year).  I gathered all of my goodies, and pulled out my holy water.  I looked up an English translation of a traditional Polish blessing, and prayed over my chocolate.  Then I sprinkled some holy water over my stash.

I sent a picture of my “DIY Święconka” to my sister, and a few hours later, she sent a picture of the real Święconka from Indiana.  (Included below)

 

 

I don’t have quite such an impressive chocolate stash this year, but I’m still going to bless what little I have.  It’s important to me to stay grounded in my traditions, even if they have to change a bit over time.  This is also a great way for me to still feel connected with my family, even when I cannot be beside them.

Mass Journaling

It was a weekday in late August.  I was already back at school, completing some training before classes started.  We were in training sessions from 8 AM to 8 PM for two weeks, and it was pretty draining, but we were pushing through.

I was at breakfast one morning, scrolling through Instagram.  We weren’t allowed to have our phones out during training sessions, so mealtimes began with conversation but quickly lulled into everyone staring at their screens for what limited time we could.

A sponsored post popped up in my feed.  Usually, I completely ignore those kinds of ads, but this one caught my eye.  It was a Kickstarter campaign for a Mass journal entitled Every Sacred Sunday.  As someone who has been journaling since before she could write, and has continued to do so since then, a Mass journal seemed right up my alley.  It was something I had been seeking for a while, actually, but didn’t know exactly what I needed until it crossed my path.  A friend of mine who had been struggling in her faith had spent some time visiting other churches in our area, and described that at one Protestant church she visited, everyone took notes during the sermon, and the teens compared and discussed their notes in their youth group meetings after the service.  I had been very drawn to that idea, but I didn’t feel right about bring a notebook to Mass and taking notes.  I feared being perceived as disrespectful.

Every Sacred Sunday felt like it was giving me permission to take notes in Mass.  Moreover, it was encouraging me to do so!  I read through their plan for the project and instantly fell in love.  I pulled out my credit card right then and there in the cafeteria and pledged for their Kickstarter on my phone.

I followed their journey through production, getting early glimpses of art prints to be included and receiving status updates throughout the process.  The journal finally arrived just in time for Advent and the new liturgical year.  Its design is utterly gorgeous; it’s just my style and I couldn’t have designed it any more perfectly.  Just look at it!

 

 

 

The gold foil on the front is so majestic and beautiful.  The watercolor art for each season is so pretty (I photographed Lent as it is our current season).  Even down to the type face, the clean lines, and wide open spaces, this whole journal has a seamlessly executed aesthetic.  I’m always eager to open up my Mass journal and engage with this beautiful book.

For each week, the readings are written out.  Then, there’s a work page broken into segments.  I try to get to Mass a few minutes early so I can fill out the pages before Mass begins, but if not, I take time after Mass to complete it.  There’s a “Scripture speaks” section where I copy down a verse that really spoke to me from the reading.  There’s a “weekly intentions” section which is subdivided into a gratitude and supplication column, which I love.  I especially love that the thanksgiving comes before the requests, because it’s so easy to forget to be grateful, but it’s absolutely essential to give thanks.  Then there’s a “notes” section, which is probably my favorite section.  I love to be organized, and I’m very academically inclined.  I’m also a visual learner, so taking notes on the homily (and only during the homily) is one of the best ways for me to pay attention to the information that I’m hearing.  Finally, there’s a “go forth” section, which is a space to set an intention for the rest of the week.  Personally, I struggle a bit with that section.  I’m not very good at remembering my intention once I leave Mass, and when I open my journal the following week, I always smack my forehead when I realize I forgot it again.  I’m still looking for a better way to apply the intentions I set at Mass to the rest of my week.

I love my Every Sacred Sunday journal.  It’s a great way for me to engage more deeply with the Word of God presented to us each week.  I was never one for missals, but this is a dynamic way to dive deeper into the Mass, and I am so grateful that I found it when I did.