Pope: During Holy Week, ask which Gospel character you resemble | National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN CITY Preceded by young people and clergy waving tall palm branches, Pope Francis began his Holy Week liturgies by encouraging people to ask themselves which personality in the Gospel accounts of Jesus passion, death and resurrection they resemble most.”Where is my heart? Which of these people do I resemble most?” Pope Francis asked Sunday as he celebrated the Palm Sunday Mass of the Lords Passion.

via Pope: During Holy Week, ask which Gospel character you resemble | National Catholic Reporter.

Pope Francis was inviting us to enter into an Ignatian style of prayerful imagining. In the Passion story, who do you most identify with? For me, my heart, mind and gut are united with Mary.

My grand-daughter doesn’t like it when I call her my grand-baby. At the ripe age of 2 1/2, it insults her sense of maturity in relation to her one year old brother. I tried to explain to her that her daddy is still MY baby. “No, Grammy”, she argued. “Daddy’s not a baby!” It was useless trying to explain to her that the strapping young man who is now a wonderful husband and father will always be my baby boy.

One of the most glorious gifts of parenthood is rejoicing in all the accomplishments of our children, from first steps to graduations to careers to parenthood and beyond. One of the hardest aspects of parenthood is suffering with them through the many struggles of life.  As wee babies they stole your hearts and never gave them back. Their pain became your pain, and continues to be.

I resist pondering Mary’s agony as her son was tried, tortured, humiliated and finally put to a gruesome death. It is too much to bear. This was her baby boy, now grown and trying to fulfill God’s will in his life. How did Mary find the courage to stay beside him, to remain standing even at the foot of the cross when others had fled?  How does a parent survive the breaking of their own heart when they see their child suffer so?

Pope Francis, in his wisdom, knows that nudging us to enter into the gospel with our mind and heart can touch us more personally than soaring theological treatises or lengthy sermons. This is a powerful, yet simple exercise. What about you? Who do you identify with in the Passion readings?

the gift of traditions – a guest post

image provided by microsoft

The following is written by my friend, Christine Suriano. She and her husband Tony are inspirational models of faith-filled marriage and joy-filled family life. Thank you, Chris! 🙂

Therefore, brothers and sisters, stand firm, and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught. (2 Thess. 2)

I think there are times we do not hold on to tradition; be it home, family, community, church. It may appear “old-fashioned”, maybe even worthless to some. And, we certainly don’t have time anymore. Do you hear what I hear?

I love the times when we are together and talk starts about what we did when the children were young, or the habits and lifestyles of grandparents and relatives. We laugh heartily, and that seems to bring on yet another story that is even funnier.

Much of what we talk about is how we enjoyed the simple things. Not having a lot of money, we made do. We couldn’t afford hotels and resorts, so we tent camped.  Sue and Chris shared a pair of clogs. The size was in the middle; a bit small for Sue and a bit large for Chris.  Recently, we recounted memories of those who lived with us on a temporary basis. I had forgotten who they were, but we laughed our heads off.

We had the Lent and Advent traditions; both what we did at home and how we recognized the needs of others outside our home. How and why did we keep certain Christmas traditions, especially the tree and the food preparations?

The church was one of the most important places within our family. We shared and cared and were supported by genuine, faith-filled people and clergy.  Taking on any responsibility was expected. Many shared and many gained from these experiences. It was a kind of Kumbaya-time in our lives.

Yes, things have changed over the generations. Change is a challenge, right?  Times are different and there are some traditions we won’t give up.  No matter where our families live, everyone gathers with other family members or neighbors and friends and has the traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner.  Our Christmas gifting remains the same. Even though someone might not agree with the chosen charity, it is their choice when it is their time up at bat.

It’s the memories, the traditions that may or may no longer exist, that have brought all of us to where we are as a family. Right here. In this moment in time.  They have helped build relationships that have held true for 30, 40 and 50 years.

For all the above thoughts, emotions and memories, I thank you, God.  You are forever awesome.

May you continue to enjoy your traditions!

easter blessings

Some recent posts on blessings produced a thoughtful dialogue on who is best qualified to give a blessing. Here is what happened at our Easter Sunday mass.

We had just finished celebrating the baptism of two children. One was a beautiful wee babe. Her parents followed the Filipino tradition of surrounding their child with the support of many God-parents. A joyous crowd of parents and seven God-parents gathered around the font.

The other child was a girl, around six years old, the grand-daughter of a long-time friend. She stood at the front with a shy smile and excitement in her eyes. Her 23 year old uncle, my friend’s son, died suddenly last year. The mass was dedicated to his memory. My eyes welled as I looked at them, thinking of the gaping loss felt when family gathers for celebrations with grief still fresh.

After the baptisms it was time for the sprinkling rite. A previous pastor used to make a grand procession around the church, blessing all those in the pews with holy water. All eyes were on him, hoping that a drop or two might come their way.

Our current pastor placed two large glass bowls of Easter water in front of the altar. He warmly invited us to come up by twos or threes and bless each other generously with the water.

Of course, the introvert in me hoped that hubby would be my partner. But, as I watched the line move forward, whether it was a family member or the stranger who happened to be behind them, the blessings were given freely and joyfully. There was no awkwardness or shyness. Easter waters flowed with the smiles and warm words of blessing.

Though the community sat as the line moved forward, our pastor stood at his chair. It was a powerful gesture of respect for the Easter blessings unfolding before him; God’s people blessing each other with all their joys and sorrows.