Sunday, December 31, 2006

Feast of the Holy Family

It's strange to me how everything in my life can be so focused without my consciousness of the fact. Today when I awoke I did not think about what feast day we celebrate today or what significance it holds in our church. I thought about what I was going to wear and sat confused for a while, trying to remember if we were singing as a choir today or not. And still somehow the majority of my proceeding thought was centered on family and unity.

One of my first coherent thoughts this morning was of the friend I spoke of yesterday. I thought of her great suffering and how deeply it affects me. I did pray that God might take some of her suffering and give it to me, so this was no surprise. (How anxious do I feel when I know of someone else suffering, especially alone!)

As I sat at Mass and listened to the story of the Holy Family, I thought of my own family and questioned our priorities. I questioned my own perogatives and really contemplated what it was I could do to help my whole family be more holy.

I watched as a family brought up the gifts to the altar. I observed the interactions of little children before, during, and after Mass. My thoughts wandered during the homily (Lord, forgive me) and I contemplated the family life of our deacon and other holy people I know. I wondered what life must be like in their family. In their human nature, they sin. Certainly they get frustrated and maybe even angry. But is their life much different from my own?

After Mass my family went out to eat. As we were being seated, my mother recalled a previous experience at the same restaurant. She told us the story about a father and a group of young men and their unruly, unkind behavior. We reflected on what might be lacking in their family and I said a quiet prayer, that God might touch their hearts today.

The most moving moment so far today though was in the car as we were pulling out of the parking lot of our church. After Mass my father had made a point to stop and talk with an older gentleman in the vestibule. I didn't recognize him but I don't recognize many of the people my parents know. I thought nothing of it and moved on to greet our pastor and thank the priest who said our Mass. A few moments later, in the car and pulling out of the parking lot, my mother turned to my father and said, "He looks really sad." "That's because he is," my father quietly replied. Already I felt a tug on my heart. How it pains me to hear of another's sadness! They continued to talk and soon I realized that it was Mr. B. His wife died three years ago and he misses her terribly.

I didn't see the look on his face and I've never known them well. I know who they are because they are 'prominent figures' in our parish in my mind. They were one of those couples that everyone knew. They had six children together and were faithful Catholics. He still is. But he's sad. And that thought... it moved me to tears. One thought of his sad face as he crossed the street to his car and I was crying.

I'm sure I've shared similar stories in the past. I have a tendency to be moved to tears in sorrow or great joy when hearing of others trials or blessings. It didn't necessarily catch me off guard, but I knew it would my family - so I quickly wiped my eyes and tried to keep up with the flow of conversation.

It wasn't until just now as I was reading a reflection by Fr. Glenn Sudano, CFR, that I realized the importance of this moment and all the moments I've experienced in the past. It wasn't until this moment that I realized the significance of all of these moments combined.

I occassionally have these 'light bulb' moments when I understand in a deep way the connection we share with each person on this earth, and more so with other Catholics. Today was just another one of those days.. but like with most things, I appreciate it more this time than I have ever before.

I pray that the Holy Family strengthens me to be a good example to my family and to help me contribute to our holiness as one entity. I pray that I am always able to feel with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and to really share in their joys and sorrows. I pray that the Holy Family be our protector and guide as we journey towards our Father in heaven. Most Holy Family, bring us into the light of our Father. Help us to see His Holy Face! Amen.

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