I have two links to share with you this morning.
Both are from the Blog of Fr. Kyle Schnippel who is the Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. They are from the funeral mass of a disable ten year old girl.
As the parent of a special needs child (my 13 year old daughter is severely autistic) I can only say Amen to Fr. Schnippel’s statements. Family’s with children with disabilities face a great deal of pressure. The pressure comes in so many forms. The needs of your child, the expectations you have of yourself, the expectations you feel that other’s have of you; sometimes rightly and sometimes your own misconceptions. Families with children with disabilities sometimes drift away from parish life. Sometimes they limit their mass attendance fearing that their child’s behaviors will be off-putting to others attending mass.
The Church leadership has made great strides in helping people with disabilities and families with children with disabilities step more fully into parish life. Fr. Schnippel’s words are true and gracious. He sees in the death of this young parishioner the joy of a Saint going home.
From Fr Schnippel:
It gives me some comfort,
to know that Mollie
is now able to run and jump and play
in a way that she was never able to do
while she was here on earth.
Her chair on earth sits empty,
a reminder of the loss that we have suffered.
But she needs no chair in heaven.
take this chance to stretch your legs,
to reach out with your arms,
to laugh and smile.
Jesus is there to welcome you
and to give you what you did not have in this life.
We now send you home to heaven,
and we ask you to continue to help us,
to prepare our place with you,
so that we may join you
when our time here on earth is over as well.
It is the sort of story that makes every Catholic grin. (From MSNBC)
“Vatican kicks off clerical soccer tournament More than 300 priests, seminarians playing in Clericus Cup through June.
“The game had its share of hard tackles and rough play, with the first goal coming from a penalty kick — the second in the match.
Still, in the end it was all handshakes and smiles between the teams, in what officials and players hope will set a good example for Italian professional soccer, which has been recently marred by fan violence and scandal.
The Clericus Cup should “reaffirm the educational and pastoral value of sport,” and “strengthen feelings of true friendship and fruitful sharing,” said a message from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s No. 2 official.”’
It evokes the iconic image of the nun in the long flowing habit kicking the dust up behind her as she rounds second base. It humanizes and endears the clergy. Something that we need at times. The world at large too often dehumanizes our clergy. They chose either to view them as holy and pompous characters only visible at the alter or worse demons who do vile things in the shadows of the sacristy. The reality is so different. Men who have vices like we all do, but who have found and are living out vocations, separated slightly from the masses yet living right here among us. Most Catholics get this. I hope a little soccer will make it more apparent to the rest of the world.
The year has swept by and already I am facing Ash Wednesday Lent is upon me and I feel strangely and desperately unprepared. Lent is arguably my favorite part of the liturgical year. It gives me a chance to draw in, take a breath, look at where I am going and how the path of my life is leading me. It is an opportunity to make those small changes to correct where I am veering away from God and to refocus my efforts on the most important thing in my life, drawing closer to Christ.
It is so easy during the year to get tangled up in the process of living my vocation that I too often forget to watch my goal. Somewhat like taking a hike on difficult terrain. I am so concerned about where to safely put my foot, making sure the children at my side don’t stumble that I don’t look up and see the glory that is all around me, the very reason for being there in the first place. Lent is the pause along the path, the vista is Holy Week, the commemoration of the death and the resurrection, the entire point of being here. This is the time of year where I feel Grace the most strongly, because this is the time of year where I force myself to pay attention.
Last night I was reading a friend’s blog and found my way to the site of the Carmelite Sisters of the most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. I have to share their vocations page. I am NOT a fan of background music on webpages, especially when I can’t find a way to quickly turn it off, but this page gets a pass from me. The music isn’t grand, you can tell this isn’t a professional choir, but it is so heartfelt and simple that it becomes transcendent. It was the perfect thing for my somewhat frazzled and overworked mind to find, soothing and centering — with a challenge implicit in the message, warmth and grace, ancient yet contemporary, offering all to Christ and basking in His light, all those things that I love about my creed.
“Whatever Earth contains cannot surprise a soul, created in your image, with Heaven as it call. Knowing this my heart does sing, I was born for greater things.” This refrain really calls to mind some of the wittings of St. Th鲨se de Lisieux.
I really need to read “Story of a Soul” by St. Th鲨se this year. I find it so beautiful to realize that in the eyes of God the simple things count most. Like the unabashed love of a girl who wanted to give her heart and soul and life to Christ at 15 and died at 24. She is considered a Doctor of the Church, someone who’s insight into faith is so profound that she, in her honest love and faith, gained understanding passing those who might have spent their long lives in study and contemplation.