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RCIA…on her way!

RCIA…on her way!

Today I saw God in my hangout time with one of my friends. We talked about the usual stuff – family, friends, work…and then she shared with me that she decided she was going to go through the RCIA program in the next year.

As soon as she shared that with me, my eyes watered up and I really should have thrown myself at her and given her a huge hug, and instead, I hugged myself, out of pure joy at what she had just shared with me. There was a also a large table between us, so that was kind of difficult to maneuver.

We eventually talked more about faith and what led her to the decision of wanting to become a Catholic, and it was such a wonderful afternoon! Friends of mine who have gone through RCIA have shared with me what that experience was like for them, and most was positive, other than some meetings being boring, etc. But I am so happy for my friend and I promised her that I would start praying for her starting yesterday. 🙂 Please pray for her too!

This will be a long journey, but I know it will be worth it. I’m so glad God placed people in my life where I am able to talk freely about faith and justice. That in itself is a gift!

 

When Eyes [and Hearts] Are Opened…

When Eyes [and Hearts] Are Opened…

My day started off with a Diocesan Youth Retreat planning meeting. How great it is to be in the company of people who are as dedicated and enthusiastic about the faith as you are! And as dedicated to the formation of youth and young adults as you are! In this Lenten season when March Madness has indeed made everything in March, just that – mad…because of the busyness that we all get wrapped up in, it is nice to pause and it is refreshing to be rejuvenated with energy and faithful spirits. Lots of exciting things ahead and my eyes have indeed been open to the number of opportunities available to see God moving in my life.

From moving homilies, to songs with lyrics that tug at my heart strings, to God-centered conversations with friends, to hugs to hanging out at the park under the warm sunshine…God’s hands are all over it all, holding everything together.

When I visited the correctional facility today, my eyes were opened to the great insight that I sometimes forget. I was reminded that when others may treat me in a rude manner or may come off as non-friendly, I must not forget that they may be going through something, or perhaps they are having a bad day. Instead – pray for them. This reminder that came through from one of the women I visited today rolled off her tongue as if it was a mantra she repeated to herself throughout the day. Watching women shepherd and support one another through verbal affirmation as it comes through in our scripture study is absolutely beautiful. It is a gift for me to witness, and my eyes were opened today with a new sense of warmth, compassion, and peace.

Being filled up with energy and enthusiasm from the morning prepared me for my visit that afternoon. And from that visit from the afternoon, I was then ready to start my week. I love how that works out so perfectly! God, you are good!

L’Arche: A Place of Grace

L’Arche: A Place of Grace

Today, my student caught me off-guard as she comes into my office, stands in front of me, and says, “Ms. Catalan, can we talk about something?” I say, “Sure, of course! Aren’t you in class right now?” “Yes,” she answered, “but it’s for class, so my teacher said it was OK.” I asked her what she needed help with and she replied, “I need to process our L’Arche trip for my project.” Here we go!!

The topic: Grace. Wow – not an easy topic, but in some ways, not a difficult topic either – rather, a topic that causes pause, reflection, and contemplation when explored deeply.

In that moment, we reminisced about the trip, shared highlights and unpacked them a bit more. Why does that moment stick out to you? What did you learn in that moment? What is challenging about what you encountered? How will you allow that experience to affect your future interactions with others or affect the way you view the world?  A couple of kleenex later, the connections started to be made between the dots, and shortly after, she came back to ask follow-up questions.

Some of us will never be able to go inwards and reflect on deeply moving encounters and experiences. For high school students to take this upon themselves and acknowledge the need to process experiences…wow – I am moved. I am grateful that my workplace cares about our students enough and so values the education found in immersion trips, that these trips are ingrained within our school’s values. I am grateful that I can talk faith topics and social justice topics with students, and these conversations are encouraged. I am also grateful to be a part of immersion trip experiences that I am confident will stay with my students and perhaps shape them in amazing ways for the rest of their lives. That in itself is pure gift!

What a beautiful day this was!

Lord, Hear Our Prayer

Lord, Hear Our Prayer

Prayers for strength, comfort, wisdom, and guidance resonated in the small room we were all cramped in tonight. I was surrounded by ten beautiful souls who shared with me their names, “roses” and “thorns” from the past week- others simply passed.

As I was prepping for my visit to the correctional facility, I thought immediately about the Gospel reading from Sunday: The Woman at the Well. How perfect. We read the scripture and begun our reflection. Thanks to Creighton University for their Online Ministries website that has wonderful resources throughout the Lenten season!

The woman left her water jug after her encounter with Jesus. What is your water jug that you want to leave behind? The woman had an encounter with Jesus – one that was powerful enough for her to leave her water jug. Have you had an encounter with Jesus? What was that like for you?

Women shared stories about their powerful experiences during prayer, during moments of temptation, during dark, dark moments, and yet regardless of how they reacted to that moment, knew that it was the voice of God leading them towards hope, calm, peace.

We concluded our time together with our prayer intentions. Tears aflowing, Lord, Hear our Prayer bouncing off the walls…God was present.

One of the women prayed that she would have an encounter with Jesus – one that moves her enough to know and recognize that it is the voice of God and Christ working in that moment. The bold prayers that I hear in that space during my visits are unlike any other small group or prayer gathering that I have ever been a part of. It is a gift for me to be invited into this space and I would not want to spend my Monday evenings any other way!

From Living Water

From Living Water

Today we read one of my favorite Gospels…did you miss it? Here it is for you:

Gospel of the Day: John 4:5-42

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” – John 4:10

Check out Brother Mickey McGrath’s print HERE

Reflection:

The Samaritan woman at the well is no angel. Mixed up with a wrong crowd, this poor woman from Samaria has quite a reputation. She had been married five times and was living in sin with a man who wasn’t her husband.

Through her story comes the lesson that people shouldn’t live by carnal pleasure. The story also shows that a well of grace is ready to refresh the soul parched by sin and suffering and that Jesus comes to save the sick and to serve those who still need both physical and spiritual healing — not only the converted.

Her story is also relevant because it becomes an antecedent of Christian practices — that one may seek God’s forgiveness for wrongdoing.

In some Christian religions, including Catholicism and Orthodox, seeking forgiveness is the basis for the sacrament of Reconciliation (confession). Every faith has a teaching and belief that God forgives sin and that repentance is always possible. The Jewish feast of Yom Kippur and Islam’s Ramadan are also examples of seeking forgiveness and showing atonement for sin.

The woman at the well had her sins “washed away” by Jesus. The story shows that Jesus offers divine mercy in the living water of grace, which washes away sins and cleanses souls. The woman went to the well to get a jug of water. Instead, she got much more, including a cleansed and refreshed spiritual life.

Going to the well

Because of her lowly status, the Samaritan woman goes to the well during the hottest point of the day to avoid the wagging tongues of her fellow townspeople. Most other people were taking siestas at this time; nobody in his or her right mind is out in the noonday sun. The woman of Samaria knows this and seizes the opportunity to get water for her home without being bothered.

Jews didn’t normally travel on a Samaritan road, but Jesus chose to walk this way anyway. He comes upon the well, where he meets the Samaritan woman and asks her for a drink of water. The woman, who understands her low social status in the eyes of a Jew, is astonished that this pious Jew requests water from her.
Experiencing renewed spirit

Jesus uses the water as a metaphor to teach this woman. He speaks about the living water, which gives eternal life, divine grace, or God’s life within the soul. The woman craves this type of water, because she wants to have eternal life. But first Jesus has a lengthy but candid dialogue with her. He makes her understand that she needs to confess her sins and change her life before she can obtain this life-giving water — grace. Jesus shows her that he already knows she is living with a man who is not her husband.

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!”

John 4:16–18

The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

John 4:25–26

The Samaritan woman’s spirit is enlightened, accelerated, and illuminated by Jesus. She now realizes what it means to take freely of the water of life, which is the spiritual refreshment that comes into her soul after her encounter and confession with Jesus. Not only was she impressed that Jesus knew all her sins, but she was also given the opportunity to have those sins forgiven. She believes he is truly the Messiah, the Anointed One. She repents of her past misdeeds and goes back to tell her family, friends, and neighbors how she met Jesus and how he revealed his knowledge of her sins and his offer of live-giving water, which brings eternal life. She went on to lead many conversions in this area through her zeal and love for God (John 4:39–42).

The Samaritan woman doesn’t appear again in scripture, but for centuries afterward, numerous spiritual writers, theologians, and scholars retold and pondered her encounter with Jesus. Augustine (AD 354–430), for instance, uses the example of the woman at the well to describe the spiritual thirst the human heart has for goodness and truth and that thirst is never quenched until people are in the presence of God forever (after they die and leave this earth).

AMEN!