Parishioner Karen Bond wrote this for Tuesday, March 26, and due to my own backlog, I did not get to post it until now. I hope that you will read this and be as moved as I was. Her story about someone who discovers our parish and starts to attend mass, has moved me tremendously. Thank you Karen, your open heart is a gift – and you are most welcome. We hope that all know that they are welcome here. And thank you Karen!
I wanted to write something for today’s Pastoral Postings, but the words aren’t coming as easily as I had expected (or wanted) them to. I chose today’s date because it was one that was very significant to me.
One year ago today I began attending daily Mass during the week. It kind of came about accidentally, but in the last year, I’ve discovered that nothing is accidental.
Every day that I attended, I discovered something new about the Lord, the church and myself.
For one thing, I became calmer. I wasn’t looking for it, but it was a definite change in my mindset.
It began on my drives to church in the mornings. They had the effect of washing away the troubles and the bad part of the last night and the morning. I wasn’t trying to get rid of it, but my mind would clear itself and when I arrived at the church door, I was ready for whatever message was coming my way.
For another thing, more likely than not there was a question in my mind, a struggle, something that I needed help with and had nowhere to go, and nine times out of ten, the answer was there in the Mass. If it wasn’t in the Gospel or the Responsorial, it was in the homily.
As a child and young person growing up, I wasn’t Catholic, so the few times I would attend church for friends, for weddings or funerals, it was awkward. I was awkward. I understood nothing, I never knew when to stand, when to sit, when my eyes should be open or closed. How did everyone know what to say and when? I was uncomfortable whenever Jesus was mentioned.
However, from my first day here at Mass, I wasn’t awkward. I wasn’t looked at strangely. I was welcomed. I felt welcomed. My questions were welcomed. No one cared that I wasn’t Catholic, and they went out of their way to explain anything to me that I asked about. I was allowed to explore my faith and myself and the pieces of the church that I had never seen before or been exposed to, and discovered much more than a place to rest my depression or simply a place to go.
I still didn’t know what to do, but it didn’t matter. I stood when the person in front of me stood, and sat when they sat. When they turned to shake my hand, I shook theirs, and in that moment of touch, it was like a bolt of lightning. I felt my face alight with a smile and joy filled my soul and I looked forward to that touch every day; the connection as our eyes met, our hands met. I would close my hand and keep that touch in there for as long as I could. It gave me energy. It gave me hope. It gave me promise and purpose and love. And I held it close.
When I would forget, I could just close my hand and it would be back again.
One year ago I took refuge in the pews of the church, usually empty save for me or the occasional visit by the grounds keeper. Before I began attending the Masses, I would just sit and read the daily prayers in the Missal. I was lost and at a loss and just in the sitting and talking to G-d, I found something. I hadn’t realized it at the time; it took several months to realize how important my mornings with G-d meant to me and how they changed me in a positive way.
In the year since that first day, I have found many more readings that fit into my daily life and give me guidance and a hand to hold when I’m feeling alone.
Mass is not an obligation to me. I look forward to the Mass. And I’m never alone.
I have this deeper understanding of who Jesus Christ was and is and where He fits into my life. It is more comfort than I think I have ever felt.
The beginning of today’s Psalm reminds me of why I started coming and why I come nearly every day:
In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, and deliver me;
incline your ear to me, and save me.
R. I will sing of your salvation.