It came down with a wrecking ball, and as I stood in it for the last time, I realized how hard it hit in love. All the space ever did was break down my walls.
– Tagged "Kansas"
Pray without seasoning. This idea has been cooking (pun intended) in my mind for a while, but prayer is such a personal thing, that I hesitate to write much about it. However, I realized that is precisely why I want to share these thoughts with you. Prayer is a unique experience for everyone and it does not follow a one-size-fits-all mold. We should have the freedom to pray in the ways that we are most aware of God and of His movements.
I heard a story once about a group of mischievous boys. They would go into a nearby confessional and invent ridiculous sins to tell the priest, wasting his time. The tired priest eventually told one of the boys to go to the Corpus Christi and tell Jesus something along the lines of “You died for me, and I don’t care!” The boy stood before the Corpus Christi and shamelessly said, “You died for me, and I don’t care!” At first, he could keep a smirk on his face. The second time he said it, however, something began to pierce his heart. The third time he said it, he began weeping and left the church.
Have you ever thought about what the first Christians were doing in the period between the Ascension and Pentecost, or what you would do in their place? It’s a fascinating exercise, to be confronted with the question “Christ is alive, what are you gonna do about it?”
This is not the same chapel I walked into for the first time three years ago. These are not the same walls. These walls have now heard my pleading prayers, raw emotions, and countless songs of praise. And not only from me, but also from so many other students, families, and K-Staters.
The words of the risen Christ to Mary Magdalene echo through the centuries into my own heart. Mary’s faith was strong and her friendship with Jesus was fierce. She had learned, over years of companionship with Jesus and His disciples, how to be in deep friendship with the Lord. I’m guessing they shared inside jokes and that she knew how to make Him belly laugh. She could probably recognize His footsteps and tell when He was feeling tired. Mary knew the living Christ, and she knew Him well. She was one of the few to stand at the foot of the cross in His last hours. Even to the end, Mary was prepared to give of her deepest self to the Lord.
Catholic author and psychologist Walker Percy was interested mostly in exploring the minds of a group of which he was a member: people he described as “ex-suicides”. This group, he said, had looked at life, realized the difficulty and pain which it could hold, accepted the possibility of leaving it, and had chosen not to. He explained that there was a certain freedom these individuals now enjoyed, because, unlike the vast majority of their peers, they had chosen to be alive. Any sorrow, trial, or suffering life could throw at them was something they had reckoned with and chosen, because they decided it was better to be alive.
Despite landing on a Friday in the middle of Lent, today is a day of celebration throughout the Catholic Church, when we are not only allowed but expected to shake off our Lenten disciplines and celebrate. So, while I understand if you want to walk away now and break those fasts, I wanted to take this space to explain why it is that we feel St. Joseph is so worth celebrating, beyond the obvious reasons.
As I approach graduation from Kansas State, I am confronted daily with the ways I have changed since arriving here my freshman year. I remember being excited, nervous, and unsure of where exactly I would find a sense of belonging. Quickly, within the first week of my time at Kansas State, I realized I would find solace in a church on Denison. That church became a place where, even though I didn’t know a soul there most days, I felt comfortable. It was as if God kept drawing me near to Him in St. Isidore’s because He knew I would make friends there and come to share my love for that place with friends of my own that had yet to visit.
Thinking about the future made me super excited as a kid. I wanted to be a scientist, and then a paleontologist, until I wanted to be a movie director and… That zeal eventually ran out as I grew up. I learned about how every career I wanted was competitive and uncertain. I instead longed for something more abstract and basic - a life of meaning, purpose, adventure, and honor. I wanted a simpler and humbler way of life, one where I could grow in my relationship with God and help others. And, here I am discerning the priesthood now!
I walked up the makeshift stairway to the new JPII loft at Saint Isidore’s the other day, and I was greeted by several sets of smiling eyes going the opposite way. As I opened the door to laughter and banter, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the surprising reality: there is still life happening here. Somehow, between sheetrock walls and makeshift stairs, friendships are being made, spiritual hunger is being fed, and hearts are being cared for.
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