Monday, May 31, 2010

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

I am feeling fortunate for this week for Mass Chaos. I did not think I would be able to attend with everyone since I'm normally at work during the time that was set, but for various reasons I was able to get the day off. It has been strange that I have missed going with the group to the last few places. I was on vacation last weekend visiting my best friend in Wisconsin, and I was unable to attend evening mass with everyone on Ascension Thursday. So, it was a welcome surprise in two ways.

This week found us at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (5419 North 114th St)I enjoyed the signs out front and in the church.

The altar had a very open and flowing feel to it as well.
The group shot for the week:Left to Right: (Top) Eric, Frank, Brianne, Andy, Vesper, (Bottom) Ben and Joe

We seemed to have stumbled into the teen mass when we came to Saint Elizabeth Ann Seaton. I'm not sure if that was the plan or not, but I enjoyed it. It reminded me of my high school days. After confirmation, I really felt moved to become a more active member of the church. I participated in small ways at first, until my junior and senior year where I found myself a youth ministry leader. Being actively involved at that point in my life was a really positive catalyst to my faith. It showed me that I could be spiritual, still be searching, have fun, and that church could not only be a place where I worship, but also be a place where I have fellowship. I haven't really felt that connected since I graduated college and left my college church. I feel like I've regained some of that through this group, but being older I feel like I'm looking for a different kind of connection than when I was younger.

Today's Gospel (John 16:12-15) is a reminder to me that there is no end to getting to know Jesus.

Jesus said to his disciples:

"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.

But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,

he will guide you to all truth."

He's given a road map to us all about where our faith can take us, and the truth is our guide to Him. I appreciate that faith is a journey, and I look forward to all the truths that I find on my way.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Holy Name - Brianne

Brothers and sisters:
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
Romans 8:8-9

Oh, Lord, how easy it is for me to be "in the flesh". I have found myself struggling lately - in my marriage, at work, with friends, and most certainly with myself.

Today, May 26th, is our wedding anniversary. My grandma Kemp sent me an e-card (yes, my grandma is cool enough to know how to send e-cards) and in it she wrote "...just remember there are 3 of you in your marriage... You two and the Lord. With Him by your side you cannot go wrong." I think this is what the second reading was telling us - God must be present in all that we do.

To be "in the flesh" is easy (and human nature), but to be in the spirit is to open yourself up to the possibilities created by our Lord. Being in the flesh limits you to only what you know. Being of the spirit gives you limitless options for Christ to lead you in the direction He intended for you.

I'm praying God will open me up to accepting the Spirit of Christ in every situation I face - despite my stubbornness in holding on to what I know. I do not have much to write beyond that this week - more of a reminder to myself than anything - but you can do the same. Let go... and let God. :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Holy Name - May 23, 2010 - Eric

What's Happening:
After a couple of weeks of growing and new people, Mass Chaos was back down to just four people on Sunday. The core group, me, Joe, and Brianne (Frank was out of town), plus Marcus. I really had thought this and the next couple of weeks would be the make or break weeks for the project, kind of like the five year business rule, or the seven year itch. I guess I could get wrapped up in the numbers, judge success or failure of the project on who or how many attended.

I could, except for one little thing: Love does not keep score.

Love doesn't keep score at all, how could I apply a number, or a price, on the love that has grown inside of me for Brianne, Frank, and Joe. My getting to know Marcus and Jen better, or Teri at all. Anna, the Bens, Merinda, Brianne's family, my life is richer. It multiplies even further, with the people I've gotten to know who've joined us for lunch outside of mass, Christmas and Todd. Plus the people I've talked to about it ... I couldn't even begin to count the riches, that's why love does not keep score, only God can count that high.

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Joe, Me, Marcus, Father Frank, and Brianne.
Location and Architecture
Holy Name, 2901 Fontenelle Boulevard, Omaha. I love the feeling of walking into a church and having that feeling that God is present. I can usually narrow it down to the high ceilings in some churches tug on my 'fear' of open places. Holy Name doesn't do it with high ceilings, it does it with length. I like the the style of brick and cement use on the outside of the building and the way space is used outside.

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You can see all my pictures from Holy Name here.

Pentecost / Gospel:
"and he said to them again, 'Peace be with you. 'As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.' After saying this he breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:21-22

I looked carefully at Brianne's feet ... no socks. I must have done something right, she just said that I "...could charm the socks off of anyone." This was in response to my reluctance to going up to a complete stranger and ask them to take our picture, despite my unofficial position of Mass Chaos photographer.

I laughed, I'm not exactly the easiest person to get know or even like, particularly when people first meet me. I'm quite shy with people I don't know, and it is very difficult for me to go and talk to people I have known for a while, let alone complete strangers. I so greatly admire people who can just walk up to others and start a conversation, in particular Brianne and our friend Vivian. Naturally with me, it's not even that simple to define. Speeches, singing, performance; they are all easy for me. But talking one on one with someone I don't know, whew. I'm sure I could take this shortcoming and hide in it pretty easily, and not dance or socialize, and to some extent I think I do, and all would be well, except for...

Jesus says three things in the two lines of the Gospel here.
- Peace be with you.
- As the Father has sent me, so I send you.
- Receive the Holy Spirit.
Each of these things is not a carefully worded suggestion to cause us to consider a different point of view. Jesus speaks with the authority of God, and these aren't really good suggestions, they are in fact, commands. Why shouldn't I just stay in my own shell and live a life where I remain unchallenged? Because as the Father has sent Jesus, so Jesus is sending me. Me? Yes me!

"I'm so not good at this, Lord, are you sure you want ME? Yes, God is sure He knows what He is doing, and fortunately, He is not sending us alone, He has given us the Holy Spirit to strengthen us and keep us company. Here is what I have learned from the world, that it is okay to trust your friends, when they love someone, that person is someone I'm probably going to love also. But if I've learned this from the world, how much greater will it be if I learn to trust the Spirit and everyone God loves?

So Am I to receive this Spirit of God as part of my own being? Again, Jesus didn't offer the Spirit as a limited type of agreement, He said to receive, so I should trust that this Comforter is with me, and no real harm can come to me. God gives us peace, something to do, and the Spirit not because we deserve it, or because He needs us, but because He loves us. These are gifts from God, and really the only way we can refuse them is to fight them off, like a little child pouting and refusing to cheer up. It is so exhausting to fight God, and lately, it has been exhausting to fight to stay in my unnoticed little corner. So if you happen to see me soon, and I come and introduce myself, and it's an enjoyable experience, don't thank me, thank God.

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Please pray for:
Tom who is being deployed to Afghanistan, and his wife and two daughters.
My friend C., who is recovering from being ill.
My friend B., who is struggling with herself lately.
Heidi as she prepares for a mission trip to Haiti in July.
Me, I'm pretty burned out on the job lately.

Peace, Eric

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mass Chaos Week 6- Brianne

Does God Receive Text Messages?

This week's readings were all about prayer - a great set up for something I've wanted to blog about for weeks. My companion on this journey, Eric, sent me a text a few weeks ago when I was having a bad day. It read:
Dear God,
please hang out with Brianne today,
she could really use your wisdom and love.
Love, Eric. kthxbai.
Not only did it make me smile, but it was a great reminder that prayer doesn't always have to be in the form of kneeling in a church, hands clasped, and eyes toward the heavens. Prayer comes in many forms.

I gave a talk about a year ago at The First Act - a contemporary Eucharistic Adoration at St. James [insert shameless plug here] about the topic of prayer. Though I don't remember most of it, I do remember I spoke about the value of finding a way to pray that is personal. In writing my talk, I did some research. Did you know that the word "pray" is mentioned in the bible 313 times (prayed - 65, praying -20, prayer - 114). We hear about how Jesus prayed, how the disciples prayed, how not to pray... but I didn't really find anything concrete that taught me how I should be praying. So I took some time to reflect on moments when I've felt closest to God -
  1. Singing in The First Act - for me, my favorite way to pray is through song. I find nothing more awe-producing than standing in front of the congregation singing one of my favorite praise and worship songs and having them all singing back at you - all of our voices raised together in collective prayer.
  2. Enjoying God's creations - I love to be outside. To see a particularly beautiful sunrise, or the way the sun shines through the clouds ("God fingers" I've always called them), or feel a crisp breeze on your cheek as you look across the ocean... it is a great reminder that He created this all for us.
  3. Mass Chaos - most recently, I've found so much joy in my journey with friends to deepen our faith lives and share our love of Christ with others. To wake up excited for mass is something I haven't felt in a long time... now I find myself anxious for Sunday to arrive!
I invite you this week to reflect on different ways you find yourself in communion with God - whether it be through quiet reflection, singing, sharing your faith with friends, reading the bible, meditating... or sending a text message. I believe that God has got his cell phone and I-Pad ready to receive our next text, Tweet, or Facebook status update.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Saint Patrick's Gretna - May 16, 2010 - Eric

What's Happening:
I'm aggravated with myself. I was startled awake at 7:30am Sunday morning by an event in a dream, only to discover that my phone was not accepting a charge. I frantically ran around the house trying every charger we had, but to no avail. Finally I had to give up on it and get ready to go, and in the rush and concern over my phone, I forgot my camera. I got to the spot we were going to meet, there was no parking available, Brianne texted she was going to be late, and I had to take some deep breaths to calm myself down.

Naturally, people showed up, we car pooled over, we were on time, I took pictures after borrowing both Brianne's and Joe's cameras, and after leaving my phone off during Mass, it went back to normal operation. So ... I got upset about, well, exactly nothing. Knowledge is understanding that 98% of things work out just fine, God is in control, and the other 2%? God is in control. The wisdom on this subject is exactly the same as the knowledge, but it's putting it into practice. I have work to do. I remarked to Teri and Jen that all my worrying didn't extend my life by even one more day ... although it may have shortened it a bit.

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Thanks for the blessing Saint Patrick! Here we are, Frank, Marcus, Teri, Brianne, Andy, Jennifer, Me, and Joe.

Location and Architecture
Note: In the interest of time, i.e. mine (to research), I'll not be including a history section per se.
Saint Patrick's, 508 Angus Street, Gretna. When I told my coworker Andy, who lives in Gretna, that I would be visiting here, he told me "It's a beautiful church."

Andy did not steer me wrong. One of the parishioners, Dale, gave us a short tour and described the updating the church from the original building. The combination of the old and the new is breathtaking.

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You can see all my pictures from Saint Patrick's here.

Oh boy! A friend of mine from high school, Pat Smith, commented on my Facebook this week "They say singing is like praying twice." I love music, nothing seems to connect me to God like music can, so it does seem like praying twice. The meditation song was "Now is the Time" by Tom Kendzia (#507 in the Missal), which the band played very well, I was not familiar with the song, but the intro was played it so it sounded like People Get Ready (I've since heard the writers version, and that's what it sounds like to me there too). Andy picked it up too, and it turned out both of us were covering our mouths with our books and singing People Get Ready to Brianne. It sure seemed it would work as a descant.

I love singing, but really I am not skilled, I have some talent, but it's raw, and probably I only get by because I have a male voice and I like to sing at church ... too loudly, I might add. I love projects like this, I hope we actually do it and it works.

2nd Reading
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Revlalation 22:13

My last two trips to church have resulted in me feeling small. Surrounded by all this space, these people, the world, the universe, all of creation. Sheesh, I'm virtually nothing. I've heard from two sources lately that half the cells that make up my 'body' do not even contain my DNA. I'm a couple hundred pounds of water and chemicals on a small planet in a virtually empty part of an average galaxy. That's just referring to this moment in time. The short line of my life is all too short in respect to the ages, even in human terms, my lifespan will not last even a few percentage of the whole of human existence. That's the kind of small I felt.

Here in the second reading, it is made clear, said three times in a row, who is the First, the Last, and quite the Quite-Frankly-Everything-In-Between too. Before I was born, God was; while I am alive, God is; when I cease to be, God will continue ... forever! Before the big bang, God was, and whatever fate awaits the universe ... the big crunch, the big cold, or something in between, it is by His hand, His hand alone.

Holy cow! I'm like a mosquito in the Yukon Territory living for a few August days ... only hopefully not as annoying. I did say that I'm small, what I didn't say is that I'm unimportant. The Creator of the universe has considered us to be so important that He desires us to be with Him. He sent His Son here to earth to remove everything that separates us from Him. It's more than just us, it's all of us, each of us, individually. It's me he loves ... me me me me MEEEE!. God loves me in a manner so personal that really, I can't find anything like it anywhere else in all of creation. Who can stop me from singing?

Please pray for:
Tom who is being deployed to Afghanistan, and his wife and two daughters.
My friend C., who is recovering.
My friend M., who is struggling with herself lately.
Heidi as she prepares for a mission trip to Haiti in July.

Peace, Eric

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saint Patrick

I am tired. That's your warning this may not be the best blog ever. For some reason I couldn't manage to get to bed until 5 this morning, and then I woke up at 8 to get ready for church. Instead of getting ready though, I rolled over and fell back asleep. Luckily my brother woke me up with enough time to still get ready. I can't tell if my inability to sleep is linked to stress or if my body is just getting adjusted to my work schedule (I currently work 3:30 to Midnight), but I'm definitely grumpy right now.

Today's stop was at Saint Patrick (508 Angus St.)
One of the things I noticed was the definite feel of lots of space.
Another unique feel was that a lot of light that came through the stained glass
Someone wanted to see this particular stained glass windows, so here that is. I did not notice that there was that kid in the picture too until just now.
And I thought the lighting around Jesus was pretty neat
We decided that we'd do something different and pose with Saint Patrick rather than the normal shot in front of the altar.
Left to right: Frank, Marcus, Teri, Brianne, Andy, Jennifer, Eric, and Joe
I'm still working on my photography skills for your and my enjoyment of this experience. If anyone can recommend any good books I'd be interested. I really enjoy taking pictures since I feel like part of sharing this experience is being able to capture my viewpoint. I'm definitely a person that likes to set the mood and make it as full an experience as possible.

Today's Gospel (John 17:20-26) as do all the readings for today (Acts 7:55-60, Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20) talk about prayer. The thing that really strikes me is the way Jesus prays. It is such an awesome prayer that I'm just going to paste it in and add in my comments.
Holy Father, I pray not only for them,

but also for those who will believe in me through their word,

so that they may all be one,

as you, Father, are in me and I in you,

that they also may be in us,

that the world may believe that you sent me.

He not only thinks of the here and now, but the future too.

And I have given them the glory you gave me,

so that they may be one, as we are one,

I in them and you in me,

that they may be brought to perfection as one,

that the world may know that you sent me,

and that you loved them even as you loved me
And He goes even further to make the connections.

Father, they are your gift to me.

I wish that where I am they also may be with me,

that they may see my glory that you gave me,

because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,

but I know you, and they know that you sent me.

I made known to them your name and I will make it known,

that the love with which you loved me

may be in them and I in them
And the best part? (as if the rest of this wasn't already good for us) Jesus felt like we were a gift to Him. The Father passed his love to Jesus who passes His love to us so that we can know them BOTH. That's the way I want to feel about everyone I meet...that my relationships are gifts given to me by the Father's love, so that we all may be together.

This upcoming week will be different for me, as I will be out of town this weekend. I will still be attending mass wherever the plan is to go, but I will likely be going in the middle of the week in the morning or afternoon. If you are available and would like to attend, send me a message. If you would like to the join the regular group, you can find out more information by e-mailing us or joining our facebook group and getting the updates there.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mass Chaos Week 5 - Brianne

Sunday, May 9th (Mother's Day) - Our Lady of Lourdes

I saw no temple in the city
for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.
The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gave it light,
and its lamp was the Lamb.
~Revelation 21:22-23

I've always had a fascination with the book of Revelations - its metaphors and vivid imagery. The second reading this week came from Revelations and after the reading was over, I played the above line in my head, and it made me wonder "where do I get my light from?" I looked at my husband, Andy, and my friends and realized some of my light comes from them. I thought of my parents (especially mom on this Mother's Day) - more light. And then I looked at the cross... wow. How lucky we are to be able to draw on Christ's light, and the light of Christ in our friends and family.

I particularly enjoyed this week's mass - Fr. Bill L'Heureux was extremely receptive to talking with us after mass (and serenading us with the guitar... sort of), the parishioners were friendly, and we had some more new additions to our crew (Anna, Terri, Andy, and Marcus). The one trend I'm starting to notice as we move through parishes is that the music often seems to reflect the architecture of the church - the more traditional the space, the more traditional the music. I'm still waiting on a parish to prove me wrong...

Thursday, May 13th (Ascension) - St. Vincent de Paul

I, who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?
~Here I am, Lord

Continuing the theme of light on this feast of the Lord's Ascension is one of my favorite hymns, "Here I am, Lord." This song always moves me... I looked at Eric and saw that it affected him, too. I yearn to let Christ's light shine through me to others - and I hope this journey we're on together will do just that. I hope that Ben (another new addition for Ascension mass) sees the love of God we have in our hearts and is open to accepting that love - because the light it fills me with is meant to share. Here I am, Lord.

St. Vincent de Paul is a beautiful building - so unique! It has been many years since I've been in the church (probably since it was built... I'll give a plug to my father here, who built most of the church furniture, tabernacle, and other wooden items in the church). Fr. Dan Kampschneider gave us a brief tour of the church and explained some of the symbolism in the design - a great history and architecture lesson (which I'm hoping Eric delves into, since this really isn't my specialty). I appreciate the sun and moon on the ceiling - it reflected the theme of light that seems to be recurring this week...

I'm excited to read the comments that have been accumulating on this page - and from all over the country! Though I know our idea isn't unique (it seems quite a few have made this same pilgrimage through the Omaha Archdiocese), I'm glad we have the chance to share it with others!

Christ, be our Light.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Saint Vincent de Paul - May 13, 2010 (Ascension) - Eric

What's Happening:
The last time I was unemployed, in 2002, it was unplanned (by me at least), and so I had seven weeks between jobs. In those kind of situations, it's easy to get down, and my method of dealing with being down is to sleep. So I was quite thankful for two things that got me out of bed every morning. My dog and going to daily Mass. I love daily communion. Holy days are called obligations, but to me, they aren't, they are welcome opportunities to break up my week and spend time with my Lord and Savior.

In other news, Frank's blog entry from Our Lady of Lourdes has the phrase that will work it's way onto the Mass Chaos t-shirts "In case you hadn't noticed, Jesus is awesome." I am so thankful to have Frank, Brianne, and Joe on this project with me.

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Here we are, me, Brianne, Marcus, Ben, and Joe. Not pictured are Frank and Mandi who went to the noon Mass, the rest of us were at 7:00pm.

Location and History:
Saint Vincent de Paul, 14330 Eagle Run Drive, Omaha. Saint Vincent de Paul is a newer parish located on West Maple in the high growth area between Omaha and Elkhorn. I like to joke that area of town is closer to Fremont than to where I live, it might be true.

The ten to twenty minutes that I have to look at any church, or any building, is not really adequate form a good opinion. Since this Mass was in the evening, the waning light didn't lend itself to good photography. Architecture is art and subject to interpretation, and church architecture is interpreting our relationship with God in the form of a building and design, I find it immensely fascinating, this coupled with my general predisposition to look for the best in anything has helped to make these few weeks quite the adventure from a design aspect.

This church is unconventional in it's design. Father Dan was very generous with his time explaining the church and the design to me. There is a pamphlet that the parish has prepared explaining the church design, I did not find it online, but it is teal in color and located on the left hand side of the entrance to the Lady Chapel to the right of the main entrance. I thought originally this church reminded me of the Madonna della Strada Chapel on the campus of Loyola University of Chicago, but when I found the pictures on the link above it was clear that my memory is incorrect.

The altar is in the center of the sanctuary, so one might be inclined to say it is the focus of the building, however it really wasn't the focus of the building, what was the focus of the building was something that isn't really there, or more to the point, something that is there, but not immediately apparent. The focus of the design is the majesty of God.

Really, this is no small feat. with bold shapes and colors, the large organ, the modern stained glass, and dark wood, one could imagine the ease at which one could get drawn into distraction of one design element over another. However, no one thing dominates the design, the altar and crucifix are at the center but not the attention getters you might have at another church, they almost seem small, the priest seemed small, I felt small ... but the majesty of the Father loomed very large indeed. I'm not certain how I would like it for everyday worship space, but as a spot to connect with the Father, I'd recommend a visit.

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A set up of my pictures can be found here.

Ascension / Gospel:
While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Luke 24:51

The Bible tells us that Jesus was taken bodily to heaven. To the Apostles the sight of Jesus 'rising' to the heavens must have been powerful indeed. Nowadays, the concept of heaven being above the earth has lost it's amazement. Heck, I have myself ascended to the heavens, yes in an airplane, but high enough above the earth that an individual could not be seen.

Clearly science and understanding make it difficult to believe that heaven is just sitting above the earth, the universe is immense, and although Jesus is probably not limited to the speed of light, the edge is awfully far away, and frankly Jesus is frequently very close by. So where did Jesus go?

It's a mystery!

I believe I am more equipped than most to live with a mystery, by genes or environment I can accept that certain things just won't be known. It's not a lack of curiosity, it's just the way it is. It seems to me that many people put great effort into proving or disproving things like the Ascension, or even the existence of God or the lack thereof. This seems wrongheaded to me, the belief in God is an act of faith, not one that can be confirmed with a experiment. The facts of God are not revealed through proper analysis of a data set, but by taking a step into the unknown an admitting there is something to existence that cannot be quantified by human endeavors. Why did God make it this way? That, like the question of where Jesus went, is a mystery. Instead of frustrating us, it is one that we, like the Apostles who witnessed His ascension, joyfully contemplate.

Please pray for:
Tom who is being deployed to Afghanistan, and his wife and two daughters.
My friend C., who had surgery today.
My friend M., who is struggling with herself lately.
Heidi as she prepares for a mission trip to Haiti in July.

Peace, Eric

Saint Vincent de Paul

Well, this blog marks the first Holy Day of Obligation we're encountering since the start of Mass Chaos. And it marks the first Thursday I can remember celebrating Ascension (used to doing it on the following Sunday). It was a bit complicated for me, as I am the only one who works nights. So, while the others were at work, I went to mass, and vice versa. I have to admit it wasn't quite the same without the usual crowd in tow, but I was fortunate enough to find company to tag along. Mandi joined along, mostly as my camera consultant, since after the blurry results of the past few weeks I decided to use a better camera and see if it worked out any better. Let me know what you think.

Today's visit was to Saint Vincent de Paul (14330 Eagle Run Dr.)
The layout inside is definitely the most unique of all the churches we've been so far.
I really enjoyed the open feeling of the church.As you can tell, even with the fancier camera, I still need a bit more work. Perhaps taking a photography class should be in my future, since I seem so obsessed with this. Thanks for all the help though, Mandi!
And here is the obligatory shot of me. We attended the noon mass, and it cleared out fairly quickly, which is why we ended up taking separate shots.

The Gospel is Luke (24:46-53), and speaks of Jesus ascending to heaven. Yeah, I know, with a mass called ascension you saw it coming. Still, I have to be impressed with how He left.
As he blessed them he parted from them
and was taken up to heaven.

They did him homage

and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy,

and they were continually in the temple praising God.
They returned with GREAT joy. What? Jesus just left and they're full of joy? When people normally leave we're sad. Only Jesus can find a way to leave us and give joy rather than feel sadness that He isn't going to be with us. He came and died for the forgiveness of sins and before He leaves reminds us we have an opportunity to join Him with the Father.

As always, Jesus seems to be the one trailblazing the way to the Father. Only one word fits: Awesome.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Our Lady of Lourdes - May 9, 2010 - Eric

What's Happening:
Figuring out what to write about here is easy this week. On Friday my co-worker and Melissa and I went to lunch at Culver's, she drove. As we drove down Giles, we approached the corner at 117th in LaVista, a driver in a huge gold SUV blew through the stop sign on 117th right in front of us, and by right in front of us, I mean right in front of us. Melissa slammed on the brakes, the car niftily slid one lane to the right, and we missed going home early (as in being dead) by about two feet. Small car, big SUV, 55mph equals two unhappy families.

Amazingly enough, I remained calm pretty much the whole time. Melissa was a little freaked out, but we were both able to talk about it and we were still hungry afterwards. It was a miracle we were not killed. A miracle ... cars do not niftily slide exactly one lane over against the curve of the road under emergency braking. Melissa said she 'saw' the accident happen. There were no skids marks from her tires on the road. What ever explanation you wish use to explain it, go ahead, but I think the hand of God moved the car over, or let us go right through.

As you might guess, a close encounter of the death with death might get a person thinking. Oddly enough, I didn't really do a whole lot of thinking. I thanked God, and I thought about all the work I still had to do before I shuffle off the mortal coil. I thought about my desire to outlive my mother (no, I didn't quite tell her about this little incident). I thought about how my being dead would affect my family and friends. I've also thought about how much I matter of factly have accepted a miracle in my life.

God is real. When He is part of your life, when you allow Him to do so, miracles happen, they happen constantly. Earlier in the week, Joe was hit by a truck walking across the street. Yeah, he is hurting, but is virtually uninjured. The events of this week could have had a completely different outcome for this group of people ... but it did not ... and I think I speak for the other members of Mass Chaos when I say "thanks be to God!"

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We're getting to be SO big! Frank, Andy, Brianne, Me, Marcus, Anna, Teri, and Joe.

Location and History:
Our Lady of Lourdes, 2110 South 32nd Avenue, Omaha. My weak attempts at summarizing will not do justice to this fabulous history page on their website.

What a beautiful building. The high ceiling, the stained glass, and the baptismal font stood out. Everything worked together. The simplicity (for lack of a better term) of the design left me filled with awe for the majesty of God.

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Very little distracts from the focus, our beautiful Savior.

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You can see all my pictures from Our Lady of Lourdes here.

Mass / Mother's Day:

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Happy Mother's Day!

I've been told by folks in the know that Mother's Day is the third most attended day of church every year, behind Christmas and Easter. The music this week, was Mary focused and the vocal pieces at Our Lady of Lourdes were very well done. In his Homily, Father H'Leureux pointed out that the closest thing to unconditional love that most of us experience is a mother's love. Obviously, I will never know what it is like to be a mom, but I think the Bible offers some amazing insight into what it is like. Read Luke 2:41-52 ... and Mary "treasured all these things in her heart."

Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

I like to wax philosophically about peace, about how it changed my life, and how I desire it more than any earthly distraction. However, I don't think it is the most important thing in this passage, I think what is important is what is implied here. Jesus tell us; I am God, the world is not. There is a difference, and only one leads to a life free from fear and troubles.

This peace is a gift from God! Take it my friends, it is yours. Let Christ be the rock you stand on: When the winds come, they will blow, but you will stand. The waters will come, they will wash away much, but you will stand. The earth will move, mountains will shake, but not you. If you look for peace in God, you will find your peace in the world.

Please pray for:
Tom who is being deployed to Afghanistan, and his wife and two daughters.
My friend C., who has been ill lately.
Joe that he is healed.
Heidi as she prepares for a mission trip to Haiti in July.

Peace, Eric

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Our Lady of Lourdes

It's been a rather crazy week for me. I'm kind of exhausted from it all. I won't go into it all, or maybe I will at my other blog if I can find the energy to. Don't expect anything soon though.

Week 5 finds our group at Our Lady of Lourdes (2110 S. 32nd Ave.)
I think the one thing that struck me most about the church is how TALL inside it feels.
As you can tell I didn't really take many pictures again. I just haven't been taking the time to take proper pictures. Most of mine are a blurry mess.

This week's Gospel is John (14:23-29). It is one of those passages with a challenge that is left to us. Jesus lets his disciples know he is leaving again, and that we should be happy because he is leaving them to be with the Father. The real challenge isn't that, but comes from what he speaks about first:

“Whoever loves me will keep my word,

and my Father will love him,

and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.

Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;

yet the word you hear is not mine

but that of the Father who sent me."

In case you hadn't noticed, Jesus is awesome. And up to this point has only continued to grow in awesomeness. He hasn't just performed miracles, spoken truths, and given us a model of how we should be; He also died for our sins and rose from the dead! So, now that we all want to be like Him, He points out that it's not Him that we should strive to be with, but the Father since it was actually the Father that sent Jesus to us.

In faith it is easy to let the semantics get the best of us, but part of what makes Jesus so relevant to us even now is that He is INclusive. He acknowledges the past and marks how it is important, but He also wraps ideas up into the simple package that we all can see: Jesus commands us to love others as He has loved us. Now, love Jesus = love the Father. Now, I don't know how you feel, but if Jesus wants to be with the Father that's where I want to be too.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Assumption - Week 4 - Brianne

Week four of Mass Chaos, hands down, has been the best week so far. The energy I feel from this week makes me optimistic that we can, in fact, accomplish what we've set out to do. I realized this week that we've had someone new come with us each and every week thus far - what a great feeling, to be sharing my faith with someone new every Sunday! That has been the biggest change in my throughout the beginnings of this process - I feel like my relationships with the people who've participated have changed. There is a depth to them, and an easy feeling of beeing 100% comfortable in their presence. I really do hope that I can continue to build amazing friendships through this process with the grace of God.

This week took us to Assumption Parish (again, because of a good eating event) for mass and their Czech dinner. The church was lovely, the congregation friendly, and the homily thought-provoking. As I said, I feel like the quality of my friendships have been improved through even just the four week's we've been on this journey, and Fr. Jim Keiter's homily fit too well with this theme. He spoke about the nature of our relationships - with family and friends - and our purpose of helping one another get to heaven. He invited us to evaluate everything we think, say, and do under the question of "will this help ____ get to heaven?" What an interesting spin on the commandment of "Love one another as I have loved you." As he spoke, I looked at my friends - Frank, Eric, Joe, Ben - and thought "I'm doing something right!" What an increddible journey we're all on together. I am hoping to continue to evaluate my relationships with the mantra of "will this help ___ get to heaven?" in hopes that all of my relationships will be strengthened, and I will appreciate them more.

After mass, we were joined at the Czech dinner by Christmas and Todd (my favorite "foodie" friends) to eat some of the most amazing duck and pork I've had in a long time. I think we may have overstayed our welcome - playing pickles, eating kolachi, picking the duck down to the bones - but it was a great, leisurely way to spend the early afternoon.

I hope this week - my favorite so far - is a foreshadowing of the great things yet to come!

PS - Another great highlight - Eric leaning over at the end of mass and saying "I love the maids" (in reference to the traditional Czech attire worn by two women at mass). LOL.