Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hello...Yes I waited until now to post

My first post to the weblog. Let me introduce myself, I am Joe. I was there on the steps of St. Margaret Mary’s when this whole idea came about in the first place. Bri made the the spreadsheet from the Archdiocese website, the next day, and Eric started the planning. I figured I would just go along. I was going to church anyway. I really did not think that this would amount to anything. I thought this would be over in a couple of weeks when our own lives would get the best of us.

Eric kept planning and decided this weblog was a good idea. Bri usually knew someone at the early churches and was our best spokesperson. People joined the Facebook group, over 80 people in the end. We got a story about us in the Catholic Voice. Then other people starting joining us. Maybe just once, but our numbers grew. Those of you that did join us, even if it was just once, thank you. Some of you we already knew. For those who did not, that was really brave of you to join us and share with us. The signs of support and blessings we received from of the churches we visited energized me.

Before going into this, I went to church every Sunday. Either out of guilt or obligation. I would then buy a newspaper and gasoline. During our mission, people held me accountable to the liturgies. We would talk about homilies. Probably, the most important thing was that we were, and hopefully continue, to be there for each other. I would challenge any to say that all you need is to have a personal relationship with God. When you share your faith with others, it not only allows you to grow with God, it strengthens your friendships, here on Earth. Mass is a celebration of our lives together with God.

Probably the thing that really motivated to type something, was the St. Peter’s incident. It was mentioned by Eric and Bri. Eric also mentioned it on the weblog post for St. Peter’s. There is no reason to retell it, you can read about it. I just want to give some of my feelings about it. It was healthy discourse. I felt the need to speak out to defend the theme of the homily. Will Bri and I really ever agree on it? The answer is probably no. We listened and understood. So did everyone around us. I have never been so vocal about my Catholic faith. That discussion really allowed me to stand up and be accountable to God. I appreciate that Bri was willing to listen. At the end of it all, I need Bri to help me get to heaven as much as I want to help her. You know what, to anyone who reads this, I want to help you to.

Lastly, was there a favorite church. I really didn’t have one. Some were ornate. Some were simple. Some were full of parishioners. Some had a handful. Some were in other languages. I will remember moments with my friends at these churches more than anything else. Not sure yet if the pictures will help.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Saint Bernard - Easter Vigil 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
The end of Mass Chaos. The stats are easy to recount: 56 churches visited in a liturgical year, 48 of different people went with us, there was an average of 7.6 people per visit, just a few over a hundred blog posts, about 14 tons of food consumed, and a whole lot of time socializing with old friends and new ones.

Each church has it's own flavor, and it's own beauty. My thinking was affected by the surroundings of each parish and it's congregation. The most amazing thing was the cultural differences, it was not something I was expecting, and it was uplifting to see how the Catholic church is the same ... but different.

I am not the same man I was one year ago today. I believe that my friends would agree about this. This was not a 'tough' thing to do, but it was not easy for someone like myself. I am not the only one who thought it went too long, but we got through, and the difficulty added to the delight of the journey, or at least the end. I also see how my friends are not the same either.

The journey had two defining moments, the first was at our fourth visit, Assumption (22nd & U), we were still a little unsure whether we were really going to do this or not, when the Father Keiter set us all on fire with his Homily, "your job is to get each other to Heaven." The second was at Saint Peter's (28th and Leavenworth), our 28th parish. Father Cook's Homily on the new Missal caused a sharp divide amongst the Mass Chaos'ers, but instead of breaking us apart, we all shared, we all listened, and we all respected, though we did not agree ... I will not be surprised if, in retrospect, it wasn't the one of the most important events that occurred to me in my life.

Ben, Nonnie, Paul, Frank, Marla, Joe, Marilou, Maggie, me, Lindsay, Frank, and Brianne.
Since it's the last post, we should feel free to express our normal selves.

Location and Architecture:
Saint Bernard 3601 North 65th Street, Omaha. What a pretty finish to our journey. The church was decorated for Easter and painted beautifully. I loved the moment of the lights going down (pitch dark), then one flame in the back, and the church being slowly lit by the candles each of us was holding. The way the interior was painted gave a feeling of space and (I thought) the ancientness of the (big C) Church.






If you'd like to see the rest of my pictures from Saint Bernard, you can click here.

"Then the angel said to the women in reply, "Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified." Matthew 28:5

It's a lot of fear, finding the tomb empty. What does it mean? The thrill of the Ressurection, dare we even hope that we too can join Jesus in eternal life. Just three days prior He took our rightful place on the cross, like Peter we are prone to deny Him when convenient, and it was our sins put Him there. Yet here we are facing an empty tomb, just as the Marys were, and wondering what does it mean.

I, too, seek Jesus the crucified, I seek Jesus the raised, I seek Jesus the son of God. Though this is what I do, I am often afraid. I'm afraid because I do not know what it means for my future. As a human, and a sinner, I know that I have every right to expect harsh judgment before the throne, and I know that I will have nothing to defend myself with, since I'm not even sure on some days that I'm doing the best I can do. I have reason to fear justice.

However to borrow a phrase from a song from a different season "a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices". OMG, the tomb is empty! I get goosebumps when I consider that instead of my just punishment, I will receive mercy and redemption. Indeed the last part of my life has been just that. My life is redemption. The tomb may be empty, but my life is full.

Peace, Eric