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The Hidden Room

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Whenever I am invited over to a house I am always reminded of the times when my family had the priest over for dinner. I remember how special it was that Father so and so was going to be sitting at our table. I also remember how much work it could be as well. While the visit itself was fun, the preparation for the priest’s visit was a different matter. Growing up in a family of seven, our house was not the most organized. This meant that afternoons were spent with every child’s favorite past time: chores and cleaning.

On the day of Father’s visit, all hands were on deck to make the house presentable. As the hours ticked by, my siblings and I used every trick we knew to excuse ourselves from the task at hand (much to the frustration of my parents), until time inevitably began to run out.

With plenty of toys and hobbies still spewed throughout the house, my Mother would give one final desperate command: “throw everything in the bedroom”! It was an easy, efficient, and effective solution. When Father arrived he walked into a clean and put together household. Little did he know that behind a certain closed door lay a chaotic mess.

I am sure many families share this particular experience (which is why I don’t go opening closed doors during visits), but all of us can also relate on a personal level as well. How many of us do exactly this in our interior life? How many of us, worried about the mess in our emotional, spiritual, physical house, throw it all into a hidden room of our heart? How many of us hide our mess even from God?

I know I do. I want people to see me as an organized, well put together person. In a strange way I even want God to see me in this way. So I hide my mess, I stressfully gather it all up and throw it in a separate room to be dealt with later. The problem is, I often do not deal with it later and I keep piling the mess even higher. Even more ironic, it’s the houses that are not the most organized which make me feel right at home, partly because it makes it all more human.  

God did not become man in the person of Jesus Christ because we are organized and put together. God became man because we are a mess. The more we hide our mess from him the less he can help us truly clean up. So I guess the question is: what mess are we hiding from God?

Everything

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Do you remember the first time you stepped into St. Dominic Catholic Parish?  What were you feeling and what was your experience? I recently recalled that moment when I was hired 8+ years ago. Walking into an interview with 13 people around the table and, just weeks later, walking into a parish of over 8,000 members was daunting.  Fr. Dave, the pastor at that time, asked me to memorize everyone from the parish directory! I am still learning names. 

What were my first experiences? I was overwhelmed with the friendliness, kindness, and welcome spirit from so many parish members. There were many memorable “firsts” which will be eternally forged in my memory. It was the spirit of the parish and its faithful members who made me feel at home.  Many of you know my story. However, being single and blessed to serve in a parish with a vibrant school, parish leadership, and staff was easy due to the warmth and love I felt.

I recall my first Dominic Days annual festival, sitting in a row of chairs and finding an amazing family sitting next to me, strangers who I now call my friends. The festival is a wonderful opportunity for our entire parish family to welcome everyone to our festivities. Each one of us is the face and heart of St. Dominic. Even if people come for food, games, music, and fun, this is our opportunity to be the disciple Jesus calls us to be by welcoming the stranger and inviting them to join us at Mass.

In my morning prayer, and throughout the day, I often incorporate music that often speaks the words that my heart cannot verbalize. One of my favorite musicians and vocalists is Lauren Daigle, a woman who loves Jesus and draws us into her relationship with him. One of her many songs, “Everything,” speaks to my heart often. “When I can’t see, you lead me, when I can’t hear, you show me, when I can’t stand, you carry me. When I’m lost, you will find me, when I’m weak, you are mighty, you are everything I need… You give me everything...”

At this special event, I am humbled by the enormous generosity of people dedicating their time and energy, people who give of their heart to serve the parish. It is then when I realize that yes, Jesus, you give me everything, you give us everything. I witness Jesus in our celebration of the Eucharist but also in each one of you. Join me at the festival in being the face of our welcoming parish family and drawing others into our community who receives everything from the God who loves us.

Posted by Mary Lestina

I Want Jesus

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Recently, I was reading a book on Mother Teresa. It told a story from the end of her life that struck me.  

One time when she was in the hospital and too weak to speak, she motioned to one of the sisters to bring her a piece of paper and a pen. Then with great difficulty, she wrote out the words, “I want Jesus.” In the days she was in the hospital, she had not been able to go to Mass and deeply desired to receive the Eucharist so that Jesus could be even closer to her in this time of suffering. 

As I considered this story and today’s Gospel, I found myself thinking about the times I do not put my love of Jesus first, the times I place keeping peace in relationships, my “free time,” sleep, and so many other things before my relationship with Jesus, the one who loves me so much more than I could ever imagine. I found myself remembering the times I have resisted picking up my cross, the times I have avoided leaning into difficult relationships, or have tried to avoid suffering. Oh how I need to repent and turn back to the Lord over and over again!  

As I continued to pray, Jesus then reminded me of the times when I have continued to show up to prayer, when I’ve tried to grow in love for my neighbor, where I’ve tried to embrace suffering and turn to him in it. It has been in these times that Jesus has invited me deeper and ultimately made me more and more into the woman he has created me to be. 

This week I am asking the Lord to help make my prayer more open to his invitations so that I can begin to say “I want Jesus” every day of my life. 

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