So here it was, just one week after Easter and we left mass frustrated — again. We went to mass at St. Ferdinand and were meeting our friends for dinner after that. They were all going to St. Killian, but Tom and I don’t care for mass in an auditorium. We would have gone to our own parish, but didn’t want to get caught up in the First Holy Communion ceremonies. So here we were listening to this awful chanting music for the next 20 minutes before mass started. Are you kidding me? I couldn’t pray or think or even concentrate on anything. And then that’s how mass went too. At every turn, the music interrupted the mass. This is how the music was there during lent, but I thought it was just something special they were doing then. I guess not — oh, how I don’t like change for change sake. The music used to be one of the best things about St. Ferdinand.
It seems like we complain after every mass anymore. We left mass and Tom turned to me in the car and said, “this seminar next weekend better be inspiring, because I’m thinking I’m not sure about going to church anymore.” My heart sank, but I knew too that I felt the same way.
Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose
The seminar by Matthew Kelly of Dynamic Catholic was the following weekend. We drove about 3 1/2 hours to Mechanicsburg, PA and booked an overnight stay so we could drive back to Pittsburgh on Sunday. I wasn’t feeling the greatest, because I had the stents in my kidneys changed two days before, and my doctor used bigger stents which were a little uncomfortable. But there was no way I was missing this!!!! We desperately needed inspiration!!!!!
And wow, did we get it! The program was almost four hours, but there were three breaks during the presentation. Matthew Kelly is the best speaker I’ve ever heard — period. The material was what we needed to hear and mix it with his own sense of charm and humor — simply AMAZING. Seriously, I laughed out loud during that four hour period more than some of the comedy shows I’ve been too. His jokes were clean, but so funny, because they were about things mostly only Catholics could relate to. When he portrayed Jesus with his disciples, he played a role of light humor with meaningful lessons. He tried to make us see that all these holy people we put on pedestals are really just like us, including the disciples. Matthew Kelly was all about statistics. He had them too — he talked about a multi-year research project that showed the current state of Catholicism in America. He compared our percentages to those of Europe. He shared insight into developing a closer relationship with God — finding God’s purpose in your life. Seriously, INSPIRATION.
The best part of it being in Mechanicsburg was that Tom and I talked about it off and on the entire drive home. It not only brought us closer to God, but closer to each other. We had meaningful conversations about what it meant to us that we embrace our Catholic faith. We talked about all those things that we were going to implement in our lives.
We started to make real action items. The first is silence. With silence comes clarity and allows us to hear the voice of God in our lives. So my new morning routine starts once the alarm sounds. I shut off the music and lay in silence. And I begin my morning prayers at that time. I start praying about my day and talking to God about the things coming up — what I’m worried about or excited about or just not sure. As I lay there, the ceiling fan is almost hypnotic. I also have these two prayer books. Well, they’re pretty beat up. I read sections from them every single day. I’m going to have to repair the spine on the one book. I have the same routine, now only I added 15 minutes of silence where I can talk with God.
Tom and I are reading the Gospels every night — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Well, we’re still on Matthew, and we read 1-3 chapters out loud every night before going to bed. We’ve only missed a couple of nights — nights when we were just too tired or one of us went to bed earlier than the other. We read out loud and comment on things we didn’t realize, how we interpreted something or just something that didn’t make sense. It’s a much different experience reading out loud in the silence together. I’m hearing things so much more differently than in church with all the commotion at times.
I’m also reading the book that was part of our packet from the event. It’s called The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. Much of what was discussed during the night is reinforced in this book. I’m about half way through and am finding some additional techniques in prayer and following a new format for making prayer more meaningful. It’s such an easy read and I gave one of our copies to my Mom on Mother’s Day.
I feel as if I’m on this wonderful journey that I’ve been invited by God to take. I don’t know how this came about. I remember seeing a link on Facebook from my friend Val to join Matthew Kelly in his Lenten program online. I signed up for those daily messages and after that, something was awakened. That’s the only way I can describe it. And, it’s interesting that I’ve been seeking silence for the past couple of years — trips to quiet towns — away from it all, away from the craziness. Maybe God has had a message for me and I just couldn’t hear it. Well now, I’m ready to listen.
Always B E L I E V E !