Sometimes the Gospel happens in ways you don’t really want it to. Sharing the love of Christ, joining yourself in the suffering of others, taking up our cross – and sometimes the crosses of our loved ones who can’t do it on their own. The tragedy in Japan is constantly in my thoughts and prayers. All of the people I’m the closest to here at ORU have been deeply wounded my tragedy over the last few weeks and months. One friend lost her father. There has been loss in my parish, with the passing of the beautiful Shannon, a dear friend of my godmother’s. Then my dear friend (and old roommate) and her husband lost their precious baby. The 3-year-old son of one of my best friend’s friend was senselessly murdered on the same day. Another very dear friend was in a head-on collision last night. And another of my closest friends just contacted me with the news that her grandmother has had a serious heart attack and needs to find a way to her immediately. It’s not all bad – my sister from another mister is being reunited with her biological family over Spring Break.
I didn’t get back from the hospital with my friend in the wreck until this morning, and am currently sitting in my dorm room waiting for phone calls from the friends at the hospital and the friend who needs a ride to OKC. I’m supposed to be at a retreat preparing for the Rite of Sending, but this, friends, is far more spiritually grounding than any retreat ever could be.
I am the Queen of Tradition and Ritual and Order. I get it from my old-school Southern family. I love ritual, I love the Rites, I love the tangible, formal, beautiful expressions of worship in our faith. But this week was a slap-in-the-face reminder that Tradition and Ritual and Order aren’t everything. And so I turned the other cheek and got slapped with the reminder that I really, truly love and own this faith I’m leaving everything I’ve known behind for. Sitting in the emergency room last night, discreetly clinging to my rosary with my godmother’s Miraculous Medal blessed by PJPII attached, and my Miraculous Medal blessed by Pope Benedict XVI in the other hand, my mother at home praying, my boyfriend and his (lovable) Rad-Trad roommates holding an impromptu vigil, the Holy Mother and Saints praying, my godparents praying (even though I texted her frantically at hours that are ungodly for mothers of young children), I knew that THIS – this union of people from all expressions of the Christian faith, uniting in prayer around one family, one moment in time, one cause, one purpose, one petition, is what the Gospel is. The liturgy is beautiful, invaluable, necessary – but not the be all and end all of our existence.
At some point waiting in the ICU I slipped down to the hospital’s chapel, with the precious Body and Blood of Christ in the tabernacle. All I could do was thank him. Thank him for this beautiful thing we call the Communion of the Saints. Thank him for the Church – Catholic and catholic. Thank him for the friends he’s brought into my life, in person and through the blogosphere, that are willing to pray for people they’ve never met and probably never will meet.
This is Heaven on earth.
This is the Gospel in action.
This is faith.
This is home.