Greetings from wonderful Wexford! The past month has been full of many exciting events including our lovely Brigid Service, our continuation with Sacrament Prep for First Holy Communion and Confirmation at the schools, interviews back at Notre Dame campus for the future fellows of our Teach Bhride family, and the annual Diocesan Workshop! The weeks leading up to this latter event required tons of preparation! The four of us welcomed the most participants that Clonard has seen thus far! The structure consisted of a day-long workshop dedicated to prayer, song, conversation and reflection on Easter liturgical repertoire. We were incredibly thankful for the help of Steve and Michele Warner who joined us from Dublin and provided thought-provoking discussion, beautiful prayer, and helped lead the music for our Vigil mass that evening. It was such a successful day, and we were so lucky to lead such a lovely meeting of Irish liturgical musicians!
After helping conduct the interviews back in the good old US of A, I was able to travel home for a brief visit to Phoenix and see my family just in time for my parents’ birthdays and my brother, Ezekiel, in his final performance of Fiddler on the Roof. He displayed an excellent Perchik. After being away for 6 months, I drove on the familiar side of the road, ate Mexican food (non-existent in Wexford), played basketball, and was able to sing with my entire family at the Sunday evening mass. Needless to say, being home was food for the soul and well-worth the jet lag!
As we are officially moving forward into the season of Lent, I might as well share some of my pondering on the subject. We started on Ash Wednesday with Mass, where the four of us sang in the main church and then after, split up to our two schools to continue the distribution of ashes. I was surprised by the excitement on the faces of the kids who eagerly wanted the ashes on their forehead. I realized while marking their tiny little heads and saying, “Repent, and believe in the good news of the holy gospel,” (about 300 times) that, while the ashes are an annual novelty and therefore exciting, the mark of sin in the black cross is a reminder of many things. Christ’s death for our sins, our own eventual death, even the need to fast and more deeply reflect on God’s sacrifice. I keep coming back to the reminder of human frailty, that we are but ashes and that our reliance on God is not only vital, but the key to our own internal happiness. I have always loved the season of Lent, not because I am a peculiarly dark person, rather, because these forty days within the year serve as a gift of time where one can finally dispel any deep lies that often circulate in our heads. Lies that come from the fear of what others think of you, of the unknown and what your future holds, of the idea that you won’t accomplish your dreams and goals, or the lie that at your core, you are not enough. We are given an opportunity to reflect on our own identities as they really are, within the world and in our hearts. It is a time to reflect on the source of Truth, who calls our name, signaling who we utterly are and, in His own ways, shows us the love that will help us grow out of our weaknesses.
I look at my identity, knowing that I wear many hats – Friend, Colleague, Minister, Daughter, Girlfriend, Teacher, Violinist, Sister, Singer, Catholic, American, Sinner, Child of God, etc. Easily, I am met with a multitude of doubts about which hat is the most heavy, which role am I wearing the most or the least. We all carry a certain amount of uncertainty when it comes to juggling our roles and means of service. One thing I have learned amidst the juggling is the beauty of a supportive and wholesome community, who will listen, sympathize, discuss with and console you in the moments of fear or stress. I have seen my community members be vulnerable, be strong and true as they carry out their roles in ministry and in their own interior lives. I’ve also felt myself be exposed to their love in various ways, and I am very humbled to know them. I’d like to think that God sees each of our struggles as a means to communicate and console us in a similar fashion. When we are honest in our frailty or doubts with one another and with God, we are free to lean deeper into love that is fully aware and fully salvific. We are free to feel unabashed, once we have been known. Like Bernadette Farrell so beautifully composed – “O God, You search me and You know me. All my thoughts lie open to Your gaze,” – we all have an intrinsic need to be known fully, in all of our identities and with a full account of our successes and failures. I am very grateful to have housemates and a community that bolsters and cherishes one another. I pray for anyone who may feel unable to share in the love of a community like that. I also pray, and ask for others to pray, for our community in the remaining months when we are present in Wexford, Ireland- that our work may speak of God’s goodness and our may hearts rejoice in the gift of this ministry.