In the Name of Unity: A Seder Meal

Many, many years ago today, the tribe of Israel, living in Egypt, hid in their homes, the blood of the lamb on the door, as a plague passed over them. Many, but less, years ago, Jesus, the Lamb, hid in an upper room, so that He could feed us before He shed His blood. Many years later, faithful people everywhere still commemorate this day. This year is different. This year, we are living this day. We are hidden in our homes, as the Hebrews were, and as the disciples were at first. This year we have an opportunity to be united as God’s faithful people in a very special way.

The tribe of Israel was chosen to be God’s people from the very beginning of time, according to Scripture. However, in the New Testament, we see Jesus welcoming new people, the Gentiles, into His tribe. The descendants of Israel must have been so angry. “You chose us, and now you abandon us, for them?” They had judged the Gentiles harshly and now they were the Messiah’s favorite? It’s no wonder, on a human level, that they did not accept Him.

What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that theologically, Catholics still believe Israel is the chosen people. Fulton Sheen talks about this in detail in The World’s First Love, but to summarize, Jesus said He came to fulfill the law not to abolish it, so what Catholics believe is that Jesus did not change who God’s tribe was, He welcomed more people into God’s tribe. We are His adopted children, because Israel turned from Him. However, Fulton Sheen says, we are still to believe that the Jews have a special place in God’s heart, and he even talks about the prophecy that before the end of time, the Jews will convert and we will all be united. All of this is why it is still so important that we pray and study the Old Testament. 

This year, I believe God has given us an opportunity to feel this unity in a more powerful way than we ever have. This year, we are hidden in our homes praying for a plague to pass us by. Some have even suggested putting red on the door posts somehow,( I have yet to figure out how I want to do this, painting the whole doorpost feels a little rash, and we don’t own the house, and I don’t have red ribbon.) What I would like to suggest is that we take time to live what we have in common. Today, on Passover, let us commemorate with the Jews as they remember waiting for the plague to pass over them, and let us all pray for this plague to pass over us. If it helps you to visualize it, maybe you could put something red on your doors. 

The most important and beautiful thing we have in common tonight, though, is the meal. Tonight, the Jews hold “seder meal” a special meal in commemoration of the Passover. Christians too, all Christians-not just Catholics, also have a special meal to commemorate tonight. Tonight, Jesus instituted the Eucharist, whether you theologically believe it is a symbol, or actual presence, or in remembrance, all Christians believe that this bread and wine is significant. Jesus did not institute this meal on the Passover on accident. On the feast of unleavened bread, He offered the unleavened bread(that’s why our hosts for Communion are made the way they are) up as His body, so that we would not miss the analogy He was making. The Jews used to sacrifice a lamb, He offers His body and His blood so that we will not miss that He is the new lamb. We don’t do animal sacrifice because Jesus came to replace the lamb. 

Tonight, then, what if we all in unity offered the seder meal. For tonight, we could meditate on what we have in common and share the tradition of unleavened bread and wine. Jews, Catholics and Christians alike believe in the importance of the bread, so maybe we all can eat some kind of bread in commemoration of this night. If you don’t have bread or wine, maybe just take some today to meditate on the meaning of this day, and live today in a different way than any other. 

For those who are not Catholic or Christian or Jewish, I know you are a little left out of this post, please know that I see you, and I want unity with you too. There are many divisions in this world, and one of the reasons I write is to help people see common ground. We have common ground with you too, I just have to shed light into one spot at a time. 💚

We are a Resurrection People, and Hallelujah is our Song

Yesterday, I had an awful experience at Church. I wrote about it in another post, but there is one problem with the post about one instance. It is not just this one church, or this one type of incident. I have been treated this way over and over and over again at different times throughout my life, and I am not the only one. One day I will tell the story of trying to stay Catholic after a miscarriage in a pro-life environment, it was not easy. I have watched as Catholics fall away because they can’t handle fear over every single action they ever do, or they are sick of the guilt, or they feel like God hates them until they leave. Many Catholics will jump on anything to guilt you, or talk about sin, or God’s anger. It took me a long time to realize how scared we all are. Many Catholics are not being taught a merciful and loving God, they are learning about His anger, and desire for them to follow all the rules perfectly, and how they have to manage to make up for all of their sins.

This is not Jesus. Jesus cared about good works, yes. He cared about doing the right thing and following the law. More than that though, he cared about LOVE. He wanted us to be kind and merciful to each other. He did tell the adulterous woman not to sin anymore, but He also drew a line in the sand so they wouldn’t stone her.  Over and over again, He hears the pain of His people and answers them. Over and over again, He tells us to be like little children and to come to Him, and condemns those who would hurt children.

Yesterday I was also told about a church that held a special kids service with a milder version of everything that happens at the Good Friday service with some visuals and extra stimulation built in to keep them interested. It was held earlier than the actual Good Friday service, so it was not a replacement for it, but an addition. Catholics responding to the post over and over again condemned them for “dumbing” down the liturgy for the children. Over and over again they said that people don’t understand that the Mass as it is offered is good enough.



It is so frustrating for me that churches are condemned anytime they try to do anything to make people feel at home at church. It’s almost like the goal is to be as impersonal and unrelatable as possible and then make you feel bad for not wanting to participate. When did Jesus ever do this? I am not saying that the Catholic Church’s rituals and sacramentals and everything are not valuable, but Jesus did not force people to sit, stand, kneel in a hot room listening to a language they didn’t understand for an hour or more. The most common response to any complaint about Mass is that, “It’s not about how you feel.” 

But…I mean…isn’t it though? If it is meant to be a time when we are united with Christ, shouldn’t how we feel matter too? In sex, do we yell at the woman if she wants to feel good too? (Oh, wait, we totally do. That’s a whole other problem in itself.) We are so busy beating ourselves up for wanting our needs and wants to get met, and proclaiming how they don’t matter, no wonder we all think God doesn’t care about our emotions. But Jesus did. He fed the hungry people. He met their needs when they came to see Him. The first Mass was a goodbye meal with Him and His friends. 

I can hear the argument about how we are re-enacting the Crucifixion, and suffering is ok. We are not re-enacting the Crucifixion, we are REMEMBERING it. He asked us to REMEMBER it. We are making Him present to us, because He asked us to. It is not just the Crucifixion we should be experiencing, but the Resurrection, and Jesus’ intimacy with us, as well. I do believe Jesus is actively and actually present in the Eucharist, but we do not worship the Crucifixion, but we act like we do sometimes.  

My point is that Catholics have been taught that how they feel, and what they want doesn’t matter, but it does. Jesus loves us, and cares for us as people. He wants us to be happy. He allows us to suffer, sometimes, but that is not what He wants, it is just what happens sometimes. The Church is FOR us, not just for Him. He put it in place to care for us, to be among us forever, not to condemn us, not to “grasp” at perfection, but to strive for it instead.

I keep thinking of the quote, “We are a Resurrection people, and Hallelujah is our song.” Stop living like we a Crucifixion people. Yes, it is important, yes, it is part of our faith, but it is NOT the end of the story.

Let the Little Children Come to Me: Defending Catholic Moms

Last night, I had to leave the Good Friday service halfway through. I went to this particular Church because the churches nearby us don’t have cry rooms, but at this parish, we had been treated kindly by the parish priest and daily mass crowd, so I figured they would be kind and merciful to us if the kids were not great. It was my first time going to mass with them alone, and I have a one year old and a two year old, so it is not an easy feat.

Just after I got little one #1 out of the car seat, my heart sank. The doors were chained shut. There was another door nearby that was open, so I thought maybe it was to the stairs. Turned out it wasn’t, but I made it down anyway. I knew the Church was under construction and I expected that, but what I didn’t expect is there was nowhere to take the kids. The service was being held downstairs instead of in the Church which we had navigated before.

There were some very sweet people when we first came in, the usher smiled at us and waved, another older man did, and two teenage girls were right behind us and they smiled at the girls and waved too. I was so excited and grateful that we had come here.

But then the girls had a much harder time than I expected. The younger one would crawl away under the chairs and the oldest kept calling for me to read “Batgirl! Batgirl!” I tried pacing the back of the church area but the two year old kept running away. I tried going by the entry door, but there were multiple doors open with Mass supplies, making it unsafe for her to be pretty much anywhere. I found a little nook with mostly closed doors, but one open one I could stand by and listen to the service. I was exhausted, but felt peaceful, finally I could keep an eye on them, and still be present.

It was still hard managing them in the little nook, but they were at least mostly happy(okay the little one face planted and wailed for a second, but mostly happy, lol.) Suddenly, after relative peace had been accomplished, an usher came back, cast us a dark look and slammed the door. Well, the closed door made the room echo badly, which my two year old just loved. I try not to shush her most of the time because she is rarely loud, and I want to encourage her to use her voice, and not make her feel bad about it. I became a shushing machine. We were boxed in and echoing so bad, and I didn’t know how much they could hear and seeing the door close made them want out, and I couldn’t hear the service anymore, so what was the point of all of this effort. Suddenly another usher came back, cast us a glare and left.

You guys, it is already so hard having two under two, it took all of my courage to even try to come to the service, but my lent had been so hard, and I had been clinging to Christ the whole time so desperately, I just needed to be there. I hadn’t expected them to be helpful, but I had expected to be treated kindly if it went badly. I was so frustrated to be trapped in this nook and feeling so ashamed. Finally, I decided I was just going to have to leave. I tried to get out, but the door wouldn’t open. Had it LOCKED on me? I muttered under my breath, “Are you freaking kidding me?” and of course it fell open jolting me and the girls, and what felt like the entire congregation turned around and glared at us. Most of them looked away, and we made our way out as fast possible.
Once I made it outside, I realized I could still be present to Jesus if we stayed. So we wandered around outside for a little while. It wasn’t a safe area for kids at all, but my girls are really well mannered, so I was able to keep them calm. A few minutes later a mom came out looking just as frazzled as I felt dragging her 5 year old son. He was crying already and she spanked him, hard. What got me was not just the actual fact of her spanking him, but I could so feel her frustration. If she was feeling even a little of the shame I was at making noise in that environment, I could sympathize with any amount of exploding in anger.
I tried to listen through the windows as much as possible, but I ended up timing our entry for the Veneration of the Cross badly. Most of the congregation hadn’t gone yet. I felt so awkward and ashamed, and no one looked at us. Finally, when my poor two year old was sobbing and fell to the floor, my attempt at “presence” with Jesus had to change. In this moment, I needed to be present to Jesus as He lives in my little girl. It was not ok to traumatize her, and become this angry monster in order to be present to Jesus Crucified. He would rather her grow to love Him than have silent resentments because Church was torture. (I firmly believe this because I have to work so hard to overcome how much I hated Mass and Church as a kid, and I was very spiritual, I loved Jesus.)
Finally, we left. I told my littles how much I loved them, and I prayed aloud for the congregation as we went home.
St. Paul says, “They shall know we are Christians by our love.” Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me.” Not only was this church not an example of these things, but they were the exact opposite. The church we normally go to embraces children, and loves them. They have a “wiggle room” for children to go to when they need to move around a little, but they have a sign that reminds parents that they are welcome and wanted in the main church area. There is a beautiful 3D painting of Jesus holding a crowd of children. I still occasionally get a little side-eyed glance for walking around the back of the Church or letting my little one look at the statues, but more often, I get smiles and nods. I am so grateful for that Church. It is a rare, and amazing blessing, I know because I went 5 years without being able to find a Church I called home.

This Church was the absolute opposite last night, it was the example of all the reasons why I hated being Catholic for so long. I almost left the Church. I was so profoundly angry at God. Last night, because of the mercy of having an amazing Church that provides for us, and my own work to stay in the Church no matter what, I wasn’t tempted to leave, and I wasn’t angry at God, but instead, I can tell you, this needs to change. There are people who have not had the same experiences I have that are leaving the Church because of being treated this way.
So, do better.

How?

1. Welcome people who come to your church. Say a quick hello, give them a smile, something. I have been to churches where there is a moment set aside at the beginning for greeting each other before Mass begins and as a first-time parishoner there, it made a huge difference.

2. HAVE A CRY ROOM, better yet, don’t call it a cry room-call it a Wiggle Room, or something else fun, so it doesn’t sound or feel like a horrible place to be.

3. Do anything you can to let parents know they are welcome. They are forming the children that are the churches future, and they are treated badly enough anywhere else. They don’t need to feel like even God hates them. Plus, kids can pick up on the anger and frustration and then they associate that with God, which is BAD.

4. In fact, do anything you can to let everyone know they are welcome. Be love, like St. Paul.

5. Incorporate the kids in ways that take into consideration the purpose of the service, aka meet their needs without corrupting the actual Mass itself. At my Church, the children get to bring up little meal offerings at the offertory. It doesn’t interfere with any actual Mass parts, but it gets them excited about helping the poor, and about giving back to God. My two year old loves this, and it brings me so much joy. They also bring the high-schoolers who want to up to the foot of the alter during the Canon of Mass, physically manifesting “Let the little children come to me.”

6. Let go of the desire for the “perfect” service. Jesus did not command us to have the perfect ceremony. He did ask us to remember Him. He asked us to love. Sure, we could have a perfectly silent Mass, with no children there, but I’ll tell you as an ex-member of parishes that were that way, there is a heck of a lot of pain there. A lot of pain, and it wasn’t just me. Maybe if you really want to offer a really nice fancy silent service, have a children’s Mass available where parents don’t have to feel condemned.

7. Jesus first. In any decision being made in the liturgy, or any way you act during church or at church or ever, remember who Jesus was, and live like Him.

Communion is like Sex

When I was in college, I took a class on Theology of the Body and it changed my life. A little after that class ended, I was kneeling at the Communion rail, when I heard as if from a quiet voice nearby, “Communion is like sex.” I shook it off as a temptation from the devil, because that sounded crazy, but it remained in my heart. Since that moment, it has formed and informed my relationship with Christ, my Bridegroom.

Now I know you may be totally freaking out that I would be putting those two terms in the same sentence. I think my mom thought I had lost my mind when I told her this theory, but hear me out. In sex, the man is literally inside the woman. In Communion(as far as Catholic beliefs), Jesus is inside of the person receiving him. In marriage, sex is the closest a husband and wife can get. On this earth, the closest we can get to Jesus is in the Eucharist. Sex unites the man and the woman. The Eucharist unites God and man. I could go on, but you get the idea.

This realization revolutionized my relationship with God. For the first time, it occurred to me that God wanted to be as close to us as He could possibly get. In eating His Body, we cannot get any closer to Him-He becomes a part of our body. What an intense and amazing kind of closeness that is, to be fully one with Him.

To believe in that powerful desire of God for me, changed the way I looked at everything spiritually. If God wants to be as close as a married couple, then of course He would want us to come to Him as much as possible, of course He would want us to be safe, of course He would want us to keep each other safe. Sin became an issue in our relationship with each other instead of a rule book being banged over my head. I started talking to God about anything and everything going on with me. I was able to bring anything to Him and be close to Him always.

Now, I use this relationship as a baseline for every decision I make in our spiritual life. Should I go to Church today even though I’m sick? If it was the best date ever with my husband, would I push through or stay home? Where should we go to Church? What Church furthers our closeness, does the Church harden my heart towards Him? In prayer, I bring literally everything to Him like a wife. We have even had marital spats. He yelled back and me pretty hard in Scripture the other day, in fact.

Because of all of this, He is always on my mind. He is the first one I talk to, vent to, complain to, and confide in. He is the one I tell my fears too, he is the one I hide with. He is the one who will follow me everywhere I go, and that’s a good thing because I like to be pursued. He is the one who holds me at night when everything that happened today is too hard.

If the Eucharist is that intense of a closeness with Jesus, how would that change your life with Him? How would you live it differently?

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