Do you ever feel like what’s the point? You know one thing that I hate about society? It teaches us to ignore people. Seriously when was the last time you actually looked at someone? I hate that about college and I catch myself doing it all the time. Look at your phone, your notes, your hair, your shoes, but God forbid you look at the most amazing thing ever created the person next to you. No wonder people have problems with depression. People don’t even look at you. People don’t listen. Or they don’t ask. When did we become so afraid to offend people that we stopped asking and actually caring?
I’m not trying to set fire to the village, but seriously when did the whole point of life become making money, perfecting our appearances while we died more and more inside, being in pretend “relationships” that are more about pleasure than a genuine sense of responsibility for the person sitting in front of us?
Today I got to do one of my favorite things at mass, be an extra-ordinary Eucharistic minister. I love it so much for two reasons: 1) I get to give Jesus to the world literally 2) I get to look at people, if only for a second, I get to breathe in their life.
There is this nomadic greeting ritual where whenever you see a person instead of saying hi, you put your forehead against theirs and you breathe in together. It is actually breathing in the other person’s life, a connection that Facebook can only wish to achieve. In that second when I say “The blood of Christ” I look into the eyes of the person in front of me and breathe in their life. Now I’m not literally doing this cause people would justifiably be creeped out, but I look at them, I really see the person in front of me. And let me tell you I have never ever been able to help but smile. Why? Because people are amazing! You are amazing. Stop just living and actually be alive. Look at the people you come in contact with. Listen to them; you may be surprised just how amazing they are.
Have you ever sat in a confessional line that takes FOREVER!?! Because be Catholic long enough and this will inevitably happen. I’ve attempted to go to confession before daily mass for the last two days, waiting an hour but because of the surplus of people and the limited number of priest, did not make it through the line. I get into the chapel, asking hopefully where the line ends, graciously find my seat with a smile and begin reflecting, contemplating and praying. That last all of about ten minutes tops and then, because I am about as impatient as a six year old, I begin to count. How many people are ahead of me? If each one takes FIVE WHOLE minutes will I make it through line before an hour? And then when that doesn’t help I begin to plea with God, “if you let me make it through this line I will go to mass right after”… Again this last about five minutes and then, I am left sitting in silence, waiting with the people around me. All anxious, all desiring complete and total union with Christ. And then it hit me. Is the line to confession like purgatory?
Think about it. Here you have all these people who are going to be united with God in a more full sense after the priest absolves their sins, but in line we wait, we suffer. I mean the suffering in actual purgatory is probably a little more intense, but after contemplating this experience I think it is an extreme blessing that we have to wait. It gives us time to think about what we did. To picture the very face of each person we failed to love, and then to picture the face of our Heavenly Father. It gives us time to pray to the Holy Spirit and Mary. And one of the most beautiful things I think, it gives us time to pray for the people around us, because you know what? They are waiting in line too!
So instead of using this time of waiting in line to dilly dolly, I think God is challenging me to take a step further. He’s giving us a unique chance to experience something special, something eternal, and so why not use this time to pray for all those souls awaiting the amazing joy of heaven? I know that when I go back to the chapel and have to wait in line a third time, this is exactly what I shall do, pray for the souls in purgatory because I know what it’s like to wait.
Yesterday’s Gospel readings is one of my favorites, not because it sounds poetic or has some inspirational saying that people put on posters with cats, but Mark 10:22 is one of my favorite verses of scripture because of freshman theology class with Fr. John. One of the activities in this class was to illustrate a given bible passage and I remember Fr. John sharing with us a picture that one of my classmates drew about this verse.
“At that saying his face fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.”
Now this verse comes from a conversation Jesus is having with a rich man and this is the end of the conversation where Jesus tells the man that if he wants to inherit eternal life then he must sell all his possessions and follow Jesus. The above is the rich man’s reaction to Jesus, and my peer in freshman theology class took this verse very seriously when drawing their illustration because they drew a man standing with a face near his feet!
At first I thought this was hysterical! Who would take this verse so seriously, there are many translations of this verse and most say that the man merely went away sad, but because of my peers picture from that point on every time I heard that reading all I could imagine was a man standing with a face at his feet. At first I would tell myself to get rid of this foolish thought and focus on the great sacrament of the mass. But it was no use! So then I took it to God saying, “Clearly God you want me to learn something from this otherwise get this image out of my head” and you know what? God did have something for me to learn and this is it: Your face is your identity. Think about it. In superhero movies they always have masks covering their face, why??? To conceal their identity! So saying that the rich man’s face fell makes me think that instead of establishing his identity in God, as a follower of Christ, the rich man had his identity in his money. So when Jesus told him to give his money away, his face fell because his money was what gave him his identity.
What does this have to do with us and me personally? Well coming back to college made me rethink my wardrobe because what says who you are more than your fashion, right? For example yesterday I almost spent an hour picking out an outfit. An hour! (ok I have spent longer than an hour to pick out an outfit before ) And so when I went to mass and heard this reading and thought about what made my identity I realized that I was doing exactly the same thing the rich man was doing! I was defining my identity by my clothes rather than defining my identity as a daughter of the King.
So I challenge you not to ignore the seemingly crazy thoughts like people’s faces falling off while you are trying to pray. If it happens once try to refocus, but if you can’t seem to shake a crazy thought don’t get angry or hide it bring it to God maybe He’s telling you something that you need to hear, like your identity does not rest in others, or the way you dress or look but in the God who created you out of love! (Someone should have told Borne Ultimatum that and that movie would have been way shorter 😉 )