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Marian Devotion

These past two weeks feel more like two months. After the climax of remembrance called "Holy Week", it was truly time to celebrate. I dropped the dark theme I had installed on here for the duration of Holy Week, and switched back to the normal light colors, along with the Easter red interspersed throughout. This symbolizes the blood that was spilled that we would know how so very much we are loved. Sure, "God loves me", but the notion that Jesus suffered and died for us makes the notion that "God loves me" burn so much more strongly within me. What a life that asks of us!

Many have noted how fitting is it that John Paul II would have been given this time to pass on. My initial cynical thoughts were, "yeah, yeah, any time would have been fitting!" Funny though, there a couple of strong objections to that. First, so what if any time would have been fitting? Doesn't that even further exhibit how much of a shepherd he was for the universal flock? Second, it was indeed fitting, and demanding, in many ways.

At first, you could not tell for sure which Eastern-garbed people were the representatives of the Orthodox Church. But when the Eastern Catholics sang their prayer, it was obvious: the Orthodox were the ones not with them. The Orthodox were all in black (the E.C.s had much more color), and the Orthodox looked glum the entire time, like they were at a funeral or something (most Catholics showed a much wider range of expression). - Mark Shea

One of the many ways it was fitting, is that it was right in the very middle of the Easter celebration. It's right when we were celebrating another death and consequent resurrection. We are always striving to be happy at funerals, for a life well-lived, and for the next step in "life". So what better way to force us to be happy about his life and death, than for it to happen during the happiest time of the year?

The weekend of April 2, I was out in a suburb, Inverness, at the Midwest Young Adult Leadership Conference. It was quite an experience, on multiple levels. It was the most "progressive" Catholic event I've ever been to myself. I've read about plenty of similar stuff online, but most of the stuff I've actually experienced/taken part in, has been more traditional. That Sunday, I ran in Shamrock Shuffle with Chris, Jay, and Michelle. It was an 8K (5mi), last year I ran it in 40:23, this year at registration I told them I would do it in 35:00, and I ended up doing it in 34:29! So I was super pumped about that.

Last weekend I went Saturday on a ~30 mile bike ride with Crystal to the Chicago Botanic Garden. I'd never been to a botanic garden before so this was a pretty cool experience. I'm gonna have to go again later this summer to check out the difference between pre-spring and full-bloom. It was also a great bike ride, on a trail that was mostly through woods, not even very many street crossings, and great talk time too. Sunday afternoon I took a shift outside of Holy Name Cathedral with Julie to accept clothing donations for St. Vincent de Paul. St. VdP had a huge truck for it parked in the courtyard, and it was close to full by the time I got there.

Throughout this week I've been attending a parish mission at St. Teresa of Avila church. The parish is a "hidden treasure" according to Leigh and I'd have to agree with her. I've been really impressed with the close-knit community plus the sheer volume and diversity of worship, ministry, and service that their relatively small membership coordinates. They're not that far from me, so I might veer up in that direction when my lease runs out in June... something just south of them so still a short bike in to work. We'll see. There are a variety of factors involved in the decision, including: distance to work, public transportation, lake, home parish; rent; opportunities for community involvement; that's all I can think of at the moment..

Lastly, I wanted to mention something I read about on one of the many blogs I follow, Exultet. When I read this entry, I thought immediately of the devotion to prayer that Muslims have, committing to drop everything and onto their knees in prayer, depending on the time of day. I'm wracking my brain to remember where I read it, but I recently read somewhere a quote of JPII saying how much we have to learn from a devotion to prayer such as that. If only I could remember where I found that! Point being, while there are definitely some fundamental differences in beliefs, there needn't be a complete separation in our lives and faith. It's OK to be a devout follower of one faith and appreciate the human element in other faiths. Anyway, the entry:

When I first came roaring back into the Catholic faith, I grabbed at everything I could remember from my Catholic-school childhood, and the Angelus was one of those things. We were supposed to stop on the playground and say it to ourselves when the noon bell rang, or we said it in the lunchroom before we went out for recess. Like most kids, I wasn't enchanted with anything that took me away from Pom Pom Pompadour or Four Square. But I'm trying to be faithful to the Church's daily routine of thanksgiving and petition again.

During the Easter season, until Pentecost, we replace the noon Angelus with a prayer to the "Queen of Heaven," Regina Caeli... - Lunch With Regina Caeli

What an interesting challenge it would be to commit to pausing your life every 6:00 and 12:00, AM and PM, if you're awake, for a prayer, so that "everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do," to quote Tevye, as he explains tradition, in Fiddler on the Roof.

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