Wednesday, March 31, 2010

So It is Holy Week

And I had so many big plans.
There was going to be the grand cleaning of the house, a lack of TV, an excess (can there be?) of prayer, and whole lot of saintly and loving patience as I sweetly explain the Passion of Christ and His death and resurrection to my young charges.

But somehow life got mixed in there.
And I forgot about Lois.

It is an interesting undertaking, practicing our faith with an elder around. As far as we can tell, her family does not believe in anything in particular, and Lois does not either. They have no objections to our taking her to church with us - in a vague kind of way, they know that "religion is important." She not only does not believe in any way we can tell, but is also of limited mental capacity. We pray and she prays along, we say the Our Father and she is able to recite it with us. When we sing hymns with the children she enjoys it and is even able to join in on the refrain with some of the old ones.

We don't expect much. We don't expect some grand conversion moment, we don't expect a statement of faith. We do expect any guest in our house to be respectful, to participate in our life if they are willing and to abide by house rules.

Lois, being so incredibly social, is a willing participant in each and every aspect of our lives. She sings, she prays, when we do the sign of the cross she makes a vague crosslike motion over her chest. We don't expect her to fully understand what is happening, or to even remember it! but we think she will feel the love we have for her, and the love Christ has for her through us. This is what we can give her now.

This Lenten season has been different than I had hoped. The Catholic church calls for Fasting, Prayer and Alms Giving during Lent. But rather than fast (from certain foods) we have added. We have added more meat than we've ever eaten before, seeing as how Lois is diet controlled diabetic and I am trying to learn how best to feed her, we have added more convenience food and more meals out. Rather than fast from television we have added. TV is NECESSARY for life with Lois. Prayer? Well, there's hurried prayer as I get up, there's exhausted prayer at the end of the day, there's the - don't eat 'til we pray Lois, c'mon guys, hold hands, no don't eat yet, Lois, Mikey hold hands! Lois, not yet, c'mon let's pray - before meals prayer.

So we have gone through Lent a little differently this year. We have increased our Alms Giving - there's so much you can do - not just with your money. We have increased our love of neighbor and those who are unlovable. We have added activities and hymns that Lois can be a part of. We joined our crazy/great friends the Chavis family to serve breakfast at a church in East Chicago. Lois was able to come with us, and it was a perfect situation. As with so many soup kitchens, 99% of the guests are "not in their right minds" and, well, neither is Lois! So we could serve and she could have a dozen different crazy conversations with a dozen different crazy people. We have made Lent into something in which we are able to show Christ's love to Lois by having her help us serve others.

This week has been different than the plans in my head. Holy week has not been as pious as I had hoped. But it has still been good for my soul.

Tomorrow we begin the Tridium, my favorite services of the year, along with Ash Wednesday. But I have a feeling they will be different for us this year. We may not attend all the services, we may leave early. Lois is still learning "church etiquette". Oh, and I have four small kids. I keep forgetting about the kids, they kind of make long masses a little hard too. Back to Lois. If the person in the pew behind us kneels to pray, Lois thinks they want to chat. So there's the back and forth of her talking, the person politely responding, us shushing Lois, her being hurt and apologetic, us reassuring her she's done nothing bad.... you get the picture. Communion? We would take her up for a blessing, but she needs to stop at every single cotton' pickin' pew to greet every single cotton' pickin' person, plus the person in front and behind her, so no, we don't go up with her. It's a bit of a circus.

Apparently living out your faith looks different and more comedic in real life than it does in your head. But fortunately for us, the Christ we believe in and the Christ we serve spent his time on earth surrounded by the cringe worthy people.

May your preparations for Easter be fruitful and may they be different than you had planned.


Molly Sabourin said...

Kris, I can't think of a better way (or of a more appropriate mindset with which) to approach Christ's Resurrection. How much sweeter, brighter, more amazing is that miracle when we realize fully how desperately in need of it we are. I've been fighting anxious thoughts like crazy lately ("Where is your confidence, your hope?" I am tempted to ask myself frustratedly). They make me want to, not just appreciate, but rather cling to the cross. Below is a portion of Saint John Chrysostom's Easter homily. Man, it knocks me out every single year. I am just aching to hear it again on Sunday. Peace to you, Kris! I'll be thinking of you and praying for you as I, too, struggle to prevent despair (annoyance, disappointment, what have you) from stealing my joy!

"Wherefore, enter ye all into the joy of your Lord;
Receive your reward,
Both the first, and likewise the second.
You rich and poor together, hold high festival!
You sober and you heedless, honour the day!
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted
And you who have disregarded the fast.
The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously.
The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy ye all the feast of faith:
Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness.

Let no one bewail his poverty,
For the universal Kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities,
For pardon has shown forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death,
For the Saviour's death has set us free.
He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it."

clairesd said...

Kris: I love this post. And I love what Molly posted from Chrysostom, too!

Your description of Lois greeting everyone on her way down for a blessing made me smile.
I took the kids to Holy Thursday (on my own, of course, becaue J was at work), at 6pm. This is just asking for trouble. It's dinner time. And 7pm is still bedtime around here for some little ones... So I was ready for the worst, and it didn't happen!

...Until we processed with the Blessed Sacrament out of the church and into the hall where another tabernacle had been prepared.
BR kept saying, "I can't see it! I can't see it!" ANd I finally was able to point out the cup. And everyone had finished chanting and we were all kneeling and there was complete silence. And he yelled, "Is there BEER in there?!"
And I thought I would die. I tried to shush him and whispered, "No, it's Jee-sus" and he said, "What? Cheese? There's cheese in there!"