Today was the first day of this year's LIGHT program. I was so sad to miss it, but I had no option. I'm temporarily staying in South Carolina where Maddey is working on healing her heart after a scary ten days of pain and uncertainty that began with a simple UTI. Her prognosis is good, though we are still figuring out the best place for her to continue the healing process (home sweet home or Coker College). So, as I sat at Mass in Hartsville while you were gathered together at St Catherine's today, I was reflecting on the blessing that the Liturgy brings to us all. Even though we were not physically together, we were sharing something bigger than ourselves. The gift of Jesus in the Eucharist does do amazing things, as I was reminded of first-hand last week.
Last Sunday, Maddey's prognosis was not so certain. She was struggling with pain and even the simple act of breathing was an effort. A dancer at heart, being still is a foreign concept to her and getting comfortable was near impossible in her hospital bed. "I can't even find my center" she complained. She longed to align her spine and resume the posture with which she normally moves about her day.
In the midst of a moment of anxiety and frustration, Maddey said - "It's Sunday!" (I was in a cloud and didn't know what day it was myself). She asked, as if the solution had just come to her in a flash of lighting: "Is there a Mass here?" We were in the heart of Baptist country in SC, so of course there was not a Catholic Mass in the hospital chapel (not that she could have gone anyway), but I was not about to let this opportunity slip by. I went out to the PICU desk to see about finding a priest to visit with her. The good Baptist nurses who were present that day, said that they had a preacher on call, but I explained that we were really looking for a priest because of the sacraments involved. The young RN at the end of the desk assured me that she would make it happen.
Later in the day, during another moment of despair, a small Indian man peeked around the curtain and asked to enter Maddey's room. When she saw his clerical collar, her whole body seemed to relax and she simply cried. The next twenty minutes were better than any medicine she could have been given for the pain. She received the Sacrament of the Sick and we both received communion. Father JP was a lovely, joy-filled and hopeful man who brought us both great comfort. He returned the next day to check in on her and gave Maddey another blessing and communion. He spoke to her of taking this moment of crisis to slow down and draw close to a God and to remember that she is never alone, but always in His care.
Please know that my daughter is a normal teen. Though she does not fight me over going to Mass like her brother does, she is not all that much holier than the next 17 year old girl. But at that moment, probably subconsciously, she knew that she could draw on her faith for the strength that she needed. That the Eucharist would "center" not her body, but her spirit.
We have made Mass a mandatory part of LIGHT this year - we replaced the dinnertime meal with the Eucharistic Supper. Our hope is that it will add a richness to our time together that food alone cannot accomplish. We realize that today's family has a lot on their Google calendars and it is a struggle to fit it all in. But as a mom, I can tell you that I'm glad that I do my best to make Mass a priority in our family. I got a glimpse of the benefit of this effort through my middle child last week. The seed has been planted; she knows where she can turn in a moment of crisis - and that truly is the greatest gift that we can give to our kids.
We are excited to make it a bit easier for you to get to Mass during the month by making it a part of the LIGHT program. We hope that you will work to make it happen on non-LIGHT Sundays as well. With just that one hour a week, you too can continue to plant the seeds of faith in your kids and through our LIGHT family, as well as though the other communities tp which we all belong, we'll all tend those seeds together!