Holy Week was busy, emotional and draining all at the same time. Our Triduum activities included a Seder Meal and Holy Thursday Mass, Living Stations of the Cross, Veneration of the Cross and The Seven Last Words of Jesus on Good Friday and a day of rest on Holy Saturday. We chose to go to Easter Sunday Mass.
All were meaningful and beautiful but I'd like to talk about my first experience going to a prayer service called The Seven Last Words of Jesus on Good Friday. I was unfamiliar with this prayer service and not only was it my first time, my pastor asked if I'd be willing to give a 5 minute reflection on the second word of Jesus:
"This Day You Shall Be With Me In Paradise"
Thankfully, it was a bilingual Mass and the first and third reflections were spoken in Spanish so I had no idea how different they were than mine.
I had no idea what to do. In fact, I was quite stressed out about it. Even though I'm a lector at Friday morning Mass, I'm not that comfortable speaking at the ambo. Public speaking is not one of my strengths. I sought advice on how to write a reflection from parishioners, a deacon, and both our priests. All gave good advice and basically told me it was my faith story and I should put myself into a situation where my attitude was either the first criminal or the Good Thief. How did I respond under trials and suffering? Who did I become? The first criminal or the Good Thief?
So, I did just that. And in times of trial and suffering, I am the first criminal. It was disheartening to realize that but it's true. Not mocking but begging, pleading and demanding of a miracle. Putting no faith in Jesus when it counted. I spoke about two trials when I couldn't say "Your will be done" they are the death of my mother and the events that transpired just days after my son was born. My husband had been hospitalized for an injury to his finger and needed reconstructive surgery to save it. The next morning, my 5 day old son was hospitalized for weight loss and jaundice. Both were in different hospitals and both needed me. It was a very difficult time for me.
Writing this reflection and then having to share it from the ambo made it startling real for me that in my most difficult times of pain and despair, I have little faith. It struck me hard while I was sharing my story and I became choked up and started to cry. On the ambo in front of 150+ people. It was raw and emotional without any previous intention to make it so. God spoke to me and showed me where I lacked faith but He also showed me how much He loved me.
Earlier I mentioned that I was thankful that I hadn't understood the first and the third reflections since they were told in Spanish. It gave me time to calm myself and when the fourth reflection was shared in English, I became overwhelmed. Her reflection and the last one done in English, were more of a preaching style and not a personal sharing of their faith. I was dumbstruck and then quickly felt humiliated that I had done it wrong and made myself so vulnerable. And even cried at the ambo in front of so many people.
Needless to say, when it was over, I was afraid to move and interact with my fellow parishioners. However, they were warm and welcoming and supported my baring of my soul. On Easter Sunday morning, my pastor also spoke words of encouragement that my reflection was not an embarrassing act on my part. That it had a meaningful impact on those present. It was an incredibly humbling moment for me that happened in front of a lot of people. I pray that the next time God is trying to get my attention, He does so in a much less public way!
I've shared this post at Memoir Mondays at Campfires & Cleats.