Friday, December 27, 2013

Family, Food and Fun

I have been living in Dayton OH for a year and a half now. I call Dayton my home as it is where I live in community, go to graduate school, and work. My home home is in a little town North of Columbus OH where I have lived nearly my entire life. Unfortunately my life does not stop, even during the holidays, I still have commitments and responsibilities although, I never miss going home home for Christmas. 

Christmas Eve I spent slaving in the kitchen. My day literally began at 9:30 am preparing a breakfast casserole- initially for Christmas morning. Other dishes such as twice baked potatoes in a dish, deviled eggs, swirl bread, sausage balls and sugar cookie dough was also prepared. My intent was to have less food to cook on Christmas this way mom, dad and I would be able to enjoy some quality time with one another. My intention was good but I ended up being exhausted, cranky and in pain by the early evening. If I may say so myself, the balls were amazing, although they were very time consuming. 

Next time I will half the recipe for deviled eggs, as little did I know they may be my favorite but not dads! Does anyone want some deviled eggs? There are plenty left over and I cannot eat them all! 

The twice baked potatoes in a pan were a success, well I thought so, I am not a fan of the old fashioned potatoes! Dad on the other hand would prefer the regular mashed potatoes, what a party pooper! Then there are the cookies...

I was yet again in the cookie business. Mom and I made sugar cookies and decorated them for the first time! We are beginning new traditions this year. It's all new and refreshing! 

On Christmas Day mom, dad and I went to Church, in the temporary building of course. Mass was wonderful. Christmas morning attendance was bare but it was a good liturgy; Sacred Hearts is blessed to have a Marianist Priest who gives great homilies. The music liturgist who plays guitar is equally amazing. My favorite meditation song is sung by her, "Mary Did You know?"  They always say, home is where the heart is. I believe this is true, most of the time. But my true home, my whole heart will always be with my family and my parish family in the Church I have attended all of my life. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

New Community = New Adventures

This past week I moved from one community house from a suburb of Dayton, OH to a new community closer to the city of Dayton. I learned that I would be moving about three months ago. Although it seems, no amount of notice is adequate, as many know, moving is a real pain. For those that know me, I prefer to keep my belongings pretty neat and tidy. Well from the looks of it my room is pretty much a disaster area! See picture (on Left). Not being able to organize my things and know exactly where things are drives me crazy. Before moving I previously lived
What a mess!
in a house with two religious sisters in a two-story. I am living in a three-story home with two Sisters of the Precious Blood (Dayton) and a woman from Guatemala who is also discerning. Every time I moved into my college dorm I would unpack immediately and organize everything too. But unfortunately this move is a little different as I cannot unpack right away for reasons of time and necessity. However, needless to say I was frantic to get my room looking halfway respectable and liveable for the time being. By late evening, after supper, I was able to get it organized enough that I could sleep. See picture (on right). 
Looking better... I think! 

After only two nights and one and half days in a new house, I am already breaking into my new community. Yesterday evening we decided to have our Christmas together this afternoon (Saturday) because it was the only feasible time for the four of us. I volunteered to make a breakfast casserole (I intended to take a picture but after all of the rustle and bustle I forgot, whoops!). After a delicious breakfast together, we prayed together, and then we opened the gifts that were in our stockings. Someone got a piece of coal I wonder who that was? No, I was not the recipient of coal at least this time! S. Marita actually had a piece of coal in her stocking. I guess it will remain a mystery of who or how it got into her stocking. Who on earth would pull that kind of prank on her?

Today was a rainy day but that did not stop us from working on strengthening our newly developing community. Three of us worked hard in the kitchen as we made Christmas cookies. I have not made Christmas cookies that you frost in over ten years. Bela, S. Gerri, and I were all involved in cookie business today. S. Marita is the only person in our house who speaks fluent Spanish so this gave S. Gerri and I a chance to bond a bit and learn how to communicate with Bela without relying on S. Marita to translate for us. All three of us are learning how to communicate with each other without always knowing the correct words. Sometimes we simply use sign language alongside our native language. In the matter of minutes we were all laughing with each other. We had a lot of fun making the cookies.

Bela with one of her trees!
Bela and I were the main cookie makers as we rolled the dough and used cookie cutters to make various designs--trees, candy canes, gingerbread men/women, stars, and stockings. Bela in the picture below shows one of her many designs (on right). While Bela smiles, I used more muscles, as I imitated my gingerbread woman that I created with a sad face (on left).
Mocking my gingerbread woman! 

My gingerbread woman is sad because someone took a bite out of her head!

As Bela and I focused our attention on rolling the dough and creating the various cookies S. Gerri watched the cookies in the oven. Perhaps S. Gerri's job was the most tedious. She was in-charge of supervising afterall. Okay, freeze! Just because I said S. Gerri was supervising does not mean I was implying she was supervising us...but you may think as you wish. It was our impression that S. Gerri was having just as fun of time watching us decorate the cookies as it would have been if she would have been creating them herself. See S. Gerri below (on left) with a sheet full of cookies! 

Even though we only made a half of batch of the sugar cookies it seemed like Bela and I were icing cookies for half of the day. S. Gerri says it was taking us longer because we were being so creative and tedious with our work. Despite how long it took, it was fun and I suppose that is all that really matters. As an artist I find it hard to help myself when I am given the chance to express myself through art, despite the medium. 

Before we began to ice the cookies we had to decide on the colors we would ice the cookies in. Besides the traditional Christmas colors-- green and red-- I said we needed to make blue. Why you ask? Blue is my favorite color. Enough said! We also made yellow icing--for the stars-- we ended up using all of the colors in a variety of ways. We did not keep to the traditional purpose of the colors. Who is traditional nowadays anyway? Me?!?! Come on, nah, not all of time.  
A selection of our finished product!

Even though S. Marita was off doing her own thing while S. Gerri, Bela and I were being creative in the kitchen, she would pop in from time to time to check on our progress, or to taste one of our freshly baked cookies. She was probably also curious to why we were making so much racket, I mean laughter, coming from the kitchen as we were (cough, cough) working! At one point or another when S. Marita came into the kitchen Bela stopped rolling the last bit of cookie dough and the two posed for this amazing photograph (on left). 
Better watch out, Bela has a rolling pin and she knows how to use it! 
Despite my feelings of being dysfunctional as my room is not completely put together, YET, I feel we are making progress as a newly forming community. This is very promising. Community building takes time this I know. I am still new to living in community but since this is the second community I have lived in I do have an idea of what community living is like. Perhaps this will be an advantage to me to adjust quicker! My year and a half maybe nothing compared to S. Marita and S. Gerri's community experience but this new community will allow me new adventures. My hope is that this is just the beginning. 

***All material and photographs are used with permission.*** 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Stick Together: God Will Provide

It has only been a couple of days since we learned that our parish (Church) building burned down. I have always believed that Sacred Hearts Catholic Church has been my second home and the parishioners have been my extended family. I come from a broken family. My biological parents to my knowledge do not practice any faith tradition. To be honest I do not even know if they call themselves Christian. Since my childhood the parishioners at Sacred Hearts Church have greeted me with open arms and hearts before I even became a member through Baptism (I was nine-years-old). 

 I do not know about you but every time I awake I think I am dreaming. It does not seem possible that my second home, my parish burned down on Thanksgiving Day. I ask myself did this really happen? Or I say, certainly our Church is still there but then I tell myself, wake up Katie. The harsh reality is we are not dreaming, our building really did burn, our Church BUILDING is gone. When I received a phone call from one of my Church mothers I was devastated. I really thought I was dreaming. It was not until I was driving down State Route 42 until I realized that this was really happening. I cried. I was upset, frankly I was mad. My first instinct was to revert to my childhood ways and ask why would God let this happen? All of these thoughts were running through my mind. Then I realized that I was being selfish. I was thinking about how I received all of my Sacraments in this building: Baptism, First Reconciliation, First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Then I flashed forward ten years. I thought how I would not be able to celebrate my final vows profession with my parish family in my beloved Church and how could I do this because it is gone. Yet again I realized I reverted back to being a child and I cried.

After all of these thoughts, tears, and my initial shock, I finally came to my senses. I realized that I was crying over a building, a place that felt like a home.I was missing the most important piece, the building is a thing, not a person. The church building itself does not make or brake our Church. The Church building is just a bunch of materials. In hindsight, Thanksgiving Day was not a complete disaster. I really do have something to be thankful for. One, no one was hurt. Two, I still have my parish family. Three, I can be hopeful for the future, as we are expecting to rebuild. Despite this tragedy we are facing I believe we have the will power to move on and become bigger, better and stronger because of it.

First, we need to look for OPPORTUNITY. 

As Kurtis Kiesel already addressed, (those of you who follow him on Facebook) loosing our Church building will give us the opportunity to live out our faith. While we are welcomed into unknown territories, non-Catholic Churches and halls, we have the opportunity as missionaries to share our faith with our non-Catholic sisters and brothers in Christ. Similarly they have the opportunity to share their faith with us. What are our commonalities? Our differences? Perhaps this is a time we can explore this. Is this not something the Church has called us too? I do believe this is a little thing called ecumenism. This is one thing that Pope Francis is working at, by being a driving force of this movement and hoping to close the gaps. 

I think this is a large piece of our mission that we have a lot of work yet to be done. Jesus welcomed the outcasts, sick, rich and poor alike. Pope Francis has been echoing the words and actions of Jesus certainly well before his election to the papacy. Recently, however, we saw Pope Francis embrace a man who suffered from a disfigured face. This action speaks louder than words. We read about similar actions and gestures in the Bible performed by Jesus but now we are seeing them with our own eyes. 

Secondly we STICK TOGETHER. 

As a smart man continuously tells me to "hang in" when I tell him life is getting tough so I too ask you to all hang in there, lean on each other, as we all grieve the loss of our church building TOGETHER. It is just a building. Matthew 18:20 reminds us, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." It is in our gathering together that makes us Church not the building in which we gather. Remember, Jesus is the head and we are the body. As Catholics we have the wonderful opportunity to go to any Catholic Church for mass on any day. At any given time, there is a mass being celebrated somewhere in the world. This gives great meaning the word "Catholic" which means "universal." With that being said, despite our many opportunities to worship elsewhere, due to the wide array of Catholic Churches in surrounding counties and cities: Marion, Delaware, Sunbury, Mansfield, Mount Vernon, and Galion we need to be supporting our own local parish. Simply if you live in Morrow County you should be supporting Sacred Hearts Parish. Supporting does not simply mean financially it also means being present together as Church, no matter where the Church gathers. During this time of transition especially we need to come together to celebrate the Sacred Mystery. We should not look for other "more convenient or steady" parishes. Let us unite with our ancestors and travel like missionaries to new territories. We can all be Francis' to the disfigured men and women all around us. Let us go and live out the message of the Gospel one day at a time. Alleluia, alleluia. Amen. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Prayer to the Precious Blood of Jesus for Teenagers

Today I was working on writing a "collect"-a type of structure for a general prayer in Christian liturgy for my Youth Ministry class. I believe the goal of this exercise was to learn how to formulate a spontaneous prayer (which I am not comfortable with, nor do I have much experience with). Four general principles are used: YOU, WHO, DO, and THROUGH. 1) YOU...We address God and praise him using divine titles. 2)  WHO...We describe the great things that God has done. 3) DO...We pray for God to do something for us now. 4) THROUGH...We pray to the Father, through his Son, Jesus, with the Holy Spirit. 

The following is my collect for teenagers:

Most sweet Jesus, 

You gave your life so that we may live free of sin, you made the ultimate sacrifice. We ask for your help during our times of hardship, struggle and misfortune. We also ask for patience and mercy when we are quick tempered, especially with our parents when we do not feel like they are being fair or even understand us. We ask for guidance for our friends who do not always make smart choices because being cool is more important than being safe. We ask for all of these intentions and the ones we hold in the silence of our hearts, through the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, our Savior, who redeemed the world. Amen.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

"Pastoral and Theological Reflection Through Photography" - A Practicum Project

This coming spring, Spring of 2014, I will be entering the end of my Master's Degree experience therefore in order to graduate from my program, Pastoral Ministry, I must complete a Practicum Project. A lot of master degree programs require a thesis however, since I am in a ministerial program we do things a little differently. The following excerpt is a description of my practicum project in which I have spent nearly the last 4 hours on writing. 

My high school art teacher told me that if I went to college to study theology and not photography I could one day find myself bored with theology. In order to entertain both of my interests in theology specifically pastoral ministry and photography I chose this topic as a practicum project. Theological aesthetics was certainly not on my radar but I wanted to learn more about these topics coexisting because they are both a major part of who I am. Growing up when I was three-years-old I owned my very first camera a Fisher-Price 35mm by Kodak. As I grew older the cameras became more and more sophisticated. From film to digital to point-and-shoot to manuals with detachable lenses. Just as I was given more advanced cameras as I aged, my faith and understanding of God has equally changed over time. When I was a little girl my understanding of God was no more than knowing that there is a God and Jesus loves me. As an adolescent I began picturing God based upon the classic movie, the Wizard of Oz in my mind God was like the wizard in that God watched over all of us through a cylindrical like television. Later in life my understanding of God took on a deeper understanding as I began to learn about theological concepts including: the Trinity, Christology, morality, heaven and hell and much more.

I have been drawn to the Saints ever since I was a little girl when Monsignor Charles Foeller (Father Foeller) nick-named me Catherine, after Saint Catherine of Siena, a doctor of the Church. Father Foeller used to fascinate me as well as educate me by showing me a variety of relics which were important to him and subsequently became important to me as Father Foeller was a profound role model to me. Ever since then I have been on fire not only with my faith but also with the saints. I have great appreciation for the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics, which is the second-largest Shrine in the United States after St. Anthony’s Chapel in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Maria Stein displays over 1,000 relics. The Maria Stein Shrine preserves relics of the saints and makes them available for public adoration as well as provides programs for pilgrims of all ages and abilities. In a way I feel as though I am living out Father Foeller’s legacy in which through my own appreciation for the saints, I can share the lives with the saints to others by sharing my knowledge of the saints, the Church and more at the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics in which thousands upon thousands of people come as pilgrims each year. 

Please Note: This is un-edited and un-approved version. (Due to the amount of time I have poured into this and the thought provoking, as well as Spiritual journey this has taken me on this afternoon, I wanted to keep a copy for myself as well as share it with others that may be curious.) Suggestions on how to make it clearer, stronger, or otherwise are highly encouraged! Happy reading.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Reflection on the Sacred Liturgy

This semester I am taking a Liturgy and Sacraments course. As a part of the course we are encouraged to write reflections based upon certain writings that speak to us. The following is my first reflection: 

I find it difficult sometimes to acknowledge the Liturgy as more than "merely a historical re-enactment." When I go to mass so much of my attention goes towards remembering Christ's sacrifice that I am not sure if I recognize that there is more than just this one element to the Liturgy. At least on the subconscious level. I suppose that I do not tend to think about Christ as ever "present and active." I find myself also equally concerned about the act of "worshiping" which is a term not of my own vocabulary as much as in the protestant traditions. (To me "protestant" is any Christian church that is not Catholic; yes I realize that this is not the correct use of the term). 

Having experienced non-Catholic Christian faith traditions when I was little has seemed to do nothing but hinder my want or desire or lack of to understand them. I was forced by my family members to go to their church growing up--many of the people, if not all, turned up their noises when they found out that I was practicing Catholicism--or maybe in some of the very early years it was still my hope that I would become Catholic. I had hope that one day I would be baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. I yearned to be a fully initiated member of the Catholic Church--the only Church that made me feel at home and at peace. Finally when I was around 8 or 9 years old I became Catholic, at this point I was baptized. I remember early on being taught that I may not or should not partake in what my family members church referred to as "Eucharist" or "Communion" as the Catholic Church and these Christian Churches do not have the same beliefs. Again family members and other congregants turned their noses up and they had disbelief that the Catholic's "Eucharist" and theirs was no different. In their eyes, hearts, and minds it was the same, they did not understand. The Eucharist was never for me just symbolism. For me as a Catholic the Eucharist is actually the body and blood of Jesus Christ, poured out for all of us so that we may be saved from sin and be granted ever lasting life. 

The beautiful thing about being Catholic is that the Liturgy is not just a mere symbol  nor just a re-enactment but also most importantly a sacrament. The Liturgy is an "encounter with the living God in Christ Jesus, present and active in a dynamic and sacramental way," this I am still ever presently trying to grasp. Catholic Theology, specifically Christology, sometimes is unexplainable, you just have to have faith and believe. 

This reflection was based upon the following readings:

Sacrosanctum Concilium December 4, 1963 (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) 

The Liturgy Documents Vol 1. Edition 5. 
"An Overview of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy" ~ Rev. Msgr. Richard B. Hilgartner