Thursday, March 31, 2005

Holy Thursday

I attended Holy Thursday Mass this year for the first time in my life. (I know. Let the flogging begin!) It was the most beautiful Mass I have ever attended. Holy Thursday offically marks the end of Lent, so we are allowed to sing the "Gloria" again. The bells of the church are rung for the last time until Easter Vigil during that part of the Mass, and I had to stop singing because I was starting to cry! I was so moved during the whole thing: the washing of feet, the transfer of the Holy Eucharist, all of it.

And what was so awesome about it was that the church was full and EVERYONE sang! And what I thought was: This is what Mass should be like! And Mass could be that way every Sunday if the people there really understood what was going on. The thing about Holy Thursday is that the folks who were there to mark Jesus' last meal, his last few hours, attended because they wanted to be there. It was extra special because everyone was engaged.

Sometimes the Catholic Mass gets branded as stuffy or boring-not exciting. If the people who think that were at the celebration on Holy Thursday, they would see that the problem is not with the Mass. The problem is with the people who go there expecting to be entertained. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not entertainment. It is worship. And it is stirring if you are locked into it.

God is gentle. He whispers His invitations to us. He whispers to our souls to come to Mass, to celebrate, to worship. He does not call to us like a carnival huckster, promising us an hour that will shock and amaze. No, he gently stirs our souls. If we are humble and quiet, and enter into His Church to worship and celebrate, we will be shocked and amazed.

Monday, March 21, 2005

this is harder than it looks

I think of myself as a witty person, a bit of a raconteuse if you will, but writing this blog is harder than it seemed. I have read other peoples' blogs and I though to myself, I can do that. Funny things happen to me all the time. And I do a lot of reflecting and overananlyzing. Perhaps someone in the world will be positively affected by something I write. It's a perfect platform for me to evangelize.

But when I think about what I might want to write about, and who it will effect directly, I find myself censoring a little more than I thought I would. I find myself saying, "Gosh, how will so and so feel if they see that?" and I wind up keeping it to myself or in my prayer journal.

Ah well. I'll just ask for the Holy Spirit to inspire me to write something useful. Pray for me, too, will you?

Friday, March 18, 2005

A well-earned balloon popping

A few weeks ago, I arrived to pick up my older son from his preschool at our parish school. His teacher asked me to come in and I knew he was in trouble.

"Mrs. Giglio, Billy will not sit still during prayer time. He refuses to fold his hands and pray with the rest of the class."

Will someone please make this floor swallow me and my non-praying son?

This would not be so bad if I weren't charged with the religious education of 600 kids every week. But since I am, I was mortified. Totally embarrassed.

Just when I was starting to feel really good about me. Thanks Lord for humbling me.

BTW: Billy's prayer at home and at school has been much better since we had the sit-down with Daddy. ;)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

CCD, Coffee, and Crosses

I started back to work full time 2 summers ago when I was pregnant with my second son. The elder was 2 and a half and the funds were getting quite low. I needed to go back to work and I had been working at a certian coffee shop chain part-time but being pregnant, tired, and having to smell coffee all day were not mixing.

I applied for the CCD Coordinator position in my parish at the prompting of the wonderful woman who was the DRE at the time. She was leaving and she asked if I had ever thought of doing it. It had crossed my mind, but I didn't want to put the boys in day care and I don't have a graduate degree (yet) in Theology. She told me about it, told me I could bring the kids, so I asked my dear husband and he said go for it. The Holy Spirit wrote my resume cover letter and I sent it off. I got an interview and I got the job.

My pastor is wonderful. Very easygoing. Yes, it was true, I could bring the chidren with me and I did. I started in summer, ran VBS and then began the CCD year. Terrified. Had son #2 in September. But when I came back to the office a month later, it was good (still terrifying, but good) because my guys were with me.

My mother is wonderful. She lives with us and she used to work for a university nearby, but in October she stopped working and is now watching my boys while I work. I am SO GRATEFUL. And I'm sure my pastor and the families in the religious ed program are grateful to her too. I know my assistant is because there is no longer a diaper pail in the office. And it's better for my guys because they are not stuck in my office all day. The baby just sat in his pack and play all day. He would not be walking yet f I still had to cart them with me.

So my conflict stems from the fact that I cannot seem to reconcilie my ministry and my vocation. I am a married woman by vocation. I am working God's plan by being half of a couple who is a testament to His creating love in the world and a mother to 2 terrific kids. And I don't feel like I'm doing that as well now as I was 2 summers ago- before I began my ministry.

But I am in a minstry, not just schlepping coffee. I am working hard to bring the Gospel to 600 kids every week. It's a huge responsibilty and an enormous privilege. I also firmly believe that the Lord wants me to do this since He is the one who put me here. This was not something I ever would have sought for myself. And we needed me to go back to work. Ask anyone who lives in Metro NY how easy it is to live on 1 income.

But there are certian things that cause me pain. My younger son rarely calls me "Mama" or "Mommy." I have asked him if he has a kiss for Mommy and he goes to my mother (who is Mom-mom. I know this is a misunderstanding on his part and I know he loves me, but it hurts all the same). I was at the office when he took his first steps and when he was saying his first words.

But we all bear crosses don't we? As Holy Week appraoches, I think of Our Lord and his cross. How much he loved us that he died for us. I am humbled every time I think about it. What I have to bear is not as bad as what others must go through-or what he went through. It's said that the Lord doesn't give us to shoulder more than we can bear. That is comforting. But as someone else has said, I just wish he didn't have so much confidence in me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Go gently, go with love.

I went to a friend of mine for Spiritual Direction today. I have never been to anyone for Spiritual Direction before, but I expected some homework. I expected to have to pray Vespers tonight and Matins tomorrow and to have to go to Mass every day at 7:30. Ok, I am a bit of an overachiever.

I went to my friend because I have felt very inadequate lately in my spiritual life. I was feeling great until about a month ago when I sinned badly enough to put myself in a bit of a tailspin spiritually. I felt distant from the Lord, even after having gone to Confession the next day. I was beating myself up pretty bad and really felt unworthy of God's love (I learned that I was on the edge of despair, a pretty serious sin) and I was desperate to get back to the light I was missing.

I came out of my meeting with 2 things: go gently and to do the things I already do for my family and for my parish with love.

Go gently: Don't beat yourself up. I told him I felt like I was a disappointment to the Lord. To which my friend said, "I am a disappointment and so are you. So is everyone!" Even though our children disappoint us, we still love them . Think about it. Your kids don't always do the things they are supposed to do, but you never stop loving them. God feels the same way about us.

Do everything with love: St. Therese's Little Way. Stay present, stay aware in all that you do and make that a prayer. When you're changing diapers, you can find God in changing the diaper. And if you get crazy and forget to stay present, don't beat yourself up over it.

So, here I go. I set out on the road refreshed and ready to go gently and presently. Pray for me. I'll pray for you.

On the lighter side

I'm not as heavy as the previous post makes me sound. Those articles have been nagging me lately, so I felt compelled to write.

I run the CCD program at my parish, St. John the Apostle in Linden, NJ (, and I love it. God placed me here and I hope i'm not letting Him down.

My kids, my husband and my ministry give me some funny stuff to write about, so look for it here coming forth.

Please pray for the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II as he recovers from his breathing problems and tracheotomy. We need him!

Honesty is such a lonely word

I subscribe to "America" magazine, a Jesuit publication. A couple of months ago, they ran a big story on annulments. What's an annulment? Go here, it's a great resource:

I'd post links to the articles I'm talking about, but they are available only to subscribers. If you subscribe to America (, go ahead and look for them. But I digress. A man wrote about how his life was affected positively by his annulment. Then 2 weeks ago, another man wrote about how difficult his wife's life became when she was applying through the annulment. He said that if they knew then what it would have been like, that his wife would not have pursued it and he would have been content to refrain from the sacraments, effectively living his spiritual life on the fringes of the Church.

He writes that he and his wife decided to keep the application under wraps for a while and not to tell anyone. Her adult children weren't practicing and neither was her mother. Her ex-husband was not religious at all and I guess they didn't feel the need to broadcast it in the preliminary stages. During the process of writing down her side of the story for the tribunal, which included a lot of information on her life before she was married, his wife decided to tell her mother, thinking she would be supported by her in this endeavor. Her mother was hurt by some of the things the wife wrote and then called the adult children to inform them about the annulment and told them that they were not going to be recognized by the Church if their parents' church marriage were dissolved.

It was terrible for me to read, and I can understand the pain that this man's wife must feel. As the child of divorced parents who have not gotten an annulment, I can absolutley relate to the pain her children must have felt on getting that phone call from their grandmother. Anything related to your parents' breakup takes you right back to whatever age you were when your parents split up in the first place.

It just seems to me that if the wife had gotten her kids together after she and her new husband sat down and talked to the priest as they started the application process and simply explained to them what she was doing, why she's doing it, and what it meant for them, everyone could have been spared much pain.

See, a marriage is not really a private thing, epecially when your marriage is blessed with children. You are living witnesses of the love of God. And your children are a testament both to the love of the spouses and the Love of God for all that he has created. "See, I make all things new." I think it was unreasonable for her to expect that her application for annulment could progress without it impacting all of the people directly involved in it (parents, ex-spouse, children.) Openness and honesty at the beginning would not have been easy, but it would have been better for her children and her mother and the man and woman in the second marriage in the long run.

Can't we say that about all situations in our lives? I can't say for you, but everytime I try to keep something important on the down low, it explodes in my face. I haven't been around that long (I'm 29), but the more I go through life, the more i understand that being open about your motives and expectations with the people that you love is always better.