Hope In Sorrow

By Clare Meland, FC 19 Syracuse

Photo Aug 29, 5 15 48 PM

One of my first days at Francis House, a home for those with terminal illnesses, just happened to be the first Wednesday of the month. Every first Wednesday, Francis House holds a Mass in their chapel in memory of the residents who have passed away in the last month. Many family members and staff attend and the little chapel is packed and pictures of the deceased stand on a little table near the altar. The Mass was beautiful, intimate, and very emotional as the priest read out the names of the deceased at the Prayers of the Faithful, but it wasn’t until Communion that I realized the beauty and the joy of what was happening.

As Catholics, we believe that when we receive the Eucharist, we are incorporated into the Body of Christ, and so we are united to each other in Christ. This union, which is the deepest possible, is not restricted to those in the physical building of the Church where the Mass is being celebrated. It extends to everyone else who is incorporated into the Body of Christ, including those across the world and those in heaven. This means that as the family members and friends received communion, they were united again and more deeply with their loved ones who have gone on before them. St. Therese said that this was the reason she was not sad when she received her First Communion, even though her mother, who had passed away, could not be there to watch her. She knew that she was united with her in the reception of the Eucharist.

In the Eucharist, we experience a foretaste of heaven. It is the promise of glory, eternal life with God. To receive the Eucharist is to anticipate a reunion in Christ with those we loved most on earth; all their illness and pain taken away, glorious and joyful heaven. Those who have died and their families have experienced the pain of Calvary, and now await the joy of the Resurrection. The Eucharist is a moment when heaven comes to earth, and in that little chapel, surrounded by those in mourning yet hopeful, I began to understand just exactly what that means.

Change As A Gift

By Rachel Jones, FC 19 Costa Rica

Photo Aug 31, 9 12 51 AM

For me, change is hard. I mean I love trying new things, learning a new language, traveling to new places, meeting new people, and starting new adventures, but looking forward to these things and then actually doing them is always so different for me. Sometimes I ask myself why in the world I do stuff like this and leave my whole family, my closet friends, my fiancé, the beautiful state of Colorado, the town and streets I know and have grown up in, and all things I love and feel comfortable in. It really is kind of crazy, ya know? But then, I try to think back and remember  the other times I have done things that scared the heck out of me and always ended up to be some of the most rewarding and joyous times of my life. As the great Pope Benedict XVI says, “The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness.”

But still, change is hard. Yet, here I am again. Throwing myself into a year full of huge changes. But I truly believe that generally, the first step is the hardest, and then things gradually unfold into lots of great memories. So, I did take that first step at least, and now I am here! I know there is so much for me to learn and grow from here with all these new people in my new community. That is one of the keys for me, and also a very difficult part at times: community. It is hard to create this. How does one even begin to feel comfortable around so many new people and places? Well, again, I have to re-learn over and over and over again to be vulnerable and let people into my world and reach out to be a part of others worlds’ as well. Isn’t it amazing that we all live a life that is so different, yet the same and so full of different experiences, and the only way anyone can share in this is to sit down and spend time with one another getting to truly know the depths of each other! But hey, now is just the beginning of the whole year, so little by little, poco a poco, I hope to keep learning to appreciate the change as a gift and opportunity and learn to be more authentic and vulnerable with each person I encounter.

God keeps humbling me and teaching me to trust him. My recent devotional was a little God-send as it said, “As I embarked on the adventure of surrender, I discovered the wildly beautiful way God acts.” I have discovered this so often that I have grown to expect it: Our Lord always gives back one-hundredfold. It may not be exactly what I was expecting, but it has always been the abundant fulfillment of my heart’s most authentic desire. God not only purified and strengthened my understanding of friendships, but He also gave me strong friendships I would have never dreamed were possible. The key was I had to give Him the permission to mold and heal my heart.

It is not easy, but He is so faithful.