Posts Tagged With: Easter

Easter committments

lenten successDear Pope Francis,

Earlier this week, Millennial posted about how as a church we do Lent really well, but don’t continue the spiritual probing and growth through the Easter season.

It was a really excellent post because it made me think about my own Lenten commitment this year. My goal was to try and say the rosary or attend mass every day to deepen my prayer life as opposed to giving something up as I’ve done in previous years. Lent is finished, but if the goal of the season is a degree of self-improvement through making or breaking habits, why should the improvement stop when Lent is over?

Praying the rosary over Lent this year has brought a new understanding and appreciation of Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, and resurrection and the role Mary and other women played throughout them. I didn’t succeed at my goal of praying it every day, but I made the time a few nights each week which was a big improvement.

My angst over the missing beads on my rosaries prompted me to learn how to tie barrel knots so I could repair them and make one special for a friend I’d been feeling a need to pray for a lot. (Side note on barrel knots, they’re fiddly enough to require the patience of several saints.)

easter is more than one dayThe post on Millennial also had me think about ways of feasting beyond food and drink. What better feast could there be than the Word?

One issue I came back to a lot in my reflections during Lent was the epistles in the New Testament. Historically, St. Paul and I have had a rocky relationship. He says some great things in his epistles, but there’s also passages which have completely rubbed me the wrong way and made me rather dislike him.

What I’ve been thinking about recently has been whether it might be a good idea for me to take the time to re-read all of the epistles and re-evaluate my opinions on them.

I need to put aside the frustration I’ve felt over the way the letters are used to justify oppression and read them with a heart open to seeing what they really say. I might still disagree, but I suspect the disagreement will be more with the interpretation of the letters than with the content itself.

Trying to keep growing,


Categories: Meredith | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When the Lights Come On

Dear Pope Francis,

Last night was the first time I went to the Easter Vigil in English. The only other time I went was in 2007 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. It was a powerful cultural experience, but I missed a lot because of the language difference.Pascal Candle

The Vigil was loaded with symbolism, which I loved. What impacted me the most was the light and darkness. We began in almost complete darkness. We lit our candles from the Paschal candle. The lady sitting beside me had told me that after we blew out the candles, the lights would come on. The priest invited us to blow out the candles and listen to God’s action in history. The congregation sat down to listen, but the lights didn’t come one. The first reading was from the first creation account from Genesis. I figured that the lights would come on when God created light and dark – except they didn’t. All of the readings and Psalms were done by flashlight, while the rest of the congregation sat in darkness.

After the fourth reading, from the prophet Ezekiel, the lights came on. Special prayers announcing the Resurrection were said, as lights were turned on. Most were turned on all at once, but as we sang the Gloria for the first time since Ash Wednesday, a few other smaller lights around the Church were turned on.

This Lent has been challenging, with a lot of darkness. Holding onto that one lit candle in the darkness struck me. That was how I felt for much of Lent, I could see what was immediately in front of me by the small light, and I could see shapes in the darkness but I didn’t know what they were. Expecting the lights to turn at certain points is like all of those times I made a plan and expected that God was going to act according to that plan, except He didn’t and I was left waiting in the darkness a little bit longer.

Finally, when I didn’t know what to expect any more, the light came on, and it was more overwhelming than I had expected. I could see everything now, and it was all beautiful: the prayers, the Gloria, the Church itself. As we sang the Gloria, a few other lights were turned on. These were smaller lights, and I didn’t notice they were missing, but when they were turned on, they still added more light to the Church. This is what happened at the end of Lent, when things started to fall into place in unexpected ways. God poured out love and good things into my life. Even after I thought He had poured everything, like all the lights being turned on, there were a few more things for him to share. Like those last few lights to be turned on, I didn’t realize these little good things were there, but when I did, they made everything brighter.

Empty TombI’ve heard it said many times that we are an ‘Easter people’, and I didn’t quite understand what exactly that meant. Now I’m starting to understand. We are a people of hope, even in the darkness. We wait and hope to meet the Risen Christ at the Tomb or the Upper Room. We may have our doubts or not recognize Jesus, but we keep looking because that is who we are, a hopeful people eagerly anticipating Christ’s return.

Celebrating in the light,


Categories: Lauren | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Giving and Receiving

Dear Pope Francis,

I’ve been thinking a lot about the passion story and service the last couple of days. About how best to use my gifts to serve God and to serve others, and about telling the difference between when I’m really serving others and when I’m serving myself.

Wednesday night, I stayed up until almost 3am agonizing about whether or not I would show up at the Legislature on Thursday in counter protest to the pro-choice rally planned. I thought about what I would do and what I would say if I was the only pro-lifer there, and I thought about the crowd shouting “Crucify him!” when Pilate tried to release Jesus. I thought a lot about Peter’s denial of Christ and for a while, I felt like not going to the rally would be akin to denying Jesus.

the_washing_of_feetWhen I thought about what I would do and what I would say, I also thought about how people would react, and about the publicity of being the only person there in opposition. I imagined sitting in a chair and knitting all day, with a Bristol board sign stating my opinion. And I decided not to go.

I sat at my desk, and over the course of an hour, wrote by hand the very personal story I had planned to share. It was the first time I had ever committed the entire thing to paper, and when the three sides of loose leaf were covered, I folded them up, sealed them in an envelope and went to bed.

I prayed for the hearts and minds of the people at the rally and for the politicians in the Legislature while I went about my day Thursday, but I did not go downtown until it was time for mass.

At mass, I was struck by Peter’s reluctance over Christ washing his feet. It made me think about how easy it is for me to try and serve others through a phone call to someone I know is lonely, or by knitting another square for charity, or by inviting someone over for supper. But it’s much harder to accept service from others, like rides to church or letting a friend pick up my tab when we go out for a beer and wings, or even just accepting compliments when they’re given (more on that next month).

I try to live to give, but I need to be more open to receiving what others are giving.

Part of that is also being more open to receiving what Christ has to give – forgiveness and grace, unconditional love, and redemption for the whole world. Jesus allowed himself to be tortured and then died in agony on the cross this afternoon to pay the price for my sins. How can I give his love to the people around me if I don’t permit myself to receive his love and his grace?



Categories: Meredith | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Settling into Life

Dear Pope Francis,

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time slips by. It’s already the middle of April already. For the most part the weather is daffodilsbecoming more spring-like (except for yesterday, when it snowed in southern Ontario). I just finished my second year of my M.Div. Lent is coming to an end, and Easter is all but here. I will celebrate my twenty-fourth birthday over the weekend. But it feels like yesterday was Ash Wednesday, my first day of second year and my twenty-third birthday. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to use my time well, and to live a good life – big questions to say the least. One thing I can say for sure, is that there is a lot of conflicting opinions on what it ‘good’

I’ve struggled with trying to understand what makes a life ‘good’ or ‘worthwhile’. These are vague, general concepts, which don’t correspond to any sort of quantitative measurement. I’ve read some articles and posts that suggest that in my twenties I need to take time and explore because I have lots of time to figure it all out. Other people say that this mindset robs me of the urgency that is necessary to get my life started. These conflicting opinions don’t stop people from striving to have it all in life – to live the ‘good life’. I find myself falling into the trap of ‘the good life’ too. As a result, I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep up with the people around me. My friends get into relationships, so I feel like I need to as well. Some of my friends are young professionals, and, after seeing their lives, I begin to feel tired of my grad student life. Everywhere I look, people seem to have lives that are more exciting or more stable and settled than mine.

I see elements of truth in all of the conflicting opinions about living a good life in my twenties, usually around the need to explore options and new places. But some days even this vague concept which puts pressure on me to keep up my peers. Then, I stumbled across a quote that gave me a new perspective on all of this: “We can either demand that we write well or we can settle more comfortably into writing down what seems to want to come through us – good, bad or indifferent” (Julia Cameron, The Right to Write). I’ve used this quote to help me reduce the pressure to write when I’m on a deadline, or when I’m having a hard time getting my thoughts out of my head and into words (like writing this post). The more I think about it, the more I realize that it also applies to my life more generally.

I wonder what would happen if I applied my method for writing to my life. What would happen if I stopped trying to live life ‘well’ or ‘good’, whatever that means, and settled into living comfortably. I don’t mean to say that I want to be indifferent to life, or drift aimlessly, because that’s not who I am; I am driven and goal-orientated, and I don’t want that to change that. But what if instead of meeting the goals I think other people are setting for me, I focused on setting and meeting goals that are mine. Goals like finishing my Master’s and finding a job in ministry wherever that may take me, making self-care a priority, or learning German.

Meredith recently wrote about her faith fitting like a comfy tie-dyed t-shirt. I think of my writing, and my life, like that as well. Button down shirtInstead of a comfy t-shirt, it’s my favourite hoodie sweatshirt, that doesn’t really match anything, but it’s warm and baggy. It’s been to bonfires at the shore and on road trips and toted around when the weather can’t make up its mind about what season it is. When I settle into writing and my life, it’s like pulling on this hoodie; I feel at ease and comfortable in my skin. But, when I try to borrow my friends’ goals and lives, it’s like putting on a collared button-down shirt, which never seem to fit me right. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get the button-down to fit without having buttons pull or constricting my movement.


On a road trip in 2012, wearing my favourite hoodie

Button-downs just don’t seem to be for me right now, and neither are my friends’ goals and priorities. I’m sure there will come a day when some of those priorities and goals, like relationships and careers, will come into my life. When they do, I will figure out how it all fits together, but until then I can’t get caught up in trying to fit someone else’s mold. This is my life, and I can choose to get bogged down in what everyone around expects from me, or I can choose to follow God’s plan for me, which is challenging and pushes me to be a better person, but ultimately fits just right.


Living life in my hoodie,


Categories: Lauren | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swearing at God

Dear Pope Francis,

Thank you for sharing the message (in his homily on April 3, 2014) that it’s okay to be angry with God, to tell him when we think He’s not coming through for us and remind Him of His promises. This was very timely, because I swore at God on Tuesday night. Put simply, I ran out of words that were strong enough to express the hurt and anger that I had inside, and I said a few choice words because it was all I had left.

As a writer, I process a lot linguistically, whether that’s talking it through or writing it out. After I swore, I felt ashamed that my words had failed me so profoundly that I resorted to cursing. But I did feel much better for being able to share my feelings so candidly. There’s something cathartic about being able to find one strong word to let out your feelings, even if that word is a curse word.

I was talking with a friend about your homily and my experience. My friend suggested that while we can swear at God, we also need to be prepared for the times when God will swear back at us. This is interesting, since I don’t necessarily ‘hear’ God speaking to me in prayer; God’s responses are generally a physical feeling rather than a spoken response.

In response to my outburst on Tuesday night, I received nothing but compassion and soothing words and hugs from God the following day. The hugs came in the form of my friends who knew something was wrong, and the compassion and soothing words came from the first reading of the daily liturgy and the homily. The reading came from Isaiah: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you” (49:15). The homily celebrated and expressed gratitude for the contribution that different people had made to the school community this year. It all felt soothing, like rubbing aloe vera on a sunburn. It didn’t solve anything, but it acknowledged my hurt and frustration, and most importantly, it gave me hope.

This reminds me of the best friendships that I’ve had in my life, the ones where I can be frustrated and hurt by what a friend says (or I cause the hurt and frustration), but with time we can patch it up. The friendship is so important to both of us that we can forgive each other for the hurt, and be friends again. God is big enough for me to hurl all my hurt, doubts, fear and frustrations at Him, even if that includes swearing. Instead of getting angry at me, he just holds me in patience and love, until I’ve cried and raged myself into silence, and then he reassures me. Only when I’m silent will he tell me that everything will be okay, that I just need to hang on, because He’s got awesome plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11-13). He knows to wait until the silence, because I won’t listen otherwise. And this leaves me speechless with gratitude: that God will wait and speak me to me in a way that I will respond to, even though I was so incredibly angry. The last thing I deserve is that kind of patience and love, and yet there He is, pouring it out.

Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18)

Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18)

As we come closer to the Easter season, I am reminded of Jesus’ experience in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mk 14:32-42, Lk 22:39-46, Mt 26:36-46), when he questioned God and felt abandoned. This moment resonates with me, because in it I relate to Jesus’ total humanity. Jesus went on to endure the most painful and humiliating death. But we can’t have the resurrection unless the Passion came first. So while I cry out  my rage, frustration and hurt in my own Gethsemane moments, I trust that God is big enough to take it all, and will be with me, ready to show me a new life in the silence that inevitably follows the outburst.

Feeling grateful,


Categories: Lauren | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lenten Commitment

Dear Pope Francis,

The last few weeks I’ve been reflecting on what I want to do for Lent. I’ve been tossing around the idea of giving up meat again and being a vegetarian. Except I did that two years ago and I think I learned what I needed to from it.

I learned being a vegetarian is not a deal breaker for me and there’s a lot of really good food that doesn’t have meat. I also learned that unless I plan to be militant about when my meals happen and track my nutrients really well, I should probably not give up food.

st dunstansThis year I’ve been thinking a lot about my prayer life, and about what I do in my spare time. Now that I’m working in banquets instead of housekeeping, a lot of my shifts are probably going to be in the evenings. Without work to go to, a lot of the time I don’t leave the house. I stay in and read and job search online and play video games unless I have plans with friends.

My parish has mass at 12:05 most days. I’ve been thinking about going for a while, but I never seem to get around to it. So this year, my Lenten commitment is going to be to go to mass every day unless I have work when it’s happening.

When I was at the NET interview retreat on the weekend, we talked about how if you do not pray at specific times you cannot pray at all times. Until now, my specific time has been before I go to bed at night. My routine is to say “Now I lay me down to sleep” and then thank God for at least three things in my life that day and ask him for help with something the next day.


It’s been a really good exercise for me in terms of keeping the conversation going, and in the two years since I started doing it I’ve noticed I say a lot more little prayers during my day; prayers for friends when I hear about difficult situations in their lives, prayers for patience and understanding.

What I’ve skipped out on over the years is conversations with Mary. For the days when I do have work conflicting with mass, or when daily mass isn’t happening, I’m going to commit to praying the rosary.

Lent is a time of preparation for the joy of Easter and the knowledge that Jesus died on the cross for all humanity’s redemption. It’s easy to remember the things we say no to. All the rules saying don’t do this or don’t do that. But I think it’ll be a bigger challenge, for me at least, to remember to say yes. To take that hour of my day to say yes to going to mass, or yes to praying the rosary.

Jesus said yes to death on a cross, I can say yes to more prayer.

Rising again from ashes,


Categories: Meredith, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lenten Sacrifice

Dear Pope Francis,

As I’m sure you know, Lent begins on Wednesday. For the last number of years, I’ve struggled to decide what to do for Lent, as Giving up things for lentthough preparing for Easter was something I could simply check off my do to list:. Okay, I’ll give up chocolate/all junk food/Facebook/some other bad habit, because these things really aren’t good for me anyway, so I should probably detach from them for a while. Except, I know deep down, that my logic really doesn’t get me to the heart of what fasting and abstaining in Lent is really about.

Lent isn’t simply a time to give something up, especially if it’s something that I’ve become too attached too, and should cut back on regardless (like my Facebook time, with the end of the semester fast approaching!). Rather, it’s a time when I can give up something that I really enjoy, that I abstain from for no other reason than I choose to abstain from it. So, I shouldn’t use Lent as an excuse to give up Facebook since it happens to coincide with the end of the semester and I shouldn’t be on Facebook that much anyway.

Realizing this didn’t answer my question about what to do for Lent, it just helped eliminate a few things since giving them up wouldn’t really be for the right reasons. I read a list with suggestions of things to give up for Lent. It was a good list, but nothing seemed to be a true sacrifice for me, that I could do and really feel like I was preparing for Easter. As I reflected more, I realized that whatever it was I chose to do, it needed to be something personal; something that would be a true sacrifice for me.
lazy morningUltimately, for Lent this year, I decided that I am going to stop lazing around in bed in the morning before I get up. I’m not sleeping during this time; I’m just lying down, choosing not to get up right away. I’ll replace the lazing about with l prayer (which used to be something I did regularly, but stopped). While I enjoy being able to laze around in bed, I don’t actually need it, and I’ll be able to make the sacrifice for God in a very tangible way by spending that time in prayer instead.

Pope Francis, you like challenging people, and in that spirit, I challenge the readers of Letter’s to the Pope to spend some time in the next couple of days seriously reflecting on what they can do for Lent. Don’t worry about what other people are going to say about it, make it meaningful for your spiritual life, so that you can grow in holiness during this season.

Lenten blessings,


Categories: Lauren | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: