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>There are as many paths to the Catholic faith as there are Catholics. There are converts (shout out to Kassie at Secret Vatican Spy who will join at the Eucharistic table this Easter!), cradle Catholics (here’s to Rebecca at Modestia!), “reverts,” and double/triple/etc. reverted reverts. We love and welcome you all (and non-Catholics, no hatin’ here).

One thing is for sure: to be a Catholic, you must have sturdy knees.

This week I … abandoned my co-teacher. Don’t fret, I checked with her first and she said everything went fine, though it was a full house of kidos. The University of Virginia’s Catholic Student Ministry hosts a praise and worship once a month entitled Ignite.242. Last night was the final Ignite.242 of the semester and a friend of mine was the guest speaker.

My friend used the word “given” as a spring board for the talk, following up on previous talks covering “chosen,” “blessed,” and “broken.” These four words are the key chapter titles in Fr. Henri Nouwen’s book, The Life of the Beloved (one I will have to go buy).

He explained how even those who are materialistically poor or poor in health can develop a strong and healthy community, inciting joy.

In the last year he spent time in Mexico and Haiti, building, teaching, and helping where needed, while exposing himself to some of the most needy, yet joyful people he’s known. He said some of the orphans in Haiti had just lost their parents, but they showed great love and sought attention from him and his mission buddies. A woman in Mexico, who cannot afford any kind of material comfort or luxury, somehow managed to make cookies for the missionaries and walked the miles to deliver them.

The sense of community was a source of true wealth and it does not have to be isolated to those in dire situations. You are my brother. You are my sister. We are a community, we need only to act like one. Working to please ourselves and achieve success for ourselves alone will not only leave us unfulfilled, but it will prevent us from creating our community.

He elaborated, reviewing a lesson I will never hear too many times: imagine how good you feel when someone smiles at you on the street. Think about how much of a relief it is to start up a random, friendly conversation with someone when your day was spinning down into the dark. Haven’t you seen how fulfilling it is to be the one to smile at someone on the street or to act friendly toward a stranger? You are my brothers and my sisters, I want to act that way.

I do not own this picture.

Sing sing sing … my friend spoke … sing sing … and then a priest walked in with a consecrated host in the monstrance, aka Jesus joined us in the flesh. There is always such a rush when you first see this during adoration, I love it. The rush blocked out the thought, “What’s the plan? How long will this be?”

I promise this was not out of impatience, some adorations are longer than others. We’re back to the tip about having good knees… let’s just say it was quite a while. My stubbornness and pride got in the way, so I wound up kneeling at a perfect right angle, on the naked floor for … a long time. Serves me right.

During one of the knee-numbing cycles, I recalled something my friend said in his talk. He shared with us the example of his parents who show him the devotion and commitment of real, true love everyday. His mother is ill with chronic pain, yet he said his dad shows heroic patience and love for his wife a several decades. His dad is an inspiration of what true love looks like in his own life.

God came to Earth and joined us in flesh. As God and man He allowed Himself to become arrested, beaten, scourged, embarrassed, and hung on a cross, all so that we might spend eternity with Him. God is Love.

Like I said, I will always welcome a refresher of this truth. Even if it costs me my knees.

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