Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spiritus est qui vivificat

When I came to the Duquesne campus as a transfer student in the Fall of 1988, I knew the meaning of the motto but I didn't know quite how much the Spirit would act on and give life to me over these many years. 
God, create in me a clean heart, renew within me a resolute spirit,
do not thrust me away from your presence, do not take away from me your spirit of holiness. Psalms 51:10-11
Today I was blessed with a good amount of both memory and wisdom. Enough to start to appreciate all the gifts that God has given me both recently and long ago. Both the blessings and the trials came together in my mind today and I feel like I had enough insight to take away the proper message. I pray that, anyway.

While I was waiting on the platform for my dear friend to accompany me on my day's journey, I had the pleasure of taking in some of the revelers headed down to the St. Patrick's Day parade. In the past I probably would have thought some not-so-charitable thoughts about them, their outfits, their blatant drinking (or terrible attempt to conceal such). Today, though, I smiled a little smile and thought back.

 A wee bit Irish?

Hey...what's that in your bag?

I smiled because, for a minute or two in my mind, I was those crazy people. Getting up early to imbibe many an adult beverage and toast to this Patron Saint of Drunks or whatever we called him then (hey, we were good Catholic college students. We knew there was a Saint involved so how could it be bad?)

My friend arrived shortly and we took our trolley down to Wood Street. Our day-long retreat wasn't there but we decided to first head to the vigil to say some prayers for the unborn, the post-abortive parents and all the revelers...that they would be safe and watched-over today. It was a good day at the vigil, if there can be such a thing. Many well-wishers and "good-morning" givers and of course my dear friend.

Did I mention it was raining? Oh, it was POURING. Of course, today's first reading had that well-in-hand.
“Come, let us return to the LORD,
it is he who has rent, but he will heal us;
he has struck us, but he will bind our wounds.
He will revive us after two days;
on the third day he will raise us up,
to live in his presence.
Let us know, let us strive to know the LORD;
as certain as the dawn is his coming,
and his judgment shines forth like the light of day!
He will come to us like the rain,
like spring rain that waters the earth.”

What an excellent reading for today. He rents but heals; strikes but binds. That was the message everywhere I went today, while I kept flipping back and forth from the mother of five above and this person...
Since everyone will think I'm on the right (I know, the Swatch is a giveaway. I think I loaned that to her) I will tell you I'm the one in the middle. Sweater from The Limited and sweet plaid pants that came from who knows? but which wonderfully completed my St. Pat's outfit.

So, back to the now. We arrived at our destination. 6th floor of the union. Formerly known as the "Commuter Cafeteria" today the site of

It was an amazing day. Starting with the 10 or so people that answered the call of the Holy Spirit to be there today. I never have a connection to all of the attendees at a retreat but there are usually one or two that are clear evidence of the echos.

Today it was a woman who "didn't act Catholic when she was at Duquesne" (sing it, sister) but who came today in hopes of making a connection and growing in her faith. During a discussion on John's Gospel of the man born blind, she was questioning the motive of the disciples. Suddenly there was a thought in my head. A thought from a different direction. A thought I would never have ever thought myself. So, of course, I just said it. She was stunned and moved and so grateful for new insight. It is such a blessing to be a tool of the Holy Spirit. I am so grateful when someone says "yes" and it helps me. How thankful I was to return the favor.

Oh, and then there was the retreat master who graduated from the same high school a year ahead of my husband. He was an amazing priest who had served missions in both Tanzania and Australia and had such insight. I pray that he will work his way into our lives some way or another. Listen and follow...

For the first time today I also realized my friend, who is a convert, did not go through a formal RCIA program but instead studied on her own with a priest before coming into the Church. She spoke in her introduction about her regret in missing the entire RCIA process. Oh, what was our day-long retreat focus? The gospels of the three scrutinies (the woman at the well, the man born blind, Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead). Ahem.

Finally, we attended Mass in the chapel where I spent so many Sunday nights for Mass, good and bad, and where I ultimately continued to form the base from which I would start to make my life decisions. There were plenty of bad decisions but, as the reading says, if we strive to know Him, He will raise us up. So, there was some good confirmation for me today that, although I have made many mistakes in the last quarter century plus, I have progressively tried to be open to the urgings of the Holy Spirit and my life has been filled with joy (even in trial when the only, and most important joy, is the continual presence of our Savior).  In closing, a photo pilgrimage across campus. There is something so much like coming home when I visit. I will have to make it a more regular habit.

 The beautiful cross inside the student union

 New and beautiful mural on the campus ministry house 

 I love the chapel windows

 We stopped at the grotto to visit sweet Bernadette

 Jesus on the crucifix amidst the city skyline

 Our Blessed Lady

We were even given a beautiful sunset by which to walk back. We are so blessed.

Happy Laetare Sunday!

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