Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rite of Welcome

I wanted to recount a little bit of the Rite of Welcome service. It was so powerful and beautiful - beyond anything that I had expected. What exactly I had expected, I'm not sure. But I didn't think it would be so powerful or captivating. Certainly, Sister had kept back most of the details because she wanted us to be caught up in the moment. As a few of us "planners" were lamenting this prior to the service, (because we need to plan to be spontaneous) she was right. We needed to NOT know all the details, so that its beauty could captivate our senses.

As she described it, we would each state what we ask of God and His church; then we would all grasp the cross; then be signed with the cross. Bada-bing, bada-boom, done. So, we thought the hardest part would be coming up with something to say. (Which wasn't that hard, it just required really thinking about, "why am I here?") I said something to the effect of, "to share in the fullness of their faith and for a place to serve, to give, and to love." Of course, I could've said much, much more - but we were limited to a sentence. (see how I joined two sentences with that lovely conjunction "and"? Yep, always getting around those rules, I am!)

As a group (there were 10 of us), we grasped the cross in response to the question, "Are you ready to take up your cross and follow Christ?" Then, we moved onto the signing. I thought it would just be a one-time sign and we'd be done. But noooo...

Our sponsor (someone who is already a member and will serve as a mentor for us through the next phase) signed us with the cross. The priest would read what I am about to write, Mary would sign me, and then the choir would sing, "Christ will be your strength, learn to know and follow Him."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your forehead. It is Christ himself who now strengthens you with this sign of His love. Learn to know and follow Him."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your ears, that you may hear the voice of the Lord."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your eyes, that you may see the glory of God." (at this point, as Mary signed my eyes - I felt such heat and was reminded of something that a friend prayed about my eyes once.)
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your lips, that you may respond to the word of God."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your heart, that Christ may dwell there by faith." (which reminded me of the time I was in 1st grade and wanted to see Jesus, so I closed my eyes and 'looked into my heart' and saw Him calming the waves.)
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your shoulders, that you may bear the gentle yoke of Christ."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your hands that Christ may be known by the work you do."
"Receive the sign of the Cross on your feet that you may walk in the way of Christ."

After each sign, I would look out at Mary - and the joy that radiated was incredible. The joy that radiated from me was incredible. I really have no way to completely capture what I felt - but I have never felt so welcomed, so loved, so connected, so much a part of something so much bigger than myself. As I took part in this, I really felt connected to all who have gone before me, throughout the centuries, those now, and those to come.

I truly feel part of the Body of Christ. I know that, yes, before this I was a Christian and I was a part of it...but, trust me, I now KNOW it deep within...that I am connected to the communion of saints, which has strengthened my bond with the head, which is Christ.

To close, an appropriate Psalm for today:

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come into His presence with singing!
Know that Lord, He is God; it is He that has made us - not for ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him and bless His name.For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations!

(Psalm 100)

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Tomorrow I will participate in the 'Rite of Welcome' at St. Thomas Aquinas Church. This is the public step toward becoming a member of the Catholic Church.

Have those two sentences tripped anyone up yet? Well, I'm not surprised if it has. If you know me, you know that this was not a rash decision, but one that has been given much, much thought and prayer over the last (almost) two years. (I was going to say it wasn't an emotional decision, but if you know me, you know that I feel things deeply - so, there have been plenty of emotions playing a role.) The reason why you haven't heard much about it is because, well, for whatever reason, I am very aware of people's reactions, and prefer harmony over discord. Therefore, while I feel (and think) very deeply that this the right path for me, if I'm not really sure how you'll respond, well, I just tend to avoid it. Right or wrong, that's how I roll. :) (totally stole that from Paige Van Voorst)

I often say that I never would have imagined that my path would have involved joining the Catholic Church. I didn't. I think that's one of the reasons for my above actions; it's a shock to me, why wouldn't it be to others? But, while I have come to this humility that truly says, "Lord, I am the clay. You are the Potter;" and in that submission have been experiencing a fullness of my faith never found before...not everyone has responded the same way I have (hence my peace-maker nature of avoidance).

However, I think fullness is the appropriate word for what I have received thus far. Fullness of faith, joy, unity, place, and inheritance. I cannot explain it, but I have received this through my journey within the Catholic faith. The place of where and even the manner of how I worship has changed, but the God of/over All has not. It is my prayer that we all will be able to express in joy, in love, in humility, in grace and mercy what He has done and is doing for us. God is greater and moves in many suprising ways. As he continues to teach me humility and submission, I pray that we'd all be ready to see Him work wonders in our day.

"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with JOY!"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How do you measure 8 years in a life?

On January 6, 2003, I started my first day of work as a advisor with the TRIO Educational Talent Search program at Iowa State University. I thought I *might* be there a year, year-and-a-half before getting married and moving away. (No, I wasn't dating anyone at the time; why do you ask?) On January 5, 2011, I will have my last day as 'Advisor' before starting a new journey the next day...becoming a full-time grad student, and teaching assistant for Ag 450.

I had no idea how hard this would be. In mid-August, I realized that I need to finish my degree, so that I can move forward. As I've progressed through my classes this semester, I have begun to think that (perhaps) I might like teaching at the university level. (I know, right?) SO, I asked about any assistantships in our department. Lo & behold, there was ONE coming available for the spring!

The challenge is that it's Ag EdS 450, the senior capstone course for Ag Studies majors where they learn how to manage a farm by managing a farm. To quote my brother, "How are you going to teach THAT class?" Trust me, Brother, already had that concern...and yes, that concern does still linger. The second challenge was figuring out if I can live on an assistantship "salary." I can make it work, BUT I'm very open to part-time work! 5-10 hours, please - hit me up. The biggest challenge was approaching my boss. How do you approach something like this? I was at a complete loss. The only solution for me was to pray. And pray. Pray some more. Recruit my "circle" to pray, and pray, and pray some more. It went well...beyond anything that I could have imagined or hoped for. I received the blessing of my director.

What caught me off guard, though, was the emotion behind the decision. Everything above was about me, my decision, my life. It makes sense to make a move like this. Right? The night before I met with my director, while talking with Dan about this, I just started crying. It wasn't about me, anymore - but my students. How can I walk away from them?

It was then that it began to settle in just how blessed I have been to have this job - this privilege - to work with my students. My goal in life, the reason I chose my major, the reason I took this job, was to "positively influence others to realize their potential in life." I get frustrated when I feel like I'm not doing this; when I feel like "my kids" just aren't getting it. Then, God gives me these moments where I can see just how blessed I've been to be doing that what I've always desired to do.

So, this brings me to the title line. How do I measure the past eight years of my life? (thinking of this brings tears to my eyes) My students. Their families. The brothers and sisters. I have been blessed. I don't know how to say good-bye to you all...only to count you all as blessings. I can only hope that my next job will be such a blessing; filled by people who bless me.

I mean really, in what other job do you have students devote entire facebook posts to you - that are GOOD?! Or say "RIP J-Rohr" and cause school controversy? Or cause other teachers to say, "She's just leaving. Is it that big of a deal?" Or say, "if only the next advisor is just 1/3 as cool..." You guys have made this journey worthwhile. It's all been for you. :) Much love & many blessings!