A sign of peace, genuinely given, brings Christ into a situation.
I’ve always liked the sign of peace. As a child, it was my favorite part of our all-school liturgies. The sign of peace provided an excuse to move around a little—to stretch across pews and vigorously shake hands with as many classmates as I could before the teacher reined us in for the Lamb of God. In college, when I attended daily Mass at Marquette University’s tiny Joan of Arc Chapel, the sign of peace was a chance to hug a friend who had an exam the next day or a roommate whose mom was ill.
Sabbath should last more than just the hour of Mass.
Our family has had trouble with the fourth commandment, keep holy the Sabbath day. It’s not that we skip Mass on Sunday, but rather that too often we only keep holy the Sabbath hour and a half (our time at Mass), rather than the Sabbath day itself.
Sometimes the most important job of a parent is to watch and wait.
I was standing in the middle of a small frozen lake near our house, chatting with my husband and Nate, another father in our neighborhood. I was in ice skates and a down coat; Bill and Nate had on heavy boots and warm gear. The ice was about eight inches thick from a recent cold snap, and the wind was brisk from the north. As we talked, I noticed our teenage daughter walking out onto the ice in socks and sandals. From the other shore, Nate’s teenage son approached in basketball shorts and bare legs.
For me, Lent is blackened snow in the streets and muddy boots in the hallway—about as far as you can get from hot and dry.
The analogy of Lent as a desert has never worked for me. I was born and raised in Wisconsin, and except for a year spent in Chicago, I’ve lived here my whole life. The closest I’ve come to a desert is the Desert Dome at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Conservatory. February and March in Wisconsin—the Lenten months—are about as far as you can get from hot and dry. Lent to me has always been cold and soggy. When Lent arrives in Wisconsin, winter is only half over.
Images are as powerful as words when sharing the Christian story.
Our family was visiting our pastor’s house when our daughter Teenasia, then 9, commented on a framed print on the wall. It was a black Madonna and child. “That is so cool,” she said. “Baby Jesus is wearing an African shirt. I love that.” A couple weeks later after Mass, Father Mike gave Teenasia a smaller version of the print. It hangs outside our kitchen, near our huge dry-erase family calendar. The print is not only a reminder of our family’s faith in Jesus and our trust in his mother, but also a reminder to Teenasia of Father Mike’s thoughtfulness and generosity.