I never lack great thoughts or ideas…just time to get them on paper (or the blog). With that being said, I am only four days behind on getting this post up.
Two weeks into the Lenten season and my zeal was waning. Sacrifice was supposed to make me feel optimistic and hopeful, right? Well, it should, but I wasn’t.
(And here comes the amazing part of the story…the two wonderful priests at our parish (Father Carlos and Father Humberto) write homilies just for me! Not true, but it seems so. Every week, without fail, their homily touches on my struggles that past week – no lie! And this past Sunday was no exception, but I digress.)
The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent (Luke 9:28b-36) was all about Jesus taking Peter, John, and James up the mountain to pray. As you know from the Bible, many times people are called “up the mountain” to be closer to God as He often revealed Himself on the mountain-top. Father Carlos’ homily drew on this and told us how when he first visited our city, he was given a tour by our Archbishop. On this tour, the Archbishop took him to the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Father was struck by how the Cathedral in our town sits as the highest point in the city — almost like the Cathedral sits atop a mountain.
There it was…my spiritual dryness could only be cured by a trip to the mountaintop, well, a trip to the Cathedral of Saint Paul.
I told the family on the way home from mass about my plan for a “pilgrimage” to the Cathedral that afternoon. “We have seen it thousands of times, Mom!” “Why? It’s Sunday, a day of rest.” “It’s boring!”
I then offered a trip to get ice cream after the trip. I had no more complaints.
It was a wonderful afternoon. The Cathedral was filled with choirs warming up for a performance later that afternoon. We leisurely strolled around, snapping photos, and reading little bits of information on the statues or architecture. I also armed each child with some one dollar bills to prudently pick where to light candles and offer prayers and intentions.
We also learned that the Cathedral of Saint Paul was designated as the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul by the Vatican and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on March 25, 2009, following a request by our Archbishop John C. Nienstedt.
In 2012, the Vatican established a “bond of spiritual affinity” between the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome and the Cathedral of Saint Paul (our Cathedral!). This means that anyone making a pilgrimage here can enjoy all the spiritual benefits as if they were able to pray at the tomb of the Apostle Paul in Rome. As a sign of this spiritual closeness, the Cathedral has received the gift of a stone taken from the ancient wall surrounding the tomb of Saint Paul. (We didn’t get to see the stone – we were told as a relic, it is locked away for safe keeping in the Cathedral until a suitable display can be created.)
One hour later and not a single person begging to leave.
When we finally left, it was if everyone had seen the Cathedral in a new light. Exploring the Cathedral, Our Cathedral, left us all in awe. Our trip for ice cream was sharing what “cool” things we saw within that wonderful building.
And yes, that is a Lego replica of our beautiful Cathedral, built to scale. At least two children said they had found their calling – “just going to different places and building Lego sets for people!”
At home that evening, I looked through all the photos, which in no way could capture the true beauty and colors of the Cathedral. Okay, I kind of stink at photography, despite the deluxe camera.
I felt renewed by the pilgrimage to the mountain-top. My spiritual dryness had lifted! But most important of the trip – I was ready to continue on my Lenten journey with the sacrificial enthusiasm that I had hoped to carry through these 40 days.
How is your Lenten journey going? Please tell me I’m not the only one struggling this season! What do you do when your spirits need lifting?