Saturday, April 25, 2009

Vocations: I Love Being an Attorney

Spent the morning giving my prayer and financial talks to a Pre-Cana class at the Church of the Madalene. I really love what I do. Deo gratias.
When I was in my twenties and in college, I did a stint with U.S. Senator Don Nickle's (R-Oklahoma) office in Tulsa for a brief semester. It was an unpaid internship, and they set me to work answering phones as sort of an "ombudsman" position. (For the uninitiated, that means they gave me the work no one else in the office wanted to do.)
Fascinating variety, let me tell you. I took calls from people irate about their trash pickup (not usually something a U.S. Senator deals with) to people calling about problems dealing with their son in the military, and the usual Social Security payments, and alien abductions thrown in for good measure, and even including calls from the local Peruvian ambassador (Tulsa has an embassy, in case you didn't know.) Boring, it was not.
I remember thinking at the time, "Boy - if I were independently wealthy, this is EXACTLY what I'd like to do!" And I meant that with all sincerity. It was wonderful work and the joy of helping people (crazy or not) was such a boon. I loved every minute of it. Really.
Today, of course, I don't work for the senator. But I do work for people facing problems. I'm an attorney - a bankruptcy and consumer law attorney. People come to me with seemingly intractable problems, and I help them.
This one is facing foreclosure and thinks they might lose their home. This one is recently laid-off, and has no savings to fall back on. Those over there are about to be sued by their creditors, and don't know what to do.
All of these people come to me. And I help them. Much of the time that simply means helping them understand what they're facing and what they can do about it. What the worst-case scenario is, and why chances are it won't happen -- but that if it does, I will be there to defend them.
God in heaven, thank you. I love my job. Please let me continue to serve You by serving them.
I don't work for a U.S. Senator, and I can't boss around lackeys at the Library of Congress, but I *DO* get to help people.
Deo gratias, indeed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Holy Week - The Triduum

Finally, we arrive at the Triduum -- almost at the very foot of the Cross.
As usual I am limping into Holy Week, my soul caked with failed resolutions, splattered with the mud of my failures, and all my imperfections intact. They ride upon my shoulder mocking me and pulling at my beard (actually I jettisoned the Lenten beard about 3 weeks ago, no longer able to withstand the discomfort and embarrassment.)
And so I stand here on the brink of failure.
But little do they know, for my Savior does not share my weaknesses and imperfections. He, strong beyond strength, trudges on to Calvary in my place. He is Holy, He is Perfect, He is preparing even now to withstand the loneliness of the garden at Gethsemane. He knows what He must do, and He alone is strong enough to withstand it. He will save me. He will.
Holy Thursday
Last evening we made it to our Latin Mass parish for Maundy Thursday Mass. The church itself and the holy images of Christ on the crucifix, the saints obscured now in dark purple -- representing penance -- a reminder of how spare and joyless this world would be without the presence of God and Christ. "The world would easier survive without the sun, than without the Mass" said Padre Pio, according to our pastor. Even the holy water fonts are dry, as a reminder of the spiritual poverty we are about to face.
Holy Thursday Mass is a memorial of the Last Supper at which Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist ("My flesh is real food, my blood is real drink") hidden beneath the auspices of bread and wine. He is really and truly present on the altar -- the priest an alter Christus ("another Christ") who has been given the power to re-produce Christ's sacrifice on the altar before him.
We watched as twelve of my friends -- men every bit as holy, and because they are men, every bit as sinful as I am -- patiently waited while our good and holy priest, Fr. Peter Byrne, FSSP, humbly washed their feet in imitation of our Savior who washed the feet of the twelve disciples on that Thursday night two millennium before.
After Communion and Mass is finished, the Blessed Sacrament -- Christ's actual body, blood, soul and divinity -- solemnly processed around the interior of the church while the congregation led by the crystal voices of our women's schola, sang the Latin hymn the Tantum Ergo (Google it) to the altar of repose. Whereupon the main altar was stripped of its altar cloths and the remaining six candlesticks which mark the traditional Mass arrangement, finally the Gospel is repeated: "Diviserunt sibi vestimenta mea: et super vestem meam miserunt sortem" ("They parted my garments amongst them: and upon my vesture they cast lots.")
The rubrics of the traditional Mass say here, simply and finally: "The celebrant and sacred ministers [servers] return in silence to the sacristy."
Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.