Friday, September 28, 2012

The Archangels We Need


More Archangels! The first time I wrote about these angels I was still in graduate school and trying to make my way through a day of observation as an assistant in a Catholic High School.  Now, I am back to teaching full time but still calling upon the help of these Archangels to make it through our day.

We celebrated the feast and our Sword wielding namesake a day early with our monks, students, staff, and the Archbishop.  The chapel was filled to the brim with 220 boys (still slightly grumpy with being forced into the full dress code a whole day early) plus teachers, staff, and a few parents. 

They did pretty well, our boys, there were a few strays; one senior leaned his head back against a column behind his chair.  It would've looked like he was thinking, except his mouth drooped open a little bit.  A junior fought sleep bravely, but his head kept bobbing clearly showed sleep winning...even with his dean next to him.  I swept behind the row to gently thwack this slouched and snoozing kiddo with my 'liturgy aid' and just kept moving.  His head popped back up with a startled look; I smiled to show no malice, disturbing his sleep was enough.  Trussed up in their button-down shirts, ties, and dress junior forgot his socks. Sadly for him, I had been celebrating Dress Code Demerit Week and the lack of socks became his first demerit of the year.  Harsh?  No, correction of the sleepy and the sloven was done with a smile, a reminder, and a humor-filled-hope that it won't happen again.

The boys also joined in the praises of this day, "In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord" Responsorial Psalm.  The students proclaimed the Word, assisted in distributing the Eucharist, and participated fairly well.  A choir of men's and boys voices held together pretty well in responses and rang out a little off key, but strong with song.  Those moments are always the most profound for me.  After growing up with only sisters and little church that was mostly women, joining a monastery (ahem, all women), and teaching at a co-ed school where the young ladies did most of the proclaiming and I am surrounded by deep conviction of tenors and basses.  Participation is the norm; even if it's half-hearted, the combined effect is outstanding and it warms my heart.

So I pray for my boys...may Michael will defend them, may Raphael guide and heal them, and may Gabriel herald God's Will for their way.  We don't see them, we don't always think of them, but these angels of power are needed in all our lives. 


Monday, September 3, 2012

State Fair Fun!


This weekend some of us sisters serving in Nebraska gathered for fun at the State Fair! A weekend of prayer and play to rejuvenate our hearts and souls.  Saturday was spent cooking and catching up on all we've been doing since we returned to our missions (our parish and school work).  That evening we attended Mass at Sister's parish where she helps out with caring for others.  A big surprise for me was a familiar face!  One of my students who just graduated was at Mass with us!  He peeked over at me as I was peeking over at him...both of us unsure if we were recognizing the right person since neither knew the other should be there.  After Mass he came over to greet me with a big smile and hug.  It was fun to catch up with him at the start of his new college the by...he was getting ready to show his hogs at the fair the next day. 
I loved seeing all the folk wandering up and down the streets of the fairgrounds.  Here we were watching the folk's check out a hay bale designed to look like snoopy flying one of his doghouses!  There were families with baby strollers, teens sporting their school-4H-FFA affiliations, young couples, and those who had seen many more fairs.  It was fun to watch them go by...

Important to all state fairs is the fried food on a stick! We tried fried Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies, HoHos, MilkyWays, Chocolate covered Bacon, Corndogs, and the winner...Fried Peaches!  They tasted like fresh peach cobbler with a little cinnamon and sugar sprinkled over the top.  The peaches were sweet and juicy and all warm with a crunchy batter covering.  Hmmm...luckily we were all willing to share.  Between the giggles, we swapped bites of the sweet and the savory. 

 The fair had a marvelous exhibit with huge sand sculptures about the state.  This one shows a variety of the states fish, bird, flower and rock formations.  It was amazing to see these grand sized sand castles tower over the families and lookie-loos.  It was also amazing because they seemed to hold up against the wind and heat of the wide-open fair grounds.

While strolling through the quilt exhibit, we were amazing at this Triptych of panels telling the story of Christ's love for us in blocks and thread.  Each of the panels had a Bible verse stitched in to tell the message of the fabric.  The first began with "Come to me..." then the next was "I am with you always"...and finally "It is finished."  We paused quite awhile to ponder the images and what they could mean. 

 Sea lions and Tigers were the exotic animals of choice for the fair!  We tried to get to the sea lion show, but it was all the way across the fair and one of our sisters got overheated and needed a cool break.  So we trekked back through the 100 degree heat to a fan cooled exhibit hall and listed to some fiddle and folk music while sipping our cool sodas and lemonades.  Later, we did get to the Tiger experience with many other families.  The tigers were a bit slow and grumpy, but the tamers shared that they like to sleep through the heat of the day or cool out in pools of water.  Still, they thrilled the little kids and intrigued the grown ups.  We sisters decided we agreed with the tigers, hot days like our fair day were designed for laying low in the shade or cooling off in a relaxing pool with friends.

As we left the fair for our little convent home, the lights and squeals of delight from the midway carried all throughout the fairgrounds.  We had been all over the grounds by this time and were too weary to check out the goings-on but it was a beautiful reminder of fun and life and joy of the young and old we had been seeing all day long.  I had to take a quick picture as we made our way to the shuttle-bus, a picture of how I remember fairs when I was little, a picture of how the rural fairs still celebrate today.