When I was 17 years old I went on a "Holy Week" mission trip down to Atlanta, GA.
I had recruited a bunch of people to go, but wasn't particularly thrilled to be going myself.
It honestly had been years since I spent Easter with my actual family, and the idea of waking
up on Sunday morning to a basket full of Reese's peanut butter eggs sounded more appealing than
sleeping on the floor and leading a group of girls in "door-to-door" missions.
Yes, believe it or not, Catholics are in to that kind of evangelization too.
"No we are not Jehovah's Witness. Nope, not Mormon either. Your local priest sent us out..."
I wish we could have recorded the looks on some of the faces!
I will never forget one house visit we made that year in particular. The Church we had been
working at all week had a list of "desperate cases" (could be anything from a homebound person
to someone who used to attend Mass, but hadn't been seen in months - maybe years). I chose a
"case" randomly and loaded my team in the van. We drove close to an hour for one visit...
for one man named Tom.
Before we approached the door, I felt this overwhelming urgency to stop and pray before we knocked.
There we were - standing shoulder to shoulder, in a circle of prayer - calling down the Spirit in
that driveway - when the front door rattled and a very irritated gentleman stormed out onto the lawn
demanding to know what we were doing.
I quickly introduced myself, my team, and told him we were there to invite him to come to Easter Mass.
Tears filled his big, round, grandpa eyes and he couldn't speak.
"Tom, can we pray for you right now?" I gently asked.
He just nodded his head, and I began talking to God about that day His Son died on the cross.
I remember talking to God in particular about the soldier that pierced His side - that soldier
who was covered by the "blood and water" in a very real, healing way.
When we were done, Tom finally was able to choke out that he hadn't been to church in years.
He told us that he left the Catholic Church thinking that no one cared. Not even God.
"You standing here on my driveway today - are my sign."
One year later the mission organization got a letter from that particular parish concerning
that man named Tom. It read that Tom had come back into the arms of Mother Church and had become
a regular, active member of the Body of Christ once again.
And I wanted to stay home and eat Reese's peanut butter eggs.
It is moments like these that have shaped my life so profoundly. Reminding me that we have NO IDEA
what God is working out behind the scenes or what role He has for us to play. This is one of the
many reasons why it is so important for me to bring to LIFE the ebb and flow of the Church, of
the liturgical year, in my home. I don't want my kids to ever doubt for one moment that nobody
cares about their hearts and souls. Or worse, that God doesn't care.
He loves us more than we know.
I went on my last Holy Week mission trip 7 years ago. I was 19 years old, and sang the joyful
hymns of Easter (in my poor, pathetic Spanish) with all my heart - standing in the great Basillica
of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico.
My Holy Weeks are not nearly as *exciting* these days. But even as I type that I feel
Jesus nudging my heart, reminding me that I have NO IDEA how GREAT is the MISSION of raising
His children in the faith. Sigh. "Ok, Jesus... even if it's just "coloring" and not
actually "praying" the Stations of the Cross?!"
A Christian Seder Meal is one tradition that we've managed to pull off every Holy Thursday
without fail for the past 5 years. I'm in shock myself. I don't know what your "mission" looks
like this year, but if you are interested, HERE is where you can find all the details + script for a special night of remembrance.
You don't have to travel to Atlanta or Mexico City to make a difference.
You can begin right in your own home.