The return of Omicron: descendant of Optimus Prime…back again?

1.11.2022

Dear dad,

Has anyone else experienced a return of the symptoms of omicron after having shed them exactly one week after testing positive the first time?

Kidding but not kidding. This would be horrible. Forgive my raw humor. It was just for the sake of what writing teachers call an “attention grabber.”

Th return of omicron does not come with any symptoms. Praise God. Rather a short reflection on a further transformation.

Quite by accident and the Holy Spirit, I attended daily Mass at St. Mary’s this morning. It has been a while, of course. I really wasn’t planning on going. Nor when I woke up did I really want to go, mostly because going out in the frozen tundra didn’t sound too appealing.  It just happened to be that my alarm went off, and mom was still asleep, so the dogs needed to be let out and fed. Funny how the dogs have been “walking” me recently. Anyway, so I was up and felt awake. I fed the dogs, and it was 7:30. Perfect timing to make Mass at 8.

I thought going to Mass for the first time after being shut-in with covid would be something spectacular. Finally, I was able to receive the Eucharist again. Finally, I was being nourished with the Word and community. Honestly, it didn’t start out too special. In fact, it felt dreadfully normal. This was my mood for most of the beginning prayers, even up to the homily. But then I remembered something Father Mike Schmidt, again, said in his Epiphany homily. Something about the nature of worship. Worship isn’t about what you “get out of it.” Some of the best worship is showing up when you don’t feel like it and offering your praise and thanksgiving and feeling absolutely no sort of fuzzy warm feelings inside. It is when you worship and give without expecting anything in return that changes you. This is the worship I believe Paul talks about in Romans 12.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [12:1]

I ought to worship without expecting anything in return. I ought to worship to love God for His sake only, not what He can give me. Not what I think He will do for me. I worship to honor God for who He is and who I am. He is Creator and Father. I am creature and daughter. Worship that brings peace and true justice. Justice meaning “in right relation to.” This pure form of worship when I expect nothing (and thus everything) puts me in right relation with God, my Creator and Father, loving Him just for who He is. Thus, I was reminded I didn’t have to feel scandalized or ashamed or angry that returning to Mass didn’t “feel” spectacular.

“My Lord God, here are my expectations of what coming back to Mass would be like. I thought I would feel something spectacular. Thank you for helping me remember that though I might not “feel” it in my physical flesh, You embrace me as Your beloved daughter.”

Then comes the Eucharist. We as Catholics believe the real Presence of Jesus is in the Eucharist. His very Body and Blood. Crazy. Maybe. Or maybe not so crazy. It is a mystery. A beautiful mystery I think you take leaps of faith to grasp little by little. Although, for some, it is quite easy to believe. It has been a bit harder for me, but each time the Lord, by His grace, unveils a little piece of the mystery, it brings tears to my eyes. I am further convinced there is nothing more real in this life than the real, living Son of God presented to us through the bread and wine. Ahh a Body, a living sacrifice, presented holy and acceptable to God? Sounds familiar.

Something else I always wanted to ask St. Paul was how could we, as sinners, be holy and acceptable to God? It seems we can only be because Jesus is. Jesus, truly, is the only One holy and acceptable to God, as His Beloved Son. When we unite ourselves to Jesus, we also become holy and acceptable. He is the only way, and He offers Himself to us. This is Good News.

“The Christian is Christ without ceasing to be him or herself.”

[St. Josemaria Escriva Podcast]

There is so much to be said about the Eucharist and how it turns us into “other Christs,” the most ourselves we can be. But I said this would be a short reflection. So here is what I know. Today during the liturgy of the Eucharist, the words of Father Sam, through the Holy Spirit, unveiled something about the beauty of our God. The Gospel passage came from Mark 1:21-28, when Jesus is teaching in the synagogue and people are amazed because his teaching is not what they’re used to, not like the authority with which the scribes taught. Father Sam, in his homily, asked where this authority from Jesus came from to speak and teach as He did? It was different. Different from what they were hearing from the Jewish authorities on the Torah. Father Sam suggested the authority of Jesus comes from his divine compassion. This is what was different.

“Love takes off where knowledge leaves off.”

[St. Thomas Aquinas]

He was the King of the Jews who came to serve, not to be served. To gather the Father’s beloved. His life and death were completely in service. In service first to the Father and to all people because He loves us and wants us all to return to Him. I know the role of a king can be a hard thing for us to grasp really. It seems like a life far away in fairy tales. Or royal drama in England. I just watched the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy (again, yes) and Aragorn is given as what a true king should be like. At any crossroads of putting his life first or on the line for others, he willingly puts it on the line for others.

Imagine, then, the Last Supper. Jesus is preparing His disciples for His death. Just as His whole life, He is trying to unveil to them, help them understand who He is, what His mission is. He is about to go to His torturous and agonizing death yet still chooses to serve them because He loves them and knows they will be afraid and confused when things happen as they are about to happen. See Him there, at the table, with people He has spent much time with. He has taught them and listened to them. Walked with them in joy and sorrow. Ate with them and worked with them. He is a man serving his friends, loving them, helping them understand. Helping us understand who He is. As the Son of God, One with the Father, how could He not give His whole self in divine compassion? As true King, how could He not put His life on the line for me and you, His people?

If St. Paul asks us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, surely there is a way. But I am sure it cannot be me by my own powers. It seems to require a different kind of authority. Not solely of knowledge or expertise or will. But of supernatural Love. Of divine compassion.

How could He not come to us in the bread and wine? How could divine compassion and love not spill out into the tangible? How could it not take something natural and imbue the supernatural? Manna. Bread from heaven. If we know Jesus as the Son of God, King and Servant, how could He not?

He was there this morning. In Mokena, Illinois. 2022. Serving His friends still. Giving Himself still. Helping us understand who He is still. Offering His Body and Blood as a living sacrifice still. Living and loving still. And transforming my life into spiritual worship.

Omicron is back at it. Come bother me babe.

I love you dad,

Lauren

larry_saj6Author

"Surely man at his best is a mere breath." -King David I am a mere breath God has graciously gifted to be His daughter first, a daughter and sister, a friend, an athlete, a writer, a coach. I hope to be a full-time professional soccer player, write a book or two, be a lifelong learner, work for a sports and faith ministry, coach college soccer, have a family and maybe even pick up the guitar. My dad died when I was a sophomore in college. Writing became especially important to me after his death, helping me grieve and heal. I find writing letters to him has helped me process deep emotions and pain I didn't really know what to do with. My hope is the letters will share experiences that speak to and shine a light into the lives and stories of others in some way.

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