I'd written a funny post in my head about hosting my six year old's birthday party made up of members of her ballet class. It ended up being a surprise Marian event. There were nine, "surprise to us," Catholics and one Koren Presbyterian.
I spilled out all the grace from that event, however, by complaining about my hostess duties to my husband after the event was over.
I crawled off to Saturday Vigil Mass like a deflated balloon. The weekends are usually my "recovery" time. Instead, I spent all Friday tracking down a formal gown, baking a cake and cleaning our teeny apartment. Saturday was spent extending hospitality to mostly strangers. Our kids skipped their afternoon naps after the excitement of visitors and too much pinata candy.
I walked up the church stairs at 5:30 feeling exhausted and grumpy. I dreaded another day alone spent shuttling kids to two sets of babysitters and myself back and forth from Jon's all day Knight Event in Takoma Park, Maryland.
Then I walked into the church. I saw the happy signs of Welcome in Spanish, French, and Vietnamese. I sprinkled myself with Holy Water. There in the first pew was my fellow Carmelite, Mary Rice, with her ailing father. I'd prayed for this man for four months and I finally got to meet him at Church. (Mary's Dad has severe heart failure and it was a rare event for him to feel well enough to attend Mass.) I said hello to the lady's whose Adoration shift I covered last Sunday. Even at an unfamiliar Mass time, the church felt familiar and filled with friends.
I sang. I listened to Scripture. I heard Father Avelino's homily on St. Paul where he thumped his Bible and announced "WAKE UP Dead Man!" Then it was time to be fed at the Table of the Eucharist.
Now this is a completely unfamiliar part of Mass for me again. (Baby Maria has been going through a phase where she insists on exiting the family pew and running madly TOWARDS the alter. I think it's been a solid six weeks since I've actually got to Celebrate this Holy part of Mass inside the church, rather than pacing the narthex with a wiggly almost two year old in my arms.)
During this novel experience of actually focusing on the raising of the Host, I noticed vividly that something was different.
Most priest hold the broken Host vertically over the Chalice.
This time Father Avelino held the Host horizontally.
The curve of the half moon Host lined up perfectly with the bottom curve of the Chalice cup. The flat line of the broken Host mirrored the flat edge of the Chalice.
"It's one thing" is what my heart thought. The Body and the Blood of Christ, the Host and the Chalice, it's one, unified event.
Just as a started to lose myself in the contemplation of that thought, Jesus flashed me a little love letter.
Father picked up MY purificator as he started to distribute communion.
That purificator is unique in our parish. All of our other purificators are white linen "napkins" embroidered with a sedate red cross. This purificator also has a three inch square embroidery of Jesus heart pierced with thorns united with Mary's heart pierced by a sword.
Hannah had drawn my attention to the "pretty one" when we did Jesus's laundry together on Tuesday afternoon. She had washed it clean of the Sacred Blood. I carefully insured no drops landed in the carpet. Together we had a procession to the front yard where we poured out the "now Holy water" onto some Tree Roots. Alex squirted Spray 'n Wash on the fuchsia lipstick stains. I ran that exact purificator through the wash and fussed over the tricky ironing process.
A few days ago, that purificator was in our house. We cared for it and returned it promptly to church. Now my work was in the priests hands, in Jesus's hands.
I felt this little love note to my soul from Jesus:
"I use everything you do, no matter now modest or how hidden."
It's all important. My trips to Target to figure out the exact right pinata. My hurried invitations to the "ballet girls." My emergency trip to Alexandria to borrow a friend's black tie worthy gown for Jon's Knight Dinner. All of these hidden duties are as important to the building of Christ's kingdom as doing Jesus's laundry before the rush of multiple Lenten Masses.
Thank you Jesus! May our hearts always be united to you through our gracious Mother Mary.