Holy Saturday

As I type these words, I’m watching Pope Francis celebrate the Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. I don’t speak Italian and I don’t know Latin, but I am able to follow along with the ritual of this most important liturgy of the year easily.  How can that be?  Because tonight, in every country and city in the world with a Catholic Church, the Easter Vigil will be celebrated, with the same words, actions, sacraments, images of light and darkness, and a Candle which symbolizes Christ as the Light of the World (John 8:12).  He has risen from the dead and offers each and every person in the world eternal life.

Earlier today, we had an Easter Vigil rehearsal at my parish.  This year, we have twelve adults and children who will receive the sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. We do a rehearsal because, let’s face it, people get nervous doing things for the first time in front of hundreds of people.  We want to help them focus on the great, life-changing gifts which God offers them, rather than where they are to stand, what they are to say.

Someplace in the world, the Easter Vigil has come and gone, and it’s Easter Morning.  In about fourteen hours, it will be the same here in Maryland.  As I get older, I realize more and more that life moves at breakneck speed.  I hope you will take some time to savor the gift that the Lord gives to us in His resurrection.  Don’t focus on tomorrow’s  meal, Easter egg hunts, or maybe even a final four basketball game.  All these things will pass away, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  Alleluia!


The First Day of Spring

Here in Maryland, you would have had a hard time recognizing that today is the first day of Spring.  When I turned on the news, I heard that it was supposed to snow here today, but it would not be just a dusting. No, it started snowing here around 8:30 in the morning, and it’s still coming down. It will be the same tomorrow..  If the forecast is right, it will be the biggest snowstorm we’ve had this winter. Ugh.  When I took this photo a few days ago while out for a long walk, it felt and looked like Spring.  You could smell it in the air and my walking path was crowded with people looking forward to the joys of what’s to come.  And then…

This morning, I wanted to celebrate the change of season, and I realized, no matter how much snow as coming our way, I was going to get a walk in.  I dashed out the door, bundled up, and headed out.  By the time I parked the car, it was already sleeting, but not enough to deter me.  It was actually quite beautiful, and I was completely alone, except for a few adventurous birds.  I walked for about 30 minutes, making my way around the mile or so loop which surrounds this pond, looking not nearly as picturesque as it does in the photo. In those thirty minutes, I got three loops in.  It felt good.  When I got back to the car, I was really grateful I pushed myself and made the effort.

I love being out in nature, even if the weather isn’t cooperating.  The warm weather is coming.  The flowers, the trees, the new life, they are all coming.  Knowing it’s just not up to us to make it happen is comforting..  That belongs to Someone else, and I’m glad I get to experience it all with eyes to see, ears to hear, and two legs to take me along the path.  Happy Spring!


Walking We Will Go

Although winter isn’t officially over, I feel blessed that it’s been a fairly mild one here in Maryland. Pretty routinely, I’ve been able to get my walking exercise in, with only a few weeks requiring a boring round of circles in the local mall. Today, it was still a bit cold, but glorious nonetheless, with lots of people out walking, running, jogging. It was great to see, and I know spring is right around the corner, so more and more people will be looking to come out of hibernation and get active.

This past week, I had a great meeting with the Coordinator of Walk Carroll, part of a state-wide health initiative to get people to get moving. According to the American Medical Association, more that 60 percent of American adults fail to get the recommended amount of regular exercise, and 25 percent are completely inactive. The AMA recommends healthy adults should accumulate an hour of exercise on most, if not all days of the week (AMA Complete Guide to Prevention and Wellness, p. 47-63).

Here in my hometown, this is what we planned out, starting the week after Easter. Gathering folks twice a week for a healthy, hour-long walk. On Wednesdays, we’ll meet at a local park with great trails and accessibility, and then on Saturday mornings at the Mall for what’s known as a 10 x 10 (10,000 steps by 10 am). Last year, we got off to a late start and didn’t begin walking as a group until August. This year, however, we’re way ahead of the game, and with 70 people on our mailing list, we’re sure to draw them and more with our consistent schedule. I truly can’t wait!

No matter where you live, now is the time to develop a new exercise routine. After checking with your doctor, start moving! Find a group, walk your dog in your neighborhood, make some new friends. Get healthy and active. Most of all, have fun!

I should add that this upcoming Saturday (March 17th), I’ll be leading a mini-retreat at Bon Secours Retreat Center in Baltimore. The theme? Prayer Walking! If you’re in the Baltimore area, please consider joining us by signing up here.

See you on the trail!