It’s Not Over, Dear Heart

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the priests at my church recently passed away.

I guess I was fine until the funeral Mass because that’s when it sunk in. He’s gone. He won’t be walking around the church and clicking his heels or asking everyone to say “Amen!” at the end of the homily. He won’t be buying donuts or filling the candy jar in the rectory. He won’t mispronounce my name but make it sound beautiful anyway by rolling the R. He won’t laugh off the crying babies in the middle of Mass and tell the congregation that they’re letting him know it’s time to stop talking. He won’t smile down at me with the clearest and most joyful blue eyes you’ve ever seen. He won’t be around to never get frustrated with anyone. He won’t call anyone “dear heart.” He won’t listen to political rants from our other priest in the morning. He won’t hear confessions.

He’s dead.

But it’s not over.

This is not the end.

And these tears will be forgotten when an immense joy takes their place.

The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming. – Romans 8:18

He lived Christ’s love.

He was so joyful. I never saw him get frustrated or angry. That wasn’t him.

And I guess I never thought about what he had gone through before I met him about thirteen years ago. But I learned yesterday that he had three brothers – two of whom had died in World War II. One died on a sinking ship and the other was killed. The third died in 2013 of cancer. Father Bratus was so devoted and cared so much for his brother.

This holy man felt pain. But that didn’t bring him down. And I need to live his example. I need to be selfless and generous like him.

You know, I feel very peaceful about all this though.

Obviously, it’s like something important is missing and the parish will never be the same, but Father was dying from liver and pancreatic cancer. And he’s in a better place. He’s not in pain, he’s not grieving; he’s clicking his heels and singing as loud as he can to bring joy to God and I know he’s succeeding.

Take courage, dear heart.

This is not the end.

End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.

J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

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Update x 3

Howdy!

I don’t feel much like writing an introduction as I’m eating French toast and have at least three assignments to get done afterwards. So let’s hop right in:

Update #1:

This is the most important and, as the case seems to be, priority = precedence.

Father Walter Bratus went home to Heaven either late Sunday night or early Monday morning. He was one of the pastors at our church and I need to talk about him. Here’s the kind of man he was:

  • He was the kind of man who bought everyone donuts on certain occasions.
  • He never got angry.
  • He had the clearest blue eyes.
  • He was the most joyful person I’ve ever met.
  • He could (and did) click his heels before/after Mass on Sundays.
  • He greeted everyone at the ends of the pews as he processed to and from the altar.
  • Just before he processed out, he would hug everyone in the front rows.
  • Once, when I was serving, I sat two seats away as usual. He called me over to sit in the chair beside him.
  • He loved the chorizo that we sold at my father’s store, so he’d stop by every once in a while to pick some up.
  • He loved Polish food.
  • I believe he could speak Polish (at least some) as well.
  • When I would serve at Mass, he would say a special prayer asking God to make me a saint – at least for that day.
  • He never said an unkind word.
  • His homilies could get long.
  • He showed up one Lent with his beard shaved and I wasn’t sure who he was!
  • He was so kind.
  • He was a saint.

Father Bratus

http://www.dioceseofgreensburg.org/Pages/FatherBratusObit.aspx

Update #2:

I still haven’t figured out a blog title. I’m kind of fed up right now, so I’m tempted to make the switch to “Ginger and Arsenic” but I know I won’t have such a bitter attitude in the future. It’s just the teen years, right? Right? Well, I guess skepticism can last a lifetime…

Update #3:

That speech and debate tournament I spoke of the last couple posts? It went really well. 🙂 I felt sick for a lot of it from anxiety, I think, but it seems worth it. Here’s how the “levels” work:

> Preliminary rounds (we have 6 of them)

> Double Octa Finals (if we have a lot of debaters – if you break to this level, you’re automatically invited to Regionals, which is another tournament, but only for those who qualified to it)

> Octa Finals (8 rounds, 16 debaters)

> Quarter Finals (4 rounds, 8 debaters)

> Semi Finals (2 rounds, 4 debaters) I made it here. I probably would have made it to finals had I gone affirmative, but I’m honestly kind of glad that I didn’t. Now I know I need to work on my negative case. Also, those judges were insanely qualified and I’d hate to look stupid in front of them!

> Finals (1 round, 2 debaters)

I think I look like a monkey here, but that's all I have from the tournament for now.

I think I look like a monkey here, but that’s all I have from the tournament for now so I guess we just have to deal with my face. — Click for a clearer image.

Image taken by the illustrious author of Batman and Tacos. Seriously go take a look at her photography. I’m in awe.

I think someone said there were around 90 Lincoln Douglas debaters. So I placed 4th in LD, was the 14th best speaker (which means relatively nothing since there’s no objective standard of speaker point rankings), and I also broke to semi finals in my After Dinner Speech (all the speech categories broke to semis this tournament).

Overall, I’d say it was a smashing success. 🙂

And I get to do it all over again in less than a month for Regionals! 😀 *twitches*

You know what’s crazy? This is my kind of fun. An intelligent high. Wearing suits. Looking and acting professional (well, minus the acting outside of the rounds – I’m still a kid. Don’t rush me.). I spend my money to think. I get up at ungodly hours of the morning (like 5:50, 6:00?), and get to bed around midnight for three consecutive days…

I love this life.

I love you.

And I hope you know that you can do amazing things. It ain’t easy, but it ain’t impossible either.

Love,

Rana

Some Two Thousand Years Ago Today

It hit me yesterday a few times.

Especially during our Holy Thursday Mass.

Jesus is real. And He’s not a pie in the sky, abstract being with no concern for us.

See, this is the danger of falling into checklist love. I prayed multiple times today, check! I said, “I love you,” check! I did something nice for someone else, check! Etc.

That ain’t love.

But, often times, that is how I love.

I do it out of habit.

What’s more is the fact that I think I do it to not go to hell as opposed to doing it to get into Heaven. It’s a dangerous lifestyle and I need to change it. I don’t want to be a checklist lover of Christ. Because that’s not what He is for me.

What’s the most striking thing is the fact that, at this very moment, some two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ was hanging on the Cross, dying, hurting, suffocating, in mental agony. He saw us all when he was in the garden, praying. And He loved us.

In those raw moments of agony, He still loved.

Mark 15:25 says, “It was nine in the morning when they crucified him.”

Nine.

And He died at three in the afternoon. That means He hung for six hours.

Do you know the history of the cross?

It was a means of torture and humiliation invented by the Persians and perfected by the Romans. It was used for the worst criminals. They died by suffocation. See, they would need to pull themselves up in order to breathe. And if they didn’t die fast enough, their legs wold be broken, taking away their means of pushing up to breathe.

Jesus was already dead before his legs could be broken.

It must have been around midnight when the soldiers came into the garden and arrested Jesus. (Jesus – the God of the Universe, of Heaven and earth, the Creator.) From then until nine the next morning (this morning), they spat on Him, taunted Him, beat Him, scourged Him, pounded a crown of thorns onto His head.

This is real.

This happened.

And it happened today.

How great His Love must be to still care and want us with Him after we’ve hurt Him over and over again.

I’ve been hurt and the last thing I’d want is to be around the person that did the hurting. The last thing I want to do is forgive them and love them.

But this is what God does. After everything we did to Him, He still loves with a perfect love.

And that’s what we’re called to do.

Keep in mind that, just because Jesus is God, He was still human. 100% God, 100% man. He still felt pain, temptation — the difference is that He didn’t give in to it.

I know many of us would like to say that, were we there when He died, we would have stood up for Him. But I think that I, at least, would have doubted His divinity. I would have doubted.

But in three days, He defeats death.

He gives us another chance every second of the day.

If you ever find yourself checking off a prayer list without really thinking about how much love you’re putting into it, stop. Say a prayer to soften your heart. Ask Him to give you the grace you need to be a saint.

At least for today.

/it’s a mad, mad life/

And, the crazy thing is, I chose it.

As of right now, I think I’m going insane. Or maybe I was insane when I decided to take on too much and just hadn’t realized it yet. But now, oh, right now, I’m feeling the effects.

This all goes back to two posts ago in which I let you in on my daily schedule.

This week has just gotten a little crazier, so here’s the schedule:

Monday:

  • school
  • read Free to Choose
  • work

Tuesday:

  • school
  • read Free to Choose
  • exercise
  • work

Wednesday:

  • school (there’s a ridiculous group project that, hilariously, I end up doing a ton of the work for)
  • go crazy
  • start working on debate
  • brain-crash
  • work

Thursday:

  • school
  • read Free to Choose (?)
  • debate
  • church

Friday:

  • school
  • read Free to Choose
  • debate (?)
  • church
  • work

Saturday:

  • read Free to Choose
  • work

Sunday:

  • celebrate the Resurrection
  • probably work on debate if we end up not celebrating with family
  • panic

Next Monday:

  • school?
  • cram for debate
  • work

Tuesday:

  • school?
  • more cramming for debate
  • prepare to leave the next morning
  • most likely cry
  • work
  • get no sleep

Wednesday:

  • leave for tournament
  • panic all the while
  • retain calm exterior

Essentially, prayers would be greatly appreciated. I feel so under-prepared and I don’t want to bomb this. I’ve worked too hard and that would be so disappointing. V_V Also, I really don’t want to go more insane than I am already.

But the thing is, I need to appreciate this.

Who has the opportunity to work whenever they want/need to without following a for-sure schedule or the fear of getting fired? Me.

Who gets to go to speech and debate tournaments? Nerds. And I just so happen to be one…

Who else has this crazy-probably-awesome-insane life? Hopefully, no one… 😉

Love,

Rana

P.S.

I’m still working on the blog renaming thing! Apparently, the ones I like (and you voted for) are taken. Of course. Why would I check availability beforehand? No, that would be smart.