Reflections on my birthday: 2021

Note: For my birthday this year, I’m seeking donations through Facebook to Pure in Heart-America. I’ve chosen this nonprofit because I have known the organization and leaders for the past few years. Their mission can help young people toward happy lives and happy marriages.  If you believe in happy lives and happy marriages, please donate.

We can all agree that the past year ranked up there (or down there) with its hardships and feelings of surrealism and confusion.  However, I found many graces last year.  God’s providence never fails when we have full trust in him.  Here is the rundown for the past year.

mask
We learned to keep a mask nearby this year.

Pandemic

Everything has to be viewed through this current battle against coronavirus.  I observed two simultaneous trends during the lockdown. First is the growing dependence on technology to keep in touch with others.  I prefer more often video chats instead of a phone call.  It’s a beautiful thing to see someone’s face unencumbered with a mask. Second is the growth in arts and crafts. It’s funny to hear stories of people trying to make bread or bake or knit. I didn’t try any of those. But I continued to write and send cads. Although I was running late with Christmas cards, I persisted in completing them before Christmas. A handwritten note is so much better than a typed note or email greeting. (This year,  I wrote 110 cards, an all-time high.)  The two trends show that our lives can become more complex yet more simple.

Books
From the right, the first stack of books is for my master’s thesis. The second and third stacks contained various books for the fall semester or from the previous spring semester. Photo taken on Sept. 19, 2020.

Academics

The spring semester was an adjustment to remote learning. The fall semester was a steady routine with that same learning. Before the March lockdown, I was stressed out over finding time to complete assignments. Then, the pandemic happened. Time allocated for commutes became time for papers and studies. It became easier to plan out my days the night before. My schedule allowed me to exercise 6 times a week (a first). The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was less stressful because papers and finals had earlier deadlines.

My thesis idea almost died again.  The May departure of my thesis adviser threatened to sink the project.  But during my prayer, Jesus referred me to a professor, who had not responded to my thesis inquiry two years ago. I emailed her.  She agreed to be my thesis adviser on May 13, Our Lady of Fatima. The turnaround from losing a thesis adviser and finding another was about a week. Once more, the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary want this thesis completed.

Virtual Retreat

Collaboration

I have grown plenty in fraternity and collaboration with my religious brothers. In January, Br. Jorge Sanchez, OMV and I organized a day of recollection at Milton for a women’s Bible study group from St. Mary’s in Dedham. That work prompted me to learn how to livestream the Masses during the lockdown. The film work prompted two current blog series on the Mass and Ignatian prayer. In April, a conversation with Fr. Paul Kallal, OMV led to a virtual retreat for Divine Mercy weekend.  You can check out the retreats here: Part 1 & 2 and Parts 3 & 4.  Brs. Jorge, Jonathon and I gave weekly reflections on the Eucharist on Sundays during the summer.  You can listen to one of my talks: Healing through the Eucharist.

rock climbing 2020
Miggo took this photo of me scaling a wall at Central Rock Gym in Watertown, Mass., on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020.

Fraternity

The desire for accountability and time with religious brothers spurred the expansion of two ideas from 2019-20. First was to maintain the Friday one-on-one walks, even through midterms and finals. Second was group sharing before the Saturday movie. Each allowed us to share our thoughts and feelings and to learn how a religious brother is doing. I appreciate every one of those walks and meetings.  This accomplished my 2020 goal of hanging out with someone in my religious community twice a month.

That regular schedule of meeting with my religious brothers opened up more opportunities for hanging out with them.  I brought Miggo, a postulant, to a rock climbing gym in October.  It was fun and challenging to scale those walls. The following month, Chris, another postulant, joined the two of us at the gym.  Maybe I should invest in a pair of rock climbing shoes

Lanteri Mary

Goal

See the Christ Child in each person I met.  During the Christmas season, I usually read The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander. Her suggestion of seeing the Christ Child in each person interested me this year.  For the next 90 days, I plan to make an act of faith that each person I meet is Jesus.

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