Wednesday, June 19, 2013
A night of refreshment...
This is St. Ann's Byzantine Catholic Church in Harrisburg, PA. It is only about two miles from my house. I drive it probably once a week, and I have always wanted to go in!
I don't know much about the Byzantine Catholic Church (although now I have a great desire to learn more!), but my husband (who knows a lot more than I do!) shared that they are in full communion with the Pope. Roman Catholics can attend a Divine Liturgy (Mass in the Roman Catholic Church), and it will count as our Sunday obligation.
Anyway, I've never had a reason to go into this beautiful church. They have advertised church festivals over the years, but we haven't fit them into our schedule. Until...I had the perfect chance this week!
There is a beautiful icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe (just love her!) traveling around Harrisburg. Last week, it was at our parish. They had several nights of reciting the Rosary, prayer services, and various devotions. I really wanted to go! But, between my husband working nights (June is a very busy month for him!) and my after-dinner exhaustion (it never really left me this pregnancy...I feel like I could go to bed at 7 p.m. most nights!), I never made it. I was bummed.
And then...we found out through our church bulletin that the icon was traveling to the Byzantine Church with prayer services this week. OH YEAH...one of the nights would work with my husband's work schedule...and I could have an after-dinner cup of coffee to stay up :).
It was honestly one of the most moving services that I have ever been to in my whole life. I arrived a little late (I had to get Lucy down first!), and I heard heavenly music as soon as I pulled into the parking lot. I walked into the church and was blown away by the gorgeous icons that decorated the walls and ceiling. I saw the Our Lady of Guadalupe icon and I felt like I had arrived home...you know the fleeting peaceful moments when everything feels exactly right!?
I snuck into a pew in the back. I quickly realized that I didn't have the booklet to follow. A kind gentlemen a few rows over came over and gave me his! The music and lyrics were so haunting (I mean in a sacred, good way!). I tried my best to follow even though I didn't know most of the melodies, and no one has ever called me a good singer :). There were only about 30 people there, but it sounded like many more. We sang for a good half hour more.
Then I stayed for private prayer. I showed Our Lady of Guadalupe the picture that my daughter Gianna had made for her. Well, I didn't actually take it out of my purse...but, I kept my promise to Gianna and told Mary about it! Then I prayed...while daydreaming and enjoying the decor...for as long as my body would allow (this 6th pregnancy is causing problems with my bladder and my nose...I have had bad cold symptoms for about two months now!!!).
I didn't want to leave. But, the memory is stored in my heart...and the graces that I received are really working (I've had more loving patience for the children...so far, that is!). My prayers were heard (I know they always are), but I felt great reassurance from Our Lady of Guadalupe that night. Can't ask for more than that!
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us. St. Ann, pray for us. And, please provide more needed nights of refreshment for us moms :). Some women go to a bar for a fun night out (and believe me, I would still enjoy that too!)...I go to the local Byzantine Catholic Church! How my life has changed...