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Saturday, December 18, 2010

33-Day Total Consecration and Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe
(Pretty, ain't she?)
This past Sunday was the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  It was also the end of a 33-day prayer journey called Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary by St. Louis de Montfort.  My housemates and several students and I said our final prayers at the end of Mass to end our Consecration together after a long yet fruitful 33 days.    

The following is my attempt to capture the highlighted moments.  

Signs and the answer to my prayers
After two months in at St. Franics, I wanted to do something with my kids now that (many of them) think I’m cool.  My prayer was, "OK, God, I think they like me.  But it's not enough for me to be liked, I want to use it for You.  But what?  How?  What can I do?" After praying this for weeks asking God what I could do, a good friend of mine reminded me about the Consecration that I had done these past two years.  The timing was impeccable.  I knew it was God’s answer to me.  This could be one way---I could pray the Consecration and invite them to do it with me.

26 strong
I wanted to invite the entire school, but I didn't have time, so I just asked two or three students I knew really well to pray it with me. I told them about the Consecration and how it's a way to pray to Mary to get closer to Jesus, and how it's 33 days because 33 is a sacred number (number of years Jesus lived) and at the end of it is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Well, word got around and one of my students told me it'd be a good idea to ask three classrooms I knew best: the Novenos.  I took him up on it.

However, during the two days I was inviting people, I was starting to get huge doubts.  I was getting voices from the Wrong Guy Downstairs saying, "You're asking too much from your students," "They'll never follow through, you're wasting your time," "You picked the wrong thing for them to do for a first request."  Then that day I went to lunch, and I opened the Bible to a random page.  This almost never works for me, but that day I turned to a story about Jesus walking on the beach asking some fishermen to follow Him.  It was a sign. Jesus had faith in these guys, I should have faith in my kids and what I'm doing.  "Bet on yourself," as Liz would say.

17 ended up joining by the time it started.  What?  I remember going to the copy room more times than I expected so everyone could have one.  Add my four housemates, Jenny my boss, Nader my friar friend, Tim all the way in Syracuse, and Bobby my boy in D.C. and that was 26. What?  I think my favorite number of all of this is 8: the number of male students (pretty much half) that wanted to join, four of whom who came at the last minute before my work ended that day.  For anyone who knows me well, this means the world to me.The thing is about guys, I think it's tougher to make anything God/prayer-related seem cool. So when 4 of the 8  showed up at my office door, it's like four individual celebrations for me.   When they left, I immediately went to the chapel, got on my knees, and thanked God.  I also told Him that I could die now, too.  He responded, "And now the battle begins..."

Cami, Mariela, Jose, Howie, Pao, Me, Britt, Jell, Jordan (Tom and Karla missing)
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Guadalupe
Dec. 12, 2010 -After 33 days of Consecration
Second Week=Rosary
After a fruitful 12-day prep and First Week of prayers, we were half way there, but I was starting to lose steam.  I missed my first day.  The next day came the Second Week, which involved the longest set of prayers including a rosary on top of it---at least 45 minutes of prayer time total.  It was the first momentI just straight up didn't want to do it.  Tom, my housemate, happened to be online, and I told myself, "All right, God, I'll ask if Tom wants to do it with me, but if no answer, I'm not doing it."  (P.S. Isn't it weird how we make these weird deals with God?  For me, in my mind, I feel like I have to at least  try something small before I entirely gave up.  He almost always responds. How annoying.)  But Tom was up for it, he saved me, because I didn't want to pray.  We did the first rosary night tonight brother to brother.

The second day I still didn't want to pray, and after work, I heard some music playing from one of the music rooms.  It was some of my students and I sat and watched them sing/play. After their rehearsal, we walked towards the gates, and one of them mentioned, "Mateo, do you want to do the prayer with us?"  That day, Jose, Howie, Mariela, and I sat in a circle in the chapel and prayed the Consecration and rosary together.  The next day was La Isla and they asked if we could meet beforehand and pray again.  What?

Later that week, I went on a camping trip with my housemates and senior students.  Each night after dinner for four nights, my housemates and I would get away either in a vacant room or our tent and prayed.  I may have been the initiator of prayer, but I owe them.  I may not have prayed were they were not there with me.

Looking to Mary...
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
I thought it was ridiculously cool that we were ending our Consecration together on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in a church called Our Lady of Guadalupe in a town called Guadalupe with the priest presiding happening to be the school president.  What?  Of the 25 who started, 11 of us finished, and definitely not perfectly and maybe not entirely. But numbers and who finished isn't important, what was important is what each of us made it to be.  And maybe it may have sparked a prayer habit we may not have had before.  Whatever it is, I hope something was good for everyone who tried something different.

Here's what it means to me:

First, I'm passionate about a lot of things. Playing music, writing, dancing (baller bolero moves), and eating all being at the top.  Praying is up there, too.  They're all things I'm not the best at (well, maybe eating...), but they're the things I care the most and try the most at.  I just feel like praying is a sixth love language for me.  There are people who you hang out with, play sports with, work with, go to school with, even live with.  But then there's people you can personally pray with.  It's a tighter, smaller circle of friends and loved ones.  And that prayer that you share together, for me, that is probably one of the most special things you can share with someone.  So I guess I want to say Thank-You for those few students and my housemates who I got to personally share prayer with.  Who invited me into their prayer lives.  I couldn't have followed through without you. find Jesus.
Second, writing this post is a reminder for me that I have to find things in my life that I'm passionate about doing.  I remember that night I was reminded about the Consecration, I got so worked up and excited about getting my students to do it with me, too.  I couldn't sleep, I was so excited.  That kind of emotion isn't the first time that's happened for me, and I'm sure it won't be the last.  I've been spending a lot of time these past several months thinking about what I'm going to do post-FrancisCorps, and potentially the next four or five years.  This post reminds me that I need to follow what gets me going, what gets me caught up in role I love, wrapped up in an adventure worth striving for.  I hope and pray I find what that is when the time comes.


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