[Editor's Note: I wrote this in the middle of my travels across America last fall.]
|These two probably pray better than me.|
But the routine and settled schedule is out the window when I'm on the road, and because of that, and this is no excuse, my personal prayer life had been taking a back seat. I check in to hotels after a school visit and all I want to do is relax. By the time I finish watching Harry Potter on HBO until 1:00 a.m. (great, but poor decision, Matt), I'm too tired to do anything else but go to bed. I'm lucky enough to get up to brush my teeth, forget about praying.
And this is where I mention an unforeseen highlight of my job as a recruiter of the Catholic Volunteer Network: even though I may be struggling to keep it up myself, I catch my prayer life at the universities I visit.
Let's start with the rosary. I can't tell you how many times I've beaded the "Hail Mary" whether it was at UNC-Greensboro at their Monday rosary nights, at UNC-Charlotte while making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless, or at the University of South Carolina after their community night. One of the notable guys I met on the road was a UNC-G student named Chris who carries six different rosaries on him. One of them, to my liking, was a "manly rosary" that he uses when he's feeling manly and doing manly things. We didn't discuss when exactly those times were but I can only imagine he whips that one out for moments after hunting wild dear, eating raw meat with his bear hands, and drinking cold beer in a cave on a side of a mountain.
Eating meat and praying the rosary.....does it get any manlier?
Sometimes Mass happens in the most humbling of places. Just last night I drove to the University of California-Santa Cruz where Mass was celebrated in a huge lecture hall for classes. Because the parish is off campus, the priest, Fr. Jerry, and their staff decided they wanted to bring Mass to the students. It was well attended with probably the most diverse group of students I've seen so far with Asians and Hispanics probably taking up the majority of the room.
|Where two or three are gathered...|
Mass is Mass is Mass
The Eucharist is the Eucharist is the Eucharist
I’m also just as humbled to have attended a small intimate daily Mass at Clemson University in South Carolina. Fr. Jack and the director Fred leave the off-campus Newman center every Wednesday afternoon and drive to the student union to bring daily Mass to any Catholic student who desires it. I remember we were in a small lecture classroom with a long table seated for maybe 20, and three guys showed up. So six men gathered in the middle of the day to celebrate the Word and the Eucharist together. It was beautiful. It brought me back to my Esto Vir days going to Mass with my brothers. To top it off, Fr. Jack treated all of us out to Chili’s and we feasted like men…with our bare hands, grunts, and bodily noises.
I was telling Andrew who had asked me about prayer in the first place that I have to constantly adjust how I do things, like a running back who never runs the same route all the time, constantly shifting side to side choosing different holes that the offense opens up. My prayer life is the same way. Instead of waiting until night where I’m dead tired, I get my God in when I’m driving and done listening to how to move it like Jagger. More importantly, I get it from the students and the universities I visit. And there’s something (very) cool about how universal the Catholic church is…I’m saying the same Hail Mary whether I’m in South Carolina or Missouri, and it’s the same Eucharist, same Mass, almost the same songs to sing and pray whether I’m in California or now in Minnesota. Although I’m away from home for these past two months, I find home, and more importantly feel at home in the various churches and Newman centers where we say the familiar name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Prayer life on the road. The life of Catholic Volunteer Network recruiter. Tryin' to keep it real. Matt Aujero out.