I Will Rise Up

I Will Rise Up September 11, 2022


On the eleventh of September,

When ages beyond number had run their course from the creation of the world,

when God in the beginning created heaven and earth,
and formed man in his own likeness;

when century upon century had passed
since the Almighty set his bow in the clouds after the Great Flood,
as a sign of covenant and peace;

Countless millennia since Abraham, our father in faith,
came out of Ur of the Chaldees;

Countless centuries  since the People of Israel were led by Moses
in the Exodus from Egypt;

About two-thousand and twenty-two years from the Nativity of Christ,

Something under two thousand years since His passion, death and resurrection,

Twenty-one years to the day since I watched helpless as three thousand people were murdered violently on television,

After decades of war my own country committed against tens of thousands of innocent people to avenge those three thousand murders,

Two years after I watched the police run amok on the streets of Columbus with the National Guard driving a tank right past the church I was baptized in,

Just eleven days short of her eleventh birthday,

In Columbus, Ohio, where I was born and raised,

My daughter, Adrienne Rose, received her first Holy Communion.

We had been trying to arrange this for some time. We had tried to transfer rites to the Byzantine Catholic church, but Steubenville gossip being what it is we were bawled out by the pastor and never came back when Adrienne was six. We were too shell shocked to officially join another parish but went from one church to another, Sunday to Sunday, trying not to talk to anyone. We didn’t have a car or a  ride to the mandatory parent meetings that were inevitably held in the evening after the buses stopped running. And then the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and we didn’t go to Mass for eleven months. And all the events that happened in Steubenville since then, worsening my religious trauma. But I still wanted her to receive Holy Communion.

I’m not saying God isn’t everywhere else too. We’ve talked about that as well. Adrienne sees God when she helps me stuff the Friendship Room’s free pantry and make supply kits for the homeless. We talk about God as we homeschool and as we go on road trips and hikes. We pray before bed. But one of the places I have found God is in Holy Communion, and I wanted Adrienne to know that He was there for her as well.

I’m not saying I have all the answers about where God is and what He expects. This year I have fewer than ever, and I’ve told Adrienne so. We’ve had long talks about how her childhood isn’t like mine, and the things that happened to me in the name of God that I’m certain are not from God, and the people I was raised to despise that I now know are icons of God. But Adrienne and I were baptized here, in the Catholic Church, in communion with Rome.  So when we want to commune with God, we go to church on Sunday and receive Holy Communion.

I’m not saying that I’ve forgiven the Catholic Church, or that I’ll trust her again.

I’m only saying that when I say “I will rise up and go to my father,” I find myself walking into a church.

And I have been walking Adrienne into church, ever since she was a baby.

And today, we walked into a church and received Holy Communion.

With the help of a friend I’d made arrangements ahead of time with a nice old Monsignor; I said she was shy and just wanted to walk up and receive Communion with the grownups with no announcement or fanfare. I got her a clean button-down shirt to wear with her best slacks because she hates dresses. Holly the witch came with us. And we went to church.

I hadn’t been to Communion in awhile myself. I wondered if I should. I haven’t been the best of Catholics lately. I kept on ticking off those old Baltimore Catechism conditions for a mortal sin on my fingers, and I could come up with nothing I’d done that was anything like that.  I found myself asking the Sacristan for two low-gluten Hosts, one for me and one for my daughter, and wondering if God was offended. And then, somehow, as I sat on the bench and waited for the liturgy to begin, I felt that God was just happy we were here.

There we were, Michael, Adrienne, Holly and me, family, singing hymns and listening to a pleasant homily about God’s endless forgiveness. And this is something I can believe and profess without any qualm. If God is anything at all, God is love and forgiveness.  And if that’s the case, God will be patient with me if it takes a long time to forgive God.

In the Charismatic Renewal, we were so sure that we knew everything. We knew our catechism backward and forward, and we also had special bonus knowledge of the future and revelations of all the dreadful things that were to come. We thought we were the only people who knew how to address God and that God was speaking to us personally, telling us what to do and how to run rough-shod over everybody else. I ‘m not a Charismatic anymore. I don’t believe I know what will happen in the future. I don’t believe I have all the answers about God. But I do have a conviction that whatever else I see, when I come to see God face to face, one of the things I will see is a Parent, a real one, a kind one. And that is the God I’ve tried to teach to my daughter– not the angry and capricious tyrant of the Charismatic Renewal, but a Parent. That parent was who I brought my daughter to commune with today.

She followed me up to Communion, as she has every time for so many years. But this time, instead of crossing her hands over her chest, she held them out with the right hand on top of the left.

And she became one with the Living God, in a way she wasn’t before.

And we have a lifetime to learn about what that God is, and where that God is calling us, and what we ought to do in the name of that God. But if that God is anyone worth our time, that God is patience, love, forgiveness, kindness, a Parent who takes infinite joy in us, a Parent who wants us to be happy and to make each other happy.

Today, here, now, on this day, at this time in history, when ages beyond number had run their course from the creation of the world, Adrienne, Michael and I received Holy Communion together as a family.

And we’ll see where we go from there.




image via Pixabay

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.

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