Though today’s Gospel reflects the Final Coming of Christ, simultaneously, I can’t help but think about our daily call in everyday encounters until then. Pope Francis explains,
“The Bridegroom is the Lord, and the time of waiting for his arrival is the time he gives to us; it is a time of watchfulness, a time in which we must keep alight the lamps of faith, hope and charity, a time in which to keep our heart open to goodness, beauty and truth.”
When I served on mission with the Cabrini Sisters, I was all packed and ready to go! In some ways, I was like one of those initial five maidens who packed extra oil...but at the same time, I was like one of the foolish maidens who was not adequately prepared - in my case, with extra doses of flexibility and openness. By the grace of God, he filled my lamp along the way.
Bridegroom in today’s reading, reminded the maidens to stay awake! Be ready!
They had their role, but were unable to fulfill the task and instead, became
drowsy and fell asleep.
the year, I take students on immersion trips and service experiences locally
and globally. Often times, during reflection time, students come back from
these experiences feeling hopeless, or not having any hope or idea of how to
respond to what they experienced. And so, I share with them, “Share your story!
Share what you have learned, but don’t stop there. Take that next step, and
advocate for these issues that may affect our brothers and sisters who are
directly affected by such rulings and policies.
and speak to our local reps about the brothers and sisters you met along the
way. Stay awake, challenge yourself to think differently, and keep your
experience alive - keep the stories you heard, alive in your heart, and through
your actions. You have had such powerful encounters, what will you do with
Relief Services provides such resources to nurture our call to faith and
justice through their commitment to global solidarity - at schools, in
parishes, and within communities. When our students have such powerful
experiences, or even when friends come and share with me meaningful moments, I
can’t help but believe those are moments of grace. In those moments, their
hearts were awakened, their minds illuminated, and they are moments worth
pondering. These are the encounters that we need to keep alive!
Bridegroom told the remaining five virgins to stay awake - stay alert. Back
then, their role was to, in fact, keep their lamps lit and to stay awake. They
knew their role - so why didn’t they fulfill their call and duty? What is it
that makes us drowsy and fall asleep?
of my favorite quotes from Dorothy Day is when she says: “No one has the right
to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.”
various reasons, we too may take on these same feelings of hopelessness, lacklusterness, or even stubbornness - maybe
feeling a loss of energy, apathy, or even simply being tired. I’ve been there!
But still, we are called to turn our gaze to faith, hope, charity, beauty,
goodness, and truth.
Francis continues and says, “What he [Jesus] asks of us is to be ready for the
encounter - ready for an encounter, for a beautiful encounter, the encounter
with Jesus, which means being able to see the signs of his presence, keeping
our faith alive with prayer, with the sacraments, and taking care not to fall
asleep so as to not forget about God….Let us not fall asleep!”
better or for worse, we cannot un-see what we have seen and experienced on
these immersion trips, or on these service experiences, or even in our daily commute to work or school...so
how can we stay awake and be prepared to have these encounters with our
brothers and sisters?
way we can stay awake and keep our lamps full to go forth to love and serve others
is by being open to receiving others. When I went to World
Youth Day in Toronto, Canada, the poster read, “Who in the world will we meet?
God only knows.”
way, is to take time at the end of every day to reflect on the different
encounters we had. Engage in prayer - with a trusted friend, or perhaps even in
a small group. We can ask ourselves,” How did I respond in love? How could I
respond more deeply next time with mercy and forgiveness? How can I be more
gentle with myself in moments where I feel I did not respond as I would have
liked to?” Every day is a fresh start to fill our lamps.
the Corporal Works of Mercy may also challenge us in our daily activities - in
unexpected ways. When we are driving, and see someone experiencing homelessness,
or if someone is actively seeking our help - in those encounters, “Am I ready
to see Christ and meet Jesus in my experiences today? Is my faith at a place
where I can recognize Christ in others? How can I serve on behalf of peace and
justice, acknowledging the human dignity of each person? How am I welcoming the
and sisters, this is not easy - but we see in Christ’s example, his continual
willingness to welcome, bless, and anoint these encounters with love, peace,
and hospitality. We do not know the day nor the hour of the Final Coming, but
we can be present each day to the brothers and sisters God has placed in our
we pray for the grace to be open, and to be willing to engage in new encounters
with others, as difficult as it may be at times. As people of love and action,
may we be ready with lamps shining bright with faith, hope, and charity to
respond in all moments with open hearts. Though we do not know the day or the
hour of the Final Coming, until then, may we be willing to accept our
responsibility to one another and to work towards the common good - locally
here in our own backyards, and around the world.
Crystal Catalan currently serves as the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Presentation High School in San Jose, CA.
After working in sales and marketing in Los Angeles for a few years, Crystal served as a full-time missioner with the organization, Cabrini Mission Corps, the lay program of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (aka “Cabrini Sisters”). She had the opportunity to serve alongside the Sisters at Mother Cabrini High School in New York, Cabrini University in Pennsylvania, Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland, and within local ministries at the Diocese of Baguio City in the Philippines.
Crystal is a restorative justice practitioner, leading Bible studies, holding circles, and prayer services at the local correctional facility as a chaplain, for both the women’s and men’s units.
She has led numerous workshops and delivered talks for Confirmation and retreat programs, the Ignatian Solidarity Network, Catholic Mobilizing Network, youth and young adult ministries, and trainings in partnership with Catholic Relief Services. She has over 10 years of experience coordinating and leading immersion trips for youth and adults, and enjoys learning about new cultures and increasing our capacity for global solidarity.
When she is not watching a webinar focused on diversity, equity and inclusion topics or reading articles or books on how to provide spaces of belonging for all, she enjoys going on runs, practicing hot yoga, and singing karaoke.
Crystal holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of San Diego, an M.A. in International Development from Eastern University., M.A. in Pastoral Ministries with an emphasis in Restorative Justice and Chaplaincy at Santa Clara University, and the Certificate in Restorative Justice Leadership and Facilitation through the University of San Diego.