The Catholic Defender: Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007
It was Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007 that the Division Chapel was preparing for the 10:30 Mass. The past week I was graced to witness nearly 100 Soldiers received in the Catholic Faith. What it took to get there was a joy. I had prepared them to be received into the Catholic Faith. They came from many different backgrounds, they worked with the limits that their missions afforded them.
Looking back through that time, I walked an estimated 200 miles from place to place on FOB Liberty and Victory to meet for these classes. Many times in the heat of over 100 degrees in full Battle Rattle. I would carry my sensitive items, my weapon and whatever I was using for the classes. I would have to sign out of the Company and Battalion CP to maintain 100% accountability and then sign back in once I returned to the Company area.
Many times at night I could hear the gun fire in the distance, you could hear explosions as well. Not having a vehicle, I walked to the locations that I could hold these classes. The opportunity to share the Catholic faith with so many will be a high honor I will forever give thanks to the Lord.
I myself worked around missions outside the wire, everyday was always filled with unexpected missions that would pop up anytime. After all, we were in a war zone and the enemy was not always working bankers hours. We were in a situation where things happen all the time. In the Troop Medical Clinic, we had to keep that staffed all the time. If MASCALS come in we had to be ready. So if I was conducting classes for RCIA, I had to be accountable.
I had Soldiers going out all the time supporting their Companies as they went out routinely looking for signs of enemy movements. How important it was for me that I had the ability to act upon my Catholic Faith during these very stressful times.
Unless you have been in this kind of environment, it's hard to grasp this picture that I present. This deployment was not a time that we can drop our guard and make this a vacation. We thankfully had the MWR available so we had the means to keep up with the NFL and follow our favorite teams. Those who are hardcore would stay up or get up early to watch the weekend games. I was also able to communicate with my wife which was a huge moral builder.
What many Soldiers would do when they were not on a mission was to use their computers and watch movies and their favorite shows. One of my Soldiers got me hooked on the series "24" following the Jack Bower adventures. Those are good moral builders as well, to have those opportunities to have some kind of release.
That was the environment and faith played a great roll for many as well. On my off time my faith was front and center and I was available to the many people that were preparing for the Easter Vigil. Psalms 23 was a popular scripture passage that our Companies would lead before rolling outside the wire in vehicle formation. Many of the vehicles would have a Rosary placed in the cab placing their trust in the Lord.
Taking all this in, looking at what everyone was going through during this time, not to mention being away from your families who were home keeping the home fires burning. How important it is to have a great military wife, that makes a huge difference.
Easter Sunday was for me a great breath of fresh air where I could kind of take a deep breath and just relax. The Division Chapel was full of Soldiers who were like myself, looking for some peace of mind. I was up at the front right portion of the chapel where our choir was set up leading the songs. The building was all closed up except at the front entrance where everyone came in.
The Mass was beautiful but something extra ordinary took place at the most important part of the Mass. Just as Father elevated the Eucharist in Consecration, over on the far left of the chapel, the doors without a hand blew open and the sun light shinned right on the Altar and the elevated Host as Father proclaimed, "This is my Body". I looked at those who were with me and we all were in a shock and awe over what we just witnessed.
After Mass, I went over to the side doors and found there was no one there that opened those doors. They had been locked from the inside and nobody was there during the Mass. On my way back to the Company area to sign back in, I was full of smiles and I thanked the Lord for my little Miracle.
Luke 24:28-35 states, "As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.