Fostering AWE and WONDER

It's March and in the New York area where I live that means multiple St. Patrick's Day celebrations.  Many of my friends and I refer to ourselves affectionately as Bronx Irish Catholics or BICs.   Our childhood memories consist of ceili dances, marching in various parades, and dancing and listening to Irish music.  However our elementary school principal, Sr. Catherine Marie Jordan, osu not only taught us about St. Patrick and his connection to Ireland and Catholicism, but also stressed to us that we celebrated this day because St. Patrick is the patron saint of the Archdiocese of New York and we are part of that community.

This year I was only able to attend two of the multiple neighboring town parades. Both were so festive, meaningful and touching to me. As I walked along the routes, I saw many people I knew. There were past and present neighbors, school classmates, vacation friends, parishoners and work colleagues. It was wonderful to come across generations of families watching the parades together-grandparents, children and grandchildren.

It was great reconnecting and sharing with each other about where we are at this time in our lives.  We retold stories about our childhood and laughed and cried over some of the memories. 

What was so amazing though was seeing their children and watching them enjoy the parade and show excitement when they heard the bagpipes and drums playing or saw someone they knew marching.   There was a sense of AWE and WONDER in their eyes and smiles.  To me that is a sign of God and an emerging faith.  We have to make sure children see that AWE and WONDER and nurture it in them and provide continued experiences for them to experience it.  We can do that through story telling. Stories are ways of sharing that AWE and WONDER with others. Be sure to read the reflection about sister stories and their importance written by Colleen Dunne, a candidate with the Sisters of Charity in Leavenworth, Kansas, in our Voices of Younger Women Religious feature below.

Where do we adults see AWE and WONDER nowadays?  How is God and faith continuing to emerge in our lives?  Too often, I find many of us focused on the sad events (hurricanes, lost planes, wars and fighting.)  All this is awful, sad and scary at times.   It is part of the human condition to experience both good and bad times.    But then I hear of human beings coming to the aid of others, taking risks and doing all they can to help the world be a better place.  That shows goodness in our world

During this Lenten season, I have found myself thinking more and more about the person of Jesus and what he must have felt as he lived his life.  These 40 days of Lent are meant to remind us of the suffering and thoughts of Jesus during his 40 days in the desert as he prepared for the Crucifixion.  But during this Lenten time, many celebrate special feast days like St. Patrick or Sr. Joseph and have special celebrations. Then on March 25th, we celebrate too the Annunciation when Gabriel announces to Mary that she will give birth to a child and he will be named Jesus,  the son of God. In the midst of suffering and pain, we still are being asked to celebrate and rejoice-part of being HUMAN.


In the Gospels, we read about Jesus' birth but we don't hear much about Jesus' childhood.  At times, we hear snatches like he worked as a carpenter with Joseph, he got lost in the Temple at age 12 and was found teaching and preaching to the Rabbis. Jesus experienced good times like the Wedding at Cana, the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, fishing with his apostles and then he went through tough times too-The Agony in the Garden, his Crucifixion and Death. Jesus suffered as a HUMAN.


Jesus performed a DIVINE act too–he ROSE again and came back to us.  His RESURRECTION provides us Christians with HOPE, BELIEF and LOVE!  EASTER is one of our Christian stories that nourishes our faith with AWE and WONDER.  As we continue in this Lenten season, let us remember to share our stories and create memories with God and others so we can be ready for EASTER–one of the greatest stories of our Christian faith.