mistakable for Lakeville woman
Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit
Above, Christina Nelson sits at the font where she was baptized at the Easter Vigil Mass April 23, 2011 at St. Thomas Becket in Eagan. In a span of seven months, she received five of the Church’s seven sacraments. The final one was matrimony (left), when she married Josh Nelson on Oct. 6, 2012. Presiding was Father Tim Wozniak, pastor of St. Thomas Becket.
terms, and he ended up walking her down the aisle on her wedding day, along with her mother. Perhaps the biggest sacramental day was April 23, 2011, the Easter Vigil Mass, when she received the three sacraments of initiation: baptism, Eucharist and confirmation. Baptism stands out because she waded into the church’s baptismal font and was able to confront her fear of being in front of a large crowd. To her amazement, the normal anxiety accompanying such a moment did not bother her. “I didn’t feel nervous at all because I felt that God was with me,” she said. “Being in there with the whole congregation was amazing. . . . I felt good about it. I wasn’t scared.” By the time the Mass was over and she had received two more sacraments, she knew something was different inside. The anger was gone without a trace. The darkness that had cast a shadow over her since high school was nowhere to be found. “I felt like everything was lifted, that God had freed me,” she said. “I’m just really happy. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t find faith here. Everyone [at the parish] was just so nice. I think it really hit me right here [in the heart]. It was the ending of a chapter, but also the beginning of another chapter.” The new chapter included standing at the
altar of this church and making solemn vows of matrimony with Josh. Although her mother has questions about Catholicism, she says both parents accept her decision to join the Church.
Faith in action Today, Nelson is putting her faith into action at the parish. She recently accepted the role of confirmation sponsor for a teen girl going through the program, and has expressed interest in being a sponsor for RCIA. Beyond that? “I’m trying to go on a mission trip,” she said. “I want to go on one so bad.” For now, she will continue enjoying the benefits and blessings of being Catholic. One of them is having a new father figure in her life — Josh’s dad, Mike, who was her sponsor in RCIA. “Josh was so surprised that I asked his dad,” she said. “Since I didn’t know him that well, I wanted him to be a part of it. That’s why I chose him. I wanted to get to know him more, I wanted him to get to know me more, spiritually. I just wanted him to be there and I thought it would be a good time for us to get to know each other and learn through faith.” For Christina, the feelings she experienced while receiving the sacraments are an unmistakable sign that God was present in them. She will now work to pass along those feelings to others.
Black on white: wedding-dress drama The phone call came on a busy afternoon — Tuesday or Wednesday of Wedding Week. I was flitting around town, from salon to restaurant to photography lab, uncovering two new to-dos for every one I completed, firing off late-night emails to remind and request, checking the forecast and my forehead for clear skies. Aunt Lynda’s message cut through the chaos. “No matter what happens,” she told me, “you’re still receiving a sacrament, and that’s what’s most important.” I filed the words away. My wedding — our wedding — would be a sacrament, not a spectacle, a guarantee of grace, whether or not the hairspray held. The advice proved apt. Like so many brides before, I soon discovered that no wedding adheres perfectly to the plan. That’s the impossible gap between typed REFERENCE ideals and human execution. POINTS I’ve witnessed many nuptial surprises: a dropped cake, a lost ring, unhemmed pants, a hospitalized Christina grandparent and a bridesmaid in labor. (My niece was born the day my brother got married. My sister’s CAPECCHI expanded dress never made it out of closet.) My own surprise came during the lull between pictures and the wedding Mass. We had just finished posing for portraits of the extended family clustered around the communion rail at the Cathedral altar. There must have been a few moments of horrified deliberation before a brave soul pointed it out: two foot-long, jet-black streaks on the back of my white dress. Somehow I had rubbed against grease that once loosened the Communion rail door. I didn’t dissolve into panic, but I swatted away one For well-intentioned comment that at least we had reflection already taken pictures. No! I hadn’t walked down the Recall a special aisle yet. That was the point, the moment I was sacramental supposed to be spotless in white, not stained in moment in your black. life. In what ways My posse sprang into crisis-management mode. did you feel First, they applied the Tide stain remover that every strengthened or personal attendant worth her weight keeps on hand. graced? No luck. Next, the girls got resourceful, darting off to a back-end office and returning with Wite-Out to paint over the marks. Better, but still an obvious deviation from silky white. Then, a stroke of genius came from the cousin who works in theater and has mastered the game-day fix. She snatched a few pins and created a simple bustle that naturally flowed into my Cathedral-length train. The stains were completely hidden, and I felt new again, ready to float down that long aisle with unsullied bliss. The wedding proceeded beautifully, and the words poured out like honey as I tilted my head and slid Ted’s ring on “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The entire day was joyful — laughs and hugs and toasts — but when we looked back on it, Ted and I agreed that the hour-long Mass was the clear high-point. Aunt Lynda was right: We had received a special sacrament. No matter how we looked, where we dined or what we said, God’s grace had united us, 20-somethings standing before our friends and family, pledging our love for better or worse.
Grace washing over The sacraments are one of the greatest gifts of our faith, and each time we witness or receive one, we are invited to rediscover Catholicism. They draw us together, marking time and conferring grace. Last month that grace washed over our firstborn, who was baptized on a sunny morning. She let out a hearty cry with each splash of water, and I teared up. For all the baptisms I had been to before, this one was different. This time I could feel something sacred happening, extending from her 11pound body to my outstretched arm. It was a second, a snap — soon we were taking pictures and cutting cake — but it was real, and I’ll carry it with me, a little more prepared for tomorrow’s trials. Capecchi is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights.
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