Build an altar

| Alyssa Bormes | February 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

Each year it’s a little different. Some years the anniversaries pass quietly; this year they were harder. On that December day after Mass when I told my friend that my younger child would have been 25 years old, the intensity of my tears surprised me. It was the same just a few months earlier when my older child would have been 26. The two “counselors” who spoke of the relief that abortion gives never mentioned that the ache of anniversaries intensifies after your own mother dies. Maybe they didn’t know.

As the March for Life approached this year, another teacher mentioned a morning of activities she was planning; they would lead up to the prayer service at the Cathedral, and later the march in St. Paul. Did I want to join them? “It can be a weird day for me; let me tell you tomorrow.” That night, prayer gave me solace; “This year will be different.” The next day I told her to count me in.

On Friday, Jan. 22, a group met for morning Mass at the Cathedral, went to breakfast, returned for a tour of the Cathedral, and joined the prayer service and the march.

Ache of loss, joy in mercy

I teach at Chesterton Academy, and our students have a day away from classes in order to attend the March for Life. We had 26 students who went to the national march in Washington, D.C., with parent chaperones. There was one student who joined her parish on one of the archdiocesan buses that went to Washington, and the rest of the students went to the march in St. Paul.

At the prayer service, tears visited me again. It was the ache of having lost my mom, but it was also the joy in knowing that I have been forgiven, and that my children have been entrusted to the mercy of God. “Mercy” kept ringing in my heart, as did, “This year will be different.”

At the march, I met my Silent No More sisters and brothers. Their hugs are so powerful, as are the hugs of the strangers who thank us. This is mercy.

All of the students who went to Washington got stranded in the snow. Most were in a hotel, but Rebecca was on one of the buses caught on the turnpike, the one with Bill Dill, our archdiocesan youth events coordinator. Relating the story to our class, Rebecca said, “And then Bill Dill said, ‘Build an altar,’ and so we did.” As they built, Bill found a priest on another bus, and then there was Mass on the side of the road for hundreds (see page 6). And the march that the media love to ignore couldn’t be ignored because of that altar and that Mass.

In God’s providence, my answer to prayer, “mercy” and “this year will be different,” met the Holy Spirit-inspired words of Bill Dill: “Build an altar.” With bus after bus stuck between car after car, there was a moment where the veil was lifted. Souls changed. Conversions happened. Thank you Bill; that altar was an epicenter of mercy.

Bormes, a member of Holy Family in St. Louis Park, is the author of the book “The Catechism of Hockey.”

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Category: Everyday Mercies