Writing is a form of both reflection and creative expression for theology teachers Victoria Mastrangelo and Rachael Valka. That's part of why the pair was attracted to the idea of writing an individual essay reflecting on their Catholic faith for Every Sacred Sunday's "Sunday Series."
Every Sacred Sunday is a Mass journal started by Houstonians Kassie Manning and Christie Peters. The book provides all of the readings for the liturgical year, as well as space for reflections on Scripture and homilies. Earlier this year, ESS launched its "Sunday Series," calling for contributions from the laity about the Scriptures and their experiences living a Catholic life.
"I feel like we're in a place in the Church right now where we want to hear from lay people, especially women, about their lived experiences in the faith," said Mastrangelo. "I think this is one avenue that gives the opportunity for those voices to be heard and to hopefully inspire others as we tough out this journey, which some days feels impossible or not worth it in the face of the world and culture today."
IWA's annual fund and alumnae coordinator Carmel Tajonera, who went to college with Manning and Peters, recommended the teachers to Every Sacred Sunday. The founders then reached out to Mastrangelo and Valka about writing, and when the essays would publish. Mastrangelo's reflection was sent to Every Sacred Sunday's email list on Nov. 10; Valka's was emailed on Nov. 17.
"I enjoy the space writing gives me to engage my creative energy and reflect on how our faith is infused in every aspect of our lives," said Valka. "I particularly enjoy writing about Scripture and what it must have been like to hear Jesus’ words and how His living Word is still applicable in our lives today calling us to be witnesses of His love in the world."
Mastrangelo said that she is excited to see her work shared and hopes there's a way to develop a partnership with Every Sacred Sunday. She also appreciates the reflections are sent to a self-selecting group of readers.
"Realistically, I think this model of reflections via email is more powerful and reaches more people," she said. "It is something that the reader will deliberately set aside time for whereas I think most of us tend to tune out the message we hear on Sundays, unfortunately. So, to me, this is a great opportunity to provide a reflection on the everyday lived experience and to hopefully give the readers some encouragement in their struggles and to know that we're all in this together."
Valka agrees that writing for the reflection series demonstrates the shared connection Catholics have with each other and Scripture.
"I write for me and appreciate the opportunities to challenge myself," she explained. "But, I do think in some ways writing is an intimate bearing of one’s soul that allows the writer and reader to connect at some level. So, when others read my writing, I hope that it encourages them in their faith life and that something resonates in them like it did with me as I wrote it."