New column connects life and liturgy

Dr. Karen Shadle

A new monthly column debuts in The Record this week with a focus on the intersection of liturgy and everyday life.

And it comes from the perspective of a self-described millennial, Dr. Karen Shadle, the director of the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Worship.

Shadle begins her column — “Between Amens” — with the notion that the daily life that consumes us from Sunday to Sunday is ripe with holy potential.

“Life is liturgy,” she writes in her introductory column, which appears on page four. “Each thing we do — each agenda item, each interaction, each small frustration — has great potential to reveal truth to us.”

Shadle, a mother of two and a wife, said each of these potential-holding activities take a lot of her energy every week.

Her husband is an academic who works out of town for part of every week. When she’s not at work, her days are filled with carpool lines, driving to kids’ activities, figuring out what to make for dinner — again. The usual stuff of family life.

Shadle sees holiness in those things when she views it in terms of the liturgy.

“When I see the bread and wine coming up the aisle, I think about what I’m offering,” she explained in a recent interview. Later in the week, “if I’m in a meeting, I want to offer my best. I relate that to bringing up the gifts. We offer our best.

In everyday life, she said she considers, “What are the things I need to do this week; how can I bring my best to that?”

When having a difficult interaction with someone, she said, “I think of the living tabernacle, that Jesus is a part of them. That helps me to have a better interaction.”

Seeing life this way, is about seeing “the bigger picture,” she said. “Our lives are an offering to God and we are on a path to holiness.”

Shadle, who attended Centre College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, holds a doctoral degree in music history with a specialization in sacred music.

Music was her entry into liturgy, she said.

“I love liturgy. I love the predictable pattern, the comfort level, the community — having that time and space is renewing,” she said.

She hopes that by connecting “the stuff of Mass with our week — what happens between Amens” believers will be drawn back to Mass week after week, just as she is.

She and her family are members of St. Raphael Church.

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