Dad, I need Your help!

So here I am, Lord. Talking to myself, practicing what I’d like to say to my priest about the on-going situation with my sister. I should probably be talking to you, Father. But we have talked, haven’t we, and I don’t feel much clearer about what to do.

All this was prompted by this morning’s readings in Matthew 5 where Jesus says we cannot be in communion with You, if we are holding anger in our hearts for our brothers (or sisters or friends or others, presumably).

You know my heart, Lord. You must know that I don’t hold any ill feelings at all for her. If anything, I empathize with her and her beliefs. We were raised by the same parents who passed on very conflicted and, in the end, wrong-headed views of You and the beauty of Your kingdom. It’s not been easy finding my way to You, but I feel as though You’ve finally led me to the right path. Don’t You, Father?

So how do we do this, Lord? How do we help a loved one to know You? A loved one who resists with such vehemence and denial?

I guess this recognition resolves the issue of whether I am holding anger in my heart for her, preempting my ability to have communion with You. I’m not.

I love her and wish her every happiness and joy. But isn’t there something, anything, You would have me do to melt the frozen wall separating us from speaking to one another?

Much of this desire is selfish, Father. I miss her and our conversations, no matter how stilted they have become as we both avoid the growing number of subjects that have become off-limits. Another part is probably guilt or at least the sense that I should feel guilty — the feeling that there must be something I can or should be doing to restore our relationship. Yet, what?

I can’t just call her and say, ‘oh, sorry, I didn’t mean it. I don’t really believe all those things about God and Christ.’ Yet, we both know from previous times that she (and so many others who know my desire for You) delights in hearing me use foul language or rail with abandon against some perceived injustice (whatever it might be…corporations, government, the church, educators, polluters, little old ladies in purple hats…sorry, Father. Not really.)

The point is when I let down my defenses against the “thorns and snares of the devil,” allowing the evil one to take hold of my tongue, others, who do not confess belief in You, delight in welcoming my return to their fold. To them, I’ve been normalized again. To me, I’ve been stained again with the corruption of the common and fallen. It’s been too easy for me — a sinner — to revert to old habits. Whenever I do, the devil and all who have (wittingly or unwittingly) chosen him dance and cheer in delight.

How can I walk with You in Your light, precious Lord,
How can I share Your wondrous beauty,
Allow Your luminous light to shine through me on others,
If I can’t, in their presence, hold on to the creature I am in You?

Well, the answer is, I can’t, can I, without the aid of Your Holy Spirit? Strengthen Your Holy Spirit within me, I pray, Lord, and help me to be the person You’re calling me to be.

So I pray.

I pray, Father, that You call my sister to You;
bless her with Your tender mercy and goodness;
and soften her heart that she might hear Your ‘still, small voice.’
Send her a friend, an angel, Lord,
who might help her see and hear and understand.
And, if it is Your will, Holy Father,
I pray that one day she and I might be united in our love for You,
not to just care for one another as we used to do, have always done,
but to love one another as sisters in Your holy family.

On evangelization

Dear Holy Father,

I was listening to Bishop Barron on evangelization this morning as I walked at the gym. He emphasized how we are all called to evangelize and went ahead to define some of the parameters of how and when and with whom.

You have tried to lead me on this in the past. I don’t know if I’m just thick or whether You’re not ready for me to venture out in the ways I have attempted, but I continue to feel a fair bit of confusion about the how and when and with whom aspects of it all.

I feel pretty certain that You have taught me that ‘I can’t show what I don’t know.” That I need my own training first before I can speak confidently about Christ.

And I feel like I have tried to demonstrate my love for You by my actions and what it is I spend my time and talent and treasure on, by how I live my life. So far, so good. But it feels there is more that I could do, should do to engage others and encourage their query about how You might fit into their lives.

Several instances come to mind of when I have stepped out with the tiniest of little toes to test the shallowest of waters of others’ receptivity.

Relatives

My sister, in particular, responded to me in a recent conversation saying, ‘I wish you wouldn’t talk that way. I don’t know how to talk with you when you talk like that.’ I don’t remember precisely what we were talking about, but it had something to with my faith experience. That time and a couple of others she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to engage with me on the subject of faith. I haven’t told her yet that by saying this, she’s preempted from our relationship the most important part of my life and who I am. I probably will at some point, but it has so far seemed a hard message to deliver (for me) without seeming accusatory.

I thought about a homily from Bishop Barron that I’ve heard recently on how to speak about our faith. His suggestion is to lead with beauty and that goodness and truth … maybe even unity will follow. I have yet to understand what this means for me or how to apply this in my own speech.

Close Friends and Family

For reasons that You and I have discussed before, Father, I have begun to wear a chapel veil whenever I’m in church in Your presence. It feels right. It has an almost healing effect. It helps me to feel more humble, to act and think with greater humility and charity, to remember to continually put my ego away, to be hidden, to focus all my attention on You, to allow Your word, Your spirit to find a more welcoming home in me.

As would happen, we attended church with friends and I wore my veil. It was noticed. But it quickly became obvious that it was not a topic neither of them were comfortable mentioning or asking me about. You intervened and gave me an opportunity to broach the subject with the other wife while our husbands were off somewhere. She was polite, but showed little curiosity about this most important, sweetest part of my life. So there was no further chance to discuss these small ways that I am being drawn closer and closer to You. It often causes me to feel disconnected and detached from people who have been some of my closest friends over the years.

Several months later: Maybe the veil and other ways I demonstrate my love for You are just seeds planted and the rest is up to You. Wanting to continue to not only have a role of some sort in others’ growth in their relationship with You, but to be somehow credited for it, is just my ego getting in the way of Your purpose. If feeling alienated or divided from others is an outcome of sin, then the sin in this case must be my own egotistical need for power and influence. Instead, I should be thankful for the opportunity You gave me to share my faith and leave the rest to You. Thank you, Father.

Others

Several years ago when You first engulfed me with Your overwhelming love for me, I began a blogging website. I practiced it for a couple of years. But my energy for it dried up. I’ve since been certain that I had allowed this work to become more about me and not nearly enough about You in my life.

Now, today, several years hence, I’m still sorting how to You want me to proceed. Starting and stopping doesn’t feel right. One of the lessons I feel You have been trying to teach me, Holy Father, throughout the years is if I’m confused or lack clarity of Your purpose, it’s probably not time yet to venture out.

So, heavenly Father, I pray that You help convict my spirit for how to move forward. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

——————————
Two months later:

Hallelujah. Thank you, Father,

You answered this prayer at last night’s vigil service. Our priest, in persona Christi, spoke of how we are called to evangelize and to spread the good news. It felt as though he was speaking directly to me when he spoke of the new technology You have given to the world. Through the internet we all have an immense opportunity to reach people far flung throughout the world. He said we might not ever know who benefits from our work or our words. Their effect may not even be felt until long after we’re gone from this earth. He said it was a holy calling, just as You have been trying to say to me here. He spoke to me — You spoke to me — loudly and clearly.

And I sat there transfixed. I’ve heard it all before, of course, but this time it clicked. I knew it was You speaking personally, directly to me, answering my prayers for spiritual direction and clarity.

Thank you Father.