“Have faith, choose me,” said Our Father

Good Morning, Father.

What a day yesterday! Thank You for Your loving discipline, Father.

I intended to and wanted so much to attend Mass with You at noon. But I was waiting for a Fed Ex delivery and I didn’t want to miss the delivery guy. What to do?

And, I chose wrong. I chose to sit around a wait and missed being with You at Mass.

What could possibly have clouded my judgment, Father? Could the choice have been any more straightforward? You or …. what … stuff? Really?

As the afternoon progressed — one hour after another long hour — it became increasingly clear that the delivery wasn’t coming; that the address correction was still a problem, despite multiple attempts to correct an earlier mistake. And not only did my delivery not make it, but my husband failed to receive a package he was waiting for in a whole other town and our friend’s electricity issues promise to require an expensive fix.

We all found ourselves in a bit of a state.

I won’t say that my choice of waiting for earthly things, rather than coming to Mass was the cause of it all, but I do think You’re communicating with me in very clear terms.

When I make a spiritual commitment to You, as I had done (it seemed very like I was making a commitment to myself, but You were drawing me to You, weren’t You Father, by spurring my desire for You), even if earthly circumstances might suggest a scheduling problem, I need to HAVE FAITH AND CHOOSE YOU.

I knew — both spiritually and intellectually — that You would have taken care of whatever delivery problem might have ensued from my coming to Mass. Even though I can’t say how the problem would have been resolved, I know from all the experiences I have had with Your grace that You would have handled it for me, at a minimum, and more likely, would have blessed me with even greater grace. But instead I failed You and myself.

Thank You Father for this assurance of Your teaching. Forgive me for not choosing You. I know better. And because You know I know better, You disciplined me with the most gentle (yet the most clear and exacting) punishments. As You have done in earlier times when I have acted in ways at odds with Your teaching (that’s kind of the definition of “sin,” isn’t it, Father?), You not only punished me, but You allowed Your punishment to ripple out and affect others around me whom I care for. In that way, You know that, even if I missed the point about my own relationship with You, I will seek to protect others from the bearing the burden of my faithlessness.

Forgive me, Holy Lord. Thank You for Your discipline, for teaching me how to live life for You, with You at the center and highest most place.

Thank You for healing me after the bruise of my sin and for loving me as only You can do.

Thank You for Your Holy Words that You insisted I write down and remember: “HAVE FAITH, CHOOSE ME.

In the name of Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

My belated response to Melinda Henneberger

Melinda Henneberger wrote and published a column in the National Catholic Reporter back in December 5, 2018 on her reasons for leaving the Catholic Church. She (and many of us) felt a crisis of conscious over the McGarrick revelations and the unfolding knowledge of our church’s continuing sex abuse scandal and coverup.

I shared her pain and her anger and frustration, as so many of us Catholics did, upon hearing the unwelcome news. I wrote this response at the time, mostly for my own healing. I share it here in the hope that it touches other hearts that have been broken by this terrible tragedy.

Dear Melinda,

First and foremost, I want to tell you how grateful I am for your column in NCR. I’ve been avoiding organizing my own thoughts, even as I’ve known I would have to do so eventually. Your column provided a helpful catalyst.

My heart hurt for you, as it does for all of us, as I read your piece. Our hearts have been shattered by this evil…most especially for the first order victims and their families. Their pain is paramount. But, all of us who love the church are experiencing our own personal crises.

I’ve recently been trying to understand and live better our church’s teaching on how to be blessed by the pain and challenges given to each of us. To somehow recognize and be blessed more deeply by His grace that attends painful times.

So, it was in this frame of mind that I prayed for you and for our church this morning. I asked God how my heart should respond to your decision to leave. Is it a signal for all of us to fragment? To exercise Rod Dreher’sBenedict Option”?

If not, how best do I respond? To the obvious corruption that has so gripped our beautiful teachings? To my own confusion and distress? How can I possibly be blessed by the knowledge of this terrible travesty that too many of our church fathers have allowed or enabled … or worse?

And, as I felt emotion well up inside me, I saw Our Lord in Gethsemane as Christ shed His tears of blood. I heard as His words from Sermon on the Mount rang out:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

And I looked on at Calvary as He hung in pain on the cross. I heard Him tell Dismis, the good thief, “you will be with me today in heaven.

Then He gave His beloved disciple and all of us into HIs mother’s care to wait for Him until His return. Mother Mary will comfort each of us, if we allow her to embrace us.

For my own part, as a sinner who wandered and wondered for far too many years before finding the Catholic Church, before being allowed to join in the joyful celebration feast, before being fed and formed by the church’s teaching, before experiencing the warmth and abundance of our Blessed Mother’s embrace, before knowing how or even why I should want to walk with our Lord as He lived and died for us and for our salvation, I have opted to continue to receive and be fed by the Holy Eucharist and, as often as I can, to sit with our Lord in adoration and to pray our Holy Mother’s Rosary .

Is He really present in the host as Catholic teaching says? Can He only be present through the word and exhortation of priests ordained in apostolic succession from Peter? I was told once, ‘It’s a Mystery. We have to leave room for the mystery.’ So, is it true? I don’t know….mysteries, by definition, mysterious. But I do have faith. I believe based on my own personal experience and based on knowledge from the Holy Spirit within me, and my belief comforts me.

I’ve opted to stay — where else can we go, Lord? — and to wait (as much as possible) in joy-filled anticipation of His beautiful face. I know He will come one day and sort us all out. He will cleanse and purify, again and again, each of us and His Church Bride on Earth.

In the meantime I give thanks that you and I and other believers have already been given the end of the story. We know that the sweet incense that fills our beautiful sanctuaries throughout the world will not be overwhelmed by the sin and corruption of Satan’s smoke.

Those priests and bishops will not win, who, through their acts or their inaction, have caused your crisis of communion with the church. Theirs will be a terrible fate.

I pray your mourning for our church blesses you and that you allow Him to walk with you and to comfort you as you wander for a time in the desert. And when it is time, I pray you will again find a comfortable place at His table where we will all rejoice as one church in Christ, where we will all rejoice that we who have gone lost are once again found.

In the meantime I pray He blesses you richly and continuously on your journey.

Yours in Christ,

Mary Adrienne

Spread the Light of Love, not the darkness of division

Heavenly Father,

I am so sorry for my words last night.

We have friends visiting from out of town. They’ve been here now for several days and we’ve gotten all our catch-up conversation out of the way. As the evening wore on and our words became less guarded, the conversation turned to politics and our relationships with our respective relatives. As it did, the frustration I have felt with several of our kin just spilled out, raw and unguarded.

My husband and I stand pretty much alone in our family on most issues of our day. With next year’s presidential election, these issues are already heating up. Our family once again is coming face-to-face with the deep fault-lines in our respective world views. During less political times we manage mostly to ignore them or paper them over in attempts at family unity.

Facebook exacerbates the problem for us. It can be a terrible force for separation and division. People are less guarded there in their comments. One relative, in particular, feels driven to re-post others’ misguided, thoughtless, and ill-informed memes and opinions. As much as I would like to remain ‘above it all’, the endorsements quickly feel personal and alienating and divisive. Ugh. I understand why some go into convents and monasteries, taking vows of silence and severing contact with the outside world.

But, those were only the triggers. My poor judgment and incontinence of speech are more the problem here. I’m disappointed in myself and ashamed for allowing these distant postings to drive my own behavior. In doing so, I’ve hurt You, gracious Lord, and been a poor example of what it means to be one of Your chosen ones. None of us, last night, was blessed by my comments, and this morning, I am more frustrated and angry after giving voice to my frustration than I was before. Not because what I said was untrue, but because I surrendered to the temptation of…what?…whatever sin this would be. Gossip? Not really. Bearing false witness against one’s neighbor? Not really, because it was all true. So what is the sin? Submitting to the luxury of venting in a safe space? Maybe. If nothing else just talking too darn much!!

So, I apologize, Father, and beg Your forgiveness. And I’ll go to confession and ask for Your absolution and You, in Your grace and love for me, will forgive me and wash me clean once again. And I will try to be better.

But I need Your help, Holy Lord, to overcome whatever this is that causes me to lash out about people and issues that frustrate me. Help me not only to control my words and my emotions and my behavior better, but if there is better way to address these concerns and to deal with them (writing here, maybe?), please direct my action to Your purposes and Your service.

Reaching out to change the minds and hearts of the particular person (people) involved have only made relations worse in the past and would likely result in a full severing of communication. So I pray Father that You take these concerns, and bless them with Your grace and love. Help me to be more detached from ignorant, hurtful words and actions, and more focused on You, who are my first love. These situations make me realize how often I fail You, fail to be that person You intended me to be.

You created me and called me to help carry Your light out into the world. All I seemed to be spreading last night was the darkness of division.

I am sorry, Lord. Please forgive me.

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 either 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.

Praying for the grace to see my sins

I pray for the grace to see and understand my sin…to allow Christ’s light to illumine all the dark, dank, miserable corners of my being, so to allow them to be washed clean.

When you have 15 minutes, you will be blessed by this homily, Venerating the Cross, by Father Robert Barron | Word On Fire.

 

 

Meditation 3 – He said, “Put your hand in mine, let me lift you up.”

Have you no favors to ask for yourself? Write, if you like a long list of all your wishes – all needs of your soul – and come and read it to Me. Tell Me simply how self-indulgent you are, how selfish, how cowardly, how idle; ask Me to help to you improve. Poor child! Do not blush! There are in heaven many saints who had the same faults as you; they prayed to me, and, little by little, they were cured.

I wrote a prayer a couple of years ago (almost to the day oddly) that I’m reminded of when I read this third meditation before the blessed Sacrament. It’s called Thank You, Lord.

In it I began by listing all of things I was thankful for. While I was writing it I felt like I could go on forever (Editor Angel – and you often do).

Still, as I was wrapping up all the things I was thankful for, I realized there was more yet that I wanted God to help me with. I continued on like this:

…And yet, I ask for more.

How can I come to You;
With my hand so brazenly outstretched;
Offering You only my begging bowl?
My sins have added again and again,
To the burden born by Your Son for my sake?
Your Son, My brother,
My Lord.

How can I not cry out continually
for Your forgiveness?

And yet, gracious Lord,
You ask me to bring to You
All my cares and sorrows,
And You mend them with Your perfect solutions,
Taking my brokenness and making me whole once again.

Why me, Lord?
How have I possibly been worthy,
Or worth it?

If I have a need this day, Lord,
Beyond the beauty and bounty and wonder
With which you’ve already blessed my life,
It is this:

Bless me Father,
Help me to bring You my joy
And my strength;

Help me to commit each day to You;
To live a life worthy of Your love.

Remove my sin, O Lord,
Or, if you find me wanting still,
Take my sin,
Make it a blessing for another’s willfulness.
Refine my misdeeds into golden examples,
For others, if You see fit, of how not to be.

Direct me on Your path, Father,
Make it clear and straight.

But when I stumble, O Lord,
As I will in my humanity,
Help me always to come to You first;
To enslave myself only into Your debt.