This afternoon I was walking back to my office (up in the corner of the building in the back of the property) from the main office building. I was still in my ‘funk’ and was trying to scare the devil away by intensely praying the St. Michael prayer and walking with purpose (ie: fast and determined looking). THEN, I was startled half to death – my short, well-lived life almost ended – by my pastor. He asked what I was so intently thinking … and we chatted about my ‘spiritual funk’. Then he gave me a beautiful blessing commanding the spirits to leave.
It’s so hard to be faithful to what God wants for us to do. I’ve been told many times that if you’re doing the Lord’s work and good things are happening, you’d better prepare to be attacked. And this is not just to be persecuted by the people of the world. It’s not really other people who persecute anyway – it’s always Satan using them to persecute us.
Imagine spending your life’s energy on something (ie: getting as many people as possible into Hell with you) and then you’ve got someone working against you – wouldn’t you want to do everything possible to keep them from succeeding?! Of course – that’s what the devil is doing now.
I started a few prayer quests over the last couple of days … and by a few, I mean probably 4 too many!
- Seeking religious communities to pray for the success of parish mission centering on the Enthronement of our homes and parish to the Sacred Heart. I literally emailed 120 communities asking them to pray for our mission.
- On Holy Thursday I began reading Fr. Michael Gaitley’s book Consoling the Heart of Jesus – a book about being with Jesus, consoling His Sacred Heart. He said to St. Margaret Mary, “Behold this Heart which loves so much yet is so little loved. Do me the kindness, you at least, of making up for all their ingratitude, as far as you can.”
- On Good Friday the Divine Mercy novena began and I am of course participating.
- I concluded my participation in the celebration of the Triduum – the most intense time of prayer in the Church. Without the Paschal Mystery, Christianity is nothing. If Christ did not suffer for our sins, die, and following rise from the dead – we’ve got nothin’ – a they say! And with it – we have an entirely completed covenant with our God!
- On Easter Sunday I began praying the Prayer of Jabez for an increase in the scope of our Youth Ministry program at St. Thomas.
I’ve been pretty under the weather since last Wednesday … everyone around here’s been coming down with this terrible cold, and I had it too. Spent some time in bed, lots actually, tons of soup, lots of temperature taking, and some good rounds with my old neti-pot, one of the strangest things ever, but boy does it work! I highly recommend!
Anyway, the readings at Daily Mass lately have been about Jonah – Father’s been calling him a bit of a drama queen, well, King really. He is being called to preach to the people of Nineveh (modern day Iraq). They should repent, turn from their evil ways, and follow the God of all gods. However, he’s a little – well, shall we say – perturbed at God for this. He refuses to do it and gets on a boat with some other guys, ends up in a terrible storm, and they throw him over (well, he went willingly actually). He’s then in the belly of the whale, and eventually goes into Nineveh like he was asked in the first place. Jonah, always taking the long way around!
He preaches his message of repentance and they repent, turn from their evil ways and are all spared by God.
Now, today – the Gospel was about the religious of the community asking Jesus for yet another sign. He’s been doing miracle after miracle, preaching parable after parable – and they aren’t convinced – but ONE more and they’ll be following Him like there’s no tomorrow. So He tells them they are of an evil generation, and no sign will be given except the sign of Jonah. This probably had them spinning their heads all over again – saying, what does Jesus being God have ANYTHING to do with Jonah sitting in the belly of a whale? He has LOST his mind!
BUT – even the Ninevites, a pagan people, not the chosen people converted when they were preached the message of repentance. These were the CHOSEN PEOPLE and they didn’t believe him. Sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes were getting into Heaven faster than these people. They needed to repent of their evil ways and follow the Lord. It took a LOT of time; some of them never ever got it.
So now it is with us.
Are we an evil generation seeking a sign?
Do we want more than what the Lord has already done in us?
I know I can be sometimes. I want a specific sign from the Lord. And there are times when I can go into long tangents with Him about not having one so God must not be listening to my prayers. Which, let’s face it, is ridiculous. I have SO many things, experiences, people in my life, that are only through a product of God’s grace and his providence.
I can be like the religious in today’s Gospel – always searching, seeking, wondering in the desert voluntarily because I don’t have the ‘thing’ I want most of all. I can’t even imagine where I’d be if God hadn’t had his hand on me all this time.
So today I remember, not how lucky I am, but how blessed I am to have the grace of God upon me. And I pray for the ability to always recognize where His hand is working in my life, and to remember that His grace is enough for me!
I’ve always wanted to be a youth minister, and I knew that the job required a lot of time, work, and ability. I saw in my own youth minister (AP) that it was draining on his family, caused him even to adopt a young woman in our youth group when she had absolutely nowhere else to go. Her mother didn’t really want her and her grandmother decided (1 year after this girl got out of the hospital for an eating disorder) that she was going to get back together with her husband who sexually abused her granddaughter. So, yeah – drastically changed his life and the life of his wife and two daughters (one who they adopted from an abusive parent situations 10 years earlier).
Even knowing all that, and I’m a little naive, but not really – I didn’t think it was going to be this hard! Or that there would be so many times when I really didn’t know what to do. Even more than that – knew what should be done, but couldn’t do it because ‘we’re the Church and we can’t do that.’
This morning at Mass was the reading of the Good Samaritan. The man who was beat up by robbers, broken and practically destroyed – and no one (except the Samaritan) would help him. He was rejected by his own people and taken in by a man who he was raised to hate and stay away from. The danger (and father discussed it this morning) when we Christians aren’t the ones who do the rescuing, is that people will follow their rescuer. If the ‘pagan’ rescues, the broken will pledge their devotion toward them. And if the Christian does, then we will gain followers for Christ.
Lord, show me the way!
“God can live without you … He just doesn’t want to” (based on Col. 1:22)
If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
~ Jeremiah 29:13
“My morning prayer summed up: ‘O god, Give me the strength to not tell people what I really think of them today. Amen.’ And we’re off!”
“The parable of the Good Samaritan is not only about being kind to strangers but about accepting love from those you have written off.”
-Fr. James Martin, SJ
“The devil loves complacency.”
Tonight I spent a lot of time in the car and a lot of time laughing. I went to another parish in our area to hear one of my favorite authors speak. Fr. James Martin is hilarious! And he’s so spiritually profound too. Tonight he was talking on his new book and promoting it, which is about Heavenly laughter. He told the greatest jokes, we were all rolling with laughter.
One of the things he talks about is that laughter is not only allowed in the spiritual life, but it should be required for it! We are all being called to laugh more, appropriately of course. We should laugh at ourselves, laugh at the things God brings us, and enjoy laughter with others.
They say that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
So, I do this all the time. Like now, I’ve got great plans in mind for me and AGA … marriage, babies, and a long life together. However, I’m not sure that’s the Lord’s plan – or really even what I want. I am also very good at giving God an ultimatum. Lord, if not AGA then … (and I fill in the blank). There are obviously only two options, how could he see more when I don’t! Although, I know this isn’t true – His plan is infinitely better than mine.
So, I digress – always the same thing for me … worried about the future, where this is all headed, whether it’s like the idea in my head – if it’ll ever live up to it. What is marriage and babies aren’t in His plan for me? What if in 21 years when I’m 47, we’re still here, looking – just always looking and always waiting…
I have a long list of people who are frustrated with me – well, as I can see it from my end – at work. I need thicker skin, I need to be able to stand firm in my opinion, know the reasons why, and be unwilling to change for any little thing. But, the problem is, that sounds horrible … very ‘not humble’ and pretty much like a B. Although, I just had this revelation … those people who are annoyed with me (and I in turn annoyed with them – or at least I would love to just ignore them and forget they exist), the thing is – they are like that. They have the way they want to do things, they way things HAVE to be done, and then they do them that way and expect everyone else to follow suit.
They are very firm in their decisions, never wavering, never compromising; and what does it get them? People who are upset with them, but the thing is – they don’t care, not at all. They would rather have their way then have people like them. Here’s where we are at a crossroad, I would rather have people like me than do what I want the way I want it. I can be incredibly assertive about a situation, but only ‘removed’ from it – basically I talk a mean game, but play a pretty kind, nice, and likable one.
The truth is – I would always rather be liked and HATE it when people don’t like me or are upset with me. I don’t need to be BFFs with everyone, but I do prefer when we’re on good terms. I once took a quiz to know my love language and it was Words of Affirmation – when positive words need to be heard in order to feel self-worth, and negative comments are like daggers, unforgettable. I see this as a negative in my life, how I’m always afraid of criticism (although I’m much better than I used to be).
Maybe someday I’ll have thicker skin, more confidence, or just more resolve to ‘do it my way’ instead of letting others change my mind constantly.
Well, what a terrible day it was … except for a few shining moments.
First thing you need to know about me is that I’m a youth minister for middle and high school students in a Catholic Church. Second is this is mostly a thankless job that is usually crowned with a staff/parish who LOVES youth but does small things that push the youth out – like kick us out of our room regularly!
So today started at HRMS for ‘See You At The Pole’ – the national day when public school students gather at their flag pole and pray for their school. It was so nice to see the middle school teens praying out loud in front of their school in front of their peers. One of the families invited me to come out and it was so nice to see them.
Then, it all went downhill – an architect meeting (that I said exactly 7 words at – 60 minutes, wasted). Was supposed to meet with my DRE about something and she didn’t have time. Then I went to the gym, which was actually good – 40 minutes on the treadmill and my first class with PF Mark. Took time to come home and eat lunch (a delish chicken salad!)…
Now here’s where it all seemed to go down … had a moment when a nun was upset with me, when my pastor bailed in teaching my HS teens, and then they moved my HSYM meeting from the hall (a very conducive space for our meetings) to the Church – now, this is never a great idea – 1 hour for Mass followed by 2 hours sitting in Church?! really?! All I wanted to do was SCREAM … except I couldn’t, I was in my office in a building with a TON of faith formation students and parents all around. So I stewed in my own filth and began middle school youth group (MSYG) study on Noah. I chose Noah since it’s been raining for like 40 days (well, more like 6)!
We discussed faith – and had 3 new teens tonight! One of the questions asked who they see as an example of faith. They all answered with teachers in their schools, families members, and then one kid said me. WOW, put your filth back in the stew pot over there … you’re not worthless, you’re making a difference, you matter.
Definitely made my day much better!
All this to even mean that it’s nice to be needed and wanted, at least by the teens! Tomorrow’s another day … we’ll see what happens.
To paraphrase that classic Humphrey Bogart dialogue at the end of Casablanca:
“Maybe not today or tomorrow but soon and for the rest of our lives . . . this world is going to disappoint us.”
So, from the beginning of time, God has had a plan for me, for you, for all of us. It says so in the book of Jeremiah … “for I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for a future full of hope.” That’s the part we all know … always a future of hope, great plans for us. There’s another part, it not only promises hope, goodness, and joy – but also suffering and that God will see us through it. Now, I feel like I haven’t really had a lot of suffering in my life … I’ve never encountered a huge loss, my parents are both still alive and well, and I’m healthy. Although I think being single in our world is a huge suffering! There’s so many opportunities to be discouraged, fall into despair, and/or just plain settle for less than we really want.
I fell much discouragement in this regard … offering it up tonight for that man out there, whoever these plans include!