Tuesday, April 08, 2014

out of the darkness

I have been struggling for most of the last year with desolation.  It has been a dark time for me.  It has been very hard.

Fortunately, through all of it, I never really lost the sense of God's presence.  I felt him there, quietly egging me on, inviting me to plumb the depths of my soul, inviting me to trust him.

In desolation it is easy to second guess every decision, question every inspiration, regret everything.  It feels like a deep spiritual depression. And oppression.

A few weeks ago, the desolation began to lift.  I could see tiny cracks of light peeping through.  I could feel a shift in my spirit.  I began to feel a clearer sense of God's reassuring presence.  I have moved towards consolation and it is such a relief.

In consolation, the word is trust.  I trust the decisions that God lead me through.  I trust him to take care of my tender and weak soul.  I trust that I don't have to be in charge of everything.... just let him draw me towards him.  In consolation I am not alone.

This year, for Lent, I gave up desolation.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hey Jesus, got a minute?

I knew this was going to be hard.  I had glimpses of how much of a challenge this was going to be.  But Jesus, I didn't know it was going to be this hard.  This painful.  I had no idea how agonizing it was going to be to feel this isolated.  This is one heck of a cup, this chalice of yours.  Never, since following you, have I struggled so much.

Jesus.  I wonder if I had known, would I have still converted?  I honestly don't know the answer to that.  I think it would have been impossible for me to understand what I was in for.  It is like trying to explain to someone what childbirth is like.  It is like nothing else, so how can you describe it?  So it is with conversion.  If I could speak with my past soul, what would I say?  Would I tell her to ignore the Call?  Would I suggest she run away, hide, drown herself in distractions?  Would I encourage her to deny the groundswell that was rising beneath her, drawing, pushing, dragging her towards the Church?  And if I did... would she have listened?  I think back to that time, not so long ago, when the longing for the sacraments was so powerful, so overwhelming, I couldn't imagine any other alternative.




Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The desert time

Given the many things I was worried about as I considered joining the Catholic church, isolation never really came up.  I had no idea how alone this was going to feel.  I never realized how hard it was going to be to always be going to Mass alone.  How it was going to be to essentially be in the closet with my faith at work.  In a weird way, my experience mirrors that of my Christian business leader colleagues who struggle with sharing their faith at work.  In my case, I am blessed to have a staff I can be honest with and pray with, but otherwise my faith is mostly unspoken, hidden.  It is heavy.




Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Baptism of the Lord

...instead of feeling guilty that I am not going to church with my kids and husband, maybe I could take a moment to relish the quiet emptiness of my house.  The sound of the birds.  The feel of the black leather bound copy of the Liturgy of the Hours in my hands.  The gentle gnaw of hunger in my stomach, reminding me that I am fasting in preparation for the most Holy of Holy things... Communion with my sweet Friend.

Maybe for just today, instead of pangs of guilt, I can accept the silence of my house as a gift from my Father, who wants all good things for me.  Who has given me the gift of his Church.  Who has invited me to step into his waiting arms and cherish with him the Mass... that taste of Heaven on earth.

Today is the Feast of the Lord's Baptism.  It is a day for me to reflect on the beauty of baptism.  As the readings this week have said, because Jesus once stood in a river in Palestine, now and forever, ALL water is Holy.  The Jordan flows to the sea, the water evaporates and falls as rain.  Nothing will ever be the same.

 'Except a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God' [John 3:5]

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Good Christian

Recently a Christian acquaintance made a distinction between a Catholic and an Evangelical, stating that the Evangelical is a 'good' Christian and clearly implying that the Catholic is not.  (She wasn't aware of my conversion.)

I did not respond except to laugh and say that I suspected there is no such thing as a 'good' Christian.  We all are mediocre at best.  We strive to live lives that reflect Jesus.  We stumble.  Regularly.  And I think if anyone thinks they fall into the category of a 'good' anything, they are probably in for a rude awakening.  Even Jesus himself said "Why do you call me good?  Only the Father is good."  (Luke 18:19)

I was hurt by her comments.  I find it painful when people say such things about the Catholic faith.  But I did not feel a sense of fear, which has been my response in the past.  Fear of what, I am not sure.  That I won't be loved anymore when they learn the truth?  That it will cause harm to the ministry I run?  That volunteers, donors, friends will run in the other direction and pull their support because they think I am now unqualified to run the place?

Maybe I still harbor fears around all of that, to some degree.  But the other day, all I felt was hurt, plain and simple.





Sunday, January 05, 2014

Epiphany

My priest chose Epiphany to share he is retiring in 6 months due to health reasons.  He told me yesterday after I made confession. To be honest, I was a little bit at a loss for words.  I said something about praying for him and gave him a quick hug.  Oddly, I wished him a happy new year.  Perhaps it doesn't feel particularly happy.

This morning, our associate priest joined Fr. as the celebrant.  I understood immediately that this was a way to reassure the congregation that all will be ok.  Fr. shared about his retirement and health concerns as part of a beautiful homily on the light that Christ brings into the world... and how Jesus is with us despite life's difficulties.  I wept through the whole thing.  Once the announcement was made, I could hear others sniffling and blowing noses.  This is a parish that LOVES their priest.  During the peace, many around me were in tears.

I have learned in my life that brevity in a relationship is not necessarily relevant to it's intensity.  In this last year, I have been deeply touched by the pastoral care and guidance I have received from Fr.  both in and out of the confessional.  We met weekly for some months leading up to my confirmation.  He has been a gentle teacher.  In just the last few months, he confirmed me, officiated my church wedding with Nguyen, heard my confessions and taught me how to use the breviary. He was there through all the grueling and painful aspects of my conversion, and for all the joy and wonder, too.  And most of all, he has fed me the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.

I am sad that he is leaving the parish, and doubly so for his health situation, but I am sure that his ministry will not be over.  He is a man who has much to give.  In some way, I hope that this retirement will offer him the opportunity to follow his ministerial bliss, so to speak.  I suspect teaching and spiritual direction will figure prominently.  And I trust that we will stay in touch in one way or another.  In the mean time, I will be praying for him.  And thanking God that he invited me into his church shepherded by Fr. Friedrichs.


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Listen

I have found, since becoming a Catholic, that folks have a lot of questions about the church.  What is all this with Mary?  I don't understand Purgatory.  I can't get my head around the saints, the Eucharist, the liturgy.

The funny thing is that people rarely ask me to explain these things.  They will give me the list of their objections, but won't invite my perspective.  I never really get a chance to explain how I came to understand Marion doctrine, or Purgatory, or any of it.

Which makes me wonder if they just aren't really that interested in understanding.  I almost never volunteer to explain if I am not asked, mostly because I don't want to seem defensive.  But if we are having coffee and you want to know my opinion on Mary, just ask.  I would be delighted to share.