Many heartfelt thanks to those who have sent prayers my way. They started working immediately! I have been praying for you all in return. I feel much better!
Yesterday, I went to Confession and told my priest about what has been going on and my less-than-charitable part in it. What it comes down to is that I’ve been mired down with lots of anger and lots of fear too. It’s had an awful effect on pretty much my entire life. I really need help overcoming it, and there’s no better way than through prayer and sanctifying grace. Confession is a wonderfully, powerfully, healing Sacrament. So that definitely helped too, together with your prayers and my own!
After Confession, I stayed in the church to await the Vigil Mass. It did a lot to calm me down. The sound of the chanting, interspersed with organ interludes was enough to do that! I knelt before altar and tabernacle and Crucifix and prayed and prayed… really poured my heart out to God. I asked Him to please help me to stay even-tempered and master my emotions, to be strong and self-possessed, to be wise and prudent enough to deal with some difficult situations and difficult people in my life right now. There’s nothing like handing your busted-up heart to God and having Him put it back together again, better, stronger, and more pure!
The Mass readings for this Sunday couldn’t have been more timely and significant for me and for our nation, nor could Father’s homily! That’s another thing I love so much about my parish church: Father’s homilies! The deacons deliver good homilies too, but our pastor is the best. He’s a very educated, intellectual man, a very fine rhetorician and teacher, and also a very good pastor. He delves into the meanings of the readings themselves (all the literary and historical contexts and things like that), and then he tells us what they mean for our everyday lives. He always emphasizes that our faith is not just “something we do” on Sundays within the walls of the church, but rather something we are to live out every single day, wherever we are, and he exhorts us to do just that. There is always a very genuine passion to his speaking. I could listen to Father for hours–and I really mean that!
There are some things that are so fundamental to Christianity that we often take them for granted, don’t really think about them, or perhaps even regard them as sort of cliché, as a kind of “nice sentiment.” And one of these things is summed up especially in the short little reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans–namely, love.
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;
for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery;
you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, ”
and whatever other commandment there may be,
are summed up in this saying, namely,
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love does no evil to the neighbor;
hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.
Our society teaches that love really is a “nice sentiment,” a pleasing emotion. Our society also teaches the importance of self-love (sometimes portraying it as more important than anything else!). So it’s no wonder that we might happily float over this reading. But the Church doesn’t let us just float happily over it, and neither does a good homilist. This nice reading is couched between some much more difficult readings: the readings from Ezekiel and the Gospel of Matthew. In these, we are reminded of our duty to correct–and be corrected by–our brethren, especially when we start to fall into step with the world and lose step with our faith. Father didn’t mention this specifically, but I immediately thought about Nancy Pelosi and her fellow allegedly-Catholic politicians. I also thought about the fact that until very recently, our bishops have not responded all that strongly to them (with a few notable exceptions). Thank God that the latter has shown signs of changing!
We are all prophets by Baptism; we Christians are called to speak out what is true and right and good, without worrying what the world will think. We are to correct each other when we stray–we all need that from time to time; I know I do! Not only that, but we must speak out with love. Sure, it may not always be accepted as love; like I said, the world doesn’t really understand what love is. And far from being a “nice sentiment,” it can actually be incredibly difficult! But that is where prayer and sanctifying grace come in. God doesn’t leave us on our own. Never.
This is a theme that comes into my life fairly regularly: speaking the truth in love. For me, it is the greatest of lessons. One that I still need to work very hard on. Truth and love cannot really be separated for a Catholic. Our God is love, and our God is also truth. He’s not one or the other, He is both at once. If we are to live as His children, if we are to become like Him, we too must integrate truth and love into our lives, our actions, and indeed into our very persons. That’s a monumental task that may take us all our lives, and maybe a little time in Purgatory too!
Easy? No. A “nice sentiment”? Definitely not. It definitely takes us out of any comfort zones we may have. But it also sheds light and grace upon us, illuminating the way to overcome things like anger and fear. And that makes it all worthwhile! After these past few days, and experiencing first-hand the destructive, harmful, and painful effects on my soul of such negativities, I am willing to do just about anything to overcome them! Lord help me!
I’m off to make a holy hour at church! I know I’m going to need it this week…