I did not make it to the pro-life Mass and Rosary procession.  Was so disappointed in myself.  Lately, I’ve been feeling really down.  Discouraged.  Like a mess-up who can’t do anything right.  Things have been like that a lot.  I’ve been sorely tempted to wallow in self-pity, to turn in on myself, and away from God and others (why would they want anything to do with me, after all?).  I’ve given into that temptation, too, at times.

Today, I was thinking and praying about it, and I realized: the devil is just trying to play my emotions!  I don’t like it when anybody tries to play my emotions!  So, I told the devil where to go, and felt much better.

Garter snakeI should have known, really.  At the end of Bishop Hermann’s letter, which I mentioned last night, he says, “If you want to make Satan angry, pray the Rosary for the sake of Life.”  What I have been doing a lot of lately?  Praying the Rosary for the sake of life.  And making Satan angry does have real-life repercussions.  For me, and for most folks, I imagine, they are rarely spectacular; they are mostly subtle little slitherings-in, slippery little serpents.  Hard to head off.

I really needed a clean slate and a re-grounding, so I went to Confession at my parish, then stayed for Mass.  From the entrance antiphon and hymn on, I felt like the entire Mass was God speaking to me. Nearly every word was significant… nearly every word something I really needed to hear!  It was such an extraordinary experience that I was near weeping the entire time.  During the Eucharistic Prayer, and after Communion, I felt so close to the Lord.  It was an incredible consolation.

Father’s homily was awesome.  He addressed our bishops’ statement and some of the negative and/or confused reactions to it.  Then he turned to the Gospel for today: the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who did not question Jesus in order to learn, but in order to trap, and the meaning of giving to God what is God’s.  Father’s main theme was integrity of heart. Just as Roman coin had Caesar’s imprint, so do our hearts bear God’s imprint.  God gave us our hearts; we owe Him our hearts in return.  Justice demands that we owe Him our whole hearts, our whole beings.  Not just pieces.

That is what integrity means: wholeness.  Also honesty.  Integrity is showing with your actions what is in your heart. It is the opposite of hypocrisy.  As Christ shows, being a hypocrite with God doesn’t work.  He sees our hearts at all times.  If we receive Him humbly and earnestly, our hearts will come to bear His image.  If we receive Him haughtily and unworthily, our hearts will become rock-hard and malformed.

We also owe integrity to our fellow man; we may not be able to see each others’ hearts the way God does, but we can often tell when somebody is being dishonest or hypocritical.  We cannot judge somebody’s heart and soul, but we can–and should–judge words and actions.  And we can demand integrity of another.  We deserve that from each other.  Our Lord commanded us to love each other, as well as Him, and how can you love somebody without integrity of heart?  Lack of that integrity hurts and uses others.

We must have integrity of heart not only in voting at this coming election, but in every action of ours, we must be true to God and to the hearts he has given us.  Transforming our society into a culture of life and justice is something each of us has to do every day; we can’t just think about it now and then, and we can’t simply rely on other people or on the government.

That is a very crude paraphrase (as always… I can’t possibly reproduce Father’s eloquence).  It was a strong statement, just like the bishops’ statement itself.  It reached straight into my heart; it was consoling and encouraging.  We are very blessed in our bishop and in our pastor!

I feel much better now.  I feel refreshed!  And I am grateful to those of you who have given me your prayers… I know they deserve lots of credit!  :D

(Snake photo by Flickr user jereandreagan)