Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in aeternum! Amen.
Sunday of the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Christ and I are in a relationship. A relationship that I hope most ardently ends with me being espoused to Him in one way or another for the rest of eternity be it religious life or consecrated virginity (though I am leaning toward consecrated virginity quite heavily at this point). Who am I kidding? I’m in love with the God-Man. Head over heels.
Oh, you know, *gazes upward dreamily* the whole “He humbled Himself by emptying Himself of his divine majesty and taking on human flesh. Then He offered His life on the Cross in expiation for my sins and the sins of every individual who ever lived and will live. Then three days later, when most thought He was gone, BOOM!, He rises from the dead, spends time with His followers, and then ascends into Heaven and intercedes for us unceasingly to His Father.” Oh, and the whole “He is with us always in His Real Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist” thing. That too.
All of that and so much more.
And the little things.
Like the quiet whispers He puts in my heart when I need it. The gentle reminders that He’s in control and all I need to do is trust.
Case in point …
We had my nephew for the weekend. I found out that he likes Star Wars and he likes Chewbacca. He was trying to make the sound that he makes when he is communicating but he couldn’t do it. I looked up some videos on YouTube and found one that did a step-by-step on how to get the sound. Of course, my sister and I had to translate it so his three year old (and rather sharp for his age) mind could understand.
Imagine a 22 and a 24 year old trying to teach a 3 year old how to make the Chewbacca sound. Now add my sister and I laughing so much that we can hardly get it right. My nephew was getting annoyed with his aunts and their inability to focus. “Come on, Bookie and A-lee, stop laff-en!”
He and I also spent time watching “Rocky and Bullwinkle.” Always time well-spent.
When we went to Mass today, he wanted me to take him around church so after Mass ended, I took him on a 5 dollar tour knowing my parents would be busy yapping after Mass. I taught him how to make the Sign of the Cross (he saw me blessing myself with holy water and he wanted to do it too) and he got to light some candles in our candle chapel. He also marveled at Joan of Arc’s sword (we have a golden mosaic of the life of Joan of Arc that has a large portrayal of her in full armor with banner and sword).
Well, we had to take him back to his mother and since we don’t really like the idea of driving to GRap every two weeks, we meet halfway.
After we dropped him off, we drove home.
Not many things of this world better than sipping on a Iced Capp from Timmy Ho’s (Tim Horton’s … God bless Canada), listening to my “Randomness” playlist on shuffle (it’s pretty much my entire music collection with some exclusions … it can be interesting), and reading The Imitation of Christ (I am really enjoying it … an excellent book).
When on longer driving excursions I have this tendency to put my book aside and gaze out the window and daydream or just stare into oblivion; it’s how my mind processes.
Then it hit me: the list of things I have to do within the next few weeks. All the stuff that needs to be done. All the bull crap drama I have been dealing with that, if I could, would expunge immediately but I am chalking it up as a penance for a priest who is in danger of losing his vocation. All of my hyper-analytical-ness. The fact that Old Goat Legs and his minions have been quite active of late in the lives of many persons I know.
Some of you are probably wondering why I call the Evil One “Old Goat Legs.” Mostly because in some portrayals of it, it has the legs of a goat much like the Roman god Pan.
I searched for a pertinent image and was … bleched … by what I saw. I need to balance this out because I don’t typically make a habit of putting images of it on my blog.
Here’s a nice palate and soul cleanser (disclaimer: does not have the same effect of Confession or soul bleach) …
Feel better? I do. Go, Saint Michael!
Well, getting back to topic (I have a tendency to go on tangents … not that you have not noticed that already).
So I am looking out the window and thinking about all that stuff and more when suddenly, without any action or willing on my part, I had a flashback to this past January when I was still in Pittsburgh and still a postulant.
I am sure I have shared this before but Imma share it again anyway for the sake of this whole schtick.
One of the last things I participated in before I left the convent was a Forty Hours Devotion for Life that was being put on by the Newman Center/Oratory (the Oratorian Father are AMAZING) at the University of Pittsburgh/Carnegie-Mellon University. We attended the opening Mass, holy hour, and social; the vigil outside an abortion clinic; and the closing Mass and social.
My flashback involved the holy hour. I can see it quite clearly even now. I was sitting in that beautiful chapel (it was this gorgeous and yet tastefully simple Gothic chapel with altar rail, choir seating in the sanctuary, and a lovely high altar with a baldacchino), listening to the soft organ music (all traditional hymns!), and gazing up at the monstrance (clearly an antique traddy monstrance) at the Lord.
At that point, I was really questioning whether I wanted to leave. Besides my spiritual directors (at home and in Pittsburgh), a couple other priest-friends, my classmate, and one or two trusted sisters in community, I had not told anyone what was going on but I am sure it was pretty clear that something was up.
I had been back in town for a week or so and was an emotional and spiritual wreck (not to mention in a rather dark place and more physically exhausted than I had ever been in my life). My mind was running in many different directions and I had spent many a night alone in my room crying onto the pages of my Breviary (don’t get me started on why I didn’t pray it in chapel, pleez) (praying it in Latin kept me sane those times … idky but it did) and earnestly begging my dear Infant of Prague to help me (I can’t tell you how many times I kissed His little hands) figure this out and do His will. I actually wrote my prayer down on a piece of paper and placed it in His lace undergarment (as in the part under the colored vestment … He ain’t Mormon with holy undies … yes, those exist) close to His Heart. I later found that piece of paper when I was changing Him at home and smiled at how He had answered my prayer.
As I am gazing at Him in the monstrance, it was just Him and me. I was pouring my heart out to Him as one should only pour one’s heart out to the Lord. Having rather strong control over my emotions (I had to learn to do that for varied reasons), I kept the tears back though I could feel them burning in the depths of my lacrimal glands but they stayed at bay. The last thing I wanted to do was call attention to myself or have the sisters or my classmate see me as I was.
My vision was becoming blurry at times with the tears that were welling in my eyes and I kept begging my angel to keep them back and let me cry spiritually to the Lord. My gaze never left His. When one is with the Lord, you are the only one in the room. You could be in a church full of people but He gazes at you like you’re the only one there. I know from much experience.
Suddenly, as I am pouring all of the pain, anxiety, doubt, fear, and sadness out to Him, He stills my heart for a moment and I hear, “Trust Me. I am always with you but I am all the closer to you now. Trust me.”
I confess, I have trust issues. Why is it that I can trust certain people pretty easily but for some reason I have struggles with trusting the Lord for one reason or another? It doesn’t make a lick of sense! I can trust a fallen being who is no better than I pretty easily but I have issues with He Who is the Source of all Truth and Beauty? Whaaaaa? *double facepalm*
Then peace washed over me and I didn’t want it to end.
I am convinced that experience if not the experience that “told” me all would be well, it was a major contributor.
Well, going back to this past evening as I am gazing out the window.
I have that flashback and then that same peace washes over me and He says, “Do you not believe that if I was with you then that I am also with you now? Trust Me.”
There’s that word again: trust.
All through the rest of the drive home, He kept putting “little” bits of reassurance in my heart. In the silence of my heart or after I had just read a section of Imitation and put it down for a moment.
I remember when I was dating, my boyfriend and I would text each other. Sometimes it was like, “Hello, how was your day?” or “What are you doing Saturday night?” followed by him calling me and trying to act all smooth asking for a date or if he could come up to visit his “favorite Catholic lady after Mary.” We were Catholic nerds in lurve (but he did not really have an awareness for the TLM … sadness).
Other times it was just plan sappy … I will spare you examples, just know that my dear friends in college had to deal with giddy Allie (oh Lawrd) whenever my phone would vibrate or ring his ringtone (I won’t even tell you what his ringtone was … that would add a hard sugar coating on the already saccharine sappiness that is this paragraph).
My friends came up with rather twisted ways of getting me off my cloud and bring my attention back (what can I say? I was a lady in love.) to reality. They would shout/say things like “Why is that priest walking around with a popped collar?!” or “In the Name of the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier.” or “Gettaload of that blue chasuble, Allie!” or “Bongo-beating riverboat-ordained womynprysts!” or “Look, Allie! Chitty-chitty Bang-bang!!!” (“Chitty-chitty Bang-bang” is what one of my profs used to call Joan Chittister so it was a running joke with Theology majors and those in the various Catholicky segments of the student body).
I have amazing friends. Every once in a while, when we find particularly theologically, liturgically, or spiritually horrifying things (like Environmental “Stations of the Cross”), we send them to each other as a way of saying, “We are friends! Yay!”
Well, since since Christ has no need of such temporal things as cell phones or other pieces of technological geekery, He speaks directly to the heart and when He does, it fills us with the very grace we need at that moment. Such is the beautiful providence of Christ’s loving and constant presence in each of our lives.
I like to see these “random” moments as His way of sending little reminders of His constant love for and presence with me.
He steals my heart every time and He does it in a way that only He can do.
And people wonder why I want to dedicate my life to Him and His Church?
All right, it’s 12:30 in the morning and I have Mass in a few hours. I still have to pray Compline before hitting the sack.
Have a nice night!