Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Day by day, I am watching my father, who is 90--and who I believe is slowly dying--clinging to life... and I wonder if people who have no faith are the ones who fight the hardest to keep on living. He has proudly told me, many times, that he does not believe in God.
Not that it matters in the ultimate scheme of things, but he has no quality of life whatsoever. It is a terrible and long ordeal for him to get up and dressed in the morning with lots of help from my mother... he eats, but very little... he struggles to walk to the bathroom and get up off the toilet afterward... my mother has to wipe him off because he can't do it himself... then he sleeps until it's time to eat again... he goes to bed as early as possible in the evening. He won't--or can't--let go.
If I didn't have Jesus in my life, right beside me, loving me, comforting me, supporting me--my constant companion as I go through the day, I think I would probably be the same way. For my father, life is all he has, and existence is all he values.
I feel differently. I long to see Jesus face-to-face, and I can't imagine struggling so hard against death, like my father is. At night as I pray, I tell Jesus how much I long for Him... how much I want to embrace Him, to see His face. I know I am not living as holy a life as I want to, as I know He wants me to, but I trust in His mercy, because He knows I am trying as best I can. Yes, often failing, but trying because I love Him so much. He made me the way I am, complete with all my faults: He knows me as no one else does, but He loves me anyway... and I trust in that love.
I think when the time comes, I will let go very easily. I wish my father could do the same, because it is heartbreaking to watch.
Oh dear Lord! I pray tonight for all the people who do not believe in You, that somehow they will receive the grace to open their hearts to You, to know that You are there, and that You love them as no one else can--and that they will be humble enough to accept that love! +
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Ever since I returned to the Church about a year ago, I have been feeling so bad about the fact that I now have a rich, full and happy life--but my parents don't. I feel like I have left them behind, and it has made me feel very guilty.
Suddenly, today, I realized that it was their choice to live as they have, and it is not my fault! There was nothing stopping them from staying close to a church, or even possibly converting to Catholicism after I did--they certainly received a lot of exposure to the Faith, since they came with me to many events in my parish, and after I entered the convent, they visited me frequently while I was there and had many conversations with the other Sisters.
When I began the process of applying to become a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph, their only question was, "how will this impact us?" Once I reassured them that I was not going to leave them, they never asked any more questions. And even now, when I go to something related to Church, they almost never express any interest or curiosity, other than "when will you get home?" --or comments that amount to "you spend too much time there."
I suddenly feel very liberated! I am not responsible for the choices they have made, or have not made! All I am responsible for, is to continue to pray that their hearts will become open to Him, and they will want to live their lives with Him and for Him, as I am trying to do. Blessed be God forever! +
OK, I am going to go out on a limb here with this story, but I am wondering!
At Mass last Sunday morning, there was an older woman with a young child sitting at the end of my pew. I had never seen them before. While I was putting down my missal, Bible and journal, the woman asked me where she could buy a Catholic Bible for her grandson. I told her where I had bought mine, and she asked me how much it cost, and I told her: $35.00. Frankly, she didn't look like she could afford $35.00, but at that moment I did not think much about that.
There was about 15 minutes left before Mass was to start, so I decided to go to the restroom. As I was walking there, the thought suddenly came to me: I should give them my Bible. Then in my head, I heard the words, "If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts." I was a little resistant, since I really liked that Bible, but I resolved to do it.
When I returned to the pew, I gave them the Bible. They did not act like you would expect a stranger to act when given such an unexpected gift: it seemed almost as if they already knew I would give it to them, but that did not bother me, because I felt good about doing it.
I planned to speak to them after Mass, to welcome them to our parish or something like that, but when I looked up after the last hymn, they had disappeared--I never saw them leave. +
Saturday, November 12, 2016
I prayed for a long time at bedtime last night, and it was a very beautiful experience, so much joy... at one point, I realized that this is what Heaven will be like: constant union with Him in complete happiness, union that never ends.
Later on during the night, I woke up with the phrase "pray always" in my mind, and I thought: "that's what I should try to do... maybe I could avoid sin by sincerely trying to be in union with Him in prayer constantly throughout the day, and whenever I find that I have gotten distracted and left Him, just bring myself back to Him. So, for the rest of the night, whenever I woke up, as I went back to sleep I turned to Him in prayer until I naturally fell asleep.
When I woke up Saturday morning and looked at my email, I saw that the Gospel reading for today's Mass is Lk 18:1-8, in which Jesus tells us to "pray always without becoming weary."
What I am trying to do is like recollection, but deeper, and I hope it will make it possible for me to stay calm and avoid anger. +
Saturday, November 5, 2016
I haven't written anything here in awhile, and I realize now that it is because I have been neglecting my prayer life for quite some time. I didn't do that deliberately, but I have been so preoccupied with keeping things going on a daily basis since my father broke his hip and went into rehab, that I stopped making time with God a priority as I had in the past--and just when I needed it most.
Recently, while talking with Fr. Mario, I finally understood that although I had been saying that I accepted that this life I have is God's will for me--and that I must patiently endure it--I had actually NOT accepted it at all; instead, I have been fighting God constantly, with a heart secretly full of resentment and anger. Anger mainly directed at my parents, I am very ashamed to admit--since it is not their fault! I truly do believe that God does not make mistakes, and that He has me here for a reason--a reason not at all clear to me, but that doesn't matter, because I know He is doing what is best for me, what will ultimately bring me closer to Him--and that is what I want, too.
I am also ashamed to admit that my current life is a source of great suffering for me, simply because I have such a strong will and basically, want to be in control of my life: I want what I want--and I wanted God to go along with me. So, I have been doing it all wrong for a long time, and I am resolved to stop refusing the suffering that comes with this. I am determined to be calm and patient, knowing that He will release me when He has accomplished in my soul what He wishes to do. It may be sooner, or it may be later, I have no idea, but I have to wait on Him. This acceptance has brought me to a new level of calm and happiness.
Recognizing that I had not been spending much time with God in prayer either, I decided to pray for at least an hour today, and a revelation came with that. He told me that I need to stop pushing, to stop trying so hard--that what He wants is just to be with me, and have me be with Him. What He wants, is the most valuable thing I have--the only thing I have worth giving to Him--my time. If I give Him the time He wants, He can and will heal me from the wounds which I have deeply buried in my consciousness, one of which was revealed to me today while I prayed. That is, I am psychologically primed to expect rejection.
I have not experienced much love in my life, and so, without admitting it, I had convinced myself that I did not need love--simply because I could not bear any more rejection. My assumption, when I left the Dominicans, was that--even though I loved Him with my whole heart and wanted only to give my life to Him--that God Himself had rejected me! --and so I endured more than 20 years of terrible pain and separation from Him until I finally found my way back to the Church on November 18, 2015.
When Fr. Rafa hugged me at the end of Confession that night, to welcome me back, it was the first time I had allowed anyone to touch me for more than 25 years. But it felt wonderful--I had forgotten what it was like to be embraced! Having opened myself to love again, I have found it. Fr. Rafa taught me to relate directly to Jesus in my prayer, instead of the more impersonal "God," and that transformed my prayer life in an incredible way. Also, I have made beautiful friends from among the members of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, friends who support me both spiritually and emotionally. It is the same when I visit the Sisters of St. Joseph in Concordia: I feel totally loved and accepted. Fr. Mario is also an exceptionally kind and loving person, and I am so grateful that God sent him to OLPH! I feel as though I am finally becoming well again. +