Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Wretchedness and the Litany of the Saints

I mentioned to a good friend of mine that once again we would be hearing and praying the Litany of the Saints on the Easter Vigil and how I loved it so much. She said that she also had a fondness for it and had just watched it on You Tube recently, so I went to the site and opened one of the videos containing the Litany. This was during a Mass of ordination. Here

There has to be something seriously wrong with me. The cantor had just barely started invoking the saints when the tears came. I just.could.not.stop.them. I felt so small, so insignificant, so wretched, yet at the same time I felt overwhelmingly loved by God and the hosts of heaven to whom the Litany was directing its prayer to. It is this love that brought the tears. There is only so much love that I can take at one time without losing it and this was it.

Think about this; All those Saints to whom we pray, who are at our beck and call to aid us in the worst of circumstances are just waiting to help us. God gave them to US! That is the love God has for us. He allows Himself to be swayed by the prayers of his heavenly saints that held on to their faith and love of God through their time on earth. The simple point is, no matter how alone we feel in all that is swirling around us, how frustrating it is, how so desperate times may seem we have friends in heaven that have gone through exactly what we are going through and are begging us to ask them for their aid. That is the Church Triumphant.

I felt so small, wretched and insignificant because of what I KNOW of  myself...what I think...what I do and what I say and very seldom is any of  it very good, yet I am still loved by my Father. He always gives me a chance to return to Him.  How wondrous and unreal is that?. And I am to love others like this?? Another reason for my feelings is that I am one, just one person in six billion people on this earth, with countless that have gone before us and I am as important to Him as any of them.

If I had to go through my daily life feeling what I am feeling right now because of this unbelievable love, I could not function. Sometimes we think how wonderful it would have been if we had lived during the time of our Lord, seeing Him,speaking to Him, touching Him, yet that wasn't enough for the apostles...they all abandoned Jesus despite being with Him for three years!!. One betrayed Him, one denied Him and all left Him in the garden. Do we really think we are so different? Do we really think we would have stayed and perhaps have been arrested also?

Back to the Litany. I know what will happen when I go to the Vigil this year and we begin the Litany of the Saints. I will choke up and my eyes will well. Thank goodness the lights are off during this time and the sanctuary lit only by candle light. His light. God is merciful is He not?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Not In Control

I am as surprised as any about the resignation of Pope Benedict but my reaction is not anywhere near being shocked by it. Most things are out of our control in this life yet at the same time all things are in God's control. God saw fit for the Pope to step down. It is the Holy Spirit that protects His Church and though we may not always understand the ways of the Church we know that God is there guiding us.

We are not in control. When we are asked to obey and follow the teachings of the Church there is a certain amount of comfort in this for me. Without the Church we would be left to believe and make decisions in areas where most of us would not have a clue as to where to begin. No? How many of us by this time would have already followed the world if the Church had not taught us about the evils accepted by the world such as abortion, homosexual acts, euthanasia, marriage et cetera? In these cases, the world seems to have the upper hand but it doesn't. The Truth always wins out.

Many are dismayed by the Popes resignation. Don't be. We are not in control of God's plan and I know with an increasing comfort that God knows what He's doing and He's doing it for the love of His Church. There is no fear to be had today but comfort,. at least for me because my Father is in control of the Church..

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Failure To Love

1 Corinthians, chapter 12

"Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
It not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things."

I was dumbfounded as I sat in my pew during Mass yesterday listening to these verses as the Word was read to us. I had heard St. Paul's litany on love many times before but for some reason, it was if I had heard it for the first time. Re-reading this verse, I could not help but feel how much of a failure I was when it came to love, Christian love. If there is any one of these attributes of love that I can possibly say I succeed at to some degree, it is in not rejoicing over wrongdoing, but all the others? Nope. I fail big time.

How can I even call myself Catholic when I can't even get love right? If I have any love at all then it would have to be love of self and even that I call into question. If I truly loved myself I would more patient amidst all my failings but I'm not, and it leads to my being quick-tempered. That is pride. It means I believe myself better than what I really am. I don't bear things, bad things well nor do I endure hardships that I encounter very well either. Brooding over an injury? Ha! I take the cake!

But you see, it does not stop there. I am so hard and expect so much of myself that it reflects on others and what I expect of them. That is the farthest thing from love of neighbor. Yes, I've been able to love at times as St. Paul has described, but my lack of it far outweighs the times that I do get it right. So why is it that it is so difficult for me to love others? Because I have to deal with people like me. Is someone I work with obnoxious? So am I. Are people I deal with mean and jealous? Vengeful? Yep. I am too.

We are asked to love each other despite all these things. There is no qualification that they have to be likable. Are we likable to God? Probably not most of the time, but we are lovable to Him. That is what's hard about love. It's easy to love another if they are nice to us or just nice in general. But as soon as I meet someone that is unlikeable, someone like me, then loving them is like pulling teeth.

Loving our neighbor is not like being in love with someone special. It is not like falling in love either. It is way more than that. It means caring for that person's health and well-being of body and soul despite their personality or character traits. If we only love those that will love us back, then we are no better than pagans as scripture says. The true test of love is caring for someone who despises us, hates us and wishes us harm. That's the kind of love our Lord has for us. Think about it. He didn't die just for the goody, goody two-shoes, but also for people like me. He gave Himself in our stead while we were still steeped in sin.

He died for Judas, the soldiers that crucified him and those who mocked him. He died for the Pharisees, the thieves who died that same day on each side of Him. He died for pedophiles and for those that rejoice in abortion. He even died for me. He knew the person I would be, the sins I would commit, yet he loved me anyway and died so I wouldn't.

That is divine love. How can God expect me to love others like this? He doesn't, not without His grace that is. God's grace is the only way we can love as St. Paul describes. I fail miserably because too many times I try to love my neighbor with a love that is not the love of Christ. My love is a give and take love. You love me, I'll love you. Left to my own devices, I will never be able to love my neighbor as Christ loves us. I need help to do that. I need His constant grace. I pray for that.

Lent is almost here. Loving others in a more Christ-like way is what I will try to achieve these coming forty days and the grace to accomplish it. Pray for me.