Thursday, November 08, 2007
Participation in the Suffering of Christ
Today I was working, once again, on my paper about prayer and suffering (and all I have left is tweaking and loose ends and a summary, praise God!). And I had an epiphany of sorts.
And there I sat, in tears, completely ashamed of myself, completely humbled, and completely joyful both at the revelation and of the event of being able to cooperate with God's plan of salvation.
Yesterday I wrote of my frustration, of the people who are calling last minute, who haven't bothered to participate in working their children towards their first experience with God's mercy in a direct way, etc. One thing I didn't mention which had rattled me was a woman stating that their biggest conflict was a sporting event about 3 hours away! I wasn't surprised at the "conflict" but I was surprised she was so indifferent as to mention it by name!
(Demon, thy name is Hockey Game...sorry, did I say that OUT LOUD!??)
I told her directly that this is the time that she needs to prioritize and that God should be coming first in her child's life, not sporting events, and that she has to make a choice. I also sympathized to the point that these sports are asking too much of children (they are 7!), but that this is also very important and is a one-time event.
When I left work last night, I was literally in tears driving home.
These people don't get it! They clearly don't take God seriously, and their children are suffering. And of course, my own selfish issues - it's inconvenient to me to have to continue pushing these people through the program. At the same time, it's also a detriment to others who are in need of my time and need me to get certain things done by certain dates. And it's just piling up.
The fact is, of the parents I've had to work with individually, it has been a gift, and I've seen God's hand in that. And yet, now, at "crunch time" I'm still saying "poor me" when I should be praising God that these very can't-be-bothered people have to go through some individualization of the program.These are the very souls that NEED to be addressed individually! And God is using me as His instrument to impart his Word, to impart the importance of the Sacrament, and to help form the parents so they can, in turn, form their children.
I'm starting to think that maybe God should make a whale swallow me, too. Thank God I don't live near the ocean. Just call me "Jonah".
So this afternoon, still frustrated, having had some contact with a parent who feels she should be accomodated for her laziness, and not at all pleased with the prospect of rushing the books or waiting until January to work with Father for their own special Reconciliation date, well, apparently this is a lesson in God's plan for both of us. Or all three of us, if we include her child in the mix.
As I read about suffering, I came across a passage I'd read over and over last spring in Salvifici Doloris. And I considered recently what I'd read in the Old Testament about God being a jealous God, because of how He sees his people (that would be us), and His own pain resulting from Israel's indifference, idolatry, spiritual (and actual) adultery.
I was forced to turn my questions and accusation from God and others to myself; why am I really upset? Is it my own selfishness, my own control-freak-ness coming out? Yes, partially. But there's more. I'm frustruated because these people don't get it. They don't care, and God means nothing to them. The Sacrament is just another "event" in their lives, it has no real meaning, it's extra work in their lives they don't think they need, and it's just a hoop to get through in order to get their kids through the picture-perfect day of First Communion, the photos of which they will put up on a poster board on the day of High School graduation and maybe parse into a DVD on their wedding day.
And suddenly I was realizing that this is the modern-day realization of the Old Testament text of Hosea. And I realized that I was seeing US through God's eyes, and that for some reason, I'm in the role of "prophet", that being the person set to call people back to God, back to repentance.
I don't want to be a prophet. They all come to scary-bad ends. But the role is important.
And to be clear, anyone reinforcing God's love, calling people to the Sacraments, and working to preach the true Gospel message is a prophet.
So all you out there working in RCIA, Faith Formation, Priests, Sisters, Religion Teachers, etc. Congratuations. You're prophets. And I'm guessing you're frustrated, too, aren't you?
Of course you are. And those of you who have been doing this for awhile are likely chuckling at my post from yesterday. Because you know better than I, and you likely realized long ago what hit me today.
My frustration, my stress, my anxiety, all of it, over this coming weekend and the next few weeks trying to get parents to get their kids through this wonderful Sacrament of Mercy is a participation in God's own suffering. I suddenly recognized the bloody face of Jesus, covered with thorns, his eyes tearing up due to the indifference of His people.
God is constantly rejected, and it seems that those who truly love Him and are willing to put Him before their 7 year old's sporting or dance events are few and far between. It's disheartening.
And I'm ashamed because Jesus Himself accepted this suffering silently, not wasting words, not complaining, not lamenting his condition. And he died on the cross knowing that first I abused Him and then when I finally "got it" I abused him some more by refusing to also accept the same abuse of divided hearts in the same silent suffering.
So I have been suffering badly because my last 24 hours has been spent not in accepting God's will and just loving His people as He does, but in crying and complaining.
That is NOT the way to "offer it up."
So today I've been chastized, and all I can do is thank God for that, because were it not for this, I would not understand.
I pray I can go into this weekend now renewed and refreshed with clearer vision and instead of being my crabby self, put on the mind of Christ and let my hands and voice be His, even in the face of those who just don't care.