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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Cross and the Blessings

Curses
As indicated in my previous post, I started out with a rough morning. Ihave to admit, it smarts a bit when you are slandered and someone tries to discredit you. It IS hard not to take it personally. And I don't: because the anger of certain parents is not about me. It's about God, it's about the Church, and it's about themselves and what they know to be true. In their battle against God, they lash out at convenient targets.

I did wonder why, today of all days, they complained? And then I picked up my Magnificat and went into Adoration for awhile. Sure enough, there were the words I needed to read, right before the morning Psalm 31. "Before they hated you, they hated me..."

There I knelt, at the feet of Jesus, reading His own words, offering Him the harsh beginning of my day. And there He answered, in the quote from John, in the Psalm, in the readings for Mass. He spoke to me personally today, and while I recognized this "attack" for what it was, it still helped to know that I am understood by my Savior, that I really do feel those barbs that come from doing His work, and that they are a call to conversion for me just as my words were a call to conversion of others.

I had to examine both my actual words and how they might have been so misconstrued, and I had to examine how I really felt about was said about me...and how it's not about me at all. I had to stop and recognize the cause for joy, even amidst those barbs, and to try to understand that it's fine to be human and have hurt feelings, but still be joyful because that's all they are...feelings. And to consider what our Savior experienced, the slander, the attacks, the attempted stonings, and ultimately His Passion.

Perspective.

But my day wasn't done. I went to speak with Father, because even though he knew what I spoke about last week, I naturally felt badly that he should have to suffer for it. I am happy to be held accountable for my own words and actions - no one else should be punished. Father was fine, the person who spoke to him was actually not angry, just needed clarification. He was behind me, and said that he's just happy I knew what people were saying and that I was also fine with it.

So, that was my morning of "curses", all joined to blessings. So although it was a rocky road, I can't say that it was a bad morning.

Benediction

At the time, Father was preparing for a Benediction for the school children, so I planned to quickly run into the church so I could study the servers, as I would be doing their job this evening. Before I left, though, I asked Father when he wanted to train me, so he immediately invited me back in, showed me what to do with the incense, explained the different parts of this very simple Benediction, and then mentioned almost casually, "Oh, I forgot to arrange for servers for this. I was going to do it myself, but since you're here, do you want to or are you too nervous?"

Um....wow, what a way to be on the spot. And I put myself there. But, realizing that this really was a gift because the group was very small, well, no better time to risk error. So I said yes, and before I knew it I was walking into the church, followed by Father, as we approached Jesus at the altar.

It went well; I did not trip, I did not drop anything, I did not sing the wrong words to the Tantum Ergo, I did not set the alb on fire, I did not set the Humeral Veil on fire, and there are no incense burns in the new carpet. So although it was very cool to be that close to Jesus, and I just LOVE incense, well...I was more focused on what I was doing than on Jesus. But I think He understood.

This evening was the originally scheduled Benediction involving my direct participation. This time there were two of us, and when Father knelt next to me he said something about the incense. Um...yeah...here...no? He pointed off to my right, where I finally got the message the incense itself was on the holder. Earlier in the day because he'd set things up to be able to operate without servers, he'd had it in front of him. Small detail! So I went to go get it once I got a clue, and the rest went smoothly. And later on we joked about my brain lapse, that really important element! Thankfully, no one else was the wiser to Father's and my whispered conversation.

And in case any of you are worried, no, I'm not suddenly going to become a liturgical liberal. While I'm not a rad-trad, I lean in that direction, but I'm also very practical. If something needs to be done, if it is legitimate, and if it is something I can do and have been asked to do, it is proper to respond, well, it's logical to step in. I never in a thousand years would have thought I'd be involved in a Benediction, and as a child, I was never an altar server. Never had the interest, even though girls were allowed. I thought it strange. But the Church allows it and I will be obedient to that no matter what my preferences. (I don't think I'd be willing to serve at Mass, though.)

Tonight went well, overall, and although it was a strange and rough day, there have been great blessings. After all, I was blessed by Jesus today three times, at three separate Benedictions, two of them while kneeling at His very feet, surrounded in a cloud of incense. That HAS to be an experience of the Beautific Vision. And it makes me love Him more.

The Blessing of the Cross

At the end of the day, a co-worker revealed a story she'd heard from a man she knows who nearly died. He had some sage spiritual advice; accept every cross that comes to you, without question, and with much joy. Because it is better to have a cross than to not have one.

The idea of being hated and slandered is a cross for me. I tend to be sensitive to those things, and so I've always struggled in trying not to be overly-sensitive. But today, I was given that very Cross, and I knew it was coming, although it arrived in a way I hadn't entirely considered. In the end, though, I was blessed through the support of my coworkers, the teachers who were present at my talk, our priest, and the school principal. So I gladly welcome that cross, because I'm not done carrying it, and there will be a new one on the same order next year.

Then also, the idea of serving at the Benediction was somewhat of a Cross for me, but it has become a true blessing, in all sense of the word. At the heart of every single Cross is the love of the Father, and each day, He sends a bit of love our way. Some of those things may be painful, but they carry a message, and sometmes they bring us so close to Him that we can't see anything else, and don't WANT to see anything else. Every so often, His lessons converge in one place, and instead of feeling burdened, we realize we are free.

God, grant me blessings and crosses like that every day, and help me to recognize them for what they are. So often, they are one and the same.

I love Benedictions, and the ones we planned for today are motivated by something I just sense deep in my very soul; it's the only way to bring people home. I can stand up in front of a room and talk about the sacraments and the catechism and what Holy Scripture says, but maybe nothing will happen. Even if I am speaking with the authority of the 2,000 years of the Church, it means nothing if the people refuse to see Jesus.

But if I can get them in the PRESENCE of Jesus Himself, and He can offer them a Blessing, well...that's conversion territory. Because it's not a lecture, and the one we did today was very short and simple. Just a few minutes with Jesus...that will bear fruit. If we do nothing else this year but get people to Christ, well, things will happen.

I can't convert people. I can't even convert myself! But Jesus can.

Everyone, here is the secret to true conversions; Jesus. He is there. He is waiting, and He can convert hearts at an instant...he just needs that doorway, that few moments, and people will be changed forever.

9 comments:

Christian said...

Thanks for your Blog :) God Bless you

onionboy said...

This "I can't convert people. I can't even convert myself! But Jesus can." remains true, in spite of the that that so many of us Christians constantly make a lie of it by trying to take on the work of the Holy Spirit.

May God continue to grant you his peace and his graces as you unite your sufferings with Christ.

::thrive!
O

Fr. V said...

Now you know . . .

We sit around the dinner table scratching our heads and wondering why anybody would be the least bit upset that a Catholic priest would be stating Catholic belief in a Catholic Church to Catholics.

Reevangelization! JPII was rock on target with that one.

ignorant redneck said...

Adoro--

Sometimes, like now, you are one of my favorite spiritual writers. Keep it up, onna counna I need the help!

Ray from MN said...

God Bless You, Adoro.

And God Bless Your Pastor and your DRE. It sounds like you are blessed working for good people.

When people get into disputes over what was said like you describe, they don't see it as "lying." They believe so strongly that they are right, everything that they hear goes through their faith filter. And their filter is nothing like yours.

Now you have a better feel as to the nature of the objections that people raise and you have a year to prepare for next year's sessions.

Again, God Bless You!

I pray for you and your co-workers and the parishioners, and, of course, the children.

Angela M. said...

You are fighting the good fight! Carry on!

Tara said...

What ray said...ditto! And Benedictions and Incense--ahhh, lovely--and no matter what anyone says or does--just stay true to the faith--you are blessed, and you have a great Pastor and DRE--and your blogging buddies love you!

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

"accept every cross that comes to you, without question, and with much joy. Because it is better to have a cross than to not have one."

I'm taking that one with me to the hospital on Sunday!

angelmeg said...

When I was working as DRE in Sacramental prep my worst problem was the parents. The kids were willing to do and learn anything to receive the sacrament but the parents found everything that had to be done such a burdon.

It made me want to scream sometimes. In the end you may find that the ones that give you the most grief now will be the ones who thank you the most later. 7 out of 10 times that was what I found, and to me that was pretty good odds.