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Friday, December 03, 2010

Never Alone

Every so often I get very "down" on myself.

It doesn't matter how much spiritual reading I do that warns against "despair" or of excessive sadness for our sins. We aren't always in control of our emotions, and it seems like sometimes, if things are going well I almost completely self-destruct (not a life-ending thing, more a spiritual crash and burn).

Although tonight wasn't a total crash-and-burn, I went to Mass somewhat dejected, and afterwards as I knelt, praying, I couldn't stop what rose from me.

I had just finished reading from St. Louis de Montfort's 33-day Preparation for Total Consecration (I am renewing this year on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe), and in addition, I read a couple chapters from Imitation of Mary.

Both readings spoke of spiritual despair.

After Mass, suddenly I was struck with a type of loneliness...a sense of near-abandonment of the earthly kind, even almost spiritual. It's very difficult to explain, but there it was.

I knelt before Our Lord, wondering, yet again if I think I am called to religious life only because I fear the love of another, or even more probable, fear that I could never be loved by another.

We all, within us, have a desire and a need for love, for we have been created out of love and to be loved for eternity. 

The last boyfriend I had, the one I thought I would marry, confided to a friend of his around the time we broke up that he thought I would have a hard time "finding someone else."

I admit those words are still as powerfully painful now as when I first learned about them. He denied having said it when I confronted him, but I could see the lie as he shifted his gaze away from me in shame.

There, before Our Lord, tonight, I asked Him for love; to reveal it to me.

I asked Him to show me if I've gotten discernment all wrong and am perhaps called to marriage, but fear it too much. I asked Him how anyone could ever love me, considering all my sins, all my failings, all my passionate obstinance regarding...dang near everything.

I have to admit I am pretty damn unlovable most of the time.  

I asked Jesus, simply, to love me. I had no expectations, I had no specific intentions: I offered Him only my broken heart because it's all I have to offer. I offered him my doubts, my intent to do His Will, and my own lack of charity for Him and for others.

In other words, I came to Him with my utter desolation, knowing  my self-pity was wrong but also knowing I had nowhere else to bring it but to His feet.

I left the church, having wiped my eyes of the tears that did manage to escape without my will, and having waited a few minutes to ensure my composure. With all the colds going around right now, I blended in with about half the congregation.

When I arrived at the chapel door where Daily Mass is held, a man I know held it open for me, recognized me from a committee we are on together, and said hello rather than giving me a typical dispassionate-but-friendly nod in response to my thanks. I walked over to a bench and set my backpack down so I could put my coat on, and while doing so, an elderly man who was waiting for his relative looked at me, smiled, and approached, introducing himself. I was surprised but couldn't help but respond to his sincere greeting.

I recognized him as one of the more devout members of our parish, having always wondered who he was, and I knew he also recognized me as we often sat near each other during Daily or regular Sunday Mass.  Tonight, looking at him, I saw the light in his eyes and the friendliness that was clearly a part of his real personality. He told me he is retired and we discussed how blessed we are to be members of such a good parish with such holy priests that give us more than adequate access to the Sacraments.

Both encounters were somewhat unusual; not because people are unfriendly, but rather because I don't know either at all. The first is a new acquaintance but recognized by face over the years, and the latter, simply recognized but whom seemed to be even more private than I am. Neither unapproachable people, but simply, in typical Catholic culture, willing to let another soul be another soul in the presence of God. (It's hard to explain for non-Catholics so I'll stop trying unless a question is specifically asked).

Upon arriving home I collected my mail and went inside. There I found in that stack, instead of bills, there was a Christmas card from my "second family", the parents of my teen-years best friend who had become surrogates of sorts and without whom I would not be who I am today. I haven't yet sent out any cards, but now when I send one to them I'll be able to offer a response, remembering the love they had given me even though I was not their own. Remembering that without them, I would have been lost.


I have written of them previously, HERE.

God answers prayers, usually in small ways, ways only we can recognize because they have to do with our relationships with God and others, what He knows about us, and only He can provide the timing for He knows in advance what we will ask.

Today wasn't a coincidence, but an answer to a prayer, reminding me that I am not a colossal accident, that my discernment isn't over and in fact, He is present with me in any agony, whether brief and petty or deep and abiding.  

That is His love, that is God Himself, refusing to ever leave us alone.

We may experience times of dryness and we may experience abandonment,and it for those moments He gives us these small gifts: to provide memories and bolster our faith in order that we'll always remember His presence.

So often, I think that I am lost, but then God provides evidence to the contrary, reminding me I have never been alone for even a moment.

Thank you, Jesus. I'm sorry for doubting you.


Jennifer Mulkey said...

I've had one of those evenings this evening. You see my mother is suffering from ovarian cancer. We've all been praying and praying. She's on many prayer lists. But she's not Catholic, and I am. So I wonder. I wonder what will happen to her. Tonight I saw a video of St. Pio, who is one of the Saints I love to pray to. And I saw the thousands of letters he got on a regular basis. Stacks and stacks and stacks of letters, from all over the world. People asking him for help, for healing, for help with other things, for blessings. And a video of him walking down a hallway with hundreds of hands reaching out trying to touch him, and him trying to withdraw. And I've shed some tears now. For him, because he was only human, and so much was expected. And for my mother, because how in could he possibly hear my pleas, when she's not even Catholic. And she's old, and has other health problems. How could I possibly expect that my prayers would be heard over the millions of good Catholics in the world. I despair that they can't be. So I understand kind of where you are coming from. But unlike you, I have no answer, I have no reminder.

I'm glad you got a reminder.

Adoro said...

Jennifer~ You do have an answer: St. Padre Pio. He is praying for you and for your mother and your prayers HAVE been heard!

Padre Pio was a good friend of one of my close relatives, and I am one of Padre Pio's spiritual children. I will pray for you, your mother, and all your loved ones for his intercession.

It is Jesus who answers those prayers, but He asks our cooperation. Are you willing to open yourself to Our Lord? Are you willing to see His hand in your comment to this post?

I am so sorry for your suffering but I can assure you of this: God loves you, your mother, and is present with you in your suffering. Padre Pio is praying for you.

Even if your mother is not Catholic, know that your prayers are effective. Pray a Divine Mercy chaplet for her, continue to ask Padre Pio for his intercession for her, and most importantly, TRUST God for His answer!

Trust God always, for He created your mother out of love and for love and this applies to all of humanity. Trust in God's mercy and know the powerful intercession of the Communion of Saints and we, the Mystical Body of Christ who joins with you in prayer!

God bless you!

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: I know what you mean. When I was at Confession a few evenings ago, and a stranger, as he was emerging from the Confessional, smiled and nodded at me. I don't know who he is but there was a moment of friendly solidarity.

Jennifer Mulkey said...

Dear Adoro,

Your words have so touched me. I've had such a day. I was registered today to attend a class on Lectio Divinia (sp?). Something I've never done and really didn't know how to do. So after the night I had last night, and after I had posted on your blog and several others, I couldn't understand how I could possibly get anything from this class today with my frame of mind. But God is so merciful. The first reading we started with today was out of Luke.

"In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said "Hail, Full of Grace! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus."

What my ears hears was this "The Lord is with you, she was greatly troubled, Do not be afraid."

It was as if the other words fell away completely and that is what I heard. I was in awe to say the least. It was as if the Lord knew I was going to hear those words today.

Upon reflecting, my mind went to "Trust in Me", and the Divine Mercy picture which says "Jesus I trust in you".

Then, when I came home this evening, I came to the computer and found your response along with three others, and once again, I am awed by Our Lord. How to explain when things like this happen? It defies explanation.

I can only say from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for your site, for allowing me to post. THank you for your compassion, because I was a mess last night. Thank you for your prayers for myself and on behalf of my mother, whom you will probably never even meet. Thank you for your comforting words, which I know were sent through you.

I got my reminder today. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, THank you.

And thanks be to God, who is so incredibly merciful.

God bless you and keep you always,


Jennifer Mulkey said...

Sorry, I meant to say that your words were sent from God through you.