Thursday, April 29, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Our standard-size poodle had to be locked away in the laundry room. Every time she hears the sound, she comes running to see if there is a puppy who needs a mama.
Her last litter was two years ago.
The Blessed Mother didn't stop mothering when Jesus Ascended. She didn't stop mothering the Church after her Assumption. A mother never stops mothering.
She hears a cry, no matter how many years have gone by, and she runs to see what she can do to help.
We have a Mother who can truly help. She is the Queen Mother to the King of Kings. And when you cry out for help, she comes running.
Oh sure, the Enemy would love to lock her up in a room somewhere. He would like to keep her from coming to our aid when we cry out. But there are some things he cannot touch. And he has never been able to touch Our Lady.
She's listening for your cry.
And she will enlist the help of all of Heaven if necessary to bring you aid and comfort.
Because that's what mothers do.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Nothing could have prepared me for the moment of Confirmation. I sensed the movement of the Holy Spirit in a way that I never had before. The parish secretary said that my face was glowing when I was annointed with Holy Chrism, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was.
These last five years (as of August 14) have completely turned my life upside down. Not by my own strength, but by the grace that is ours through Confirmation, I have been able to be instrumental in bringing both my daughter and my husband into Mother Church. I have had the joy of helping my daughter's friend catch up on what she missed when her mother stopped practicing her faith (which meant the little girl had missed the opportunity of receiving Holy Communion in 2nd grade and had to catch up on about 4 years of PSR). I was able to witness this child's First Holy Communion, knowing that I had been given the privilege of helping her to Our Eucharistic Lord.
I continue to grow in wisdom, understanding, right judgment and courage, knowledge and reverence, and wonder and awe in the Lord. These gifts of the Holy Spirit continue to shape me and prepare me to live out this new faith and to share it with others in a winsome way.
I am convinced that the Sacrament of Confirmation has led me to share the faith in a unique way, since I have been blessed to write a column (Catholic by Grace) which has run in 37 diocesan papers. Only a few run the column each month, but I consider each one a gift back to God, who has made a way for me to come home to Mother Church.
There is no logical reason why a Protestant preacher's daughter and divorced (annulled) wife of a former United Methodist minister would ever see the Catholic Church as the Church Jesus Christ started and continues to preserve and protect. For centuries, my family line has believed that the Catholic Church was one choice among many . . . or worse, a cult that one should avoid altogether. I am Catholic by God's grace and mercy.
Without a doubt, my Confirmation changed me, it prepares me for each new challenge, and it opens doors for me to live out the faith and share the joy of being Catholic with others.
Friday, April 16, 2010
She is eternally young.
And, like the young nurse, the Church has thrown open the doors to me, invited me to come inside, eased my concerns with the touch of her hands – especially on nights when I have been lonely and afraid.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
Run to God
It is something that I have shared with only a handful of people. I chose to remain silent, not because I was profoundly damaged, but because I had put it behind me. But it seems to me that there is something important to be gained by reflecting on a few horrible experiences in an otherwise idyllic childhood.
I couldn’t have been more than five years old. The abuse started in the basement of a parishioner’s house (Dad was a Wesleyan minister back then). The boy was young, but the difference in our ages made him seem more man than child. It was marginal abuse at first, but gained frequency and intensity over the course of a year (until we moved to another pastorate). I remember once, the young man held a pocket knife in the palm of his hand and commanded me to do something that sent shock-waves through my childhood innocence. I don’t remember what happened after that. I think I ran upstairs to be with my parents.
I share this with you now because there are some who are stunned that anyone would convert to a Church that has been shaken by sex scandal. Certainly, it would cause a person of faith to go anywhere but to the Catholic Church, right? But I can honestly say that scandal exists in every corner of the Christian world. The enemy targets children, and if he can use instruments of faith or places of worship to cause further damage, he will do it.
I know this from experience. The young man frequently chose the church for his abuse. He liked the privacy of empty Sunday school classrooms. We had easy access to the church building since the parsonage (where my family lived) was next door to the church (where my dad pastored), and the church was usually empty. Thankfully, the boy was not so advanced in age as to seek to completely destroy my innocence, but it was enough to implant within me lasting unpleasant memories linked to holy places and undeserved guilt.
It did not, however, make me run from God, but rather to run into His arms with all of my heart.
But for those who say wait a minute, there is a huge difference between being abused by a young adult (even if it is inside the walls of a church) and being abused by clergy, I say, yes, that is true.
That kind of abuse is not limited, however, to the Catholic Church. It happens in every church. I know four dear ones personally who were molested by their father while he was a pastor in a Protestant denomination. I’m telling you, it happens in many churches, but the extent of the damage is limited to that church body or denomination.
I find an interesting corollary between sin and the scope of its damage and good works and the extent of its impact. The abuse in an independent church damages that one church body, rarely gaining the media’s attention. The abuse in a denominational church damages that local church and the good name of that denomination, occasionally gaining the media’s attention. But the sex abuse scandal of the Catholic Church has affected the entire Catholic Church and damaged the whole Christian world. The media always takes notice and spreads news of scandal to the entire world for as long as they will listen.
Conversely, any good done in an independent church reflects on the members of that church body. Any good done by a denominational church extends to all the members of that denomination. But the good that is done by the Catholic Church has affected the entire Church – and also Christianity at large. When we cause scandal, all of Christianity is scandalized. When we do good works, all of Christianity is served. I think that says something very important about our Church and her unique position (and profound responsibility) in the world.
Furthermore, victims typically do not sue their denomination for abuses suffered at the hands of Protestant clergy, but that is not the case with scandal in the Catholic Church. Again, the ramifications seem to indicate that the Catholic Church and the clergy have a unique calling and responsibility that moves far beyond any pastor’s relationship to his denomination. Ironically, even in scandal, the unique position of the Catholic Church is revealed.
Is it any wonder that the enemy targets the Church Our Lord established on this earth? It should make us run harder and faster into the arms of God rather than away from the Church and the sacraments. Love your Church. Run to her. Whatever you do, don’t run the other way.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
But like many deep mysteries, the actual experience of suffering can seem more devastating and confusing than beautiful and spiritually efficacious.
Have you ever prayed for a conversion? During a previous Lent, I committed to praying for one particular conversion. God did not answer my prayers in the way I expected. In the last twelve months, the one I prayed for has battled two kinds of cancer, which attacked two different parts of his body – very much like a country that is invaded along two borders simultaneously.
It is hard to imagine that this man could suffer any more. But if the Carmelite saints are correct, then it is likely that God has a purpose even in the midst of this dark night.
Nothing draws us closer to the side of Christ than suffering. C.S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures . . . but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
I don’t like that answer very much. I would have preferred a storybook conversion. I would have given this suffering soul a vision or whispered some great revelation into his ear.
But God does whisper to us. In fact, He never stops whispering the words come back to me. The voices of this world are so loud that we cannot hear over the din.
Sometimes, God has to shout. Sometimes, He uses His megaphone to rouse us. Sometimes, that megaphone is suffering.
Imagine for a moment that the world is one big dance floor. The DJ plays the music of a fallen world. And sometimes, the music he plays is the music of suffering.
That’s not what God had in mind. Divine Will did not want that. But his Permissive Will permits the music to play for a little while. Why? Maybe it is because Our Lord knows that there is one song that will cause us to put down our champagne glasses and walk away from the crowded tables of this world. There is one song that calls us to turn toward God, walk across the dance floor, and give our soul to its Beloved.
That song is the Song of Suffering.
Why was this man born blind? Was it because of some sin his parents committed? Our Lord tells the crowd, no, he did nothing wrong. The Heavenly Father has permitted this. And now, God will be glorified.
St. John of the Cross says, “Let God take your hand and guide you through the darkness as though you were blind.” Why? Because your own story of redemption may begin at a cross of personal suffering. Jesus tells us that this is no reason for despair – the song that plays next is glorious.