So, there I was, in my cesspool of self-pity and depression. Dry. Unfeeling. Numb. Sadness overwhelming me like a blanket snuffing out a fire.
And once again, God came near to me through others. Some spoke, some listened, some prayed. One thing that struck me in particular was something TJ said, "Jesus holds his arms out on the cross and says, 'Amber you come up here and share your suffering with me for awhile.'"
I cannot remember word for word but Corey said something about Sister Faustina and how Jesus told her that when it seems God is far from her, he is actually closer - and that he just removes the awareness of his presence. I suppose God does this to bring us closer to him, to build trust and perseverance.
Yesterday, I was feeling much better. Then, this morning, I was listening to Food for the Journey and Sister Ann Shields made mention of the Meditation of the Day in the Magnificat for today. It was from Monsignor Roman Guardini and it was so appropriate for what I've been experiencing.
God is always and everywhere near to man. But to man himself, his presence is inaccessible, blocked off. God alone can open up this channel...
And Jesus has brought this presence to us. We know that the Father loves us in Jesus. We have confidence in the grace of his love for us; we know that his eyes see us, his heart it turned toward us, and his hands lead us. We believe that heaven is around us... However, one thing is missing: we do not feel the presence of God; It is still closed off, from our side. It is closed off by what we ourselves are; by the heaviness of our imprisoned being; by the slothfulness and dullness of our hearts; by the evil that is in us. Heaven would be here entire if God opened up his presence to us, and at the same time opened up men's hearts so they could feel this presence...
Every Christian act, belief, love, sacrifice, struggle, every perseverance, and courageous performance - all these things make possible the approach of him who desires only to come forward. But all coldness, indifference, slothfulness, weakness, pride, covetousness - everything sin is called - forces him back, bars the road to him. And heaven fights. Heaven wants to come to us. For heaven is only God's love come home....
Today is a new day... God is good. I know God is near though I cannot feel him. He has shown me his presence through others. I'm not giving up. I'm moving forward and thanking him for today.
Fr. Bob spoke yesterday about a priest who was experiencing dryness. He had asked the priest, "Do you pray?" and the priest responded that he could not pray because every time he did, he thought of all the sins he’d committed in his life. Fr. Bob responded with, "Do you not know that God loves you? You must find a way to get past this or you will never grow and you will miss all that God has in store for you."
Perhaps this is my problem, in part. I know God loves me, intellectually speaking... but I don’t believe this concept has sunk beyond that and into my soul.
I feel broken... like a toy that cannot be repaired. I suffer from depression and I feel like a failure as a parent. I could go on and list all the negatives but I’ve been doing that in my own mind for days and I don’t want to reduce myself to tears at this point. Perhaps there is some reason I’ve been allowed to experience what I have... some greater purpose I cannot see yet.
I have a lot of resentment built up due to certain circumstances in my life. I hate the circumstance and I hate the resentment even more. Sometimes, I just let it go and other times, it sneaks up on me and settles in a huge wave of depression, anxiety and anger.
The past week has been one of those times.
Yesterday was particularly difficult. At Mass, my emotions were numb. But, when I took the Eucharist,I actually began to cry. I cannot explain what I was feeling. Even as I reflect now, I get choked up. It was as if Jesus were saying, "Do you not know that I love you? You must find a way to get past this or you will never grow and you will miss all that I have in store for you..."
I've been staring at my screen for 20 minutes trying to figure out what I want to say. Thing is, I don't have much to say right now. So, I'm not going to force it.
Instead I'll post this prayer... One that I need to be praying regularly:
Prayer to Overcome Sloth and Lukewarmness
O my God, I know well that so negligent a life as mine cannot please You. I know that by my lukewarmness I have closed the door to the graces which You desire to bestow on me. O my God, do not reject me, as I deserve, but continue to be merciful toward me, and I will make great efforts to amend and to arise from this miserable state. In the future I will be more careful to overcome my passions and to follow Your inspirations; and never through slothfulness will I omit my duties, but will strive to fulfill them with greater diligence and fidelity. In short, I will from this time forward do all I can to please You, and will neglect nothing which I know to be pleasing to You.
Since You, O my Jesus, have been so liberal with Your graces toward me and have deigned to give Your Blood and Your Life for me, I am sorry for having acted with so little generosity toward You, Who are worthy of all honor and all love. But, O my Jesus, You know my weakness. Help me with Your powerful grace; in You I confide.
O Immaculate Virgin Mary, help me to overcome myself and to become a saint. Amen.
It is Thursday and I cannot wait for Sunday! What a beautiful time this is in my life!
In a couple of weeks, my boys and I will be attending a couple of baptism classes to get them ready to be baptized. I am very much looking forward to this very important event in their lives. My daughter will also be baptized but doesn’t need to attend the class because she’s too young.
It’s still amazing to me when I think that I’ve crossed the line. I am greatly anticipating the growth I will experience now that I am able to receive the Eucharist. I have never put so much effort into nurturing my faith as I have in the last several months and I know I’m still falling short of where I want to be. I don’t ever again want to be where I was a year ago... to feel that loneliness and to be so far from God and His will for my life. I have been given a most precious gift and I pray He’ll never allow me to take it for granted.
Congratulations to all those who also entered the Church in 2007 along with me! It’s a wonderful feeling to know that the body of Christ just grew by a huge leap at one time. The time it takes to learn the faith and journey into Catholicism, is time well-spent as God nurtures our desire to know Him more and to be closer to Him. But the journey doesn’t stop here. In fact, it’s only beginning!
The question I ask now is, "What will you have me do next, Lord?"
The reasons for conversion vary from person to person. For some, it's intellectual. For others, it's a matter of the heart. For some, it's a long process sometimes over many years. For others, it's a Damascus Road conversion, quick and unexpected. But one thing is certain. In every conversion, God has given someone the grace to come to the truth and that person has cooperated with that grace, often giving up a measure of pride.
The first thing I thought when I woke up this morning was, "I'm a Catholic!" In a flash, the moment I had longed for came and went. Here I sit, nearly 24 hours later, and I can still imagine the scent of the oil. I can still feel the touch of my sponsors and the hands that Father Joseph placed on my head. It's almost surreal.
There were two who were baptized and seeing them up there brought about reflections on my own baptism... I was overjoyed for them! How awesome is the work of the Holy Spirit as He cleanses a soul of it's sin! It's a much more moving event having the understanding that baptism actually does leave a mark on the soul. I only wish I had the same understanding when the Holy Spirit was at work during my baptism as a child.
After the baptism, it was time for Confirmation. Upon the calling of my name, I walked up with the others. Damion and Ruth stood behind me with their hands on my shoulders. I stood there, trembling with nervousness and excitement. I kept thinking about my journey and how far I'd come in such a short time. I was thanking God for bringing me into His truth, for showing me the beauty in the Catholic faith and for finally bringing me to this moment in time.
When Fr. Joseph placed his hands on my head, the weight of his hands surprised me at first, but I felt peaceful and it was almost as if I could feel his faith. Deep. Sincere. He then anointed me with oil and said, "Elizabeth Ann Seton, be sealed with the Holy Spirit." And we exchanged the Sign of Peace.
We were then dismissed to our seats to prepare for the Eucharist. I already felt as if I could burst with joy and I hadn't even had the Eucharist yet! We were called up, the ten of us, to receive our First Holy Communion. One by one, we ate the body and drank of the cup. We then returned to our pews to allow everyone else to partake in communion. For the first time, I was able to receive communion with Damion, a moment I had long been waiting for and one which I feel has brought us closer together.
The entire Mass was beautiful... and it didn't seem nearly as long as it was. In attendance on my behalf were: Damion, Ruth, Holly, Patty, Lindsey, April, Heather, Carrie and Trevor. I was deeply moved and blessed to have them there to witness one of the most meaningful and important events in my life. From Ruth, I received a beautiful crucifix necklace, which I have proudly worn ever since and will treasure it for many years to come.
I feel different today. I feel content and free of anxiety. I feel ready to continue growing closer to God and I am anxious to receive Him again in the Eucharist!
I love Jesus. I love the Catholic Church. I love the Catholic faith.
I'm a Catholic and I wouldn't want to be anything else!
Thanks be to God!
*Thank you to EVERYONE who prayed for me! I received generous comments on my blog along with a few emails and I took to heart every single one of them!*
“Who am I? Who am I that the Lord should be washing MY feet?”
Here we have God incarnate, our Creator, washing the feet of those He created. How completely amazing! How much He must love us! How much more should we not love Him? He came to show us goodness at its best: love, service, and humility!
He broke the mold of what might be expected of a king and gave us the ultimate example. I am honored to be following such a King and I pray that he will make me more like Him every day!
Four days away and the excitement is building. I view my Confirmation as a serious turning point... a moment where God may take me in any number of directions and open many unexpected doors in my life.
What will you have me do to further your kingdom, Lord?
I am also feeling quite blessed... Though my parents have chosen not to come, my sister has decided to come with the understanding that she does not approve of my decision but she cares for and loves me enough to know that this is an important event in my life and wants to be supportive. I also have some wonderful friends, some Christian, some not, who will also be attending. Just when I think that my parents’ lack of attendance will leave me with empty seats, others have stepped in to fill the gap. I have been blessed with some really great friends!
Through this whole process, Damion has been wonderful. He’s watched my kids every Wednesday night for months so I could attend RCIA. This means a lot because every Wednesday, he’s left work earlier than he should have to rush home, shower and make it to my house at a time very difficult for him. I could not have gone through RCIA without him. He’s heard my struggles, my fears and my joys throughout the whole process... even in my anguish in the beginning, when I felt God was nowhere to be found.
I am amazed that God has called me to this place... the last place I ever expected to be! A year ago, I would have laughed if you said I was going to be a Catholic and, quite frankly, I would have been repulsed at the idea... But today, I wouldn’t want to be anything else. The Catholic faith has given me everything I was lacking: history, stability, continuity, unity, sound and consistent scriptural interpretation, sacramental grace, a better-formed conscience, and most of all, a desire to truly do God’s will.
And, in addition, I have some wonderful news. At this very pivotal time, I have taken on a new call to be a columnist on a new Catholic website, called CatholicDaily.org. I am utterly blessed and honored that they asked me to join them as a contributing writer and believe that God is calling me to step out in this direction for a purpose not yet known to me. My first article will be coming out soon. Please pray that my words will always give glory to God...
In just four days, I will join thousands of others in becoming a full member of the Church established by Christ. In just four days, I will receive the Lord in the Eucharist! How very blessed I am!
At the reading of the gospel today, I was impacted by the statement in which we all joined in to say, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" It was a horrible thing to be saying it and my initial thought was, "I wouldn't be saying that! I don't want to say that!"
Then I realized, every time I sin, I am, in essence, saying those words. My sins put Christ on that cross. Every single one of them. Though I did not utter those words in person 2000 years ago, I utter them in my heart every time I choose sin over His will for me.
Thank you, Lord, for forgiving the sins of mine that put you on that cross.
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