Tuesday, May 28, 2013

True, that.

Perhaps it is because of the Eucharist that I am beginning to catch a glimpse of the depth of my unworthiness lately.  I have not earned Christ's love.  In my flesh, there is nothing I can do to earn it.  It is by his grace alone that I am loved.  He gives it to me freely.  I have always known this, but lately it has become more real to me.

Calvin said that humans are so utterly depraved we are incapable even of accepting God's love.  His theory is that the only way we can have faith is through predestination.  We are so deeply depraved that we cannot even accept God's grace by our own free will.  And likewise, cannot lose that Grace once it is given to us.

I don't buy the predestination theory.  I believe that we have been given the free will to accept or reject God's Grace.  I do, however, agree that I am essentially unworthy of God's incredible love.  It makes the gift of his love even more amazing.

I think this has become more clear, more evident, since I started participating in the Eucharist.  Each time I receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, I am reminded of the stark contrast between the Eucharist and me.  That contrast has been a strange sort of blessing in that it reveals the true depth of God's love, his grace, his willingness to love me beyond anything I could imagine or deserve.  It is a love that glorifies God and saves me.

Which is why participating in the Eucharist either leaves me feeling like I can't wipe the goofy grin off my face... or fills me with such a sense of awe that I can't stop weeping.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pentecost 2013

I am clinging to the sacraments.  Today I decided to go to confession.  I showed up at church at 4pm and sat in the nave.  As my priest came in I asked if I could make a confession.  He showed me where to sit and how to know when it is ok to come in to the little room.  (At the appointed time the door will be open when he is free.)

There was another person there to confess, but I was there first, so I went in.

I had a few things I needed to share.  I asked for counsel and absolution.  I was humbled and saddened by my sins.

Afterwards I went to the little dock on the pond nearby and sat for awhile to think and pray.  I recited the prayer of St. Francis aloud... and psalm 103, both of which remind me to keep my mind off myself and consider how I can be of service to others.

And then I went back to the church for the Pentecost service and cried through the entire thing... mostly for joy and gratitude for the fact that the depth of my sin is matched and far surpassed by the expansive love of God's forgiveness.

Come Holy Spirit.  Come.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I'll meet your fear and raise you an hour of self pity

I am working through some things right now, most of which have to do with my conversion.  The fact is that following Jesus is, by definition, a willingness to pick up the cross.  I know this.  I anticipated this.  I saw this clearly on that cold day last November when I stood in the cemetery at Campion Renewal Center and meditated on the 5th Station of the Cross: Simon carries the cross.

And yet, when it actually comes, spiritual struggle is something of a surprise.  Maybe it is my pride that dupes me into thinking I am going to handle it better than I do.

Anyway, today was a heavy day.  I woke up feeling burdened by some conversations I have had over the last couple days.  It is clear that this transition to Rome is not going to be easy.  There is going to be pain involved, along with the joy.

So, I pulled out the Spiritual Tool Kit and ran through my list:

  1. Read the Bible
  2. Said the Rosary
  3. Went to Mass
  4. Spent an hour in Eucharistic Adoration
  5. Called my spiritual director

Cried a lot during all of those steps but came away feeling stronger, better, safer.

Jesus, you have given us these things as gifts.  I am so grateful for all of them.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

When I realize how much I miss you....

...It only takes a couple of minutes to remember that I will meet you tomorrow.  Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

A stranger in a strange land

Today was the first time I have attended Grace Church without receiving communion.  I wasn't sure how it would go.

It did feel strange, just sitting there while everyone else got up to receive.  But as I sat there, Nguyen and Noah went forward and I took the opportunity to pray for them, for union, communion, One.  Noah said I looked sad, and it may have been true that part of me is sad that we can no longer receive as a family.  But it encourages me that they take communion.  It wasn't that long ago that Nguyen would not have.

During communion, I slipped to the back of the church to use the bathroom and when I came out, Noah was sitting near the coffee table.  He regularly does that, heading back to help prepare for coffee hour.  We sat together and talked quietly during the end of the service, then stood together to sing the closing hymn.  It is ironic, really, that this is the first time we have sung together in years.  (He always sits with the rest of the youth group on the other side of the church...)

God is opening new doors.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Late have I loved you....

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

St. Augustine

The weight of the past

My aunt has moved to RI and a couple of weeks ago I spent an afternoon unpacking boxes in preparation for her arrival.  I put her clothes in the closet, unpacked her kitchen tools, pots and pans.  I hung some of her decorative items and moved a few pieces of furniture.  And then opened a box labeled ''T  Ang".  It took me a moment to realize it was the urn of her step son's ashes.  There was another box labeled with his mother's name.  And finally, a bigger box with several items, including the urn of my aunt's late husband, who died just a few months ago.

That is a lot for a widowed woman to carry around, if you ask me.  An entire family boxed up and moved from place to place.  Between them they have come from Newton MA, Florida, and New Jersey and have all wound up in my aunt's house in RI.

I think this is one strange little consequence of our moving away from communities of faith.  We have now been tasked with dealing with our dead on our own.  There is no priest, no parish, no group that comes alongside us and helps us deal with our loss.  In my aunt's case she is too overwhelmed to really know what to do with all these ashes.  She has vague plans, but it all seems like way too much for a seventy something woman to manage on her own.  As I was mulling it over I wondered if it was too late to ask a Greek Orthodox priest to help put all these folks to rest.  Or perhaps we can buy a plot at Swan Point and have them all interred together.

Nguyen says he wants his ashes spread in the little lake in his home town of Dalat, in Vietnam.  I wonder, though, if I am going to want to travel 15,000 miles to arrange that.  Or will the kids?  Is it really fair to ask that?

I honestly don't care where I am buried, as long as it is in hallowed ground somewhere.  Sprinkle holy water on my casket (or urn, if my survivors insist) and cover me with the beautiful earth that God created.  Say a prayer and walk away.