Spring Break 2014 is looking good so far.
Two of my three favorite young men are home lounging with me and yesterday we were greeted with a lovely sighting. Grandma Kate and Grandpa Jim brought us some special visitors from Chicago. A rarely and smiley day of fun with Aunt Robbi, along with cousins Maddie and Ellie ensued. We giggled our way through the Indianapolis Children’s Museum then onto a late lunch before most of the crew headed off to see either “The Muppets” or “Noah” and I drove down to Bishop Chatard High School to catch some Guerin Catholic baseball action where son # 3 simply couldn’t be left without a fan base, despite the rain.
Granted, it’s not sun and sand, but it’s an overflowing scoop of favorite people topped off with the angelic little toothless grin of my youngest Goddaughter, Ellie! Elle-belle is a 1st grader at All Saint’s Academy near my sister’s home in Naperville, IL.
“Aunt Thelly. I read at thcool math. But it wathn’t even fair. The reading wath impothible. It wath full of eth-eth”
I couldn’t stop smiling at her. She was just like a piece of candy….you want to eat her up she is so sweet.
“Thesse thent hith theven thons to Thamuel.” She explained.
“Jesse sent his seven sons to Samuel?” I interpreted. “That’s what you had to read at school mass, Ellie?”
I mean, she’s 40lbs of sunshine that one. I couldn’t stop laughing. That moment of toothless cuteness is just a tiny window of time I now realize as my boys are all well past it. I SOOOO wish I could have been a fly on the wall at that mass. I think it’s a little rude of my sis to marry a guy from Chicago and move so far from me, actually. Don’t you agree?
Today is Spring Break day 2 and it’s a bit lower key. I let my two “staycationers” sleep in while I headed to 8am mass. As I was getting ready to leave, my “holy texting friend” Vivian invited me (via text of course) to come sit with she and her hubby for the mass, after which I had set up an appointment for confession.
If I am honest, I didn’t sleep well last night. I was reflecting again on what I needed to apologize to Jesus about and I was tossing and turning. This confession seemed particularly overdue. There are loads of things every day I do or don’t do, or say, for which I know I need forgiveness. I suppose they had been piling up a bit.
Really, though, the biggest impediment for me in being the woman Jesus means for me to be this day is my own lack of forgiveness of myself. Many times, even after I know Jesus has forgiven me, I hang on to my sin, beating myself up over mistakes big and small.
My inner dialogue goes something like this:
Shelly. You know better and look at you. You act like you love God but you are just a worthless sinner. What qualifies you to talk about faith with your kids or friends? You’re nothing but a hypocrite anyway.
When it starts to sound like insanity, a broken record inside my crazy head, I know that I am overdue for some sacramental assistance.
It’s funny what happens when I pray “Jesus, I don’t know what I need, but You do, please help me. I want to love You more.”
“Shelly, Satan is clever. He’s insidious. He knows just what to do to disarm you. Lack of forgiveness of self, stirring up old wounds, that’s the devil. The prayer to St. Michael is a prayer of exorcism– say it. It will help you,” said my confessor very matter-of-factly.
We talked a bit more, and he absolved me, then he handed me a book. He asked me to read it, giving me the assignment of reading the first chapter as my official penance.
As I left my realization was that I cannot allow myself to be far from the grace of the sacraments. I need to be at mass receiving Jesus and I need more frequent receipt of the sacrament of reconciliation. Our priests are exhausted, and so I feel guilty asking for even more of their time. The thing is, that whole “the last thing Father needs is a call asking for time from a pain in the ass housewife”… that’s not righteous guilt. What that is about is Satan trying to take away what I know… by any means he can find which will work to unravel me. However, he cannot. Jesus loves me. This I know.
“St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.”
Shortly after I returned home today, I got an amazingly well timed message from a friend via email. It was a copied little piece of a larger work of commentary on David by an author with whom I am not yet familiar named Mark Buchanan.
I don’t believe in coincidence. God’s perfect timing is at work.
In Louis Ginzberg’s monumental 7-volume work The Legend of the Jews, a compilation of the Jewish oral tradition, he retells the story of David in paradise.
According to the legend, David is the superstar of the after life, a personage of “glory and grandeur,” whose throne sits opposite God’s and from which David “intones wondrously beautiful psalms.”
David’s “crown… outshines all others, and whenever he moves out of Paradise to present himself before God, suns, stars, angels, seraphim, and other holy beings run to meet him.”
But the main thrust of the legend is David’s relationship with God.
God throws a lavish feast on the Day of Judgment, and God at David’s bidding himself attends.
At the end of the banquet, God invites Abraham to pray over the cup of wine. Abraham declines on grounds of his unworthiness.
At the point I read this, I think, “Ok God. I’m listening. What are you doing to me today?”
It goes on.
So God asks Isaac, who for similar reasons declines. God then turns to Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua. All beg off for reasons of unworthiness.
Finally, God asks David to bless the cup. And David replies, “Yes, I will pronounce the blessing, for I am worthy of the honor.”
At first blush, this is shocking as I read it. It seems brazen and delusional. Who do you think you are?
The author goes on.
“On second thought, this sounds biblical. The heart of the Bible’s message, muted in the Old Covenant but shouted aloud in page after page of the New, is the improbable, astonishing, breathtaking good news that I am the one Jesus loves.
I am the tax-collector whose house Jesus had to enter, so that salvation could invade it.
I am the leper who cried out to Jesus on his way past Samaria, so that he could speak wholeness into me and then woo me back to worship him.
I am the lame man whose friends lowered me down through the rafters, so that Jesus could speak forgiveness and healing to me.
I am the invalid Jesus found in a dark part of town, bed-ridden and complaining, so that he could say to me, “Get up, take up your mat, and walk.”
I am the prodigal he saw a long way off, who ran to me, threw a feast for me, put his robe and ring and sandals on me.
I am the elder brother who refused to join the party, and so he went out to me and begged me to come in.
I am Lazarus, the one he raised from the dead and then invited to recline with him at the table.
I am not worthy to bless the cup, except He makes me so.
At great cost, all by his own doing, Jesus makes me his own, loves me without condition, forgives me without remainder, places his own name on me, puts his own Spirit in me, and goes ahead to prepare a place for me.
He’s made me a chosen people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, one who belongs to God.
I am the one Jesus loves.
Let that rattle around a bit. Then say this out loud.
THE AUTHOR OF SALVATION IS CRAZY, MADLY IN LOVE….WITH ME.
You’d think this would be the end of my entry for today, wouldn’t you? But for me, who is a certifiable supernatural thinker, it got even better.
So, I read this lovely email which spoke just exactly to the sinfulness which was most bothering me this morning and I felt it was God kind of yelling at me to get it together. I quite literally took a deep breath and said ALOUD, “Thank you, God. I am listening. Your will, not mine…I get it. You love me. I love you.”
“One new email message has just arrived.”
I click on it, and the email makes me laugh aloud.
It’s from the editor of a Catholic periodical asking ME to write an article on THIS bit of scripture “How can we know the way?” (Jn 14:5).
What took you so long, Lord? I mean, I think I agreed to try it Your way about 6 seconds ago.
You best be sending the Holy Spirit in a big bad way if You want ME to show anyone the way to anywhere, Big Man. I can get lost on the way to the bathroom sometimes.
Our God is an Awesome God. He also makes me laugh. And laughing makes me smile.
SMILING? MY FAVORITE.
And that is all I’ve got for Spring Break, day 2.