How many times have we all been guilty of being "too busy" to pray? Lately, I have noticed that I have been guilty of going through the motions of life and not taking time for my soul.The graces we receive from God are given freely, yes, but they are also a result of our relationship with Him. In any relationship, communication is key. That communication is prayer. I wanted to reflect on and share the ways that I naturally inject forms of prayer into my day throughout the week.
I am not a paragon of anything except maybe cussy potty mouth and failure to clean out my recyclables properly before chucking them in whichever bin is closest. So I’m not in a position to preach about anything, let alone forgiveness, an art that I have not mastered. Instead of me preaching about forgiveness and you nodding, brothers and sisters, let us reflect together on forgiveness.
I’ve written several times about how Catholics should not be jerks on the internet (Cardinal Sins of Social Media Debate and Paul’s Letter to Social Media). I would think it obvious that being unkind towards others—especially over media as impersonal and public as social media—pushes people away from the faith.
Yet each time I’ve written, I’m met with resistance by devout Catholics—both left and right leaning—justifying their nastiness by citing various examples from scripture where Jesus (or Paul or somebody) supposedly did something similar so it’s ok—noble, even—for them to hurl insults.
You speak of “us” and “them.” You say that “they” are the source of “our” problems. You beseech the Lord to enlighten “them” to be more like “us,” and you thank God that you and those who think like you are on the right side of history, unlike “they” who are sinners. (3)
Have you not heard that we are all members of Christ’s body?
These days we have very little tolerance for hypocrites, that is, people who don’t practice what they preach. And this is good! We should be challenging others, and ourselves, to be authentic and virtuous. Jesus calls us to “live in the truth,” and criticized the legalistic scribes and pharisees as hypocrites (See Mt. 23!). But when it comes to Jesus’ call to “be perfect” we all fall short. The real question isn’t whether you’re a hypocrite but what kind of hypocrite you’re going to be. As we move from Holy Week to Easter we can meditate on three very different paths.
There is a story of a seminarian who lost his doxology. A seminarian is someone studying and preparing to become a priest. In the same way that a man gives his life to his bride, a priest in a greater and more profound way, models Jesus Christ by laying down his life for his bride, the Church. This seminarian was very zealous and passionate about giving his life for God. He loved what he was studying and was inspired by the idea of serving the Church. So how do you knock someone like a seminarian off his game? You take away what gives him life. Eventually his passion wore off, his zeal cooled. The seminarian lost his doxology and his faith because he substituted talking about God instead of being with God. I think our biggest problem as Catholics today is we would rather be inspired than participate in the Sacramental life, the very thing that gives us life.
“I can’t remember the last time I laughed this hard!” Father exclaimed as he caught his breath between full-bellied laughs and joyous tears streaming down his cheeks. Father’s fit of laughter was caused by watching our four, three, and two-year-old children play Mass in our living room. Father is one of our dearest family friends, and as I watched him watching my kids, I realized that he needed that time of silly joy that only children can provide. As a Son of God, he was enriched by my kids’ witness to childlike faith. I realized in that moment that as much as we lay, married Catholics need our priests, they need us too.
You probably went on the retreats. Did the service trips. Sang the songs (and even knew the hand motions). Maybe you even wore some Jesus swag on your neck or wrist (remember those cool saints bracelets?) You went to Church. You prayed before meals and bedtime. At Church you found a group of people who accepted you for who you are. It was where you could have good, clean fun and hang out with the opposite sex without raising your parent’s eyebrows.
And you BELIEVED. You believed in a God that loved you as His own beloved child. God and Church were a major part of your life. Maybe they still are. Maybe you still believe. Maybe you still do all of the above.
But maybe you don’t.
Yes. God can absolutely work some freaking miracles despite our stubborn humanity. There was a time in my life where these events were my biggest regrets; ones I honestly didn’t know how to handle. Now, I have a faith, a brother, a wife, and a son because of them.
I had no idea that any person on earth was against abortion. I had no idea that anybody took issue with any kind of contraceptive. I had no idea that there even was a public debate about gay marriage. I didn’t know that some people thought masturbation or pornography were harmful, which you probably could’ve guessed had you been aware of the fact that I lost my virginity at 17. Basically, I had no grip on where the Church stood on any social issues; something that most Catholics, especially in this day and age, have a very solid grip on. What’s more is that most Catholics are obviously standing on the Catholic side of those issues and I wasn’t.
I was looking around, no longer in the chapel, but on a sandy beach. The Lord gives us the desires of our hearts, and I was just beginning to realize this truth, for I love the beach. I’m basically a sunshine child… I still had no idea why Jesus wanted to show me this place, so I looked for some sign of a lesson I could learn or take comfort in.
She turned to me, and asked in that oh-so-familiar tone of voice, “Hey… you’re Catholic, right?”
Crap. If there was ever a time I did not want anything to do with that question it was now. What was her gripe going to be about? Why does the Church hate women? Why does the Church hate sex? Why do grown men wear lace?