Monday, March 13, 2017

Resting in Him

Is it just me? Or does the world just seem busier every year? Normally, I'm able to step back during Lent and slow down. To breathe. To listen. To just... be.

But this year, I've let myself think I'm too busy to do that. I've created a plethora of things I "need" to do, rather than doing the one thing I actually need to do. Make more time for God.

Tonight was one of those nights for me... again. I've had a lot of those. Ever since I set my lenten goals and included among them "resume going to daily mass, as often as possible", I've conveniently managed to make it to just one or two. Not exactly what I had in mind when I set that goal, but, you know. The dishes need done. Or dinner cooked. Or papers organized or groceries bought. Or there's always that thrift store I could stop into just to see if they have anything I need.

Are you rolling your eyes or shaking your head yet at my lame attempts to justify avoiding a commitment I've made? I phrased the goal "when possible" because I have struggled in the past with making that too much a priority, and feeling overly neglectful when there was good reason to not attend daily mass.

Yet, here I was, tonight, confronted with a choice. I chose not to go. I chose not to go when I drove past the church before four o'clock. I chose not to go when I stopped at my fiance's house to heat up dinner so we could eat together during his break. Except I hadn't gotten to the heating part when he walked in with food in hand for his lunch. Whoops. Hmm. Maybe I could go...

But I don't want to.

"You can go to mass still, sweetheart!" My thoughts were interrupted.

"But I don't want to." This time spoken aloud.  Hmm. Saying those words outloud stung a bit. 

"Why don't you want to go?"

"I'm not sure. I just don't... want to." Yep.. those words sound even lamer aloud than they do in my head.

"You know that means you most need to go."

My fiance returned to work. I got out my sewing project fabric... because it was waiting. And I'd been waiting all weekend to work on those projects. It didn't seems as appealing as I had thought. I put it back.

I got in my car and drove to the church, hoping for some peace to wash over my stubborn heart.

I left mass, still struggling with the sadness I'd been battling for several days, unsure what the cause was. I turned the music on. Three beats of the song and I shut it off. It was too loud. Too busy. Too much.

Driving, I realized that there were several decisions I was avoiding praying about.

I'm not sure why I ever wonder about my sadness. That's always the reason. The busyness. The failure to sit in the quiet and bare my heart to God.

Realizing this was the problem, I drove a bit more. I could make it to adoration.

Or I could go to Goodwill.

I went to Goodwill. Shock of shocks, nothing was there that I needed to purchase. Or even wanted to purchase.

Just like the other day when I did the same thing... going to three different thrift stores in a different town in an avoidance of going to a daily mass. Rationalized, of course. Yet.. nothing in those stores was even slightly appealing, try as I might to make it so.

Hmm. Got back in the car. Guess I can make it to Pella. I chuckled a bit. God was certainly not making it easy for me to avoid Him. Yesterday, I was so determined to crack my heart open to Him. Why the change today?

I drove, the entire trip in the quiet, listening to the car move over the road.

I pulled into the lot, walked in, fell to my knees. There He was. The One who I'd been ignoring again. There He was. Right there, in the starkness of the Host. His humility and love on display! Right there- in the silence.

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light." Matthew 11: 28- 30


"You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless, until they rest in You." 
-St. Augustine




Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving, Advent... and making room to notice God

I've been feeling overwhelmed this school year in so many ways. I added one new prep, which shouldn't have been that much more work, but I also revamped how I was teaching my classes this year. So much that now I'm scarcely doing what I started and trying to bridge back with the old and meld the two together. The kids are learning... but I'm struggling because it's not how I wanted class to go this year. 

I'm also struggling with my schedule to get to church as often as I was able to in the past. Oddly enough, I knew that would be the case one of these days. Everyday for the last few years when I didn't feel like rolling out of bed early enough to make it to mass, or wanted to head home after school instead of to the church to pray and stay for mass, I heard a quiet voice in my head saying "what's your excuse? You have an opportunity now you might not always have... make the most of it." And so I did, 99% of the time. I'd go an spend my quiet time in God's presence... sometimes talking to Him but usually just sitting in the silence. And I would leave feeling recharged. Or I would battle the entire time to stay awake, but would keep battling.

That's the real problem right now. I don't feel like I'm "staying awake" in my spiritual life. Over the last year, I went from being able to go to adoration once a week and Mass 5 or 6 days a week to no adoration and usually just Sunday Mass. And I've been struggling with that. 

But the struggle has made me realize several things. Firstly, I've realized I was relying way too much on my "actions" and these special gifts, and not focusing on the hard work of really focusing on learning to converse and spend time with God. 

It's hard to focus on Him when I'm feeling tired and not receiving the spiritual consolations I had apparently growing on. But that's the thing. They weren't meant to supplant my faith, but to strengthen it and give it the firm foundation from which to grow.

I've felt a few times this year like at work I'm as stressed as I was my first year. I also feel like I'm battling with very routine, basic and small spiritual issues.  Like that super basic thing of putting my heart in God's hands and giving myself to Him each day.

I've been blessed the last couple weeks with sermons calling me out of this lukewarmness I'm finding myself trapped in. So Advent this year is a time for me to do just that. Which is why I'm trying to fast from a variety of distractions... to make space for me to notice God's presence more deeply.

Hopefully then this Christmas I can greet Him with a heart more full of love. More eager to please Him. And most importantly this year, one that better recognizes Him in my daily life, outside the walls of the church.

Advent is a time of preparation. So, for me that means eliminating those things I've been using to distract myself from God. So I'll be giving up my favorite foods... so that I can thank Him better for the gift of life and honor the gift of my health. And I'll be giving up staying late.. so I can rise each morning to thank Him for a night of rest and the start of another blessed day, and be well rested to greet my students each day and do my best to serve Him through my work. And I'll be giving up Facebook... so that I can thank Him for the gifts of so many dear ones in my life, and so that I can focus on them more deeply. 

Come, Emmanuel. Help me ready my heart to receive You.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Clutter

I came past this title of a blog post in my saved drafts when I logged on to Blogger today. I don't recall what the topic I had in mind was at the time I saved the title, but this one, more than the others seemed most eager to be reflected upon this evening.

Clutter. Things. Ideas. Emotions. Clutter is what distracts from the bigger picture, worming its way to be the focus, when it only every consists of too many accent pieces.

There's a famous piece of advice from Coco Chanel about the accessorizing. "Remove the last piece". In other words, we should keep it simple. A little glitter, a little glam, but we should avoid going overboard. I think that advice is useful in life too. So often when I find myself feeling overwhelmed, it's because I've let the clutter take over. Instead of accenting my life and giving me joy, the little things have become the focus. Things instead of people, activities instead of experiences. Chores and tasks instead of vocation. It's not that any of those things are in and of themselves bad- but when they distract form my purpose and mission, they have ceased to fulfill the purpose for which they were meant.

It's a lesson I'm trying to better live this year- both at work and at home and in my spiritual life.

Decluttering means saying no to being a perfectionist. It means being okay with those columns not being perfectly formatted on a quiz I'm writing, okay with the fact that I cannot rewrite every activity and every lesson I plan to teach this year. It means admitting to myself that it's more important to spend time with the people I love than to check every box on my to-do list. It means stepping back and allowing myself tie for prayer and reflection on my busiest days of the week- instead of just trying to fit that in to the periphery (St Francis de Sales wrote "We all need one hour of prayer a day, except when busy. Then we need two."). And, too, it can mean saying no to specific favorite devotions to just sit quietly in the presence of God.

Decluttering means saying yes to the greater and no to the lesser. It means living my life with focus and intentionality, and making sure my heart is behind the work of my mind and hands. It means learning, once again, that silence can be more powerful than many words. That resting in God is a deep breath, a calmness, a focusing of mind, heart and will.

That's been my biggest battle these last few months. Resting in God. Resting, instead of forcing. Resting instead of overworking. Seeking Him, directing my gaze to Him and returning His gaze with love. That can be really hard. But it becomes impossible when my constant words to myself are that I'm not enough. That I'm not worthy. That I'm not gaining or growing or living the relationship I'm seeking with Him. Decluttering means to take a step back and redirect my gaze to the One who only ever looks on with love. It means resting in that love.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

An open letter to all those who were forced to endure Catholicism Pre-Vatican II from a "conservative young person"

I smile and nod politely when you talk about how we need to appreciate priests, all priests, even if we don't agree with everything they say or do. We should be grateful to have a priest.

I nod and murmur my agreement because I do, in fact, agree. A priest is a gift to a congregation. A man who has given his life to Christ to serve Christ's flock. To give us the sacraments. To provide us opportunity for confession, to celebrate the Mass.

I am grateful for priests. I am grateful for their sacrifices. I am grateful for their fiat.



But then you start complaining about the "young conservative priests" who just don't understand what it was like for those who had to live through the time before Vatican II... all that Latin and stuff. 

And I get very confused why you don't seem grateful for them, why you instead insult their orthodoxy.

I'm not a priest. So I can't speak for the young priests who I pray for, who I am so very grateful for, who are rediscovering and upholding the traditions of the Church.

I can tell you that as a millennial Catholic, I was raised in the hey-day of "Vatican II" Catholicism.

I was raised with experimental liturgies outside in the woods. With changing the words for the distribution of communion... at the whim of the liturgical committee for that particular mass. With a sign of peace that took longer than the entire Eucharistic Prayer. 

I was raised to see that as the epitome of Catholicism.

And, I have to tell you, it left me feeling empty. It left me searching. It left my heart restless. And then slowly, I began to discover the riches of the Faith, the traditions of our Church. The hidden treasures that seem to have been cast aside years ago.

I was raised with no incense at Mass, no "smells and bells". My parish was "modernized" when I was a small child, the crucifix replaced with an organ. The tabernacle at some point moved off the altar.

I don't remember the time before those changes. I do remember people leaving our parish in frustration with the changes. I remember years afterwards of my dad coming home stressed after another contentious parish council meeting. I remember him and my mom talking about how another family had left our church to go to the other parish, or a different church entirely.

Yet, even though I prefer more traditional style churches, I include the driver of this change in my prayers. I thank God for his service. I remember the joyful look in his eyes during Mass, and I never question his devotion.

I similarly never question the joy and clear love of my fellow parishioners who like guitar mass, who like the folksy music. If that allows them to worship and draw closer to God, then I will sing with joy beside them. I will be glad that their faith is enriched. I will sing loudly to support a quiet cantor. I will do my very best to help you grow in your faith in any way I can. Because we're a parish family, and while we may have differences in preference, our goal is the same- to worship God and grow in our love of Him that we might better know, love and serve Him in this life that we may be with Him in the next.

Here's the thing though. That last sentence I typed was one I was never taught. I loved church for my entire childhood. I went to every religious ed class, and just generally liked all things church related. When I got my Bible in 7th grade, I read it cover to cover, because that seemed like the right thing to do. I could answer all the questions posed at religious ed. And so, somehow, I managed to think I was supposed to be able to find all the answers. But I couldn't. I couldn't even figure out that basic "know, love and serve God." If anything, I would have said that our purpose was to love our neighbor, and to radiate Christ to them. Well... yes... that's a part of it. But the first part of the Great Commandment? 

I didn't understand that, and nothing in the people centered liturgy pointed that out to me. 

Over the last few years, I've finally started learning. And I've gotten past most of my initial feelings of hurt that none of this was ever taught to me. Most. Because for the most part, I can see it as a wonderful blessing that the young, orthodox- seeking, Catholic-nerd people of my generation have to desire and want these things. We have to go out of our way to experience what your generation had the opportunity to pray daily. But your generation, for whatever reason, must not have understood the reasons that my generation can give for the older traditions.


I can understand your desire to have a close encounter with God. I desire that too. 

I can understand your desire to improve the world around you. I desire that too.

I can understand your desire to ease the suffering of the poor, the sick, the outcast. I desire that too.

I also desire a liturgy that will lift my heart, mind and soul above the present moment. Above this earth. I desire a liturgy that will be deafening loud in the quiet of my heart. I desire a liturgy that will challenge me not to stay as I am, but to push me to become a saint.

And I experience that most in the Extraordinary Form. In the ageless chant. In the whispered Aves and gentle clicking of my rosary beads against the pew before Mass. In those moments, I start to get a glimpse of what it means to have a communion of saints, worshipping God in the same Mass here on Earth that John sees in heaven. In those moments, I am challenged to grow, to love God better. To learn more about Him. To be in awe in His presence. To go out and serve Him in the world.

I don't remember what it was like then. From what you've told me, it must not be anything like what I experience.  From the anger in your voice, I think it must have left you feeling empty, as the experimental woods liturgies left me. It must have left you seeking more. I hope you found it.

If your preferred liturgical methods of worshipping inspire you to love God and serve Him in love through your service to your through your neighbors then I'm truly glad you have that experience. Please be glad for me too and support my faith journey. We're in this together, after all, seeking that same common goal of heaven.

Friday, January 8, 2016

But... it's in Latin...

A funny thing has happened over the last few years. My heart is slowly being converted. I say it's funny, because in a single instant my life changed. But the process of becoming holy. Well... that's a road that winds onward, with the destination visible but the path twisting and winding through unseen bends.

It's also somewhat strange for me this year, because I have had a really hard time pinpointing any spiritual growth, persay. As if I've settled into a comfortable routine of prayer and Mass... and reading and writing. And I grow frustrated at my lack of progress. And complacent in my journey. And I teeter back and forth between those two thoughts, both full of pride and not faith. And then... well.. I see it. Small. Tiny baby steps. Tiny little steps where I'm teetering and falling and teetering and falling again. But somehow, I keep being pulled back up on my feet.

I'm learning to ask for help. To ask for mercy. To ask for forgiveness. I'm starting to see just how deep the sin runs into my heart. And, in turn, to see just how merciful and loving God is.

I've been hearing a lot, recently, about pondering things in our heart. About discerning God's purpose for us, with the gifts He's given us, and the crosses we carry.

And in the middle of this pondering through Advent, and then Christmas, I went to the "Old Mass" (as I once heard a kind and wonderful priest refer to the Extraordinary Form) ... again. I've been a few times, maybe twenty or so over since the first I attended in January 2013. And I've always found it beautiful, full of reverence. But I struggled to see where the love was in it. I struggled to enter into the beauty I saw. 

It was carefully and reverently done, with great love of God. The music was nice. The vestments had so much care taken with them. The ceremony was beautiful, but it seemed just that... foreign to the way I was used to worshipping.

Intellectually, I knew better. I studied the words of the Mass. I read the rubrics. I sought Scripture and found it there, present in front of me. Yet, still, I was confused.

I kept going, each time the opportunity presented itself, convinced in my head that this was right and true, and a gift. Yet still, I never left with the same sense of quiet peace I experienced after a usual daily Mass.

And then I went again. And each of my objections... the ones I hadn't been able to quiet in my head despite studying and reading and finding answers, they each feel away. 

I couldn't determine why. I couldn't figure out what had changed. The very parts I had found confusing, that I was discomforted by were now the ones I missed at the next Novus Ordo Mass I went to. The chanting of the Word. The inaudible whispers of the priest. The facing of priest and people towards God, together in prayer and worship.

A week before I would have said that it was strange to proclaim the Word twice. That the Mass would make more sense if we could hear the words of the priest, clearly. That the purpose of the Mass being in Latin was for it to be in a universal language.

Yet, at this Mass, I heard God's love proclaimed in the inaudible words of the priest. Not trying to entertain a congregation, he was allowed to focus on God, to speak quietly. To speak God's presence into mere bread. The priest was allowed to be in awe. And in so doing, he allowed us the same grace.

For what is the natural response to Love, to Beauty? What is the response to beholding our Lord?

If for moments where we glimpse mere mortal greatness our response is to draw quiet, how much more should we quiet ourselves before our Lord? If when we behold mortal love our response is to quiet ourselves and look in awe, how much more in the presence of Love itself?

The silence is shocking, deafening. And it's meant to be that way. The shock of quiet doesn't mean we need to be louder to try to drown out the awe. Perhaps instead it's the opportunity to draw close, to look, to ponder in our hearts something greater than what words can tell.

And yes, that quiet is reverential. It prevents us from getting too "comfortable" in the presence of our Lord and God. It prevents us from drawing into such a routine that we forget the awe. That we forget the mystery. That we forget to ponder as Mary did. That we forget the Mass isn't about us and what we get from it.

So... that's what I'm hoping to do more of this year. That's my one New Year's resolution for 2016. To make time for the quiet, and the pondering. To put my books, and reflections and rote prayers to the side and sit in the uncomfortable and comforting, disquieting silence of God. To humbly offer God my praise... with empty hands and no words to offer Him, no thing to offer Him but myself. To strive to say my yes to Him each day, to voice a fiat from my heart.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling...

As I was listening to one of my favorite artists, Audrey Assad's newest soundtrack, a collection of hymns yesterday, I put one song on repeat. I let it cycle through, four or five times, until I was able to sing and focus on the words.




"Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me. Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling for sinners to come home."

And the words started to sink in a little bit. And they began to resonate with some other things I've been thinking about, well, all summer.

The call of every Christian to evangelize. And how, well, I don't think we're being very successful right now.

Last spring, I read one of the most challenging, and page turning books I've ever read. It made waves a few years ago, but I finally got around to reading it during the Easter season last year. I finished the last page, and turned back to the first. This time with a pen ready.

Sherry Weddell's Forming Intentional Disciples made me think through a lot of things. Most of it had me nodding my head in agreement. But there was part of it throughout that left me unsure. And that part was the most important part.

I knew it was the most important part, even without the author having mentioned that repeatedly. She called that the kerygma.

Most of us would know it as the Good News.

So, here I am, cradle Catholic who always "did all the stuff' and desperately wanted to "do everything right" at church all through high school. The girl who had people comment when after a particularly intense week at a Catholic summer camp was so lit up and on fire that it was noticeable to pretty much everyone that something had changed.

Then college happened, and I let my faith life die so far down that I wasn't even sure I had one. But here's the kicker. I still "did all the stuff". I happily said I was Catholic, went to mass a couple times each week, sang in the choir, participated in Bible studies, went on retreats, taught religious ed for a year, and served as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion nearly every week.

In th midst of that, my dad passed away suddenly. It was like the bottom piece of a Jenga tower had been pulled out, but somehow, everything was still standing. So I kept on, pretending everything was completely fine.

I began my first year of teaching, confident that I would be able to do everything independently and stubbornly, just like I'd always done. Confident that I would be able to balance everything, and to continue to hold that breath that was keeping the Jenga tower from crashing down.

Well... I didn't quite succeed in that.

Through none of those four years of college or my first year back in Ottumwa would I have ever said I wasn't seeking God. I would have said that I was. I was going to church, and I was still "doing all the things". Well... except for that one thing. The praying thing. It had been a good long while since I had done that in any way more than saying words. My last entry in the prayer journal I had started for college was written a couple weeks before my dad passed away. I started a couple different journals, each time writing one entry and then casting it to the side. I wanted God. But I didn't really think he wanted me. After all, I was doing all the things. Why wasn't He answering that cry?

All of a sudden, I was unable to hold my breath. Well, maybe it wasn't so sudden. Maybe I'd been holding my breath for over two years. But I finally had to let out that breath. I finally had to feel again. I finally had to stop the doing, and let God.

In a simple moment on a cool spring night, I felt God's grace wash over me. And for the first time in years, it wasn't me, doing. It was me, receiving.

Ready for the kicker? A year or so later my best friend asks me what the most important part of my faith is. And I turn around in the middle of the street, and I stare at her. Because even after that year of healing, even after a year of learning about my faith and throwing myself back in, and actually starting to pray, I still didn't get it. I was on fire for God. But I still couldn't answer that most important question. "Jesus," I mumbled. But inside my heart, I didn't know how to answer. Why? Why was Jesus so important? He changed my life, yes, but how? How did I encounter Him? How did He continue to work in my life?

I didn't have the answers.

All I knew was that I was supposed to know.

When I read Weddlel's comments on sharing the kerygma, I was back in that street again. Looking down at the shadows of the streetlight, not quite sure how to answer. The kerygma? The mystery? The Good News? What Good News? My life has changed. But how?

So... fast forward to yesterday and today. And the last few months as I've been studying how to evangelize. Pope Francis' trip to the US, the upcoming Year of Mercy. How does this all fit in?

This morning when I listened to my daily reflection, it focused on the Gospel of today- Luke 11:37-41.

After Jesus had spoken,
a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home.
He entered and reclined at table to eat.
The Pharisee was amazed to see
that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.
The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees!
Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish,
inside you are filled with plunder and evil.
You fools!
Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you.”


The reflection talked about the importance of doing things with our hearts, and not just on the external. Yikes.

When I got to Mass after school, the first reading from Romans 1:16-25 was even harder to ignore.

Brothers and sisters:
I am not ashamed of the Gospel.
It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:
for Jew first, and then Greek.
For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith;
as it is written, “The one who is righteous by faith will live.”

The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven
against every impiety and wickedness
of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
For what can be known about God is evident to them,
because God made it evident to them.
Ever since the creation of the world,
his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity
have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made.
As a result, they have no excuse;
for although they knew God
they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks.
Instead, they became vain in their reasoning,
and their senseless minds were darkened.
While claiming to be wise, they became fools
and exchanged the glory of the immortal God
for the likeness of an image of mortal man
or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes.

Therefore, God handed them over to impurity
through the lusts of their hearts
for the mutual degradation of their bodies.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie
and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator,
who is blessed forever. Amen.


Wow. Leave it to St Paul to hammer it in even deeper.

The love part has to come first, because God has to come first. When we do it on our own, we will never be able to do more than the motions, because our heart isn't Christ's heart unless we give Him our heart.

We need to change the way we evangelize. We need to stop looking at people and judgementally saying, "you sinner- we can fix you. Follow this plan." We need to humbly start looking at ourselves first. Our first words should give praise and glory to the goodness of God, the mercy of God, the love of God, that we have experienced. We need to tell the story of how we are being sanctified. Isn't that how one of the most popular hymns of all time tells the tale?

Amazing Grace... how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.

Putting God first in our story doesn't mean that we change the actions. Rather, it gives meaning to the actions, a purpose to the reverence, and reminds us that we are only strong in Him. that we are weak. It is humbling, and in so being humbled, we are made whole and uplifted. Because our God, seeing His child ready to receive His grace wastes not a second of pouring it into to our open hearts, our open ears, our open mouths, our open hands.

So, rather than complain of the problems of the world, that have always been there, will always be there, and are there to draw us out of the world and into our Creator's arms, we should speak the life that is in us, and share the love that fills us. Not from pride, but from humility and joy. Not from our strength, but to share the news that God has come! That He is Risen!

It is only when we realize that the problems of the world are a reflection of the sin in our hearts, that we can begin to root out the evil. As long as we are pointing fingers, as long as we are viewing ourselves as having all the answers, we will never be able to love. We need to give charity freely to all, in our words and actions, and focus our judgement on our own hearts. Do justice, love freely, speak the truth. Live as Christians. Acknowledge our own faults and work to fix them.

And that's the story that needs the telling. The story of how Christ wants to save us each as He sacrificed for all, if only we will let Him in. The story of a sinner, once lost, now daily lifted up by God, a God who calls out each day so that each can respond again. Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling. To you... and to me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rejoicing when I don't want to

It seems there's so much wrong in the world right now, and in our state, and country, and town, streets, neighborhoods, and classrooms, that is frustrating. So much injustice. So much hurt. So much blame to go around.

So much bothering me right now- babies being slaughtered, people being killed, people being hurt, people hurting in so many ways, that I was finding it really hard to pray today.

I just wanted to shout at God that it wasn't fair.

And that's when I was reminded that He knew that. That He knew it wasn't fair. That His Heart was broken, too, and that He didn't understand why any of His children could act the way they did. He knew, and He came into the world anyway. He came down and suffered beside us, instead of fretting and worrying and shouting from afar. He came not only to conquer death, but He came to give us hope. He walked this path in this world we live, but He walked it with no sin. He suffered beside us and along us, and so much more than us, while He was himself blameless.

He willingly choose to enter this world, knowing the hurt, the pain, the brokenness that existed. And He choose to come anyway. He chose to love anyway.

Sometimes the not being able to do anything when a loved when is hurting is just so incredibly hard to watch. Not being able to take away the pain of losing a spouse. Not being able to "do" anything when it seems that someone you love so very much is spinning a world of hurt, and has been for so long, that the person doesn't seem to notice the hurt anymore. And it's really tough when you want to shout out the help, to instead help them to learn to laugh again. It's really, really hard, to go down into the hurt. At least for me. It's so much easier to stay out of the pain and try to pretend like everything is all fine and dandy. It's so easy to be selfish.

Because in the middle of my trying-really-hard-not-to-be-angry-but-still-being-angry attitude, I heard the Psalm at mass tonight. "Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord." Rejoicing? When people are hurting?

Well... the Gospel had something more to say about that:

LK 8:19-21
The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him
but were unable to join him because of the crowd.
He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside
and they wish to see you.”
He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers
are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

Yes. Rejoicing. Rejoicing that God loved us enough to come and suffer beside us. Rejoicing that He told us that when we act on His word, we are His family. When we act. When we do what he did. When we go into the sad parts, and the hurting parts, and offer ourselves. And that we should rejoice because Our God does understand how hard this is.
So my prayer today ended up changing from whining to asking for the strength to push in. Even if it is just hugging someone. I need to do more. I need to step outside the selfishness of "me" and find ways to help.