Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why St Paul Wasn't Wrong

There's a thought often heard in Christian circles that St Paul was just wrong in his comment that Christ would come again in the lifetime of his contemporaries. We say " well, St Paul was a great Christian, a wonderful evangelist, a righteous man of immense faith, but he just got that wrong. I mean, clearly, Christ didn't come again." 

I think the point at which we start along that type of thinking is the point in which we fall into an error greater than the one we assign to Paul. We remove God from our world. We remove Christ from our world.

That's right... every time we get so worried and worked up about the second coming we forget that for us, Christ may as well return in two weeks, or tomorrow. Or today.

Firstly, we fall into the comfort trap. By pushing the time of the Second Coming further and further into the future- or worse- by selecting the day and hour which Christ will appear ( which is Scripturally impossible), we allow ourselves to become lazy. to put off spreading the Good News, to see evangelization as a less-than-urgent endeavor. The problem with this type of thinking is that today is someone's last day. Today is someone's last chance. It might be yours. It might be mine. It is urgent for each person,

But there's another problem with this type of thinking and this critique of St Paul. This problem is the removal of God from our world. As Catholics we don't believe God has left us alone. We believe that He is here with us in Spirit as we gather and in Flesh every time the Eucharist is celebrated. During Holy Mass, we believe that ordinary substances are radically and miraculously changed before our very eyes into the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior. In our remembrance of His sacrifice on Calvary, He is made flesh again that we may consume Him and be transformed into His Body. We, the Church, His Bride, are here. We are waiting for His return, yes, but we are waiting in anticipation at Holy Mass. It is a foretaste of heaven, a few precious moments where we can glimpse the eternity that lies ahead.

I know that Christ didn't come again during St Paul's lifetime, but I also had an experience recently where I realized overwhelming that He really did come, too. That He really is always coming to us in the Mass. I mean... it's one thing to know something with your head and another to have that moment of clarity, and immense love, and to feel His presence so truly in the Eucharist. St Paul wasn't wrong. Christ comes to us in the Holy Mass every time His Sacrifice is celebrated. He promised us this and He follows through. The urgency of evangelization is not just to spread the word and love of God in the event that Christ returns to Earth tomorrow or next week. No- it's to allow people to greet Him now, because our lives are always better with Him than without. More joyful, more peaceful, more consumed with love. We realize those moments, those glimpses of heaven. Our hearts are truly restless until they rest in Him. Because His love for us is so great. So powerful and we constantly seek Him. We want others to experience that now because we know what it is to be changed by Him.  St Paul was right to be filled with urgency and zeal- because he knew what those who don't know Christ are missing. They are missing that experience of Christ now. 

When you have an amazing friend, don't you want to brag to everyone you meet about that person? About how wonderful they are? How good a friend? Who kind, how compassionate a person? Christ is more than our friend. He is Love. He gave His life for us that we could be with Him. That's news that demands to be shared.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Completely random thoughts

Like really random. I'm not exactly sure they're even related. So read at your own risk.

So… life. Well, I’m not exactly sure what I’m writing about right now. I have about a million thoughts running through my mind… okay not a million, that’s definitely an exaggeration, but there a quite a few thoughts.

This has been one of the strangest years of my life, basically because it feels like I’m really starting to settle into a routine, and I guess because I’m finally realizing that I’m an adult. At the age of almost-26. I mean, it’s strange, I’ve had a real-adult job for three full years- you, know, the kind that isn’t just a job. But it is that, too. Some days. Most days, it doesn’t feel like working- because teaching is what I do, it’s part of who I am. And I missed teaching so much this summer.

I guess that’s one of the weird parts, that after three years, it finally started to sink in with me a bit last year. I’d been saying it for the first two years, I’d been interacting with kids, building relationships, etc., but it wasn’t the same as when teaching started to give me energy. Yes, it’s still draining, it’s still exhausting, but it’s not just a job. It’s not just something I do from 9-5. No… it’s a part of me in the way that I can’t ever really shut it off. Anytime I’m outside my house, I’m Miss Gates. And I like that feeling, but it also brings a lot of responsibility.. because kids look up to me. 

Maybe I’m just being ridiculously full of myself, but it makes me wonder, what if we all acted like grown-ups. I mean- what if we all, everyday, put on our real clothes, and our good attitudes and spent energy trying to improve the spirits of those around us. What if, everyday, we truly cared about our neighbors… all of them, and acted in a way that showed we cared. What if we cared enough to put on real clothes, and brush our hair and smile? 

I mean, we teach kids these things are important- that they should “dress for success” and be polite and respectful. Is it really that respectful for us to walk past our fellow human beings like they’re strangers? Even the people we know? Without acknowledging them or smiling?

I guess I started to realize something last Sunday. I was having a reply bad day… well couple days. And I have this weird thing where I never realize when I’m upset or not in the best of moods. I mean, other people will pick up on it and comment, but I don’t usually notice. (I’m working on it… I think it’s probably one of the things I really need to fix this year). So anyway… Sunday. 

After church, my family and I always go out to eat lunch somewhere in town. On this particular Sunday, we went to one of my favorite restaurants.

Or you know, I’ll come back to writing this two weeks later. Still relevant though, so I guess I’ll keep writing.

I was shopping and everyone was annoying e. I mean… no one would stop talking to me. So the fourth time in two minutes that the clerk asked if I needed help I snapped a bit. And then the other customer in Penney’s wanted to chat. Well, I guess yo could say I finally realized I wasn’t behaving very kindly towards the world. And then it finally all started to hit me. How I’d been very carefully distancing myself from everyone after the last couple of weeks. From my family, from my friends, and now even from random strangers who were just treating me like a person. I have this tendency when I’m getting depressed/ am depressed to draw back from people. To not let anyone in and to lock everyone out.

The biggest problem with this isn’t that I lock out my family. Or my friends, or really even, that I lock myself out. The biggest problem is that I also lock out God. And in the sea weird way I lock everyone else out. I act like everything is normal and have “normal” conversations. So my prayer life goes on auto pilot and I completely shut God out of my emotions.

Because… even when I know that God’s mercy knows no bounds, sometimes I still struggle to let Him in. To let Him actually do the fixing. To let His grace pour over me and help me to forgive myself. Which is why when song after song that Sunday on the radio was about Go’d forgiveness, it all started to sink in a bit.

 And I’ve been working on it. Shutting God out of your life, not talking to Him and refusing to listen while at the same time venting to yourself that He’s not answering, well, that’s a toxic form of prayer. 

It’s frustrating to realize that I can’t focus enough to pray three Hail Mary’s without having to stop and start over. It’s frustrating to realize that I can’t say an Our Father without going on auto pilot. The first step for me is to stop the auto-pilot. Which means I have to slow down and force myself to say the words. With meaning. Even if that takes and hour. I have to force myself to feel. Because as much as words can be said with hurt and malice I think it’s worse to say them with a lack of intention. It’s worse to not tell God our frustrations, to not let Him comfort us. Because our God is our Father. He is our Comforter. He is the One who can give us hope, and faith, and love. He is the source of all things good, and when it hurts… well, we need to turn to Him. We need to let Him in and let Him help.

This summer has been weird. Or different at least, because patience has never been my strong suit and two and a half weeks later, I'm puzzling through things a bit and it’s starting to click just a little. That I need to learn to trust Him more. And have faith in the storm. And not rely just on feeling close to Him but then letting my prayer life fall apart when it gets a little tough. That I need to be honest with myself, and realize when things aren’t going so well, instead of always convincing myself that everything’s great. All the time. Life is great- all the time. But that doesn’t mean that even in this wonderful life, we don’t experience tough moments, heartbreaking moments and moments of loneliness and despair that challenge us. I need to learn to push through those and to persist. 

I have a feeling I'm going to be rereading this... on the discipline of delay... several more times. 

So. This year. I’m working on growing my faith. On trusting God. And being faithful in the little things. That’s the plan anyway.