And I've realized a couple things. Saying I believe isn't enough. Because faith doesn't manifest from the desire to accumulate. It's manifest in how we give, and receive. It's manifest in how we love.
And there's where I've been struggling. I've been struggling to love. Not just how to love those around me, but even more basic than that, how to love God.
Because the expectance of getting what we want, of Him fulfilling all of our expectations, that isn't really love. Faith should be our response to His love. Faith is born of trust, of realizing that He only wants the things which are truly good for us and trusting, without expectations and conditions, that He will provide those things for us.
But it can be really tough. It can be really tough to pray "thy will be done" and not put expectations on it. It's tough to accept that He knows better than I do what I actually need.
But it's also comforting. I look back on the last ten years, and I can see those footprints where He carried me. Even more- I can see that He used that journey to shape me into the woman I've become. To shape me, and strengthen me, and let me see more clearly.
I realized tonight that I'd fallen in love with God. It sounds weird to say, but that's the only way I can describe it.
Being in love with God means choosing to love Him- and choosing to let Him love me. That means choosing to trust. Choosing to have faith. It means realizing that I am weak and that I can only do anything through Him. That I should seek always to be with Him.
I realized today, on the Feast of St Dorothy, that God is mine. And I am God's. And... stranger still... I realized tonight that His proposal, hearing in my heart "Will you be my bride?", was another push toward the vocation of marriage, and still not a denial of a vocation to religious life. Lord, I am yours. I trust in You.
Finishing up this post six weeks later...
And through strange turns of events, He let me realize that when I most needed to know it. When I wanted to stay in the church and pray, and left to get to a family dinner, only to discover my car blocked in by no less than eight other cars! In that moment, He gave me what I most needed. time with Him. Time in the quiet. Time to contemplate. And then I was able to get my car out, and in the drive back, realized I didn't need to be in the church, so much as to trust in His providence.
It's now March 23. And last week, I had the opportunity to hear a Mass celebrated by an older priest in the diocese, one who looks at Christ with so much love and devotion, who is so careful with His Body, that it is impossible to watch and not know Who he is holding. In his homily, he referred to a movie about St Thomas Moore, and a particular exchange from it:
Sir Thomas More: I forgive you right readily.
[he gives him a coin]
Sir Thomas More: Be not afraid of your office; you send me to God.
Archbishop Cranmer: You're very sure of that, Sir Thomas?
Sir Thomas More: He will not refuse one who is so blithe to go to him.
--A Man For All Seasons
This exchange is fictional... but I think it is also a good reminder that God is always pulling us toward Him. When we seek Him, He does not refuse us. When we seek Him, He does not allow us to remain separated from Him-- even when we have built up so many roadblocks, He helps us to tear them down, and runs out to greet us.
There are so many quotes that one who prays the rosary daily cannot remain in a state of mortal sin- either he will give up the sin, or give up the rosary. And it is so very true. It's impossible to meditate on the mysteries of Christ's life and not be changed by Him.
I'm getting closer to renewing my consecration, though I'm actually waiting until this weekend to do so. Palm Sunday may not be a Marian feast... and I would have liked to do it on the 25th, but I'm not quite ready. Contemplating Mary's experience of Palm Sunday isn't something I've done before... but it is something I'm starting to wonder about. When I realized that I would have to wait until Saturday to renew my consecration, Palm Sunday seemed so fitting.
When Simeon told her of the sword that would pierce her heart, how much did she know? In those 33 years that followed, of holding things in her heart, what did she gather. Where was she on the day of Christ's triumphant procession. Surely, she was there, watching. Did she, too, see what it was foreshadowing? What were Mary's expectations of her life?
Before the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her, she surely had expectations. Yet she laid them aside immediately in her Fiat. She took on faith that God's will was higher than hers. That His thought's were higher than her thoughts. Oh, to have that faith! And to act upon it!
To lay down my expectations on the altar.