It’s been a rough 2 weeks. I’m not looking for pity, and I know that others’ have crosses that are a lot bigger than mine, but the past few weeks have been one thing after another going wrong. I feel like God’s putting me through a second Lent – a season of penance – but I don’t know why. Didn’t I do Lent well enough the first time? When do I get my Easter, damn it?
That’s just part of an email I sent to a friend yesterday morning. I was cranky and mildly depressed wondering why all of these little things kept going wrong. Then, yesterday, I was reading through the letters to the Bishop written by the high school Juniors who will be receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation on May 19. They write these letters to the bishop requesting the sacrament and telling him why they want it. Even through they’re addressed to the bishop, I read each one.
This screening helps me discover who has slipped through the cracks in our Confirmation process and maybe isn’t ready for this Sacrament quite yet: “I’m really a practicing Buddhist, but my parents are making me do this. I don’t believe in Jesus at all – but whatever. Better safe than sorry, I guess.” (Direct quote from a letter 3 years ago).
It also saves me the embarrassment of revealing the catechetical confusion that occasionally results from our faith formation classes: “I picked the name Jacob for my Confirmation name because he was Joseph’s dad. If Jacob done even one thing differently when he raised Joseph, Joseph might not have married Mary and become a father figure to Jesus.” (sigh)
It’s not all weeping and banging my head on my desk though. Often, I am privy to some deeply faithful insights. Usually those make me beam with no small amount of pride, but I’m working on eradicating pride right now, so this year I read them asking God to reveal to me, through these teenagers, what I needed most to hear. And then I read this:
“God plays a big role in everyone’s life. You just have to open your eyes to see how. Sometimes He speaks in ways that seem little, but are really the most important.”
I realized pretty quickly that I was looking at the last two weeks all wrong. God wasn’t putting me through a second Lent – He’s been giving me little Easter moments throughout the struggles that have come up. I’ve just been stumbling through them with my eyes closed and not noticing the ways He’s been speaking faith, hope, and charity into my life in the little moments I most need it.
I was teaching a Morality class to adults last night and we were discussing the Seven Deadly (Captial) Sins and the Cardinal Virtues. We talked about how God never leaves us alone in sin – that God’s grace always overcomes sin. That’s why there is a corresponding virtue for each of the seven deadly sins.
There was a handy dandy chart that I handed out:
You Just Have to Open Your Eyes
Inspired by the line from the Confirmation letter and the chart on God’s grace empowering us to overcome, I decided to create my own chart for the past two weeks.
In Struggles … With Eyes Wide Open … Grace
I Can See
|Water heater pilot light goes out 2 days before overnight guests are coming||……..||Meeting a plumber the same morning the water heater broke|
|15 month old washing machine breaks||……..||The unexpected mileage reimbursement check we received that covers the cost of a new washing machine|
|Discovered this morning that the breaks on the van need to be replaced||……..||My brother from New York who used to be a car mechanic is staying with us and can replace them for much cheaper|
|Sad and frustrated at the thought that the youth ministry program I built will fall apart when I leave at the end of this month||……..||Reading and finding comfort in the the words of St. Louis de Montfort: “Praying for the grace of detachment from my works in favor of an attachment to God’s will.”|
|Frustrating situations with people I struggle to love||……..||Many uplifting and supportive conversations with loving friends|
|Lots of stress and too many long (10hr +) work days||……..||It’s impossible to stay stressed with a smiley little 6 month old nephew hanging around all week!|
I too have been reading the letters to the bishop ( by the way, I ask them to address them to the bishop, pastor and me (DRE) this way we can all read them :)) its always amazing to me how God is able to show me that there are some awesome things happening with our youth, especially on days when a parent is screaming at me that I expect too much from these teens. Its the little blessings that get us through! oh and I savecopies of some of those letters to pick me up on those horrible days when I need a reminder of why I do this!