It's been two weeks since the blow up regarding the continuation of the Life Teen ministry at our parish. After talking to friends, lots of thinking and finally - praying - I've settled into a place of peace if not total acceptance. As usual, I left going to Jesus last. I followed my own meandering and emotional path and finally, finally, eventually got to Him who should be my first stop, not my last, when my heart is troubled.
I started waking up when I prepared for this past Monday's first Arise meeting of our 3rd season of Arise. The title of this week's theme was "Called to Follow in Christ's Footsteps", a clear reminder to me of what I need to do when troubled by temporal matters. So, that was the beginning of the calming of my heart and mind. And now, for the next six weeks, it will be this following I will focus on.
The reading this week - Luke 24: 13-35, talks about recognizing the truth. In verse 25, Luke gives us Jesus' words that we are foolish men and slow of heart to believe. The key words, foolish and slow of heart resonated. How foolish I am to not turn immediately to Christ when I am troubled. My slowness of heart underscores, not my lack of faith in His guidance but, my weakness and enslavement to my emotions. Instead of railing as I'm asking why this has happened, I need to by-pass the emotions and go directly to He who has all the answers.
That turn of heart and mind lead me to pickup my copy of The Treasury of Catholic Wisdoma resource filled with the writings of many of our greatest Catholic writers. It was here that I found inspiration in the counsel of St. John of the Cross. One of the four maxims he counsels us to follow is "resignation". St. John, in these writings, is addressing his brother members of his religious community (of their monastery). Since we regard our parishes as our communities, we can easily take these words for our own good guidance.
. . . he should never intermeddle, either in word or in thought, with the things that happen in the community, nor with those of individuals, nor must he take note of anything concerning them, be it good or evil, nor of their personal qualities . . . in order to preserve his tranquility of soul . . .
Two of St. John's sayings were especially beneficial as a reminder of our inability to deal with problems easily if we overlook Jesus' presence in our life.
He who wants to stand alone without the support of a master and guide, will be like the tree that stands alone in a field without a proprietor. No matter how much the tree bears, passers-by will pick the fruit before it ripens.
AND - The virtuous soul that is alone and without a master is like a lone burning coal; it will grow colder rather than hotter.
As I read Blessed is he who, setting aside his own liking and inclination, considers things according to reason and justice before doing them, I thought of my lack of humility, the feeling I carried within myself that my thoughts and feelings on the situation that disturbed me so much were feelings of righteousness; that my pastor was wrong in what he did and how he did it. It's not my business to judge what is right or wrong. I am an observer of these events, once removed from direct involvement.
As I read The soul that journeys to God, but does not shake off its cares and quiet its appetites, is like one who drags a cart uphill and accepted the importance of this message, I was able to shrug off the unnecessary load I was carrying.
See that you do not interfere in the affairs of others, nor even allow them to pass through your memory, for perhaps you will be unable to accomplish your own task reminded me of the importance of resignation. The modern equivalent to St. John's words might be "don't go borrowing trouble". We all have enough of our own troubles to deal with; we don't need to take up the burden of others and make it our own. We CAN offer prayer and emotional support but that is very different from making the problem ours.
I am reminded again and yet again to trust in God. Rest in His protection. In tribulation, immediately draw near to God with confidence, and you will receive strength, enlightenment, and instruction . . . Abide in peace, banish cares, take no account of all that happens, and you will serve God according to His good pleasure, and rest in Him.
And so I turned, finally, to the Answerer of All and I found my clear path to what I needed to do and not do. 1.) Don't church hop. There is no perfect place. 2.) Focus on prayer and my relationship with God. 3.) Ask for words that will console others. And 4.) Always ask what He wants of ME, not what I want from Him.