Normally, I don't wake up at 3:45 AM. 5:30 is my preference, but today I woke up very early.
Normally, I eat sparingly for breakfast not wanting to blast my blood sugars into high gear so early. Yet, this morning, I cooked a full breakfast and enjoyed every bite!
No regrets so far this day.
As I sit at the table alone, in the sacredness of the night, enjoying the last of my diet coke, I think back to our childhood where we learned the basics of our faith. Things we're safe then. After school, we played outside until dinner time, then, when we heard someone yelling that dinner was read, we all raced home for our meal. We ate then met in the field down the street to plan our next escapade.
There were nights, though, after supper, that we didn't return to play, because, we were now old enough to put on our dress clothes and go to church for a novena or adoration or a special Mass with the family. At night? Then it was home for the family rosary, bedtime prayers, and bed. In the morning, morning prayers were said, and as you learned to behave in church, daily Mass. (I'm not sure how we fit school, homework, and summer vacation into our lives, but we did.) At noon, no matter what you were doing, you stopped to pray the Angelus. Prayer was a blessing. God was our focus. Prayer was a joy, and each day was a new call to prayer and to God.
As we aged, we made mistakes. We all stumbled and fell. Prayer was much less important in our lives. Mass, well, we'd go, if we could. Our faith was tried, and we were lacking. Many of us saw evil, and blamed God. We left the church. Thank God for those who prayed for us, for those who didn't know us, but prayed for us, anyway. They saved our souls!
Now, we are battered souls, beaten back by life and the storms of life. Our wounds are raw. Scars are not completely healed. Wisdom is new. We crawl into the confessional, dragging our souls, and beg forgiveness for our sins. God, in His great and infinite Mercy, through the priest, grants us absolution. Of course, a penance is required. Damage must be repaired and cleaned up. Structures must be rebuilt. The difference is that now, with sin forgiven, we are, again, in communion with God and the Church.
God is a loving God, but He is still a just God. He seeks to draw us closer to Him through joys and sorrows. He seeks to purify us. He allows the trials and storms of life to cleanse our souls. We were never promised an easy life on earth. We were only promised that, in the end, it would be worth it. Evil can be overcome, but we must return to God.
“Do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
The evil of ISIS confounds me. When babies are killed for a photo op or simply hacked in half because they were born into a Christian family is beyond my understanding. Evil is in human form in this organization, as with abortion, which stills a beating heart. Each abortion kills a baby. The Latin word, "fetus" means "little one." So many "little ones" have died in our country and throughout the world. Our children are no longer safe, anywhere.
So, we turn to God. Do we blame God for these evils, then reject Him because if He really loved us, these evils would not exist? If we were smart, before we rejected God, we would fall down on our knees in the confessional and beg for His forgiveness for our part in these evils, then we would pray for our conversion and the conversions of all who encourage or participate in true evil. As in no other generation, we are seeing evil incarnate. Our only defense is not anger and rejection of God, but repentance, prayer, and fasting.
Life is a flow of time. As I sit here so early this morning, I know this is not normal, and I hope that 3:30 will not be my normal time to rise. It's way too early. Yet, as I age, I think this might be a gift from God so that my days might be longer and I might be more open to prayer. Where is God in the dark of the night? We might not see Him, but our hope is that He is there.
“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Life is different from when we were kids, running freely through the streets, free of fear. At that time, to be a Catholic meant to live a life of prayer and more. The important thing to remember is that, today, in this moment, being Catholic still means embracing a life of prayer. Not only that, being a Catholic means to live our faith boldly and publicly for all to see. Being Catholic means rejecting the evils of the world, praying for those who would do us grievous harm. Being Catholic means embracing and protecting life of the unborn, the sick, the disabled, and the dying. Being Catholic is a way of life.
Death comes to us all. I know of no one who has lived who has not died. Think back 150 years. If there is someone alive from that time span, I don’t know who it is. Yet, as human beings we must look at our future. Death is our destiny. When we die, we must look our God in His loving eyes. We must face our lives and the consequences each thought or action had in this life. What did we teach our children? Did we fall prey to the world and pass that on to our babies? This can be scary.
The good news is that, in spite of all the evil in the world, our God is here for us. In times of trial, we must be strong and look to God. He has carved us in the palm of His Hand. He knows us and our ways, and HE LOVES US IN SPITE OF OURSELVES. Now is the time to be humble and to seem communion with the Lord. Give Him your life. You will never be the same again.
Now, my reflections must stop. It's time to get ready for Mass. Normally, yes, normally I try to attend Mass. It's back to the routine. Normal is now. God is good!
" For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. "
Isaiah 55: 8-9