I Miss God.

iStock_000005641615XSmallSounds like a weird thing to say, I know. Logically, I know He’s right there. Right here. But I miss Him.  I miss the intimacy we used to have. Part of me thinks I’ll never have that intimacy with Him again, that it was just a honeymoon phase, pink cloud, idealistic thing of my youth. But another part of me knows that isn’t true–I guess that’s the glimmer of hope in me that still shines even if dimly.

I “know” He’s there, here. I know this, the way I know this computer is here.  I don’t question it. I know He is performing miracles, showering us all with His grace, loving us unconditionally beyond our understanding.  I know He’s provided me all the tools in the world to find Him, reach Him, connect with Him–Mass, the Sacraments, the Saints, the Rosary, Scripture, His Son, His Mother. These “tools” have brought me closer to Him in the past and I know they will again-hopefully. I miss the closeness, the idealistic way we used to have a relationship – the way that gave me all the confidence in the world that He would protect me, nurture me, love me. I miss this.

Don’t laugh but I used to be idealistic about politics too, until last year’s general election here in the US. After that election I lost my idealistic view of believing in people in general, in politics specifically.  It’s sort of like this.  The let down was so greatly felt for me that I stopped paying attention, caring, hoping, doing the things I normally would do to try to participate and cooperate with my political beliefs.

When I relapsed last spring, God was still there. But when I got the DUI in June I lost Him. It’s like I felt those consequences – of my own actions, certainly – so greatly that I stopped paying attention to God, stopped caring, hoping, doing the things I normally would do to try to participate and cooperate with God’s grace. 

When the lawyer in September called and told me I had to go to either jail or treatment for 30 days as part of my sentence, I was overwhelmed. I had recently launched my business and I would have to leave that and my family for a month. These consequences felt too great for me. Without health insurance, I worried I wouldn’t be able to find a treatment center I could afford and would have to go to jail. I remembered the 2 days I spent in jail in June and this really scared me. We finally did find a treatment center in South Georgia that was fairly inexpensive and my brothers helped me pay for it so I wouldn’t have to go to jail.

I had a little hope that I might find God again while I was in treatment– I know the drill. Treatment is usually a spiritual thing. And the treatment center we found appeared to be run by devoutly  Catholic people. The pictures on the walls were all Catholic. There was a big stained glass window at the front of the house of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Rosaries everywhere! Mary statues and crucifixes and a small chapel with a kneeler. So, even though I was beaten down about having to go, I did have a little bit of hope that me and God would reconnect and make up. My sister was even jealous, assuming I’d have a month to pray and be with God – ha!

Well, things didn’t work out the way I’d hoped. For the first time in my life, I met people who went to Mass every Sunday, gave out communion, seemed to be very Catholic on the outside; but they were anything but in real life. The owner and the main counselor were both Catholic. But they lied, manipulated, gossiped, were rude, sarcastic, petty and narcissitic. There were nine of us women in treatment and we were purposely turned against one another, diminished, brought down, shamed and neglected. During “group,” the counselors would bring out the worst of us, things discussed in private counseling sessions, in front of the whole group and success was found in breaking us down, making us cry.

I reason since it was a long term treatment center for hard core drug addicts that maybe they had to do this, break the women down to get to their/our core or something. But I left there, much more broken and jaded than when I arrived.  I was encouraged to talk things through with the other women and with the counselors. I was chastised for stealing quiet time alone to try to be with God – I was told I was isolating. I was unable to connect with God there as I connect with God in private, not in group.

I did leave at the end of the 30 days with a compassionate love for the other eight women and their struggles. I keep up with them on Facebook and have learned that four of the eight left shortly after I did. This surprised me because they were all in for long-term treatment. One was kicked out. And the other three left, saying the owner is “crazy.”  One is actually filing a Hippa complaint against the facility, which I’m not really sure what that is?

Anyways, I “know” God is there, right here.  I just can’t seem to connect.  If you’re reading this, please understand I’m not looking for advice at all. In AA meetings, we would call advice-giving “cross-talk.” And the reason it’s discouraged in AA meetings is because most people don’t want advice, they just want to speak. In meetings we share our own experience, strength and hope and refrain from giving each other advice on how to live or fix our problems.  I guess I say this because I know I have a lot of caring, compassionate readers out there and I just ask for your prayers, that’s all.  I’m really fine. Just a little jaded. I just wanted to get it out here on the blog – maybe somebody else has felt this way, too.

I read this poem in my Magnificat subscription this morning which is probably all I need: Humility

“Humility”

Humility is to be still
under the weathers of God’s will.
It is to have no hurt surprise
when morning’s ruddy promise dies,
when wind and drought destroy, or sweet
spring rains apostatize in sleet,
or when the mind and month remark
a superfluity of dark.
It is to have no troubled care
for human weathers anywhere.
And yet it is to take the good
with the warm hands of gratitude.
Humility is to have place
deep in the secret of God’s face
where one can know, past all surmise,
that God’s great will alone  is wise,
where one is loved, where one can trust
a strength not circumscribed by dust.
It is to have a place to hide
when all is hurricane outside

poem by JESSICA POWERS – Jessica Powers (+1988) was a Carmelite nun, sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit.

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Discovering the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary

10 evangelica virtues of mary

According to Pope Benedict XVI, with God’s help, the evangelical virtues forge character. What are the evangelical virtues?

I first discovered the them when reading about one  of my favorite saints, Teresa of Avila. I googled the term “evangelical virtues,” and there was very little information out there. However, in a transcript on Vatican Radio,  Pope Benedict XVI mentions Teresa’s intense program of the contemplative life...which at its heart were the evangelical virtues and prayer.”

In this year of faith, efforts to increase in these virtues is a worthy exercise. We are called to evangelize in a variety of vocations, as a mother, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a wife. Modeling our behavior on the Blessed Virgin is an excellent way to bring others to Christ.  Who more than Mary has brought more of us to her son?  How does Mary evangelize?

 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…1Peter 3:15

These ten evangelical virtues are derived from a combination of the human, moral, cardinal and theological virtues, described to us in the Catechism. They are actually qualities of Mary, the Mother of God who by her example is the epitome of evangelization.

The Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary is a wonderful synopsis of Mary’s character:

1. Chastity (Mt 1:18, 20, 23; Lk 1:24,34)
2. Prudence  (Lk 2:19; 51)
3. Humility (Lk 1 :48)
4. Faith ( Lk 1:45; Jn 2:5)
5. Devotion  (Lk 1:46-47; Acts 1:14)
6. Obedience (Lk 1:38; 2:21-22; 27)
7. Poverty (Lk 2:7)
8. Patience  (Jn 19:25)
9. Mercy (Lk 1:39, 56)
10. Sorrow (Lk 2:35)

We notice in this list, there is no mention of being obnoxious when we evangelize others.  Quite the contrary, evangelical Catholics are to remain humble, be patient, prudent. Evangelizing to others is as simple as happily proclaiming our love and support for the Faith and the church. This is sometimes tough for cradle Catholics who grew up thinking “evangelism” was a sales tactic, associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Fundamentalist Christians.

The Catechism tells us, “A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do good. It allows us not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of ourselves.”

As Catholic mothers, we’re called to instill these virtues first in our children.  We don’t keep our love of the Faith to ourselves. We bring it into everyday activities.  We direct our focus into our own homes, become evangelizers in the midst of our work, the laundry, the dishes, diaper changes, the cooking, carpool, the cleaning and paying bills, our marriage. By pro-actively instilling these virtues in ourselves and in our children, we develop the character of Mary, rather than the character of the world—isn’t that our objective?

“It is far from easy to sum up in a few words Saint Teresa’s profound and articulate spirituality. In the first place St Teresa proposes the evangelical virtues as the basis of all Christian and human life.” Pope Benedict XVI

On the ceiling of the 18th century Marian Church of Gozlin, Poland, there is a ten-pointed star symbolizing Mary’s evangelical virtues dear to the Marians. Mary’s virtues are like the rays of a star enlightening our path and inspiring our behavior.

One way to integrate these virtues into your life is by praying the Chaplet to the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary.  Let’s get started.