A few years ago I attended a reunion of my husband’s family. As sometimes happens, people think I am “religious” they tend to challenge me. In this particular scene I was sitting with several of my husband’s cousins ranging in age from early 30’s to 60’s mostly men. One of the young men knowing my devotion to the Blessed Mother began to question some things about prayer and mass, when an older cousin jumped in. He basically said “This business of going to mass every Sunday, I don’t get it, I don’t believe in it”. He turned directly to me (as if I am some sort of authority, which I’m not) and said accusingly “You tell me. Why do we have to go to church every Sunday?” I looked directly at him and said “We go to mass every Sunday to receive strength for the week”. Now clearly he expected me to start spouting the rules and regulations of the Catholic Church, because he actually stammered and stuttered and then said, “Well, I don’t need any strength for the week”. What? You don’t? Wow, that’s amazing, because I sure do. I actually need strength for every moment of every day.
What a consumeristic attitude we have. We walk into a church like we’re walking into a concert or a play. “Entertain me, enlighten me, don’t bore me, the music should be better, that lady’s voice is offkey. It’s all about me, me, me”.
What I’ve learned over the years is that, particularly in church, you get out of it what you put into it. If you go and sit and don’t listen or if you go with an obligatory attitude, you will be bored and not get anything out of it. But when you start listening, when you start trying to understand and applying what you’re hearing to your life, when you respond with enthusiasm, when you truly pray the prayers of the faithful asking God to help and bless others, when you sing and be a part of the community – you will develop a love of the Mass. It happened to me. I used to drive my elderly father to Mass every morning and would sit in the back row with my arm flung across the pew, barely awake, but it got to me. The more you expose yourself to it, the more it will steal upon you and change your life. It’s better than food, shopping, money, drugs, chocolate, television or anything else you can fill your life with. There is a spiritual hunger that many of us feel, an emptiness inside that can’t be filled by anything else. It is God calling us to look deeper into ourselves to find our true purpose, to find Him again. It is a remembering and it is the greatest high of all.
Then there is the ultimate gift – the transubstantiation. Meditate on it, believe in Him, don’t try to understand it, just believe in the possibility, talk to Him. Visit Him in the Tabernacle, go to Adoration. He is a better therapist than any other and He is waiting for you..
I remember several years ago it was in the paper that something like 60% of Catholics believe that the Eucharist is just a symbol and not the actual body and blood of Christ. I was scoffed at during a dinner party when I noted this article, the other guests clearly knew better than to believe otherwise. I was told condescendingly, I had “our parents – old fashioned faith”. At the time, I was annoyed, they had dismissed me and in turn my beliefs. It was a long time later that I realized, my faith is a gift. I am so blessed that while I have questioned many things in my life, I have never questioned that there is a God, that He loves me, that He wants what’s best for me, that He sent Jesus to die for me and that He is truly present in the Holy Eucharist.
I have my parents, my family and the nuns, priests and lay people who taught me in Catholic school to thank for the grounding, the framework of my faith. But I know the Holy Spirit was involved. Because certain things are unwavering and I’m grateful for that. When the world is in turmoil as it certainly is today, I know there is something bigger, something better waiting for me after all this. And that is the best part of my belief; it’s like the cool drink of water after the long, grueling marathon.
I do not face the world alone. Nothing that happens politically or financially not sickness not even death can shake my faith in my God and my security in Him. The things of this world are all temporary. There is nothing to be afraid of. “Fear only that which may lose your soul”. Of course I do get frightened and fearful, but the more I trust in Him, the more my fear recedes and peace comes in.
As I drive to and from work each day, I often see hawks flying around and if you watch them long enough, they will usually spread their wings and let go and ride the air currents. Whenever I see that, I say to myself, “Oh my Jesus, I trust in your divine love”. And I believe it, I have only to let go and stop flapping my wings and float on the currents of the divine and all is at ease. He’s got me in His hands, nothing else matters. I will love Him and honor Him all the days of my life.
How about you? Are you willing to let go, just a little bit and trust in Him?
Copyright 2010 Maureen O’Shea