Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Be friends with believers

DC 'Hood at Holy Redeemer, Friday, June 5, 6:30 pm. The game will be outdoors (9705 Summit Avenue, Kensington, Md 20895) and is the make-up game of last week's rainout. Go 'Hood!
“But we can elude God if we choose to ignore Him, can't we? Isn't that why Hell exists?”

This comment from an anonymous blogger was in response to my post on April 24, “Hound of Heaven”. Yes, we can choose to elude God. “Elude” is an interesting word. The dictionary defines it as meaning “to avoid or escape by speed, cleverness, trickery, etc.” It would take an awful lot of speed, cleverness, trickery, etc. to elude God in this life. That’s what people who have experienced the “Hound of Heaven” have found. No matter how much they try to avoid Him or His goodness, He is still there seeking them. He is there in their experiences, He is there through other people, He is there in their minds and hearts. St Theresa of Avila once said that Jesus is always speaking to us, the question is are we listening?

So, it takes a lot of work to elude God in this life! He is all around us. His grace is present in all things but sin. I guess for someone to totally avoid Him in this life, they would have to remain in sin constantly which I don’t think is possible. Obviously, someone can choose to enter into a state of mortal sin and never leave it in this life; then, they would experience the catastrophe of being away from God and all that is good for all eternity in the state of Hell. But, God seeks those who are in mortal sin. He hounds them! He hounds all of us sinners! Anyone who doubts that should take one look at a Crucifix. Take a look at the Old Testament and see how many times God reaches out to His people in mercy and love. Take a look at a line for Confession and see how God’s Grace has moved people to confess their sins and reconciled with God and the Church. His grace is all around us, even when we have been eluding Him in sin.

We can liken this whole question to a student in school. A student can elude getting a passing grade on a test. Let’s say that the student has received all kinds of help in passing the test. The teacher has taught the material every day for weeks, reviewed the material several times just before the test, basically given the students the questions for the test, and gone out of his/her way to even tutor the individual student. The student’s friends have offered to help study with him. There is help for the student at every turn. It would take an awful lot of work for him not to pass the test! It would involve a lot of avoidance and escape by speed, cleverness, trickery, etc. Even though we don’t understand their intentions, some students do elude all the help to do well in school and some people elude all the help to experience God’s love in life.

Now, there are extraordinary situations where students in school or people in life are really trying to get it but just can’t. This is where some of our bloggers are. They are trying to find God, but can’t. They have tried Adoration, daily Mass, daily prayer, Scripture, this blog…the works. Still, they have no experience of God’s presence. It’s kind of like the student who can’t get the material. He just doesn’t get it. Well, what if the problem is the students with whom he’s studying. What if they don’t get the material themselves? They might even think they get it, but really don’t. I would tell him to study with other kids – the smart kids. Hang out with students who get it. I would give similar advice to bloggers who are struggling to find God: be friends with believers. Talk to and pray with devout Catholics. Be with people who pray, live the Gospel, are devoted to the Eucharist, go to Confession regularly, are God-fearing men or women, etc. It’s so important for all of us to be with people who build up our faith, not tear it down, especially for people who are struggling to find God. Good friends can be a huge source of help and support with faith. We all need support from others to live our faith. It’s virtually impossible for someone to live faith when they are regularly with people who don’t believe just like it’s virtually impossible for students to do well in school when they regularly study with people who don’t pass tests.


At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m not sure this is the most appropriate place to talk about this, but I’ve mentioned it before- so, what the heck. I had/have a real battle with alcohol. Everyone kept telling me the answer was to surrender. I tried- I really did, but I didn’t understand what I was surrendering to. I thought I was supposed to surrender to the power alcohol had over me- kind of like this “thing” outside of myself. I’ve recently learned quite differently. The disease of alcoholism is all about my feelings, beliefs, my history, etc. It’s all about what is “in” me. That simple fact makes the teaching on the Eucharist truly profound for me. If I can only heal from within myself, what an amazing gift the Eucharist is- to allow Him to be literally in me. It wasn’t that I only recently understood that the Eucharist is truly Christ, but now I “get it” about how huge that is for me. My morning routine is really crazy, but I’ve once again renewed my efforts to make it to daily Mass. Daily receipt of the Eucharist is a gift, and at this point in my life, a need as well.

My particular situation may be different from others’ situations, but the solution to our struggles is universal. Thank you for all the posts that have pointed me toward that understanding.

At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question regarding the Real Presence. When someone attends a Catholic Mass who is not Catholic, they are asked to abstain from receiving the Eucharist. Is that because they may not belief that the Eucharist is really Christ or is it because they, as a non-Catholics, are not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church in a number of potentially other ways?

I ask, because, unless I am wrong, Catholics are required to receive the Eucharist (dont know how many times) each year, right? So what if a Catholic does not believe in the Real Presence? Can they be said to be in communion with the Catholic Church and, therefore, should they "not receive if they don't believe" even if they are, I believe, required to do so by the Church?

At 1:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't sleep, so I read a bit of the Hound of Heaven again. It is clear to me is that happiness is in the pursuit/seeking and unhappiness (misery, actually) is in the denial. I speak from experience.

I had to actually look this up, but I read this poem first in college and compared it to what was presumed to be the inspration for the author, Psalm 139-

Where can I hide from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee?
If I ascend to the heavens, you are there; if I lie down in Sheol, you are there too.
If I fly with the wings of dawn and alight beyond the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light"
Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are but one.
You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.
I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew;

At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The season and temperament is changing - summer is rapidly approaching, in pieces. The post a few days back made me realize that I often live, praying that I get through the day. My mind often doesn't understand its perception of events and words in simple thoughts - it needs to write. So write I did and slowly, I've begun to think that in many ways, I or we elude God because we fail to understand that life happens, by getting through each day, at God's pace, not ours.

Let me get through the day – at God's pace

Let me get through the day –
Some days are longer than others,
and minutes seem like hours
so I close my eyes
and take a few deep breaths
and time moves,
At God's pace.

The school year is finishing
at different dates for each of my children.
I have yet to figure out,
how enthusiasm can be shown
by doing absolutely nothing but eating,
sleeping and making messes,
At God's pace.

My college aged son came home for the summer.
I was thrilled, until I saw his car.
I couldn't help but question,
why I pay for room and board
when he lives in his car,
maturing and learning,
At God's pace.

The third of my four children is graduating from high school.
Her life is filled with anticipation and naivety
of freedoms strong hold
that gently whispers hints
of listen or listen not
to the voice of discipline, heard only
at God's pace.

With the teenage years in hand, the youngest lives invincibly.
His foreseen reign is autonomy filled with limitations, a confusing paradox.
Autonomy taunts through numbers - subconsciously he knows he's not ready, yet.
September will bring posed and taught posture,
a highly held head, with its chin tilted up, should help compensate for the insecurities
evoked with new experiences that occur
at God's pace.

At 21 years of age, the oldest has pretty strong wings.
Airborne they keep her, most of the time.
Home landings are rare and when they occur
it's because she needs to pick up information
that can only be found at home.
With her wings reinforced, she's gone, for another flight that will be guided
At God's pace.

I reflect and realize that my days often begin
with thoughts of how I can best organize the list
of things that need to be accomplished.
Success is measured at the pace executed
and the completion of my plan.
Slowly, I'm realizing that life happens,
At God's pace.

At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been going to adoration at St. John the Evangelist, where it is available around the clock. They have some literature there about adoration and one thing in it was that sometimes when someone is new to adoration, they can feel like all that is happening is that they become more aware than ever of their sinfulness. Before I read this, I had been thinking that adoration is not a peaceful time for me and I was wondering if God is punishing me for leading a very very unholy life in the past. I did a lot of bad things. Is that what is happening? I confessed and am sorry but still feel like I'm paying for it.

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the Anon of 3:17-

I have a counselor who happens to be Catholic with whom I am working on various issues, one of which is forgiving myself. He asked me if I go to Confession and believe that God truly forgives my sins. I said, "Yes." He then asked me if I thought I was somehow bigger or more important in my thinking than God that I didn't forgive myelf. He really made me think.

If God forgives me for all the bad stuff (and, believe me- there's been A LOT!), and I am contrite and do my penance- it's over. It doesn't mean there might not be lingering consequences of my past actions, but the sin is absolved by God, and who am I to still hold onto it?

I also think it's okay to feel "bad" at Adoration. That's my time with Christ, and he wants to hear what is honestly in my heart. Feeling sad, anxious or worried doesn't mean I don't adore Him, it means that I trust Him enough to be honest with Him.

At 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

11pm anon:

I hope you are in aa. It is helping me greatly. I am just now willing to share my struggles. For a long time I was afraid and even lost some friends because I came clean and talked about my problem with "the beast" alcohol. I struggle with giving everything over to God. You are in my prayers.

At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the Anon of 9:57 (funny how staying an 'anon' helps to be open, huh?)-

I am in AA as well as recovery now, again. Actually, I've been in and out of the rooms for 8 years, so I know "the beast" well. The difference for me know and then is faith. It's a long story as to how I ended up in recovery (where I am, in particular), but with how it happened and the people with whom I am working, I know it was divine intervention- no doubt. Alcoholism is a heavy cross, one which I CANNOT carry alone- I buckle under its weight. God helps me to carry it though, and it is only through Him (and I believe He works through each and every person in the AA porgram, whether they believe it or not) that I am able to heal.

I've recently come to understand what a huge gift sobriety is. I used to think sobriety was the "loss" of alcohol. But, through the grace of God, I now understand that sobriety has given me the opportunity to embrace joy, peace and serenity in a way that many non-alcoholics will ever understand. We are actually fortunate.

At 6:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"His grace is all around us, even when we have been eluding Him in sin."

Maybe this isn't the most appropriate way to describe grace, but sometimes I actually feel a little "nagged" by God, where there's a constant thought of being moved to do something. It only goes away when I say, "Alright already," and actually do that something. Other times I've experiences that Grace as a slow and gentle push in the right direction. I'm just happy to be able to say that God's grace is present in my life.

At 7:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the 9:57 anon-

Here’s some interesting info for you-

Most people don’t know about the Catholics who helped AA during its early years. There have been many, though some still consider AA somehow to be anti-Catholic. Fr. Edward Dowling is just one of those Catholics who helped AA. He was a Jesuit who met Bill Wilson and acted as spiritual advisor for the non-Catholic. Fr Dowling introduced him to the Serenity Prayer, which became the "official" AA prayer. Fr. Dowling wasn’t an alcoholic but had crippling arthritis. He understood AA's success in helping the chronically ill. He also acknowledged the similarity between the 12 Steps and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. When Bill Wilson said that he'd never heard of the Exercises, Dowling thought that AA may have been divinely inspired.


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