Affirmation: Every day I invite God into my life.
In Rediscover Catholicism, Matthew Kelly asks many interesting questions and he presents many topics for contemplation. One of the questions is "What do you live for?" He tells the story of Abraham Lincoln calling in a soldier and asking the soldier to deliver an important message. The soldier tells Lincoln, "Sir, I would die for our cause." Lincoln says, "Son, I have thousands of men who will die for our cause. What I need is one man who will live for it." I love that story. It made me question myself. What do I live for? Where do I spend my time, talent and treasure?
Rediscover Catholicism is a three hundred page book which is distributed for free. I received it at my church in Cary N.C., St Michael the Archangel. I think we were encouraged to give it to someone who has "fallen away" from the church but I felt I could use something to reenergize my faith and so I brought it home and promptly put it on my shelf. There it sat for several months along with a whole stack of other "mean to read" books. Do you have any like that?
One day a fairly new friend and I were discussing the Church and she began to tell me about Matthew Kelly and his book, The Dynamic Catholic. She's seems more sure of our Church than I and I was interested in what she had to share and quite taken with her enthusiasm for this author and his passion. I then realized his book was sitting right there with us. It felt like I was being directed by Spirit, by God, to read this book. I began using it as a prelude to my journaling in the morning, as I like to do with different reading material. My intention is to read something inspirational at night, I have recently been focusing on the New Testament, and something motivational in the morning. For the last few weeks, I've been reading Rediscover Catholicism.
It's very easy to focus on the faults of the Catholic Church. It's no different than focusing on the faults of the world, the government, any organization, friends or family. It's very easy to sink to the level of non constructive criticism. It's easier to go to a negative place than to a positive one and the Church is a magnet for that criticism. It has had many serious problems as an organization, devastating behavior that cannot be justified. When I refer to the Church, I am referring to the hierarchy. The patriarchal leaders who determine the philosophy and tenor of Catholicism. Even with all its blemishes the Catholic faith has provided me with the tools to help me deepen my faith and to grow in my relationship with God. Matthew Kelly's book has helped me, my Small Christian Community study group, another study group called the Women of Grace and recently a few new friends.
One of the concepts presented in the book The Celestine Prophesy by James Redfield is that there are no coincidences; everything that happens is "supposed" to happen. We are always in exactly the place and time within which we are created to be. The choice of what we do and how we choose to perceive the situation, however, at that moment is completely ours. One of my daily prayers is "Come Holy Spirit fill the heart of Your faithful. Enkindle in me the fire of Your love." It warms my soul to say that prayer. It truly is the desire of my heart. I want to live a Christ centered life of love and forgiveness and service and when I say that prayer and invite God to fill me with Divine Presence, I feel hopeful. "Ask and you shall receive, knock and it will be opened." In my quest to unite my will to the will of God I have been drawn to activities and people who are guiding me, inspiring me. I once had a friend who always seemed to be running into people, even strangers, who needed her help. I asked her about her propensity towards this mission and she told me she asked God everyday to send her people she could help. It seems so simple, doesn't it, if we can just remember to ask? I'm a great believer in answered prayer.
My faith is growing. My relationship with my God is becoming stronger. Thank heavens because it makes my life richer and more peaceful. I find more and more opportunities to learn about my faith and to sink deeper and deeper into its comfort. Looking back on the last year alone, I can see several invitations I've said "yes" to which have led me to a more appreciative attitude towards Catholicism. The strongest influence has been the newer friends who have entered my life and have chosen to reach out to me and include me in their lives. It's been a tremendous joy, an honor and a privilege to become their friend. Each presents their faith in a different but vibrant, loving way and I am inspired by it. Recently, one of the women said, "I love my Church." I love my Church! It was wonderful to hear someone say that. I too am guilty of focusing on the faults and not the beauty of my faith. "I love my Church." I'm not there yet but perhaps with my daily prayer the Holy Spirit will lead me to fall in love with it too. I know I've fallen in love with the men and women of my church who are in my life and who with each encounter lead me into that rich, deep relationship with God I so desperately desire.