Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mea Culpa

It's been a heartbreaking week in the aftermath of the massacre in Charleston, S.C. How horrified we all were when we heard that nine innocent people studying the Word of God were gunned down senselessly because of the color of their skin. They welcomed the stranger as Jesus would have had them do. And then the stranger, like a monster out of a horror movie, fired upon them spilling the blood over the church where they loved worshiping God. How could someone only 21 years of age harbor so much hate in his heart? We may never know how or when evil began to fill his mind.

The families of the victims, or martyrs as I think they should be called, and the city of Charleston bravely and powerfully came together to bring a message of peace and forgiveness. The nation marveled at this display of love in the face of hatred. It's something we rarely see.  As I watched the television coverage of black and white people embracing one another in a show of unity, I wept. Oh, God, I prayed, if we could only continue this love and care for one another! But little by little the nay sayers, the divisive commentators, who almost salivate at anything that might spark a riot, the politicians who only want to gain something for themselves began to tear down what was being built up. It dawned on me that what is so desperately needed in our country is an examination of conscience. If you are Catholic you know immediately what I mean. It's what we do in preparation of making a confession to a priest. We look at our behavior, our words, and even the things we should have done or said and didn't.

It seems that we only want to blame someone or something else when there is a problem. Things are just never our fault, right? It's really hard to admit that we've done wrong, that we didn't live up to our responsibility, that we neglected a friend or failed to call or visit someone in need. It's simply so much easier if we can place the blame on another or on our circumstances. But it's time for us to begin to take a look inside and see what is out of whack. Why are we angry, prideful, impatient, irritable, ready to lash out at whatever gets in our way? We need to seek Peace, to allow Love to enter in and heal all those areas that have been wounded.

Jesus Christ is the Healer, the Divine Physician, the One who can bind up the hurts of the past. If you take the time to look deep within your heart and ask the Holy Spirit to come, He will reveal those areas that need His touch. Then you can view all your brothers and sisters, regardless of race and color, and embrace them in holy love. Yes, we have many differences but we are one family with God as our Father. May He draw us closer to Himself and to one another. May the love that He gives each one of us overcome any evil that tries to enter in. God bless you!

Seek Ye First

Whenever I travel out of town, one of the first things I do is search for the nearest Catholic Church. Somehow, no matter how new my surroundings are, I feel such a sense of the familiar as I enter the holy space. It's like being home. Today was no different.  My husband had a conference in Indianapolis, and as soon as we settled into our hotel, we went for a walk in the downtown area and  discovered St. John the Evangelist Church. We were pleasantly surprised to find it open as some of the churches are locked during the day. We entered quietly so as not to disturb any worshipers but then found we were the only ones there. Initially, I felt disappointed that not one person was present to our Lord but then I was selfishly enjoying myself as I walked ever so slowly throughout the vast interior. There were beautiful side altars with large statues depicting various saints. The votives were all burning brightly so many prayers had been offered sometime during the day. We lingered, lighting candles at Mary's altar and also at the altar of St. Joseph lifting up many intentions which we carried in our hearts. We left the church with a great sense of peace.

As we stepped outside we noticed a large crowd just a quarter of a block away. We wanted to see what was going on so we walked up the street filled with curiosity. Much to our surprise, we saw a large bus with the American Idol logo parked in the middle of the block and thousands of young people all lined up to audition for the upcoming show. What a sight that was compared to where we had just been! Many of the kids had guitars strapped to their backs ready to show off their talent to whomever would listen. We saw one young man singing his heart out as a TV camera recorded him. I could only imagine what his dreams were; to be discovered, to become a star, to make a lot of money and live an exciting life of travel and performing. This was one city with thousands having this same dream. How many more thousands would stand in line in other cities knowing that only one would be chosen as the American Idol? Many would believe they were the one. I stood for the longest time just watching them and silently praying for them. I also prayed for the young man locked in handcuffs by the police for some infraction I hadn't seen. I wished I could have told them about where I had just been. I wished I could have told them about the One who was waiting for them, where there were no lines. He is the One who bestowed on them their talents, who would open wide the doors of opportunity for them. But maybe they had already been to that beautiful church seeking God first. Maybe they were the ones who lit all of those votive candles. I can only hope.