Thursday, March 19, 2009

Be Still

I've been realizing something recently.

Next month I will celebrate my 3rd anniversary with my company, and it will have been 4 years since I moved in to my apartment. This will be the longest consecutive employment I've had with one company, and matching the longest I ever lived in one home (same house all 4 years of high school). I've been feeling odd and out of sorts recently, and I begin to think it is because my life is still.

Now, please do not think that my life is stagnant, it is certainly not that (and I can't wait to tell you about the Miles Christi Spiritual Exercises retreat I made last weekend), but it is still. I am learning to be a steward of what I have where I am rather than to think about what I want or where I will be. I lived in 5 states by age 12, and attended 12 schools by grade 9. I moved around a lot when I was young, and even though I've now been in Illinois for over half my life, that rootless foundation still has it's effect. Even though I don't want anything to change, it feels like it ought to be changing. And that's not to mention that even though I lived in the same house and went to the same high school for four years, I spent all of that time waiting for college, and then I spent all of college thinking about being married, and my first few years after college still thinking about being married - Now, I am living my life.

I think our society is one which avoids stillness (I'm thinking for example of the recent Kate Winslet/Leonardo DiCaprio movie) and I am no different. I used to wake up to the radio, turn the TV on for background noise, and fall asleep to the radio. I used to spend hours daydreaming about being an actress, an officer in the Marines or the wife of a Marine, the wife of an international diplomat... all very exciting, all very glamorous (OK, maybe the Marines aren't glamorous to you - but when I was little and people asked what I wanted to do when I grew up I always said I wanted to Marry a Marine!) and all pretty "non-stop" in their attributes.

So here I am. On my 30th birthday this summer I will still be in the same apartment, I will still work for the same company, still be single, and still (probably) not have heard God say "Go!" God has been saying "Wait" a lot recently; "Wait and be still". "Stay, and learn", "Sit, and listen". Have you ever looked up the word "still" in the dictionary? According to "still" has almost two dozen definitions, including "remaining at peace or at rest", "free from sound or noise", "free from turbulence or commotion", "steadily, constantly, always", "in addition", "to silence or hush", "to calm", "to quiet"....

Job 33:31 says "Pay attention, Job, and listen to me; be silent, and I will speak. "

I guess my whole life is God's way of getting me to pay attention. Well the Lord has my attention, and I almost said "now what?" - but the "now what" is to keep my attention on Him. Always.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Be careful what you ask for...

You just might get it!

As previously mentioned, I know about redemptive suffering. I know about offerring up pain and suffering - for the intentions of the Sacred & Immaculate Hearts, the conversion of sinners & salvation of souls, etc... And thanks to Joseph, I know about "troubling he who troubles me". But as I have been seeking to 'trouble he who troubles me' the fatigue aspect of my fibromyalgia has been increasing and increasing. Argh and growl, what to do...

Last night I was reading "Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity" and on page 30 is a story of St. Therese of Lisiex. While ill, a sister accompanying her on an ordered walk told her she should rest and she replied, "Well, I am walking for a missionary. I think that over there, far away, one of them is perhaps exhausted in his apostolic endeavors, and, to lessen his fatigue, I offer mine to God."

Should I have known that I can offer up my fatigue just as I can offer up my pain? Of course I should have! If in "whatever [we] do, [we] do everything for the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31) then we can offer up our whole lives - our joy and sorrow, our pain and health, our fatigue and our leisure. But did it occur to me until I read the Little Saint's words? Nope.

When I was 12 years old I received my First Holy Communion. My catechist, Mrs. L., gave me a copy of "Mercy My Mission" (a biography of St. Faustina) and a booklet about the Divine Mercy. Even though I was still more Baptist than Catholic I never doubted that (then still) Sister Faustina had experienced everything the book said she did, including redemptive suffering for the salvation of souls, and I remember telling God that I wanted to "do that" too. From the mouths of babes eh?

So here I am, around 20 years later, wondering why I'm always so tired and achey and sore and in pain all the time... I don't always remember to offer up my life as it's happening, but St. Padre Pio once told a priest who had intended to offer a Mass for him, but forgot to do so during the Mass, that it was okay - God had accepted the intention he made while walking up the stairs to go to Mass. And there's a BC comic strip that I cut out years ago, and which is still tacked to my bulletein board at home, which states that 'future events cast backward shadows'. A serpent says that doesn't make any sense... until the shadow of a cross falls across him. The rest of the strip is also deeply meaningful and I'm confidently hopeful that it will be included in "I Did it His Way" - a book collection of John Hart's religious comic strips. These two statements, along with the story of Bishop William Emmanuel Ketteler (also included in the document linked to above) have led me to believe that everything I do with the intent of offerring is accepted by God as an offerring - even if I don't remember it at that moment. When I was 12 years old I told God I was willing to suffer for the conversion of souls, now when I do suffer, whether I remember in the moment to make an offering of it or not, I beleive God accepts it as an offering for the slavation of souls.

Of course, by reading spiritual documents and "think[ing] of what is above, not of what is on earth" (Col 3:2) I find that I am more likely to remember and reaffirm the offering throughout the moments of my day, just as St. Therese, and the lay sister told of by Bishop Ketteler, did. I think this is more efficacious, but since I "know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose" (Rom 8:28) I will rest in Him confident that He accepts all my sufferring... and my fatigue.