Thank God for the Sacrament of Reconcilliation.
I feel tonight like I used to feel after a night of dancing and jumping around to rock and roll music...getting all sweaty and happy and laughing and feeling light as a feather.
I got to go to confession today for the first time in three weeks. I have felt the effects of not having the regular infusion of sanctifying grace the Sacrament grants me. It has made my struggle against despair and anger and feelings of abandonment a tougher fight. However, I have also been given the incredible power of prayer - in particular the prayer of The Rosary which takes us through the Life of Christ as a meditative tool Without prayer and Mass on Saturday and Sunday (as well as my one meeting a week) I would have been drunk in no time.
But I got a really great gift today - one of my great-grandsponsees (it's a 12 step thing, just trust me) received the Sacrament of Reconcilliation today for the first time in 30 years. She had not been since she was a teenager.
At two and a half years sober, she said, she suddenly realized during her morning 11th step prayer and meditation time that all the principles she was being taught in our 12 step program were Catholic principles.
Then, about a week after this hit her during her prayer time (actions of the Holy Spirit anyone?) her 15 year old daughter came to her and told her she had been doing some studying on the internet and would like to go to a Catholic Mass...would her mother take her?
Now both her kids are enrolled in religious education at St Joseph's, and my darling great-grandsponsee S has come back to the Church. Tomorrow she will receive the Eucharist for the first time since she was 15 years old. Today, she told me, S feels as though ( in her words ) that she is finally starting to grow up in her 40's.
She has an interesting journey of faith - she actually hit her bottom in her alcoholism through attending Calvary Chapel in Modesto. No, the Calvary Chapel people did not make her drink. Instead, she found herself focusing on all their faults and hypocrisies. She was especially disturbed by the blatant anti-Catholic bigotry expressed by some of the people there (not the preachers) - some of whom were lapsed Catholics with chips on their shoulders because the Church would not bend or abolish a moral absolute in order to make their lives easier. S found herself becoming angry and distant and so, she drank more...and then she hit her bottom and ended up in my homegroup on Wednesday nights....an angry, scared, shaking little drunk of a woman with her OWN chip on her shoulder.....today she is a beautiful, loving, sober, wife and mother....and because of the 12 steps is now Home in the arms of the Holy Mother Church.
She said something to me today that just floored me. "I realized that the real hypocrites are those who never even try. They seem to be so ready to point at those of us who acknowledge there are rules and guidelines by which we need to live as being hypocrites because we repeatedly fail at being perfect. But they won't even TRY....and they hate us so much. How can that be a good thing?"
S is not a formally educated woman. She is a civil servant. She is trying to become well read and she is learning to communicate in a clearer fashion one day at a time. I think, however, that she hit the nail on the head. It is not that we try and fail that makes us hypocrites. It is never trying at all - and then pointing fingers at the ones who, no matter what, get up every day and get back into the game. Calling out their faults, their imperfections and using them as a reason to not even TRY? That is such a mean spirited and stunted thing to do.
I know - because over 15 years ago that is how I viewed anyone who went to a church or regular Mass or were happy to be a child of God and not shy about it. They were hypocritical jerks who should be run out of town on a rail - and I'll bring the tar and the feathers, right after I finish the vodka in this bottle.
We start the Lenten Mission at St Joseph's tomorrow night. Father Tom of the Father's of Mercy is preaching it. This is an incredible order of men - they are headquartered in Kentucky, where only 5 percent of the population is Catholic and the other 95 % are pretty sure the Pope is the anti-Christ. These guys usually do a good job of preaching - and this year the theme is on the Theological Virtue of Hope.
Awwww - HOPE - it does spring eternal, right?
OH - and the good news? I have lost 22 pounds....as of this morning. All my pants are too long.