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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Faith/Courage and a Lonely Widow

"Believing in and loving God means a consistent life, lived wholly in the light of the Gospel. It means being committed to doing always what Jesus tells us. This is not easy, it often calls for great courage in going against the trends of fashion and the opinions of the world."

(Rome, 1998)

"My faith, like the faith of each one of you, is not just my doing; my attachment to the Truth of Christ and the Church. It is essentially and primarily the work of the Holy Spirit, a gift of His grace. The Lord gives us His Spirit to help us say 'I believe', and the He sends us out to bear witness to Him."

----John Paul II

Loving Savior, how daunting it is to do everything in the light of the Gospel! And yet, that's what it means to be your follower. I want to deepen my commitment to You and I want to open my ears and my heart to hear what You're asking me to do. Lord, give me Your gift of courage.

I do believ, but I let everything distract me from the one thing that matters: Your presence within me. Deepen my faith that I might bear witness to You and Your Gospel message. Give me the gift of Faith.

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Human beings, being social in nature, often find standing up for their beliefs difficult to do. This is especially difficult when one knows, instinctively, that there will be derision, scorn, anger and hatred tossed at them like little malatov cocktails and bb's from the gun of someone's mouth. It hurts to be hated and misunderstood.

I can take comfort in knowing that Jesus Himself was hated and misunderstood, but let's face it...when a person is the only one not invited to lunch because everyone in the office knows you voted Yes on Prop 8 simply by virtue of being a Catholic (Out Loud, Lee Anne!) or friends you have had for over 15 years refuse to sit next to you in your 12 step meeting because they know you regret having had abortions and hope other women are given all the facts before they make such a choice, it hurts. It is difficult, at those times, to think "It's ok, they through things at my Lord and Savior, they beat Him and hung Him up like a common criminal". Maybe later, I can remember that I am in good company but at the time it happens all I can think of is, "but why?.

That's why I think organized religion is important. To know, just as when I struggle with drinking or doing drugs, that I have a specific group of like minded people to turn to and say, "wah wah wah, my feelings are hurt" is very comforting. To know that when I show up for Mass on Saturday mornings before my 12 step meeting that there will be a kind word or a funny smile or even a hug from an old woman who says, "I haven't seen you all WEEK!" makes the not-getting-asked-out-for-coffee-after-a-meeting blues easier to take.

We had a very interesting thing happen in the office on Friday. One of my best clerks - a woman a bit older than me who lost her job with Wells Fargo after 35 years and so found work at the County - was getting ready to go home for the day at 8:00am. Victoria, a woman of color who was born in Georgia, grew up in Louisiana and Texas and has lived long enough to see a man of color elected as Leader of the Free World (remember that phrase?), was walking out when she over heard two young women, in their 30's, caucasian, talking about the horror that is the passing of Proposition 8. One of them said, "And it's a matter of Civil Rights!".

Victoria stopped, looked pointedly at her, and said in a withering almost Bette Davis tone of voice (the kind I love but can never seem to master), "No it is not."

Then she left.

The silence was deafening. I, of course, as a supervisor, could make no comment about political issues in the office....so I waited until I got outside myself to go, "OH MAN THAT WAS AWESOME!". What I did not know is that Victoria had parked two cars over from me the night before and so I jumped when I heard her familiar voice say, "Your damn right it was".

We both started laughing. She is someone I have grown to rely upon in the last year and a half as a supervisor. I did not know how much more we have in common because I stick strickly to the policies and procedures of the SO when I am on duty. No one gets to do what they want...everyone is held to the same standard. As a result, my crew has showered me with unsolicited compliments in the past year which have come in handy whenever I have felt inadequate and stupid beyond belief. Victoria had once told me she had no doubt that I would one day run my own department with the SO and that she only hoped it would be in the same county as I work now so that she could ask for a transfer.

Recently, someone in one of the 12 step meetings I go to asked me if I really regreted having an abortion in a safe, clean environment that was guaranteed by abortion being legal. I told her I did...not because of a knee jerk reaction to abortion being evil in and of itself. I told her that what I really regretted was that I had believed the lies told to me by people who actually had another agenda....and that agenda was to reduce the number of people LIKE me in the population as a whole. I regret that when I went for help after my 4th (count 'em) abortion because I was so mired in guilt and depression, that the reaction of the medical community was to hand me pills and tell me that the reason I felt this way was because I had a bad relationship with my father. I told them I regretted all the nasty, mean-spirited and bigotted things I had said about Christians who tried to tell me that what I was doing and how I was living was wrong and how grateful I am that when I finally came to them and said, "HELP" they opened their arms and loved me, really loved me until I could love myself. They loved me by telling me the Truth and then standing my wrath. They loved me by not backing away when I snarled and fought them....calling them hypocrites because of their own sins and accusing them of thinking they walked on water. They loved me until I finally said, "Enough. My way isn't working anymore...tell me about your way".

Those people had faith and courage similar to that of our early martyrs for the Church. I think now of St Justin Martyr, the great Apologist, who had the guts to tell the Roman Emporer that Christians are NOT cannibals and we do NOT use the blood of pagans and Jews in our rituals....and how that courage cost him his earthly life but bought for him eternity in Heaven.

I guess, when it comes right down to it, I can stand being lonely and rejected....because there were people who were willing to be rejected by me until my eyes and heart was opened. I stand on the shoulders of giants, as I have stated before, and I will continue to do so with fear and trembling (as St Paul stated) so that I too can one day hear those words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the Joy that is your Father's Kingdom".

And GO CAL AND NINERS!!!!!!!!!!

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