I don't know about you, but my faith -- or the strength thereof -- seems to waiver, and that causes me much distress at times. In the few days right before I met with Father Bach (from the Bishop's office), I began to convince myself that I was acting foolish, and was totally unworthy of the priesthood. I told myself that I was too old, too debilitated, too sinful, and too weak of mind and spirit. I nearly cancelled our meeting altogether. I was listening to the wrong voice.
But it's strange how sometimes I feel parted from God's presence. The feeling was especially strong in those days before the meeting. I would pray, or say a Rosary, and the words just fell out like names from a phonebook. I couldn't "feel" what I had felt so many times before. This presumed abandonment was strange and troubling. It only served to stoke the fire of self-doubt that was consuming my belief in this journey. But through the grace of God, I was able to find the patience to set those feelings aside long enough to meet with Fr. Bach and plead my case. I felt better for having done so, and the warmth of God came rushing back, afterward, like the blood to your arm when it's "fallen asleep." It was just like that, and it felt so good.
Thomas A Kempis wrote something about this (Oh, you knew I was gonna quote him sooner or later), which helped me feel a lot better about these moments when we feel parted from God. He said:
"I have never known anyone so religious and devout who has not sometimes had a withdrawal of grace or felt a diminishing of fervor. Never was a Saint so greatly enraptured or enlightened as not to be tempted at some time. For no persons are worthy of high contemplation unless they have suffered some tribulation from God"There's something I've learned about temptation, also. It strikes at your weakest points. I've noticed that a lot here lately. The evil one really knows my hot buttons -- fear, pride, sloth, anger, and every guy's favorite sin: lust. And these are the faults that seem to catch me off-guard every time. It happened this very morning. You know, it's kind of weird to be mad at yourself for being mad at someone else. It's easy to blame the devil for your sins, but he only presents you with the poison cup; you drink from it of your own free will. And then you feel like you've failed...again.
As I was sitting out on the porch, flogging myself for this morning's transgression, the mail came. Among the bills and political junk was our Diocesan newspaper, the Messenger. On the front page was a story about the upcoming ordination of Deacon Nicholas Rottman. That's 27-year-old Nicholas Rottman. Twenty-seven! I'm ten years past twice the age he was at the trail-head of his faith journey. In fact, I was a freshman at NKU the day he was born! Oh boy, do I feel old and foolish. Should I really be attempting this so late in the game of life? Am I simply trying to rcapture time that has clearly passed me by? I fear that another quote from Thomas A Kempis might apply to me:
Speaking as Christ: "There are some who are not sincere in their conduct with Me, but, led by curiosity and pride to search the mysteries of God, neglect themselves and their spiritual welfare."I hope and pray that this is not who I am. I search my soul every day, for fear that my motives in this are merely selfish ones. This remains a struggle, and I humbly ask for your continued prayers for clarity of purpose.
On a happier note, today is the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. If you're not familiar with the miracle of Fatima, Google it and check it out. It's a great, true story, which occurred not all that long ago.
Okay, that's it for today's sighs, moaning and weeping. Please keep me in your prayers, as you will remain in mine.