Monday, January 17, 2011

Out on a limb

Hi Ladies. I'm going out on a limb here and do something I have never done before: I am going to ask Pope John Paul II to intercede on behalf of my father. I know that I call myself Theology Mom and have an MA Theology so it should be a safe assumption that I am incredibly devout and I know my stuff. Really, Ladies, I entered my MA as a total skeptic. Sure, God had intervened at critical points of my life but I expected to lose my faith during my studies. I don't know why but I expected myself to be disappointed. Obviously I wasn't. But it doesn't mean I was raised to pray the rosary or ask the saints for intercession. This is all new to me. 

You see, it's hard for me to admit that I'm out of control. But right now I am. My father is in a care facility after breaking his hip (again) and he might spend the rest of his days in a wheelchair and possibly diapers. This means that this once proud and capable man will probably deteriorate out of the shame of his situation. My siblings and I are trying to keep his spirits up. We visit as often as we can (it is a rare day that he does not get at least one visitor who stays with him for hours) but it is getting more and more difficult. For some reason he is not making progress in his physical therapy. I am at my wits' end trying to balance a move and two young children. (I know it's petty to complain but my daughter has been teething and not sleeping or napping no matter what I try. And after a while even I get tired of being cried at. So more baby medicine... but still...) 

So as I was surfing the net (in order to put off cleaning the kitchen) I found this article:

Now I'm thinking: This nun was in a wheelchair. My dad is in a wheelchair. Her health was deteriorating. My dad's health is deteriorating. OK, I was raised to believe that miracles once happened but don't anymore or that you can pray but don't expect anything. (I know, Catholic teaching is that we are fundamentally spiritually beings who should expect God's loving presence in our lives. If only I had the faith to live that way all the time!) 

So out of love for my dad I am going to ask the saints for intercession. Really ask this time like I mean it. Because, Ladies, I really do mean it.

Thanks for listening. I'm off to clean a kitchen before my daughter wakes up crying. Again.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Why not now? (Jesus mediated prayer)

Well, Ladies, my little family has survived the holiday season. We are recovering from post-family trauma. The house is clean. We are eating our way through the chocolates. My Christmas decorations are still up but life is never perfect. My son has started pre-school and is doing well so far. We are easing our way back into a routine.

If you read my blog about the Feast of the Holy Family you know that our Christmas was very disruptive. A part of me wishes I could focus on the hurt and anger that our Christmas visitor produced. Then I could feel in control. I could be right. I could justly lash out at this person. But I find that I can't. In spite of it all I still love this person. Dang! What do you do with a person you still love but absolutely hate everything about? I stand firm in my resolution that she is not to have contact with my children until she has serious medical/psychological help. I also know better than to try to change her. She is an elder of the family and many of her issues began before I was born. SHE has to be willing to change before anything positive can happen. It seems hopeless. I mentioned to a Christian friend of mine about praying for this person. My friend actually shrugged her shoulders and told me to do it if it makes me feel better. My friend didn't see much need to pray for someone who doesn't want prayers. According to my friend, I should wait until this woman is ready to accept Jesus into her life. Then prayer makes sense. So what should I do about this woman I love to hate?

I chose to use the rosary to pray for her. For many of you moms out there this may sound obvious. But even though I pray a great deal I generally don't use the rosary. I have also been told a lot that praying for one's enemies is taken as praying for their success. This is not true! Praying for one's enemies is praying for their transformation and conversion to the love of God. Why should I wait for someone else to change to accept God's promise of love and peace? And how long should I be waiting? Should I wait for individuals? Nations? Cultural and religious groups? Whoever makes me feel uncomfortable? Then I might as well shrug my shoulders and wait until the Rapture. Why change now when I can wait to be vindicated at the end of time?

This leads my meandering thoughts to two points: that prayer really can affect change and that God decides how He will answer the prayers. (We're going back to the idea of prayer as a form of communication with God and that prayer will transform the person praying and the situation even if the person we are praying for continually rejects the love of God.) This leads my poor, tired brain to point number three: if we can work towards peace and transformation why not start NOW? 

So how do you pray for somebody you're furious with and still be honest? I have discovered, through my own turbulent personal experiences, a form of prayer I like to call "Jesus mediated prayer". OK, the first part is just a fancy term for a rant. Here is how it works. I start off with a prayer thanking God for His many blessings. Then I tell Him that there is something I'm really upset about that I would like to get off my chest. Then I go for it. I rant and rave about how I feel. I curse and swear and let Him know EXACTLY how I feel about a certain person/event. Do I feel guilty about doing this? Sometimes. Because I know that a lot of what I'm saying is  ungenerous at best and slanderous at worst. But here is that makes it prayer: I give EVERYTHING over to God. If I'm not honest, if I'm trying hard to be 'good' all the time, I don't give God a chance to enter. After I give my anger over to God I am able to pray for my enemies. 

The second part of Jesus mediated prayer is giving over what you expect or wish the outcome of your prayers to be. This is what my friend was unable to understand. She believed that since there probably wouldn't be a quantifiable outcome (nasty houseguest admits faults, learns humility and repents! hooray!) that prayer would be useless. Since I'm praying for my enemy I have absolutely no desire to contact her ever again to find out if my prayers are working to my satisfaction. So I ask Jesus to mediate. I've already explained to Him my anger and frustration. I've already asked Him to bless and guide this woman. And then, well,... I don't know. All that I know is that Jesus did not preach love and die for our sins to have our families in such discord. I do wonder what miracle my prayers will produce. And I wonder if I will be wise enough to notice it. But until that happy day I have diapers to change and babies to feed. Speaking of which there is my baby girl now.

May God bless you.