“My time is not yet here, but the time is always right for you.” John 7:6 “The school of Christ is the school of love. In the last day, when the general examination takes place…Love will be the whole syllabus.” -St. Robert Bellarmine My husband always tells me to stop worrying about God’s plan. We […]
It has been almost two months that I have been in the dark. I have been there before. It is dark and lonely and void of God’s presence, at least to those of us who live there.
I have spent the time twisting and turning and writhing to find my place. Saying to myself, this is part of the journey, allowing myself to accept the time in the desert. But this time felt different. In the deserts that I have experienced before it was not God’s presence that was lacking but my own. I wouldn’t say I was alone this time. I would say that the black hole that consumed me was something beyond me. Something I had never experienced.
It wasn’t until a trip to the Blessed Sacrament that I cried out. I could not contain it. I went there specifically to cry and to beg God to come back to me, even though I know that he never left. But this daunting darkness consumed me and I hoped it wasn’t what Mother Teresa had experienced. I am no saint and I knew that I was not ready for all of that. I asked God in one breath to show up. I thought how nice it would be if the lights went dark in that chapel. Then they did. Then Father walked in. 1- God, Melissa-0.
And I left that place full of hope, knowing that in that tiny prayer, I could expect God to answer. That a single visit in the darkness could bring light. That things, they could change.
It was 5:30 am when my eyes opened. I was at peace, different from my emotional outcry the day before. I needed a good meditative piece to read and I thought of Elizabeth Scalia and checked aleteia. There it was staring me in the face- the reason for my darkness.
The piece was entitled, Are all these sexual abuse revelations triggering you? They are Me! I read it quick and with bated breath. That there could be another human on earth who could be sent to decipher my pain. We forget about one another. We don’t take the time to listen to one another. We are wild beasts ravaging around this crazy world.
It was that sentence, the one that freed me. The one that diagnosed me. The one that let me out of my prison sentence. Two months hard labor in the darkness had been two months too long. But the words, her words, brought that first ray of light.
if you are lately feeling out of sorts — if you are feeling unaccountably sad, moody, unfocused, angry, ashamed — if you have that cloud hovering over you, consider that perhaps you are being triggered, all subconsciously.
The weight of the Weinsteins and the Matt Lauer’s was all-consuming. The women who were getting justice while I was not. The lingering effects of sexual abuse that seep in like the bite from a poisonous snake as you slowly die without even realizing it. It is a deadly poison and a scary thought to think that you are dying and nobody has noticed. Oh how well we as victims can hide the pain.
So I pass Elizabeth’s message on to you. For those who have been living in a subconscious darkness. For predators. For the empathetic who are effected by the headlines. And for my brothers and sisters who still suffer the vile effects of sexual abuse. Know that God hasn’t left you. He is present, we need only move away the cloud.
I deleted my blog in the hopes that I could run away from the very thing that God called me to- talking about my abuse. It is such a thing to deny one’s call amidst the notion that the call is inextricably tied to suffering. Most people understand suffering in the context of misery and pain and not in the light in which Christ bathes it. Shunned is the man who walks away from the light. This man indeed calls himself a Christian.
In the arms of the gospel, Christ’s soldiers falter for just an ounce of understanding, for one inkling of His mind. And when we spend enough time on the one word, or the one story that particularly convicts us, its uncomfortable sway leads us to continue on as if we never read it. Such for me was the parable of the Dishonest Steward found in Luke’s gospel Chapter 16. It took me ten times to read it, and hours of rage to understand it. I wanted it to come easy, like this is what he says I read it let’s move on. Like that run on sentence. Like we read, move on with our day, we completed one-third of our day, I got it Jesus. But today was different. With the day off and imminent silence, the frustration of His words led to a rush of trying to understand Him. And that led to an Aha moment, which in turn led to this post.
It was the commentary from MacLaren that pierced me, opening wide the gaping wound sewed up with the consolation of knowing He was behind them,
Let God be Your End
He was talking about applying the same success used in the world as being the same success we should use in Christianity. He goes on further to say,
“And let there be a correspondence between your end and your means. That signifies, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all they mind.’ Or else when everything comes to be squared up and settled, the epitaph on your gravestone will deservedly be. ‘Thou fool!”
When we find success in the world, we find it at the expense of another, at the expense of ourselves. Our means to an end are for our own self-fulfillment, our monetary gain, our own name recognition. We may not recognize it and so then it is simply a matter of time until we do. But when Christ lifts the veil from our eyes as He did today for me, I realize that I am tired and broken because my perseverance has been weighed down in the worldly definitions of success rather than in the context of the Kingdom. My shrewdness has been capitulated to the world, shrouded in defeat of the success I thought I wanted or needed to attain. So I say no not #metoo, I say instead #whynotme. For those of us who have suffered at the hands of our abusers but who find our solace in Christ. For those of us who are not recognized by Hollywood or by professional sports leagues. For those of us who are not rich or famous. This is perseverance in the kingdom of God- recognizing our abuse as a platform for Christ’s message of forgiveness, mercy and redemption through Him who gives suffering a meaning and a name. Who gave me my name- Melissa, servant of Jesus.
To all those that are fighting addiction, know that I am praying for you on my knees. I bind the evil of addiction in the name of Jesus Christ. Know that you are not your addiction.
When I read the words, Ubi tres, ibi Ecclesia, Where three are, there is a church, I imagined us. It’s based on Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Jesus’s non-traditional notions of “church” were in direct contradiction to the requirements of the Jewish law to have ten men present to make a congregation.
Did he say it just to contradict the teaching of the religious or because there was something far deeper? Christians use this verse many times when praying, but this also contradicts the idea that Jesus is always with us, even when we are alone.
There is a bigger and brighter idea here. A concept that breaks through all religious notions and rules. There is no number of times a day to pray, no specific place, no time of day. There are no correct words. The concept of two or three is to remind us that even in the midst of the smaller number of two or three, we form a church, a body, a moving being. We don’t need a building, or a denomination or seventy-two ministries to call ourselves Christians. We just need a good friend, an open hand and our loving God.
There is a great treasure to be found in the power of two. It is more than just ourselves. It is another person holding us saying it’s going to be ok. It’s another image of God staring at us. It’s God picking us up when we are unable to pray. It’s creating a congregation in a house, in the midst of a work-space or out here in the abyss of cyberspace.
I have had church in closed-door meetings, the floor of a friend’s house, in front of the Blessed Sacrament on the kneeler. Some of my most profound prayers have been prayed in the most unlikely of places. You don’t have to be in church to lead someone to Jesus, and for me, Starbucks seems to be the place where He appears the most. Maybe there is something about a cup of hot coffee and God. Or maybe it is the place where longer conversations can take place, philosophy still exists and people go to gather and meet and not just sit behind computer screens pretending other people are not there.
Don’t get me wrong, the mass is holy and reverent and the place you’ll find me on Sunday mornings. Not because God makes me, but because my heart implores me. And sometimes the mass contains moments that are prayers without words. Like feeding the eucharist on the tongue to a woman whose eyes are filled with tears, or hands that are wrinkled and clammy and needing His body or blessing a small child who longs for the wafer they are drawn to but know nothing about. For me being Catholic isn’t about the kneeler, it’s about the others on the kneeler with me, looking up at the same crucifix.
If you are alone today, not religious, not part of a church, there is no need to worry. You are not alone. Grab my hand and let’s pray. Let’s have coffee