Thursday, March 27, 2008

Have it Your way!

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way." ~ C.S. Lewis

Burger King is all about 'having it your way', I can still remember the jingle: "Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce..." (okay, I'm really dating myself). What's sad is that I have found myself doing this with God when I pray.

  • "God, I would like a large house with a pool, but I don't want to have to clean it, and two dogs, but not those yipper-yapper kinds."
  • "God, I know you ask us to suffer for others. I'll do it tomorrow. Today is kinda busy."
  • "God, today I'll take two doses of knowledge (physics test), some strength (softball practice after school), and a large portion of counsel (you know, for my friends)."
It's like God, 'ala carte.'
I only want the 'good parts' and want to dismiss all the rest.

About 10 years ago, I prayed hard that I would get a job in Arizona so I could be with the one I thought I loved. I even found a friend who would move out there with me! We had everything planned...well, except for the jobs that would get us out there. Looking back, if I was able to get everything I had prayed for, I'd be in Arizona having a lousy time with a man I do not love and wondering how I got into the whole mess. Yet at the time I thought that was what I wanted. I'm so glad God didn't listen! I think it's Garth Brooks who sang "I thank God for unanswered prayers."

Yet every time we continue to exert our will against God's will, we punish ourselves. The worst punishment we receive when we repeatedly sin is the attraction that the sin places upon us. Before long, we're hooked & dependent upon that sin to get us through. I was caught in this sin-loop for many years. The pleasure I experienced from it, even the smallest amount, gave me the desire to repeat it. If I couldn't find pleasure in it any longer, I would go to another type of sin...and it soon became a vicious cycle.

It started with a friend & I going to a psychic. After a few visits of reading my aura, she said that the guy in Arizona and I were meant to be together...his aura was attached to mine. This was all it took for me to get hooked. Before long, I was telling others about the experience and bringing them in to see her. But then these visits were not enough to sustain me and I had to find other avenues to get the information I wanted so deperately. My entire value system was in disarray...evil became the 'good' that I was constantly seeking.

It wasn't until I found myself in total chaos & despair that I was able to get a glimpse of what was happening. At the time, I was a financial & logistical analyst for a major corporation. The company went into one of the worst financial downfalls in the nation's history, because of which, I lost my job - around November 2001 (God's timing is perfect!). Trying to find a financial job in a market where most of the people unemployed were in finance, and the fact that the nation was trying to heal not only from September 11th, but also from financial fiascos in 4 major corporations, was a huge undertaking. I ended up moving across the state and in with family, where I lived on unemployment for the next 9 months.

I found myself being drawn to a local Catholic church for Mass on Sundays. Once I was hired (13 months after I lost my job), I started going to the Cathedral once in awhile. But then the big kicker came. (God's timing - perfect!) I bought a house that had FREE cable! (okay, okay, when I moved in, the cable was already hooked up & the cable company hadn't turned it off from the previous owner). I started watching EWTN. One Tuesday evening, I was watching Fr. Corapi talk about Confession & the 10 Commandments. The more I watched, the more I discovered how deep in sin and trouble I had become. I cried bitterly that night & went straight to Confession the next morning. I think I was in the confessional for 15 minutes that day...crying the entire time! Not only did I have to admit & confess the sins of my past, but also the fact that I went to Mass (yes, and received the Eucharist) with these mortal sins on my soul. Double whammy!

God's mercy is endless! I met God in the confessional that day. I was the prodigal daughter, and God was waiting for me to return to Him, with open arms and tears of joy. Then He brought me to His banquet - the Mass, where Jesus sups with sinners. "Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, 'this man receives sinners and eats with them.' " Luke 15: 1-2.

It is only through God's divine mercy that I am where I am today. Sin had robbed me of my dignity, weakening my relationship with Him until there was no trace of life within me. It created a wound so deep that it festered within my entire being and took control over my life. I was living in darkness. But through God's grace and mercy, He sent His only Son to take these sins and put them on be sin. God knew that I could not atone for my sins alone. His plan for my life was put in place the moment He created Adam & Eve. Later in Luke's Gospel, Jesus answers the pharisees by saying, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentence." Luke 15: 30-32.

He still yearns for me to become holy, like He is be perfect, like He is perfect. I struggle, and fail, but my faith keeps me going, this time in His light.

Jesus died so that my sins would be wiped off, a clean slate, healing the infection of the sin on my soul, curing me, and breaking the bonds that sin had on me. New Advent states that "Mercy as it is here contemplated is said to be a virtue influencing one's will to have compassion for, and, if possible, to alleviate another's misfortune." Based on this definition, God's mercy is boundless! Knowing all of the sins that I have committed in my lifetime, thousands, yet I am just one person in a nation of billions, in a world of hundreds of billions; and this is just in one generation. There have been thousands of generations between when Jesus lived and now, yet, Jesus took on ALL our sins so that we have the chance to join Him in Heaven. Now that's Divine Mercy!

Taken from EWTN's website, "the message of mercy is that God loves us — all of us —no matter how great our sins. He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy. It is a message we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC."

"A — Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.

B — Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.

C — Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive."

The more I receive God's graces through the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion, the holier I become and the more I need God's mercy. I need to dine with Jesus at Mass so I can continue to live the life He wanted for me. Scott Hahn states in Lord, Have Mercy, "Jesus and the pharisees were alike in one sense: Both considered table fellowship to be extremely important. For all pious Jews, ordinary meals held religious significance and were governed by certain liturgical rubrics. These were blessings along with the ritual breaking of bread and perhaps the sharing of a cup of wine. The very idea of 'fast food' would seem blasphemous to them." The 'Burger King' type of prayers are now out.

'Thy Will Be Done!'

No comments: