" It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. So stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. But do not use your freedom to indulge in catering to your flesh; rather, serve one another through Love. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one statement, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another. I say then: live by the Spirit. The Spirit [being] against the flesh, they are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want." Galatians 5: 1, 13- 18].
The Independence Day holiday is coming up in America. There is a lot of talk about freedom, and "rights".
I remember a class I took in Constitutional Law in graduate school. The professor loudly proclaimed that, despite all our talk of Rights, we Americans have no Rights, only remedies.
There ensued a lively and even angry debate. Finally, the professor explained. He said, "You have no Right that someone won't run you over with their car. If someone wants to do that, they will. But IF you are run over by a car, you have remedies."
There were wails of protest. "This is America! We have Rights!" As I walked out of class, I realized that my professor was correct. We do not walk around with a protective shield covering us, promising us the guaranteed Right to freedom and security.
And so, if we have no Rights, then where are our Freedoms? After all, the American Constitution promises us, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."
My teen son cannot wait to become an adult, so he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. I groan at this and tell him, "I need to talk to you."
I said, Sure you can drive at 100 miles per hour, but the police will catch you, and you might even kill someone. Or yourself. "Some Freedom."
I said, If you want any money, you will have to get a job, and then you will have a boss telling you what to do.
Adults get more freedom, more choices. But there are still rules to live by. And consequences, if the rules are broken.
We have millions of laws and rules. It is mind boggling how much regulation we have to know and follow. You cannot keep track of it all. You could break the law many times over in a day, without even knowing it. This is what St. Paul means about the Law, in this Scripture. The Law is contained in the overwhelming, mind-boggling body of rules, regulations, stipulations that control our every move.
One could become paranoid about how to behave.
I was thinking about this years ago, when I was preparing my son to go off to school for the very first time. I sat him down and gave him some advice: " Mommy cannot always be with you. You are going out into the world. You will have many decisions to make all day long. There are too many rules to memorize. But when in doubt, always choose the loving thing."
Many years later, I chose a church and converted. And I came across the Commandment in this Reading that Jesus left us with: " You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
I also think of 1 Corinthians 13: 13, "Faith, hope and charity, but the greatest of these is Charity." This is exactly what St. Paul means in this Reading in Galatians: " Do not use your freedom to indulge your [ego-driven temptations]; rather, serve one another through Love."
To say that 'Serving others through Love' is Freedom is so diametrically opposed to what our secular world teaches, that you may think St. Paul is either lying, or was a fool!
But really, if all of humankind's behavior is egotistical, violent, greedy, hateful, despairing, vindictive and vengeful, how can we ever be truly Free? Indeed, as this Reading says, " If you go on biting and devouring one another, you will consume each other." Who wants to live in a Society like that?
In that kind of Society, it is WE who enslave each other. Martin Luther King, Jr. talks about types of subjection. One kind of subjection is " the chains of discrimination". This is how humankind enslaves each other.
The other kind of subjection is "a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity." In other words, we do exactly as we want, as freely as we want, but we ignore the invisible, suffering, marginalized population, living right under our nose.
In the end, God gave us free will, centuries before any nations' Constitution or Bill of Rights. We are to live by the Spirit, which means that " you may not do [whatever] you want."
Instead, we are to "Love one's neighbor as oneself". If we always temper our Freedoms with Love, we will never enslave another with our bigotry or hate.
I would argue that we will also not be able to withstand the sight of our neighbors suffering, even if that suffering is not by our own hand. Because if our neighbor is hungry and cold and invisible and thirsty and alone, the Love in our heart would demand that we do something about it.
This Independence Day, be free to Love; be loving to be Free.
[Related Postings: "Independence Day," July 4, 2011; " Celebrating My Independence", July 3, 2012.]
(c) Spiritual Devotional 2013. All Rights Reserved.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
" Jesus said to all the disciples: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his Cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?' " [ Luke 9: 23 - 26].
One of my favorite pastors used to say, " God is the Master of Irony." And so, I see that in Scripture, it is said that " the humble shall be exalted." Or, " the meek shall inherit the earth." These seem to be such opposing concepts, we wonder how the ideas even make any sense?
In Luke 9: 23, we are told that by saving your life, you will lose it. But by losing your life, you will save it.
We are urged to "take up our Cross daily, and follow [Jesus]." I recently said to my teen son that as a Christian, I am trying to live what it says in the Bible. My son's eyes widened and he blurted out, "Wow! That is REALLY hard!"
I also told him how it says in Matthew 25, whatever we do to the least among us, we do to Jesus Himself. So, if another person hurts my son, and he does it back, then my son is really doing it TO Jesus. And my son said, "Mommy, that is SO intense."
As Mother Teresa said, "Love, to be True, must hurt. The more one is willing to suffer for the others' sake, the greater is one's Love." In other words, True Love is a sacrifice. ["Where there is Love, There is God", Doubleday, 2010].
Mother Teresa goes on to say, "Where there is Love, there is God. There is a longing for God in each of us, and though it may not be recognized or consciously expressed as such, the search for Joy, for Peace, for Happiness and above all for Love, is a manifestation of this longing."
I was having a conversation with my Wise Advisor recently. I was telling her how my father used to spew ethnic slurs at everyone. He would even yell a racist name at the car ahead of him in traffic, when he did not even know who was in the car. My Wise Advisor said, "It is a wonder that you did not turn out the same way, filled with Hate." My voice broke and tears sprang into my eyes. I could hardly speak. I choked out the words, "A child does not want Hate, she wants Love."
The ugly cousin to Hate is Pride. I grew to see that my father hated everyone. He had some awful notion that he was somehow better than anyone else. This is not Love either. It was not easy, growing up in that house, loving everyone in the world. If I protested about the name calling, I was told that I was "too sensitive."
I would ask that my family give to charity. I was told mockingly, " We do NOT give our money away." I figured out that refusing to share some of our blessings with others, when you have so much, is not Love either.
This is Greed, pure and simple. My father reminded me of the rich man in Luke 12: 18. This man tore down his barn and built many bigger ones, where he hoarded his grain. He was determined to " take life easy; eat, drink and be merry. But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night, your life will be demanded from you. This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich with God." And one day, my father, not a God-believer, woke up, drank his morning cup of coffee, suffered a massive cardiac event and immediately died. And everything he had hoarded to make himself feel more powerful, more superior than all others in the world-- did him no good at all. My dad lived by the bumper sticker slogan, "Whoever dies with the most toys, wins." My dad may have thought that he won in this life, but in the process, he lost his Very Self.
I was so horrified at my family's lack of generosity, at a certain point, I stopped asking for Christmas presents. I would tell them, "I don't want anything." And, if they lavished gifts on me, I refused to open them in their presence. I would throw them in the trunk of my car and take them home.
Closely allied to Greed is Power. My family was all about Power. They tried to tell me what colors to wear, who to be friends with, what employer to work for,where to go to school, where to live, whom to marry, etc. They tried to bribe me with money, to make me comply, or threaten me with disownment. I decided that I had to make their "grain barn" and their Power irrelevant. I became a blank, a Nothing. No one could touch me and I touched no one. I emptied myself, like Jesus. This infuriated them.
Without even knowing it, I had taken up my Cross for Jesus. . . . all because, all I ever wanted was Love.
In Galatians 1:11, it says, " I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the [Word] preached by me is not of human origin, for I did not receive it from a human being, but . . . through Jesus Christ".
Very simple: if you determinedly win in this life, by walking over everyone in your path, wielding Greed, Power, Pride, Hate and and Control, you are not following Jesus. You are making this life more important than the next. You are " gaining the whole world, but losing your very Self."
Mother Teresa, quoting St. Paul, said, "Are you so convinced that 'Nothing can separate me from Him?' [You can] cut me to pieces and and every piece will [still] be yours." ["Where There Is Love, There is God".]
And so, what I say to you now is--- "If you think that anything you could ever do to me could make me give up on God -- then you do not know what I am made of!"
[Related Posting, " I Died to The Law", June 11, 2013.]
(c) Spiritual Devotional 2013. All Rights Reserved.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
"Brothers and sisters, we know that a person is not justified by the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ. . . . we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law. Because by works of the law, no one will be justified. For through the law, I died to the law, that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ; yet, I live, no longer, but Christ lives in me. I live by faith in the Son of God, who has loved me and given Himself up for me. If justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing." [ Galatians 2: 16, 19-21].
I grew up under "House Rule". The Rules were man-made and were severely imposed by my parents.
My father hated everyone. It scared me as a child to witness so much anger in one man. He had harsh names for all ethnic groups, names I would not repeat here, because they still hurt my feelings so. His hate was so big, I wondered if he hated me? I wondered if it was all because he actually hated himself? Maybe he even hated God.
I watched this all unfolding in front of me. And I died to Hate. Hate is a human thing. God is Love. I vowed to love everyone. Even if I got in trouble for it.
My mother hoarded money. She worshipped it. She told me to "praise the Almighty Dollar." Then, she used money against me. She bought me new dresses and tried to force me to wear them. I kept wearing the old dresses, sometimes the same old dress, day after day, with the soft green cotton folds and the faded velvet sash. She tried to force me to go to a certain school, to marry wealthy, to wear my hair the upper class way. She was trying to turn me into a shiny bauble, with a deep emptiness inside.
I watched her use money as a weapon against me. And I died to Wealth. I made Wealth irrelevant to my life. God loves who I am inside. He does not care what shiny things I decorate myself with, or how I wave my fancy possessions at others. I have been poor. I have had money. God never changes.
My mother tried to dictate to me what my gifts were. She told me who I was and what I was to become when I grew up. She told me where to go to high school and college, what to study, where to go to graduate school, what company to work for, what department to work in, what career suits to buy, what colors to wear. She had my life all planned out, according to her own ambition. She seemed to confuse me with herself. I thought maybe she was trying to mold me, to play God with me.
I watched her becoming increasingly shrill and coercive, as she tried to bend me to her will. And I died to Power and Ambition. These are what humans want for you. But God knows who you really are. He sees your gifts, He sends the call or the intervention, that ensures your gifts are used in the places where HE needs you.
I was called ugly every day by a sibling, in infinite detail. I would get angry and cry. My mother said, "You are so angry. Don't be.You are too sensitive." She was blaming me for the verbal abuse. I thought she meant that I was too sensitive about being so ugly. I would study myself in the mirror, and my image would morph from beautiful, to ugly, to beautiful again. And if I WAS pretty, would that gain me even more dangerous attention? I did not really know who or what I was.
I had to stop obsessing about my appearance. And so I died to Pride and Ego. My looks could not save me. The only place I look now is within a person's eyes. The eyes are the windows to the Soul. There, I can see the God in you.
When I was 14, my parents took church away. I took my Faith underground. I cut it into tiny pieces, just to save a bit of it for myself. They had taken just about everything else away that belonged to me. My Faith they could not have.
St. Paul says in Galatians 2, "Through [their] Law, I died to the Law. I have been crucified with Christ. But Christ lives in me. I live by Faith in the Son of God." I threw away the House Rules. Gradually, I began to live by Faith.
In Galatians 1, St. Paul says, " I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you heard of my former way of life. . . But God, from my mother's womb, set me apart and called me through His grace, and was pleased to reveal His Son to me. "
I lived through some stark choices every day as a child. I was living under the Law; and my body, heart and soul were dying under human Law. I thank God every day that I was shown a better Way. I thank God that I was open to His Way. Because the Law is the way of Death. But God's Way-- of Love-- is the Way to Life.
Today, I see the God in everyone. I hope that you look inside me, and see the God inside me, too.
[Related Posting, "Stored Up Treasure", September 30, 2012].
(c) Spiritual Devotional 2013. All Rights Reserved.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
" Elijah went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there, gathering sticks. Some time later, the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. She said to Elijah, 'What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?' 'Give me your son,' Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room, where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. Then he cried out to the Lord, ' O Lord, my God, have You brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?' Then, he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the Lord, 'O lord, my God, let this boy's life return to him!' The Lord heard Elijah's cry, and the boy returned to him, and he lived. Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, 'Look, your son is alive!' Then, the woman said to Elijah, 'No I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the Truth!' " [1 Kings 17: 17-24].
[Elijah, like John the Baptist, was a precursor of Jesus. Elijah was God's boldest warrior. Despite some dazzling victories, at one point, he descended into a deep depression. But Elijah rested so that God could use him again. Elijah was on the mountaintop with Jesus during His Transfiguration.]
In this story, Elijah restores life to a young boy who has stopped breathing.
It is a physiological fact that you can live 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, but only 3 minutes without air.
I have lived through this phenomenon of not breathing, my friends; and this has been throughout my entire life.
When my mother was giving birth to me, she slipped into distress. She underwent emergency surgery. I was lacking oxygen. But I was brought out into this world, and I began to breathe.
When I was about 3, I almost drowned in a neighbor's pool. As I struggled under the surface, I gasped for breath and my lungs took on water. I thought, "This is what it must be like to drown." My mother's swift arms pulled me out. I coughed out water and breathed again.
When I was in graduate school, I was violently assaulted by a man who invaded my home. I resisted, and he began to strangle me. I was losing consciousness. I prayed, 'God, let me live!' The attacker finally let go of my throat. I was told later that I had had 30 seconds to a minute.
longer to live, when he let go.
I have struggled with a serious lung disease most of my life. Last week, my breathing plummeted so low, it barely registered on my breath meter. My dr. gave me strong medicine. I am breathing again.
Breath is what keeps us alive. Without air, we cannot eat, we cannot speak, we cannot sleep, we cannot move, we cannot love, we cannot survive.
I could sit in judgment of God and say to Him, 'God, why are you punishing me so?' After all, my parents were cruel and harsh and abusive and violent towards me. My lung disease was never properly treated. I suffer every day with the scars of the abuse. Must I suffer as well, for their sins? Must I lose MY life to their Evil?
But no. God does not visit this Evil and sin upon His children. God gave us free will. My own family visited this trauma and destruction upon me, by their own power and choice. Over and over, across many years, it was my family who abused me. This pains me deeply. But, it is not God's fault.
Nor is it my fault. I have actually felt guilty at times. We all want to know what we can do to make things better. I have thought, what if I had run away? What if someone had rescued me? I have even tried to "confess" my parents' sins, as if I could cause God to wipe them all clean. It does not work that way.
What I am left with is that I need to be rescued and healed. And who, O God, will rescue me?
Of course, God is the most powerful Healer. And His Son, Jesus, who came in human form to heal all of us.
But I see that God alone did not bring the breathe back into my body all those times. My doctors did. My mother did.
It was God, moving through human beings whom He sent, that saved me. What I am really clinging to, here, is the power of ordinary men and women of God, who speak His Truth, and who live His Love.
You see, God has Infinite Power and Love. But His weakness is that He needs US to bring these to fruition. And so, the widow in this story says, " Now I know that you are a man of God and that the Word of the Lord from your mouth is the Truth." This is what saved her boy.
What heals? The Word of Truth, which is Love.
Speaking His Word, which is prayer.
Laying on of hands, which is human mercy.
Faith and encouragement, as when Elijah tells the widow, "Don't be afraid." [ 1 Kings 17: 13].
Trust. The widow in this story was literally starving during a famine, and at Elijah's prompting, she made him a meal out of her last flour and oil. She feared it was her last meal, but the oil never ran dry.
This is an Old Testament story. But today, we still need Healers. We still need Faith, Trust, Prayer, Love, Truth, Mercy.
These qualities are not abstract, and they are not "out there somewhere." All of God's Love is within us. GOD Himself is within us! He has given us the power to give Life to others. And He needs us to be His bold warriors.
As I look and I see you, I see God. I hope that you see the God in me, too!
[Related Posting, " The Evil Seed", May 24, 2103.]
(c) Spiritual Devotional 2013. All Rights Reserved.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
I have now reached the milestone of having been read in over 100 countries! I am the one writing these posts, but you are the ones reading, sharing, Tweeting, posting links on Facebook and Linked-In, etc. And so, I thank you.
The world has been through so much together since I began this blog in January, 2011: the Newtown, CT shootings, the Aurora, CO shootings, the Boston Marathon bombings, the earthquake in China, the building collapse in Bangladesh, the tornadoes in OK, the flooding in the Mid-West, the violent unrest in the Middle East, the Korean missile crisis -- and the list goes on. But I still count on the daily power of Love to change the world.
I am going into my Summer Mode with my posts. During July and August, I will publish only once per week.
I hope that over the summer, you stay in touch via the Spiritual Devotional Facebook page, at
The Spiritual Devotional FaceBook page is a space where the meditative community can share video links, follow world events from a Spirit-filled perspective, comment on blog posts or events, request topics, or even offer or request prayers.
I am now in the process of applying to attend Biblical College. This is a two year program, beginning in Fall 2013, that is in-depth and rigorous. I hope that deeper knowledge of the Bible will only enhance the content in my blog. But as always, I promise to continue the insightful stories that you expect! Please pray for me as I enter this new phase of my Faith Life.
I am also exploring the prospect of inviting occasional guest columnists from other Faiths, so that our understanding and tolerance of all Faiths can be furthered in the world.
Blessings to all,
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
" How can Evil be cast out? [One path] calls upon man to remove Evil through his own power and ingenuity, in the strange conviction that by thinking, inventing and governing, he will at last conquer the nagging forces of Evil. . . This idea, sweeping across the modern world like a plague, has ushered God out and escorted man in, and has substituted human ingenuity for divine guidance. . .Armed with this growing faith in the capability of reason and science, modern man turned his attention [away] from God and the human soul. The laboratory became man's sanctuary, and scientists his priests and prophets. But in spite of these astounding new scientific developments, the old evils continue and the age of reason has been transformed into an age of terror." [ Martin Luther King, Jr., "Strength To Love", 1963].
So very many decades ago, this passage was written by a deep thinker and a compassionate man, who took into his soul an abiding concern for the future of our world. Martin Luther King, Jr. pondered, as early on as 1963, what it will mean to be human in an essentially technological age.
This angst over the role of technology is not a new concern.
In the early 1800's in England, at the rise of the Industrial Revolution, so-called Luddites were textile workers who smashed power looms and spinning frames, out of protest against their potential replacement as workers, by a machine age.
In 1949, an M.I.T. mathematician, Norbert Weiner, predicted the computer age. In a long-buried essay recently profiled in The New York Times, [May 21, 2013], Weiner wrote," These new machines have a great capacity for upsetting the present basis of industry, and of reducing the economic value of the routine factory employee to a point at which he is not worth hiring at any price. If we combine our machine-potentials of a factory, with the [poor] valuation of human beings, we are in for an industrial revolution of unmitigating cruelty."
I am certainly no Luddite, advocating the destruction of all technology. But I do perceive a disturbing wholesale embrace of technology, without any self-reflection upon the issue of what kind of world we are creating.
This self-reflection necessarily impacts our youth the most. They are the ones who will be inheriting our world.
I went to a tag sale recently with my teen son. He saw an IBM Selectric typewriter, which was the epitome of technology in the 1970's and 1980's. He asked, "What is THAT?!"
I was listening to music on the radio recently, and he did not know where the music was coming from? I was not wearing ear buds, the TV was not on and he saw no iPod docking station. I told him it was the radio. He said, "What?!"
My son asked if there were cell phones during the Revolutionary War? He told me that I could not possibly have cooked dinner in the "old days" without a microwave.
We need to educate our kids about technology. Young people today are taught HOW to use technology. They are also taught that all technology is useful, that all technology advances us as a society and all technology has no down side.
They know nothing about the history of technology, and even less about the effects of technology on our humanity.
I see my son struggle with human interactions because everything he does is on a device, not face-to-face. Parents have to coach their teens to go up the fast food counter and ask for more ketchup. Young job seekers receive training in how to shake hands and look someone in the eye.
Students in a Science class at my son's school were instructed to build a structure with straws and flexible joints. All the buildings were built flat, though, because the students live in a flat-screen world!
Students in America want instant answers to their math problems, for example, because in the on-line world, there is no process. Answers come with a point-and-click immediacy. When American students have to use Process to figure out an answer, they become anxious, or enraged, or they think they are stupid.
Thanksgiving a couple of years ago consisted of my nieces and nephews taking photos of each other at table, using their smart phones, and e-mailing the photos around. They had not seen one another in a year and yet, they did not even talk to one another!
Even worse, in the future, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that America will need 70% more home health aides by 2020. [The New York Times, May 20, 2013.] It is expected that it will be robots fulfilling much of this demand since there will not be enough human workers. Do we really want a robot to care for our parents in their dying days?
In this age of technology, drones do the killing during war and we believe that this is so clean, it is so antiseptic, maybe it is not even killing?
But the most heartbreaking trend I see is in Reproductive Technology. We can engineer a perfect pregnancy with technology, but the cost of this technology is our justification to throw away unused fetuses; and then we eumphemistically call the unborn, who are thereby sacrificed: "unused byproduct", or "mere DNA", or "worthless cells." Do we worship technology to such a degree, that we cannot even recognize our own humanity when we see it?
The M.I.T. Professor Norbert Weiner concluded in his 1949 essay, " The Machine Age, "Finally, the machines will do what we ask them to do and not what we ought to ask them to do. There is general agreement of the past ages, that if we are granted power commensurate with our will, we are more likely to use it wrongfully than to use it rightly. . .In short, it only a humanity which is capable of awe, which will also be capable of controlling the new potentials which we are opening for ourselves. We can be humble and live a good life with the aid of the machines, or we can be arrogant and die."
[Related Posting, "War Is Not A Game", March 22, 2013.]
(c) Spiritual Devotional 2013. All Rights Reserved.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
" The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke the bread and said, 'This is my body, which is given up for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after supper, he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For when you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes [again]." [ 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26].
Today is the celebration of Corpus Christi, the feast that marks the Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
It has always astounded me that, in America, we take that religious freedom with such a cavalier attitude. Is it because, since we CAN worship freely, anywhere and anytime we want, that our Faith does not seem so precious any longer?
I was raised in a Christian church, was baptized, made my First Communion, was Confirmed. Then my parents stopped taking me to church. It was as if I had "graduated" and moved on. I would ask to go to church. They said, 'We don't do that any longer. We already did that.'
The danger in that, is that the child will start to believe that there is no need for church, therefore, there is no place for Faith and maybe, there is even no God.
I do not blame myself here! My family made the original mistake of denying me church. I did not dare to defy them and take myself to church. I did not even dare to believe in God, against what they were preaching to me.
Many decades later, though, I was still considering myself a Christian and yet, never going to church, never receiving Communion. What plateaus we rest in comfortably in our Faith journey! Unfortunately, our plateaus often becomes stasis. We get stuck.
Sometimes, something earth shattering needs to happen to rock us from our plateau. Something needs to force us to climb higher. This is what happened to me.
I came from a cruel and harsh home. I had no family members on my side, no one to be sure that I was fed, that I was safe from physical harm, no one to hug me and say, 'I love you.'
One summer many years ago, my husband and I took a trip back to the country where my father had been born. I was fortunate enough to get in touch with my nana's youngest sister. We traveled to the tiny fishing village where they had grown up, she and my nana, and the other ten siblings, in a little house on a snug harbor.
My nana's youngest sister brought along her sister, my Great Aunt Olivia.
This was the first and last time I ever met Aunt Olivia. She died about 3 weeks after we returned home.
I was only beginning to reestablish a family identity. And now it had been snatched away from me, in a heartbeat!
I returned to work. I was crushed in spirit. This despair was a lot more than the sudden ebbing of that "vacation feeling". I was feeling lost and alone.
A co-worker of great Faith told me, "Why don't you go to noontime Mass, it always makes me feel better." She told me that she would watch my desk for me.
I grabbed an umbrella. It was dreary and rainy. I left the office. But suddenly I stopped outside in the rain. I literally had nowhere to go! I was a "fence sitter", with no church, no Faith home.
I went back to the church denomination I had grown up in. This church is one of the oldest in the city. It is built of stone, with a towering steeple, and inside, old wooden pews that have withstood the tests of time.
I thought the service would be a few prayers and readings. But all at once, I was confronted with Communion. People in the pew next to me waved their hands at me, ushering me up the aisle. I was paralyzed, but my heavy feet took me up there.
Then, I received the Host. I was elated! I had done it.! All the years of fear and avoidance melted away. Communion had become, not just an everyday act of Faith, it was a miracle!
When I left the church, I felt light as a feather! I still knew that I would never see Aunt Olivia again, not in this lifetime. But I knew that she was with my nana, who had died many decades later. She was in a good place. Everything was going to be okay.
I wanted that peace inside me to last forever. It did not.
It takes returning again and again to the Eucharist, in order to receive that Peace, that mystical alchemy that places all the sacred qualities of Christ within us.
I wish I could make this a perfect story and tell you that I ran right out and converted. I did not. I struggled and fought for decades more. I even told myself that I was enough of a Christian if I simply went to church, but did not go up for Communion.
I was bargaining with God. I was wrong!
What I have come to realize is that, this avoiding going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist is NOT about Catholic guilt. We NEED to be in Community with something Higher than ourselves. We need this to survive. We need it to thrive in this crazy world.
And so, I ask you, Why would you-- or anyone-- deny yourself the magical, holy and transforming experience of the Eucharist? It is medicine. It is sheer Heaven on earth.
[Related postings, " Corpus Christi", June 27, 2011; " Holy Body and Blood of Christ", June 7, 2012.]
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