Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Reisterstown, Maryland
I want to share a message I heard a few weeks ago at church. I have to explain, first, where my mind was on that Sunday. I was dead set on making it through church without swelling up my eyes, and for good reason. When we lived in Kansas, I had the honor of participating as a Eucharistic minister in our small parish. In the Catholic church, a Eucharistic minister is someone who assists the priest during communion in presenting the consecrated bread and the wine to those wanting to accept Jesus' body and blood. It's a participation in the church that, to me, is so incredibly fulfilling and meaningful. I was nervous every Sunday for the three years I was periodically scheduled to serve. I figured if I was not nervous, then the importance of the role was lost...therefore God allowed for me to be nervous every single time.
Once we moved to Oklahoma, I had a desire to humbly attempt to serve at our MUCH larger parish once a training was scheduled, but was never able to sign up due to Sicily's unpredictable treatment schedule. This past summer, I decided I needed to jump back into doing something that meant a great deal to me so I signed up and attended the short training. My first Sunday to serve was October 17th and I went to church with a nervous stomach and a prayer to God that I could make it through mass without my usual waterworks. I knew I would not be able to get up and stand in front of others with a tear stained face. Being at church still makes me very emotional. It's hard sometimes not to sit there and envision Sicily's white casket in front of the alter. I especially struggle with certain songs and music that I hear!
I knew my strength would be tested when Father Joe began to speak. He started by talking about prayer. He asked, “What do you tell the parents of a dying child?” Feeling like his words were penetrating my heart, Patrick and I, with our three older kids sitting between us, turned and looked into each others eyes. My eyes started to water, but I was able to hold off the flow. Of all mornings to hear such a question... I did not know how I was going to be able to fulfill my commitment that morning. I began to dig around in my purse for a kleenex, just in case, but to no avail. Isabella, sitting on my right, noticed my quiet frantic search and picked up her purse to do the same. Once again, nothing to catch or hide the building tears. She looked at me with apologetic eyes, wishing she could help her mom out. I took in a deep breath and slowly exhaled. I had to make it through this mass.
Father Joe continued speaking by sharing a story of his youth. This time of year, with the changing weather and the approaching holidays, he is reminded of a yearly experience he had with his father. Every year in December, he would accompany his dad out into the woods to look for and cut down the perfect Christmas tree. Sometimes it would take hours, but he didn't mind as that gave him the prime opportunity to tell his father what was on his Christmas list. The more time he spent with him, the more he could tell him all that he wanted. It wasn't until he was older that he realized those special moments were more about just spending time with his father and less about listing all the things he wanted. He knew he would never get everything he asked for, but that, in the end, was not what really mattered. Spending time together was. That is what prayer is...it's spending time with God. We can tell him everything on our “want” list, and He listens...He listens to everything! But too many times, the emphasis has been put on what we are asking for instead of the simple act of just being able to communicate with Him.
I've had family and friends alike talk about how they've prayed and prayed for something, but God has not answered them. There lies the mistake...assuming that God will give them what they asked for and if their prayer is not answered in terms of how it was asked, then they perceive God not to be listening. Or God said, “No.” I believe, like Father Joe, that God does not say “No.” I think He may say, “Not right now...” Our prayers are eventually answered. He does give what is asked for, but it comes in answers we sometimes refuse to see or don't understand...His answers are easily miss interpreted.
I, personally, feel like I am living proof of successfully reading into the answers that God has given me. On the afternoon of March 21st, as Sicily lay resting on the couch in the living room, I kneeled down beside her and begged God for a miracle. I pleaded with Him to heal Sicily and take away her cancer. “Please, God, don't make her suffer.” At 10:45 that evening, God granted us a miracle. Sicily would no longer battle cancer. She would not suffer for weeks as we had feared and were told she would. God healed her the only way she could be healed...He took her to live with Him in heaven. This was not what I had in mind when I prayed, but I realized for the first time in my life, what a miracle could be. I never believed stronger than I did at that moment when God had listened to my specific prayer! I did not ask God that Sicily not die. I think I already knew that her physical dying would not stop her spiritual living. The number of people who let her touch their lives is proof of that! But the bottom line is that I spent time with Him that afternoon...without expectations and without conditions on what I was asking of Him. My prayers were answered! Her dying is still painful, without a doubt, but I have peace and am learning about acceptance just knowing that He gave me what I had asked for through my prayers! His ways...not mine!
After Father Joe helped make sense of what prayer really is and how to better explain its purpose, I still felt the need to cry that morning, but I didn't. I carried out my duty of Eucharistic minister with shaky hands. Some parishioners might have wondered if Oklahoma was experiencing another earthquake the way the wafer vibrated into their hands or mouth! ; ) That was just me experiencing the moment! I am very thankful for that morning! I love discovering ways that help me better understand my faith.
I am still trying my best to live in the day and not fret too much about tomorrow. Some days are still harder than others. The upcoming holiday season is already stirring emotions in me that I haven't found a way to handle, yet, but I'll just keep asking God for His intervention!
The road ahead for my parents is still one with unforeseen potholes and setbacks, but they are showing me the meaning of perseverance and I am very proud of them!
Corinthian, Isabella and Elias are all doing well. There is still plenty of ruckus around the house even when our chief pot-stirrer is no longer physically present...her spirit is still around making mischief from time to time, but that's the way we like it! ; )
All my love,