God Uses Us in the Broken Places. All We Have to Do Is Let Him.

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Catholic Patheosi Sisters in Christ. Lisa Hendey, Kathy Schiffer, Margaret Rose Realy. I’m the one in front, sitting down.

 

Where do I start?

Last week was the best. I’m still a wee bit tired from it, still absorbing and processing it. Where do I begin to tell you about it? I guess I’ll begin with the high point.

The high point wasn’t spending time with my Catholic Patheosi sisters in Christ, although I can tell you that was a blessing all in itself. The high point wasn’t meeting other Catholic writer/publishers/artists from all over the country, although again, that was an immersion in generous and loving like-mindedness that this outlier in the Oklahoma wilderness has never experienced before.

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Margaret Rose Realy, being interviewed by EWTN.

The high point, the Everest, of this entire week was the Thursday mass.

I almost didn’t go.

It had been such a full day. I “pitched” a book to an editor, presented an hour-long presentation and participated in a panel discussion. Between lunch and the panel discussion, I went to my room to take off my blazer and sat down in a chair.

Just for a moment.

I woke up an hour and half later. I had to scoot to get to the panel discussion in time and my neck was in permanent crick from sleeping pretzel-sytle in that chair.

Soooo, after the panel, I thought I’d just go up to my room, put on something comfy, order up room service and relax. No reason, I decided, to go to mass.

I got as far as the elevators, and in that hotel, the distance between our conference rooms and the elevators is a good hoof. I punched the up button. Then, while I was waiting for the door to open, I turned around and hoofed it back to the conference rooms.

I didn’t make a decision to go to mass. I just automatic-piloted my way down the hall, over the connector tunnel and then clomped down the stairs.

Father Frank Pavone, who was the celebrant, was already processing in when I slid into the last vacant seat on the back row between a couple of nuns and an elderly gentleman. I sometimes have mass troubles, and I braced myself, as tired as I was, for major mass troubles that day.

My mass troubles have been hitting me hard the past few months. What happens is that I sit in mass and am overwhelmed by a pounding sense that I am too unworthy to be in that room. It can, and sometimes does, reduce me to tears. It can and sometimes does, drive me away from mass. There are days when I get up and leave, mid-mass.

I’ve learned that if I can hang on and force myself to go forward and accept the Host, Jesus will heal me. When my mass trouble comes on me hard, I am like the woman with the hemorrhage who touched the hem of His garment and was healed, over and over, mass after mass, week after week.

But getting there, making it through mass without running away and then progressing up to the front of that line, many times making a humiliating spectacle of myself because tears keep leaking out of my eyes and dripping down my cheeks, can be an act of endurance, and, since I’ve learned that the Host heals, trust.

I’m like that woman from long ago, thinking If I can just touch the hem of His garment; if I can only touch Him; I will be healed. 

I slipped into that room, sat on that chair at the very back, and, while I didn’t think it in words, the thought was there: I hope I can get through this. There was safety in that door, a few steps away. I could leave if I had to, before anyone was the wiser.

But, after months of this on-going battle with the devil every time I go to mass, this time was different. There were no hants rising from the swamps of memory, no feeling of unworthiness. It was just me; solid and whole, standing in a roomful of other Jesus lovers, participating in the sweet miracle of heaven touching earth in bread and wine.

I have memories of such a solid sense of self as I felt then, but I have to go far back to find them.

Father Pavone brought a gift to us at that mass. He had what I think he called a “First class relic” of St John Paul II. I’m not up on my relic rules, but I think that’s what he said. It was a small spot of blood on a postage-stamp sized bit of cloth. The blood came from St John Paul’s body the day he died.

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Kathy Schiffer and Gary Zimak.

Father Pavone took the time — and it was quite a bit of time — to stand at the front of the room and give each of us an opportunity to venerate this relic. It worked out that I was the last person in the last line, the last one to do so.

I brought home a lot of work to do. I now have two books to write instead of just one, and I have a real hope that they both will be published. I’m not excited. I am … sure.

I am sure that this is what I’m supposed to be doing, and that Our Lord has both me and this work in the palm of His hand. This morning, while I was praying my Rosary, I felt St John Paul, sort of coaching me about what I should do. It neither surprises nor awes me that he came home with me from that mass.

That is the order of things. The spiritual world is as real and reliable as our physical world we inhabit in this life. An ice cube will melt in a glass of warm water. Always. And God comes to those who love Him. Always.

Sometimes, in fact, quite often, He sends His helpers by. My fellow Catholic Patheosi Kathy Schiffer, Margaret Rose Realy and Lisa Hendey are just such helpers. So, is St John Paul II.

I’m telling you this intensely personal story for one reason. I want the people who are reading this post — and I trust that the Lord will send the right ones by — to know that, to paraphrase St Paul, nothing, not the things we do, not the things done to us, can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

God uses us in the broken places. All we have to do is let Him.

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The panel I almost slept through. Gary Zimak, Kathy Schiffer, me, Margaret Rose Realy.

 

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
    We are all unworthy. While I don’t cry or leave, I know how you feel. I know I am unworthy. God bless you. By the way, are you sitting in the picture because of your knee?

    • hamiltonr

      Thanks Manny.

      No. I’m sitting because I’m lazy. :-)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/prayergardens/ Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB

    Those tears…a suffering of Holy Joy.

  • fredx2

    I thought I was the only one who teared up at Mass occasionally.

    As for feeling unworthy? The funny thing is that we all are unworthy. And we all are completely worthy. That’s the essence of the mass.

  • Cassandra Clifton Poppe

    Such a pleasure to meet another Catholic Oakie at the conference! I am sorry we missed Mass though. May your brokeness one day become your strength!

    • hamiltonr

      Thanks Cassandra. Okies unite!

  • Ann Margaret Lewis

    You are awesome, Rebecca! I am so sorry we didn’t get a chance to really chat at the conference. I heard you were the bomb! <3

    • hamiltonr

      Thanks Ann!

  • http://contemplativehomeschool.com Connie Rossini

    Wonderful post. I wish I could have been there. I’m hoping for next year if my new book (on trusting God, by the way) does well enough. I hope this Mass was a breakthrough for you, and that your “Mass problems” are over. When you’re tempted so terribly by the Devil, you know God must have something good in store for you. May God bless you for resisting and following through on your inspirations.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you Connie. I hope you can come next year. I plan to go and would love to meet you.

  • Sus_1

    Welcome back. You were missed.

    I hate it when I cry at Mass.

  • FW Ken

    You know, the Benedictines out in Shawnee turned one of their side chapels into a common spot for their relics. It’s nice.

    We had the relics of the Little Flower here about 10-12 years ago. Even the cloistered Carmelites came out for the Mass.

  • http://www.iris-hanlin.com/ The Starving Inspired

    So great to meet you! Glad you had such a wonderful time. Thursday mass was one of the highlights for me as well. Fr. Frank’s homily was absolutely wonderful, as they always are. I have the transcript of said homily on my blog now.. so happy I had a recorder with me. God bless you!

    The Starving Inspired

  • pagansister

    So pleased to hear of your wonderful experience at Mass. You were obviously meant to be there and not be lazy in your room. :-)

  • David M Paggi

    Much obliged for your very revealing comments, which i can certainly identify with. If I may be so bold to offer some reflection, I have found solace in the Divine Mercy devotions, particularly St Faustina’s locution that “the greater the sin, the greater the sinner’s claim on My Mercy.” Also helpful is the figure that our sins are like drops of water which become totally absorbed in the ocean of God’s mercy.

    I had a remarkable experience on Palm Sunday last year. Previously, at the point in the Passion when the congregation (cast as the crowd) recites “Crucify Him!” I had been loath to do so. On this occasion, however, it occurred to me with sudden force that awful as it is, if I really desire Heaven I want Him on that Cross! I need Him on that Cross! And I imagined that were I there and could look directly at Jesus, I would have seen him nod his head ever so slightly that yes, this is the only way, for Him or for me. That if I would really love Him, I would accept His sacrifice by owning my sins and joining my voice with all the others and send Him to His Cross. So I said it and meant it, and (God willing) will do so every Palm Sunday till I die.

    If worthiness were a pertinent criterion, no one could legitimately come forward to receive. Therefore, as a wonderful pastor taught in a Bible study I attended, we have to be one of the anawim or remnant, those who realize their only hope is to throw themselves on the mercy of God. Therefore it seems to me that receiving Him is an act of sublime trust that not only has he offered Himself in the Eucharist, He has done so only after making it possible for us to approach by absorbing in His Body the just price of our sins.

    I don’t have any special theological, moral or psychological knowledge; however, I have come to see shame as the flip side of the coin named “pride”. I remember that when a caller said she hesitated to go to confession, Mother Angelica said that she was saying her sin was greater than God’s mercy, which I realized I was doing myself.

    I think that this sort of shame is one of the most cunning levers Satan uses against us, because while it seems to me that I am merely being pious, really I am doubting the sufficiency of the Precious Blood to reach even “little old me”, a conclusion just as false as the humility I think I am exercising. God Bless!

    • hamiltonr

      Beautiful comment David. Thank you.

    • Nancy Roemer

      David I’ve always found the “Crucify him!” Lines very uncomfortable to say. Thank you for sharing this experience.

  • Vijaya Bodach

    I loved reading this … I am often overwhelmed at Mass and cannot stop the tears from flowing. It is so embarrassing but a seminarian told me, if you cannot cry at the foot of the Cross, then where? It’s okay. Those words have remained with me.
    I’d love to go to a Catholic writers conference. Where is it held? Can you please post a link? Thank you.

    • hamiltonr

      Here’s the link to Catholic Writer’s Guild. They co-sponsor the conference. http://www.catholicwritersguild.com

      • Vijaya Bodach

        Thank you. I just joined. Maybe I will meet you someday. God bless you in all your endeavors.

        • hamiltonr

          I’m looking forward to meeting you. Blessings.

  • CHCGrad

    What a moving post. It took guts to write it. I am glad to have clicked and surfed through to read it. My favorite line:
    The spiritual world is as real and reliable as our physical world we inhabit in this life.
    This is something I have tried to explain many times to others, but you managed to encapsulate it in a sentence!!! Love it.
    Wishing you the best in your writing endeavors. God bless +++

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you.

  • https://www.facebook.com/TeriShrader Teresa Ann Elizabeth “Teri”

    I read your blog all the time, but this is the first time I have felt an overwhelming need to comment. You can have no idea how much your sharing this personal story helped me today! I guess we often think, “I’m the only one” in so many of our personal experiences with Our Lord. I am a Catholic Convert and I had never felt anything like this until this year! Now I know there is someone else who feels that healing during the Eucharist! I told my husband, “I just feel so unworthy!” and he said, “that’s because we all are unworthy…we all need Jesus”. Thank you.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you Teri. I hope that writing this would help others. You’ve let me know that it did. Bless you, my friend.


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