This past weekend Rob, Madison, Alexis and I traveled to visit my sister, her husband and three children for 5 days. It was mine and Rob’s nephew and god son’s first Holy Communion and Confirmation and Rob is his Confirmation Sponsor. It was a big occasion in our Catholic family. One that we celebrated with vigor. This is one of those occasions I hope Elliott never forgets, not an occasion that should be forgotten like My Daughter’s First Dance Part 1. My mom, dad, grandma, and sister with two of her sons attended as well. There were 15 of us in total plus one cute little dog named Peppa. It was a very glorious and amazing visit with a couple of downs and plenty of ups which is pretty normal in a large family.
I have been pondering the events that took place during this 5 day visit and there are several highlights I want to share. These highlights include both joys and sufferings but that is what makes up life isn’t it. With plenty of prayer and contemplation the sufferings have now become joys and I have learned more from them then from anything else which took place at my sister’s.
So let’s start with the joys. During this visit I truly saw the fruits of each of our family’s efforts to be holy and live in truth. I saw the unity and it runs deep. On Mother’s Day the men took care of all us women, all the children played so wonderfully together and the adults talked about faith, truth, life and love. There were a couple of times the whole lot of us got into deep theological and spiritual discussions. We fed off each other, where one question would create three more and we pondered and contemplated together and the Lord was present and was illuminating each of our minds in unison. It was a beautiful and awe inspiring thing to witness. We are family, so the connection and unity we all have, created such depth of thought, knowledge and wisdom. We are all Catholic, we all believe the same things and we all have a relationship with God in our own way and it showed. The fruits I witnessed last weekend were palatable. The older children cared for the younger children in such a gentle and loving way. Even Madison and Alexis got along and that rarely happens!! I tasted and saw a bit of heaven on this trip, especially on Mother`s Day. Time almost stopped on that day. I was so present in the present moment (I have a present for you!!) with my family that I became unaware of time. What seemed like 1 hour was 6 hours. I kept saying over and over again to everyone that the day was going so slow and everyone said they felt the same way. Is this how time works? Is this why heaven has no time? Does time cease to exist when we are perfectly who we were created to be and are perfectly united to God? I experienced a tiny piece of this reality on Mother’s Day and everyone else experienced it as well.
Now don’t get me wrong we are all fallen human beings and so our family too has disorder and plenty of it. I don’t need to share details as I do not want to offend or hurt anyone in my family. Let me just say that there is not one of us siblings that has not suffered from some form of addiction and this has passed down already to some of our children. You know my addiction already, which is food, If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out!! My Extreme Weight Loss Journey…. I am happy to report that we are all at different stages of recovery but it took us all a long time to get where we are, we live our recovery every day and it is hard sometimes. This is just one way our family suffers from the disorder of sin, there are plenty more including, atheism, issues with anger and control, children born of wedlock, divorce, promiscuity and many other disorders that are common among the human race.
So what is different about my family? Why is there still unity amidst the chaos and disorder? Why is their love for one another amidst our suffering and sin? We have Jesus and we have the Catholic Church. This is the only difference. There are many of us in the family that are devout Catholics, Charismatic, and have a relationship with Jesus. We are now passing this onto our children and are raising them up to know, love, and serve God. Our religion and our faith are important to us and it shows in the love and care we all give to our children. We all have our differences but we put these differences aside for the love of one another. This did not always happen in the past when we were all in the midst of our addictions. Then there would be more disagreements, more fighting, more selfishness, and more disorder. Ever since many of us have sobered up, become devout Catholics and developed a relationship with Jesus things have been much better. There are still the odd arguments, the odd fights, the odd hurt feelings but we work it through now and they don’t happen nearly as much as they used to.
On Mother’s day the word charismatic was used. My 14 year old niece Olivia asked what the word meant. Her mom thought briefly and said “well like us, we are all charismatic. We pray together, we pray over each other, we talk openly about God as our Father and Jesus is someone personal to us, a friend, a spouse, a brother. The Catholic faith is alive in our hearts and we live it every day”. With a shocked look on Olivia’s face she said “aren’t all families like this?” No my dear they are not. Many families are so broken and suffering so deeply from the effects of sin and disorder in their lives that they live very different lives. And our hearts should be moved with love and compassion to help these families, as I did for so many years working as a Family Enhancement Counselor with families who had child protection services involved. I saw firsthand the way some families live. Broken, hurting, barely functioning under the weight of addiction, abuse, mental illness, developmental delays, and so much more. My heart bleeds for these families and I want with all that I am for God to heal them, to take away their sufferings, to make them whole, to live free in the Truth. And if God has placed this compassion for families within me then you better be sure that His love and compassion and His desire to heal and make whole is infinitely greater than my own. It’s important that Olivia knows the truth about how other families live, about the disastrous effects sin has on family life. It seeks to destroy and kill just like cancer does. This truth will hopefully plant the seed of compassion and mercy in Olivia that every true charismatic Christian needs to possess. However, it’s also very refreshing and speaks to purity and innocence that Olivia knows no other way of life than the life our family has surrounded her with. We have surrounded Olivia with Truth just as we have surrounded all our children with Truth. Truth is the difference. Jesus is the difference.
Now on to the sufferings I experienced on this trip. And of course the suffering I speak of came from sin, as all suffering in the world does. The first night of the trip one of my sister’s and I were sharing and discussing many spiritual topics and sharing our own spiritual journeys with each other. Nearer the end of the conversation we ended up disagreeing on several theological issues. We listened to each other, we argued a bit, became passionate and then agreed to disagree. This was all fine, I tried to convince myself. We are not going to agree on everything! We each have our own paths to live! Then why was I feeling so distraught about the whole thing? Why could I not sleep that night? Why did I pray for 6 hours wrestling with the Lord about this? I knew there was sin at work here, on both sides. I knew I had lost my Peace because sin had entered in and I was not okay with this. So I wrestled with the Lord. I asked Him to open up my eyes to see the situation through His eyes. I wanted my sin and my sister’s sin to be brought to the light so that in the future we can walk in Truth together. At the end of my 6 hour wrestling match with the Lord I had no answers on the subject, I only had more questions. Questions like “what gave saints like St. Catherine of Sienna such confidence in the truth that she boldly proclaimed and could speak in the authority of God even to the Pope himself?” “What makes St. Catherine different from me who falls apart into doubt and confusion at the first sign of opposition from someone?”
I knew for certain pride was the culprit in this situation I just did not clearly understand how. The Lord did not answer my questions that night rather He chose to reaffirm that He has called me by name and that I am chosen just as all before me and all after me are chosen. The Lord gave me a new name that night. “I no longer call you Rebecca, I call you Sarah”, He said. I kinda chuckled at this and wondered why the Lord would call me Sarah (which is my niece’s name)? I looked up the meaning of the name Sarah the next day and this is what I found. “The name Sarah is a Hebrew baby name. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Sarah is: Princess. Other meanings include women of high rank and women minister”. This name made perfect sense and ties perfectly into the message that was given to all the women at the ROYAL WOMEN’S RETREAT. We are all God’s royal daughters which makes us princesses and women of high ranking. I am no better or no different than anyone else. Where others can accept and live out their royalty everyday I think I have a hard time doing so. This I believe is why God had to actually give me a new name to reflect my royalty. It was not given to me to differentiate me from anyone else but to solidify the truth that we are all connected as royal sisters and brothers in this world. I am a part of that group and now I have a new name that will help me to remember this truth.
Blessed are those who do not require God to go to such lengths to transform them but simply believe through faith alone. Ah sometimes I wish things were this simple for me but alas they are not and I must accept my own unique path. This is one reason out of many why we should never judge each other. We simply have no idea how God is acting in another’s soul and what path they must take to become who they were created to be. I’ve come to see this truth more and more lately. I know that the gifts and consolations the Lord gives me are not because I deserve or earn them it is because I need them to become the best version of myself and to reach nuptial union. Other’s may not need what I need so their path will look very different than mine but they too will receive from the Lord exactly what they need to become holy. This is what adds to the spice of life! This is what makes people and life interesting! If each of us were not unique we would simply be robots and we would not see the beauty of people’s gifts and creativeness that we see in the human race. We are all called to become Jesus but this does not mean we do not hold onto who we are and the unique gift that we are to the world. This becomes perfected in Christ. It is not done away with.
I wasn’t able to take a proper prayer time until 5 days after my wrestling match with the Lord that night. Yesterday I went to confession, mass, and adoration and it was during this time that the Lord revealed His truth about the whole situation. He showed me that pride was definitely the culprit and that pride is always the culprit as it is the root of all sin. All this means is that anything that is impure and disordered is pride. Pride is anything that takes us away from God. It was not the disagreement itself that was a sin it was each of us not admitting they could be wrong and then seeking out the truth together. Our goal should not have been to be right but to find out the truth right away and then accept and live the truth. We should have each admitted we could be wrong and then right then and there sought out the truth of these issues as the Catholic Church teaches them. Each of us should then rejoice in the truth and move forward with this truth rooted in our hearts. You see my sister and I can do this because we are both strongly Catholic and want to follow the Catholic teaching and we both want to live in these truths. This of course would not work if one person is a Catholic and the other an atheist. These conversations would look much different as we are all called to meet people where they are at with Love as the compass. After my disagreements with my sister I also lost my peace and fell into doubt and confusion which are also rooted in pride as it is disorder. I am not yet at the place where, like St. Catherine of Sienna, was unaffected by fear, doubt and worry. She was in such perfect unity with God that there was no doubt, fear or worry left in her. There was very little, if any, disorder left and so when she spoke truth she spoke out of a place of purity, out of wholeness, out of Love. Through God’s grace I will one day be there but for now I am most definitely not and so I must wait patiently on the Lord to complete the work He has begun in me.
I left my sister’s home closer to God and who He created me to be then when I arrived. I was changed forever by the events of this past week. When we live in the present moment and live life fully we are living in heaven and we are transformed by it. I look forward to going through life with my family. Immersing myself completely in all their joys and sufferings. I want to be a part of something great and my dear brothers and sisters in Christ this is GREAT. Every day is great with the Lord. Every moment a learning opportunity and an adventure. Praise God forever and ever. Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.
Do you recognize the sin of pride in your life? In what ways has it negatively impacted your life and the life and health of your family?
In what ways do you raise your children in the Truth? How is Jesus alive in you and your family?
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