Pride in Humility

There is no doubt that this has been a rough week. Tuesday morning I awoke feeling sluggish with a slight headache and by noon I was putting myself back to bed on the verge of a migraine. It went downhill from there as far as my energy level is concerned. I was at least able to get to the chiropractor and get a massage; which completely eliminated my headache. I don’t have a visible illness other than I always look tired–hence the name of my blog. This makes for its own challenges because most people can mistake my lack of energy for laziness or weakness; or more commonly, think that I can do more than I am physically able to do. In fact, I do it to myself the majority of the time. If you need a label for my illness you could call it Chronic Fatigue or Adrenal Fatigue. But, even then it can sound like a made-up name and it really doesn’t pinpoint the nature of the illness.

My next dilemma is once I label my illness, I am bombarded with questions about my treatment and more questions about why I am doing the things I am doing (I am taking a homeopathic route to wellness as the traditional methods have failed me thus far). Normally, this wouldn’t be a bother. I am outspoken and share my opinions a little too liberally. I am also confident in the choices I have made because of the time in prayer and research we have spent in making them. But with the fatigue, it is just extra energy that I really don’t have to spare. I am a people pleaser and desperately want people to understand and validate; so I am learning a great lesson in humility. I am learning humility in not being able to please people and trust that I am learning to please God. I am learning humility when I cannot do the things I “want” to do and have to ask and rely on others for help. I am learning humility in knowing I don’t have the answers all figured out and what I am doing may or may not work in the end. Mostly, I am learning humility by recognizing how my own actions have affected others. How my unsolicited advice caused stress, or my judgements caused pain; how my impatience when caring for a sick loved one made them feel burdensome instead of cherished; and how my assumptions caused me to overlook their true needs.

In this exercise of humility I have found great pride. Not in myself, but in my spouse, my children and my friends. It is truly amazing how my husband and children have responded to my time of need. Sure, we have our share of tears and bickering, but overall they just come together and do what needs to be done. This is no minor feat as for the better part of the past 4 years I have had to rely on them to keep the house and family moving in a positive direction. I refuse to feel guilty any longer. God is teaching us all great lessons and I am finally ready to listen and learn.

My friends are another great pride for me. I send out a simple email for prayers and ask for help with the kids and the needs are quickly filled. I have had some friends apologize for not being able to do A, B or C. I tell them not to be sorry. From my end I see God filling the needs with exact measurement. We are never in want, nor am I turning people away. He calls us each of us to action every day and if we would all respond with little “yeses” what an amazing world this would be. Yes, God is so good! He has provided me with this wonderful family and friendships; but, He didn’t stop there. He sent me encouragement just when I needed it via Scripture and blogs. He is a gentle and loving father who is patiently teaching me to place all my trust in Him alone. So, I rejoice in my chronic tiredness because it has brought me closer to Him and through the lessons I learn, please God, I will bring others to Him as well.

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The New Evangelization

In Catholic circles the phrase “New Evangelization” has been popping up ever since our beloved Pope John Paul II spoke of a Springtime of Evangelization. I have read a few criticisms of the phrase asking what is wrong with the “old” evangelization. As I was preparing for Mass today several thoughts popped into my head. First of all we were attending a different Mass than usual, so my sensitivity to attracting attention was on high alert. Seven children in the front pew is enough to garnish attention, but last year I started veiling and my daughters followed suit (on their own accord, I might add). To put this in perspective I have been attending the same parish for most of the last 35 years and until last year I had only donned a veil for my First Communion and wedding. I quickly put the thoughts behind me and tried to focus on my prayers. I’m not really concerned with what others’ think, at least I try not to be. My next thoughts drifted to how I got here, to this particular place in my spiritual journey. I’ve got a long way to go, mind you; but, man how far I have come in the past 20 years!

The biggest impact on learning about my faith, the Catholic faith, has come from teaching it. When I began to home school my two older girls twelve years ago, I did not even know the Mysteries of the Rosary by heart–and there were only 15 back then. Maybe, you don’t know them now either. It was part peer pressure and pride and part longing that motivated me to memorize them. I still forget and have to think about it when I’m under the gun; but, I can do it in the end. You see, I belong to a really great homeschooling support group of strong Catholic families. These families aren’t perfect, but they live their faith and reciting the Rosary at gatherings is a fairly common occurence. Hence, the peer pressure. Since my daughter was only in First grade when I started homeschooling, I began teaching Religion at the First Grade level. I had books and lesson plans and an answer key to work with so I quickly gained confidence and knowledge. There is nothing quite as humbling as reading from a second grade catechism book to your child. Suddenly, I realized just how ignorant I was (am) and how far I had drifted from living out God’s will every day.

I don’t feel guilty or bitter for not knowing my faith. I feel sad. I am part of a whole generation that got caught in a gap after Vatican II. Prior to this council, it was standard procedure for young children to memorize the St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism. The memorization just didn’t seem to be enough when the baby boomers wanted to know why? where? when? how? and who gave you the authority? In response, it seems that most parishes just stopped using the Baltimore Catechism and taught more about love and peace. For whatever the reason that it was done this way, the result has been more than 30 years of lost and ignorant sheep. I’ve seen family and school peers all drift away from the Church. When I was younger I thought it was no big deal because they were still worshipping the same God, just in a different way. Some have stopped attending Church altogether, but most have a strong relationship with our Lord Jesus in a Protestant community. So, why am I sad? Because they are missing out on the Sacraments, on the richness of our faith traditions and from lots and lots of graces that they most likely don’t understand or even know exist. Now, as adults we all have to find our own way and I trust that the Lord in his Goodness is leading them closer to Himself just as He is leading me. Don’t get me wrong. I do not believe, nor does the Church teach that our Protestant brothers and sisters are not “saved”. It’s just that there is so much more!

Anyway, I don’t think the New Evangelization is only about conversion of others. It is about converting ourselves. We have to learn our faith and teach our faith to our children. My children are learning the Baltimore Catechism and I am learning it right along side of them. It is so inspiring to me to see these innocent children living out their faith every day. They ask to go to Mass and Confession and Adoration. They are naturally drawn to the spiritual realm and seeking Christ’s grace and presence. Their desires prompt my action and involvement and help me to become a better Christian, a better mom, a better wife. I don’t worry anymore about what I don’t know because I know that I can find the answer and learn as I go. I see all of my flaws and weaknesses, but I don’t worry about that either because I know that God’s mercy and grace await me in the Sacraments and Scripture. I look at how far I have come on this journey and the mountain ahead that I still need to scale. My heart has been reshaped by God’s love and grace throughout this journey: Mass and the Sacraments, The Catholic Family Conferences in Wichita, friends who shared their love and knowledge and numerous books and websites. It has been a journey of falling head-over-heels in love with my faith which has lead to this incredibly deep and personal encounter with Christ. After Confession the other night, I approached Christ in Adoration. I gazed upon Him! I lay prostrate before Him! and I poured out my heart to Him! What an incredible feeling to be forgiven and absolved and then encounter Jesus in such a personal way. And then to attend Mass and receive Him in the Eucharist! All these gifts and for the better part of 40 years it has all been taken for granted–a whole generation was just supposed to know it without being taught. Don’t make the same mistake with the next generation. Don’t deprive them of the greatest miracle in our midst. Don’t deprive yourself either.