In the silent stillness before dawn, I slowly opened my eyes, reluctant to survey the aftermath of the previous night’s activities. There were empty junk food wrappers strewn about the small room, as well as myriad red cups offering up their remaining contents to the already-stained carpet. The sickly sweet smells of alcohol, incense, and smoke clung to my hoodie and jeans and clouded my memory. As I slowly sat up, I noticed about ten or eleven other teens—male and female—still sleeping in whichever spot they found themselves when they eventually passed out.
As I finally came to, my thoughts came clearly and rapidly: What am I doing here? Is this all there is to life? Is this what my future holds? Who have I become?
Endless salty tears rolled down my cheeks as I replayed the evening’s events over and over in my mind as if on a loop. After providing just enough detail for me to feel as though I’d been hit by a freight train, my husband apologized for his behavior and asked for my forgiveness. And I couldn’t—wouldn’t—forgive him. No one in their right mind would expect me to forgive what my husband has done, I reasoned. No one.
I’m not sure exactly why, but the closing of the Jubilee Year of Mercy has been a wee bit emotional for me. It’s not like I didn’t take advantage of its graces. It’s not like I was surprised that the end of the Year was coming. It’s not like, just because the Year of Mercy is over, that the Vatican will announce some other, non-Holy Spirit-inspired “Year.” See Larry’s post if you want to laugh about the possibilities.
Maybe this year has been so personal for me because, in all humility, I often feel like the Poster Child for mercy. Trust me – that’s not a point of pride – simply the way things are. Glory to Christ the King, however, I once was lost (very, very lost), but now I am found. I once was blind, but now I see. And now you have the song “Amazing Grace” running through your mind. You’re welcome. 😉
Friends, there’s a reason Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son has hung in our home for many years. There’s a reason I asked for a Divine Mercy image for my birthday a few years back. These pieces of art are certainly not trophies, my friends, nor are they meant to make my home look like a Catholic bookstore. Rather, along with other items in my life, these pictures are frequent reminders of where I’ve been, but most importantly, how far I’ve been able to come through the almighty grace of God, acts of the will, and, in no small measure, God’s infinite, unfathomable mercy.
Upon further reflection, I suppose I’m grateful (and gratified) that God’s omnipresent mercy is significant and worthy of keen focus in the greater Church, not just in my own life. Maybe that’s it. That’s gotta be it.
As we near the end of this amazing Year, let’s keep in mind that God’s mercy (and our ability to give and receive it) is not a lightswitch – something to be flipped on and off. Mercy is at the very heart of our Christian walk. Let’s keep the mercy flowing, friends. Lord knows I need it. And I would hazard to guess that perhaps you do, too.
Keep scrolling for one of Papa Francesco’s recent tweets, the Closing Prayer for the Jubliee Year, and video for the commercial that made me cry. For reals.
May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst! – Pope Francis @pontifex via Twitter
Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved. Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman: “If you knew the gift of God!”
You are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified. You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this of you, Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
And here’s the commercial that, I admit, made me cry. I was just minding my own business, watching football with my husband. Man!! #peace
Here at Real Catholic Mom, I’ve written about lots of stuff. Perhaps not as much as some, but lots for a crazy chicken like me. I’ve written about superficial stuff. Deep stuff. Hard stuff. Fun stuff. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of where I’m coming from or where I’m going, content-wise, since I’m all over the map (thanks, brain). I can only imagine what I put you through, dear reader!
If there is one constant thread that weaves its way through my life, howeve, it’s knowing that our Mighty God can write straight with crooked lines. He can shine brightly through a little cracked pot. He can make magnificence out of mess. He can craft His own perfect order from chaos. I’ve seen it in my own life, time after time after time.
And I know that I know that I know He wants to make something beautiful out of every single part of your life, too.
I hate to leave you hanging here, folks, but I promise (!!) I will write more about this topic in this space soon. Meanwhile, if you’d like to know more about why forgiveness is so very, very close to my heart, I’ll be touching on it during tonight’s Blessed is She workshop, which YOU can attend from the comfort of your own home – it’s online! In addition to personal testimony, I’ll be offering some practical tips and tricks for having a heart that’s after God’s own Sacred Heart, and – because this is me we’re talking about, there WILL be giveaways. Oh, yes – there will be giveaways. I’m even told there will be time for a “stump the Real Catholic Mom” Q&A session toward the end.
Let’s finish out this Jubilee Year of Mercy even more free, more joy-filled, and more compassionate than we began it, my friend. Who’s with me??
Several weeks ago, when I saw the request, “Can anyone write the devotion for March 7?” it was as if something supernatural compelled me to respond in the affirmative despite my crazy schedule. “I will,” I responded, half-cringing and silently chiding myself for my lack of self-restraint. But then I read the Mass readings upon which I would write my reflection: “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” from the Psalm, and the story of the Prodigal Son – and I almost laughed out loud.
I shook my head with disbelief and then a knowing smile. Man, I thought. I guess it’s time to share my story. Okay, God. Here we go.
Today I share a little piece of my story – a glimpse into how I was seeking God in all the wrong places, yet He beckoned me to journey more closely with Him in spite of my rebellious sinfulness and doubt.
What He said next forever changed me. Referring to His saving mercy, His redemptive suffering, His unique and total love for me, a wretched sinner, He imparted this command: “Rejoice. And be free.”