Not gonna lie I have been super struggling with keeping my New Years resolution to attend Mass on Sundays. Truly up until yesterday we hadn’t been at all this New Year so I’d call that a resolution flop! Well yesterday was my perfect opportunity to redeem myself and start a new. Not just because I believe every day is a new year but also because it was the start of a new season, the season of Lent. I love Lent and Easter more than Christmas – I love the spiritual journeys I’ve been on in the past.
“Giving up” something is part of the Lenten journey. This season I’ll be abstaining from Facebook on Fridays and I truly will be making more of an effort to go to church on Sundays. Yet yesterday I almost turned away from all of that. Yesterday, the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday was a huge eye opener for me. I am still hurt by what happened so here’s a recap of my Ash Wednesday…
Tedy has therapy on Wednesdays and there is a Catholic Church just across the street from his therapist office. We looked up the time of their Ash Wednesday services and saw that there was one an hour before his first appointment. I thought it would work out great! One thing I love about being Catholic is that you can literally go to Mass anywhere in the world and the format is the same – you are accepted at that church! Or so I thought…in this case the format was the same yet the acceptance was not there. You see Tedy has what they call vocal tics and as far as we know, until he had tubes put in his ears around his 2nd Birthday, he couldn’t fully hear due to severe ear infections that caused his eat drum to repeatedly rupture. So even though Tedy is 3 years old his language and communication skills are closer to that of an 18mo old (half his age). He has some other developmental issues and we are diligently working with teams of doctors to help him out. Tedy truly is an exceptional child! He can’t be put in a book or on a chart in my opinion – he’s never been that way, Tedy truly is just Tedy and we absolutely love that about him! There have been many struggles with him and it’s not over at all and no matter what diagnosis comes from all of these appointments with various doctors, we will love him just the same! When we are having troubles I think back to that foolish day when the OB doc said I should have certain prenatal tests completed so I could make the right decision about this pregnancy – there was only ever one right decision in my mind – to give life! Still I am thankful God gave us this exceptional child. I am thankful God gave us all of our children!
So back to that first Mass…
Things were going as expected, the Gospel was the same as it is every Ash Wednesday (actually it’s one of my favorite) and of course in typical Tedy fashion he had some vocal tics here and there during the service. Then the Priest got up to give his Homily – it started out by him saying that he wasn’t going to tell us what to do this season of Lent and then he looked at me. He said take him out of here, he needs to calm down and learn proper voice control. I know I gave an are you seriously talking to me kind of look and he said yes you in the back with the little boy – my mind went blank and I know he continued on and at that moment I never felt the devils presence so strong in a church. I left with Tedy and walked outside and cried. I went back in a few moments later for my dad and Ceci and we all left. I was glad my dad was there to hug me and comfort me as I cried. Wow, the church that I love and was struggling with had just rejected me, had just rejected my son! At the time I didn’t know what to do so I asked my God Daughter and dear friend for prayers. I also told a couple other close friends what had happened and I know they’re prayin folk so I asked them for prayer. I always tell them to pray about it when they come to me with an issue and I guess they’ve taken a tip because everyone I spoke with told me to pray about it. I talked to my mom as well – she is my rock and foundation when it comes to faith and she told me to not give up. She told me to find another service and to not let it get me down. She told me and has many times before that the actions of one person, even if that person is a priest is no reason to turn away from the church.
God heard all of the prayers and sent me an angel that afternoon. During pick up at Sophia’s school I turned the corner and ran into a woman I knew from Main Post Chapel and MCCW. She said “Hi Liz” I stopped her and told her that I was thankful for running into her because of what happened this morning. I recapped what happened and he told me what time the evening service was at. Even with that information my heart was broken so badly that I took a nap. I woke up wanting to go to mass. I woke up needing to go to mass. So we all piled into the van for round 2.
I had never been so nervous to attend mass! It was great! It was just what we needed! A bishop was visiting! When he got up to give his homily – we all took something away from it! He talked about our spiritual stool. It has three legs, one for each of the three things talked about in the Ash Wednesday Gospel (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18) prayer, alms giving & fasting. How all three legs need to be equal to help support the weight of any spiritual struggle so it will not collapse and that no we can’t take “the Irish way out” by shortening any of the legs. He also challenged us to read the Gospel of Luke and Acts during this Lenten season. That mass was just what I needed!
After such a terrible morning with round 1 going to the devil round 2 conquered it all! Round 2 won my day and heart…so much so that the first reading keeps playing in my mind and rings true…
Even now, says The Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to The Lord, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing, offerings and libations for The Lord, your God.
Blow the trumpet in Zion! Proclaim a fast, call an assembly; gather the people, notify the congregation; assemble the elders, gather the children and the infants at the breast; let the bridegroom quit his room and the bride her chamber. Between the porch and the altar let the priests, the ministers of The Lord, weep, and say, “Spare, O Lord, your people, and make not your heritage a reproach, with the nations ruling over them! Why should they say among the people’s, ‘Where is their God?'”
Then The Lord was stirred to concern for his land and took pity on his people.
I could keep going on and on about children in the church and infants and breastfeeding etc because that’s where my rambling mom brain leads me but truly I just want you to know that if you are struggling, especially struggling to feel accepted like we were yesterday, please know that God is there in the darkness and He will shine through!