At that time, Jesus was casting out a devil: and the same was dumb. And when he had cast out the devil, the dumb spoke: and the multitudes, were in admiration at it. But some of them said: “He casteth out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils.” And others tempting, asked of him a sign from heaven. But he seeing their thoughts, said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation; and house upon house shall fall. And if Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? Because you say that through Beelzebub I cast out devils. Now if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. But if I by the finger of God cast out devils, doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his court, those things are in peace which he possesseth. But if a stronger than he come upon him and overcome him, he will take away all his armor wherein he trusted and will distribute his spoils. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest: and not finding, he saith: I will return into my house whence I came out. And when he is come, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself: and entering in they dwell there. And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”
And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: “Blessed is the womb that bore thee and the paps that gave thee suck.” But he said: “Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.” Luke 11:14-28
At that time, Jesus said to the Pharisees: “Doubtless you will say to me this similitude: ‘Physician, heal thyself. As great things as we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in thy own country.’ ” And he said: “Amen I say to you that no prophet is accepted in his own country. In truth I say to You, there were many widows in the days of Elias in Israel, when heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there was a great famine throughout all the earth. And to none of them was Elias sent, but to Sarepta of Sidon, to a widow woman. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet: and none of them was cleansed but Naaman the Syrian.”
And all they in the synagogue, hearing these things, were filled with anger. And they rose up and thrust him out of the city: and they brought him to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them, went his way. Luke 4:23-30
Last week I started to feel very tired. By the time Friday came, I was knowing that I’d reached my limits and I wasn’t able to function to the best of my ability, and by Saturday I’d almost reached the point where while I was able to function, I just wanted to rest. I did some work, it wasn’t my best work, I came home, and I went to sleep.
Sunday I woke up for Mass (Mass is live streamed from our Cathedral parish every Sunday at 10:00 CST), got out of bed, said to myself–nope, I can’t do it. I knew in my heart it was good for me, it was self care of the best nature, but I needed to stay in bed. I rolled over, then got up, then made coffee, then crawled back into bed with my dog and snuggled with my fiancé, grateful that I was able to spend the morning with my family.
Sunday night, I paused. Realizing I needed to take time in the chapel, I prepared the altar, went out and helped my fiancé take care of a difficult task, returned into the chapel, vested, and said a practice Mass. Now I know that it’s not an actual Mass because I’m not a priest. When I say the words of consecration, I’m not actually consecrating. But it’s the closest thing to the Blessed Sacrament I’ve been to in almost 5 years. It’s an exercise in learning, but it’s also a spiritual act if not a sacrament. I still mess up, and I know that I’ll probably be working to perfect my use of the liturgy until the last day of my life–and what a blessing that is!
Monday, I spent most of the day in the chapel getting lost in video games. Towards the end of the day, I lit the candles on the altar, read Scripture, and listened to the recording of Compline just said at a Cistercian Abbey somewhere in France. (Great podcast: search for Les offices de l”Abbeye Du Barroux.)
And I didn’t get to writing any blogs. I’m a very bad friar.
Sometimes we just need to take a break from the routine. The danger for a religious in doing this is that, like the man that Jesus exorcized, we have to keep a clean house. In the Autocephalous Churches, that means we not only have to make sure we’re doing our best to represent the true spirit and meaning of the Gospel message, it means that we need to work at gently reminding ourselves that our authenticity is valid.
Last night, I watched a movie on Netflix about Fatima. St. Lucia in the movie was portrayed as a child, finding herself confronted at all angles by people who told her that her visions weren’t valid, that she was making them. All the while, she was seeing the Blessed Mother. While the struggles of this saint are far greater than those of use who live the autocephalous catholic life, there are times in my own life that I’ve felt questioned, where in my mind I felt the need to question the validity of what it was I was doing.
Last night I had a moment like that. As I sat in the chapel listening to compline being sung, I asked myself, and I asked God: Am I doing your will? So many years ago on the morning I was going to profess my vows for the first time, a voice inside my head urged me to pack my bags and go back to Regina. It urged me to not undertake what I was about to do. The closer it came to the time to head down into the chapel in Toronto, the more I questioned this voice. I asked myself–if I do in fact profess, follow the line of actions towards becoming a priest in this church, at the end of my life will I have done more evil than good?
If I stand before God at the end of my life, what I hope is that God will see (and know) that I have acted to praise Him, to celebrate His creation, and to see His Son’s presence in the least of us. It was a gamble I was prepared to make. I question it from time to time; mostly I just return to prayer. When my mind takes me outside the city walls, and tries to hurl me over the cliff, I pause, I take a breath, I grab my rosary, and I do my best to pass through the thoughts and go my way.