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Monday, November 21, 2011

Perseverance, by the Grace of God

I'd been riding on a high since menALIVE weekend for more than two weeks now, but of course I'm not quite in a fairy tale, so I haven't yet lived happily ever after. There are still lows with the highs, but I have noticed in me a remarkably positive response to the lows. I recover faster, my perspective now being fairly upbeat and forward-facing. Then it happened: a slight meltdown in the sacristy with my two sons arguing over whether both or only one of them will serve at the altar that day. Oh the horror and the shame! Then Father Cantalamassa (not that one) walks in -- more horror and shame! I was losing my cool, and pretty soon, three boys were arguing, one being myself. Not loudly, but heated nonetheless. I was morose all the way to the consecration, flushed with shame and guilt that I not only failed to resolve it quickly and peacefully with the boys, but that I actually ended up arguing with them. But along with these thoughts came inspirations that kept me sane:

I'm really stewing because of pride, aren't I? Am I supposed to be perfect now? It happens; move on. I am replaying it over and over in my mind, and the scene is growing, not abating, and I'm not resolving anything. I really should have taken them aside to talk this out just among us -- that way, we reduce the tension.

One stunning thought surfaced, too:

This wallowing in shame and self-loathing is no longer who I am. That has already been put to death by Christ. By feeding these deadweights, I am reviving what amounts to an undead, a zombie. Now why would I want to do that?

At that point, I smiled (really!), and I prayed in earnest: thank you, Jesus! So I nailed that event to the cross where it belongs, took up my dignity (not pride), and realized that I was indeed being silly. Pride, self-loathing and defeatism were knocking, and I don't have to let them in. I think I understood something new about faith, then. It needed some mental steps, what separates conviction from taking something for granted. I believe that Christ has already won, that I was already buried and raised with him in baptism. I believe that the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon me. I am not a slave of sin any longer, and I am alive.

Time to act like it.

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