This isn’t going to be Usher’s Confession. Please, tell me you got the reference. This is the last installment of my Lay Dominican Retreat-ville chronicle.
Yesterday, I promised a full report of my confession to Fr. Rick, which broke the second session of Profound Silence. I get a kick out of writing that, and especially saying it. I let my voice get deep and give a Wizard of Oz spin to it. I digress.
As I waited in line, I thought about some things I said in the office that may or may not be considered swear words. We all know I have a problem with that, but I’m working on it. I also noted to myself that I was angry with my husband and family members, impatient with my children, spoke ill of other people – as much as I try not to, I’m human. But these dings on the confession meter, didn’t get at what was really bothering me.
I sat across from Fr. Rick and recounted the list of broken commandments, he said, “is that all?” and I said, “no that’s not it, I know that’s surface stuff”.
I’ve been, distracted. Distracted at mass, distracted in prayer. Distracted. What’s worse? I haven’t done anything about it. Usually, I nudge my attention to it and work at it. Lately, I haven’t. And, now I’m really sharing here, I stopped praying morning prayer and evening prayer. I even stopped (I hope you’re sitting down) praying the rosary. I know. I didn’t stop praying for others when asked. I bring those intentions to mass and pray for them during Communion. I just stopped praying for myself. I just wanted to listen to Coldplay in the car, and I didn’t want to pray. I felt like I’d given up on myself and that was something I wanted to confess. I wanted God to know, that I knew that he knew what was going on and that I was truly sorry for it.
And you know what Fr. Rick said? I like Coldplay too. You take yourself too seriously. Just relax, it’s ok. You’re here. You’re on retreat, and that’s a good thing.
He’s right. I haven’t really given up, I’m just human and I forget to allow myself to be that. I have to remember that God is everything and everywhere, in every dish I wash and every shoe I tie. Just because I’m not praying “by the book” and ticking the boxes, so to speak, doesn’t mean He doesn’t see there is love and humility in my approach to the vocations He’s given me (motherhood, marriage and now, being a Lay Dominican). In the talk that followed, he said that part of prayer is supposed to be about what we’re doing, and mentioned how St. Catherine of Siena, when sent to her room as a little girl for being, well, St. Catherine of Siena, she never wanted for closeness to the Lord because she was always with him in the cell of her heart.
Fr. Rick continued by telling us that he studied Philosophy in Rome, specifically miracles. He went into what makes a miracle a miracle, and how we always prefer to see God work in big bold strokes, but don’t really see the everyday, varied ways he performs miracles and speak to us. He referenced one of my favorite parables. The paralytic. I love this parable but there was always the one thing I couldn’t get my head around, even after a lot of study. When Jesus says to the Pharisees:
Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?
In the context of Fr. Rick’s talk on miracles, I finally got it. People really like to see it to believe it. The Pharisees, even people today, have a hard time believing that our sins are forgiven, they would believe in a God that showed them a paralyzed man healed and able to walk, than to believe the seemingly smaller miracle that happens inside, the conversion of heart. Maybe that’s why the gift of faith is sometimes hard to explain?
The final talk was a Q&A session where Dominican resources he liked were shared (I bought a book immediately from my phone, on the spot) and he recommended reading about the lives of the early Dominican Saints, like Blessed Jordan of Saxony, St. Catherine of Siena, and most importantly St. Dominic. He also mentioned a book that I read, The New Wine of Dominican Spirituality by Paul Murray, OP and Timothy Radcliff, OP, remember that?
The topic of spiritual direction came up and his answer was so great, I have to share it. He shared that spiritual direction was mainly from Jesuit Spirituality and Dominicans don’t really have that. He said “You are the world’s leading expert on you”. You know what’s right. You know what seems wacky, stick to what’s right, read about our saints and walk humbly with God.
When I heard that, I imagined myself, head bowed, so much smaller than He, at His side, listening to Him breathe, I am the Paralytic, my sins are forgiven and I can get up and walk.
Fr. Rick is right. I need to stop taking myself so seriously!