Monday, February 11, 2013

A Comfortable Substitute for Reality and Other Lessons

On this historic day when we learn that Benedict XVI will become the first pope in 600 years to resign, my actress Maria Romine appears on The Journey Home and tells a story of great grace - her conversion story,  a conversion that I witnessed with my own eyes, that I was a part of, and that I witnessed as a Witness when I was honored to function as Maria's sponsor three years ago when she entered the Church.  On this date, the 155th anniversary of the first appearance of Our Lady of Lourdes, on this date when we return from a most remarkable tour to Florida where our audiences were overwhelmed with the Spirit; on this date I mark a private anniversary of my own that I'm still trying to figure out the meaning of.

I have been on an adventure that began a few years ago on this date, an adventure that was a great blessing and a great burden at the same time.  It was an adventure that God invited me on and that I accepted, and yet I'm still trying to figure out why He asked me and why I came along.

It has been an adventure that I can't possibly describe, for it is largely spiritual, but I have learned from it quite profoundly some unexpected things.

  • God provides for everything if we just let Him.  We keep saying we trust in Him and we never really do.

  • There is in the lives of the most holy of us what I would call the CSR Syndrome - the desire to build a Comfortable Substitute for Reality.  This is tied in with our lack of trust in God (see the bullet point immediately above).

  • While we must practice the Stewardship of Love, the pain of a broken heart is a way of taking a giant step closer to Jesus Christ.  If you haven't had one, you miss a key element of the cross, the spear, the blood.  There is no way to live an authentic life without your heart breaking a little every day.

  • Today as we stopped for gas in Ina, Illinois, a chunky blonde in her mid-20's came up to me with tears in her eyes.  "Excuse me, sir, but a lady inside just helped me by giving me $20.  I have lost my debit card.  I'm from Springfield, and I'm on my way to Fort Campbell with my two children to meet my husband.  He's been deployed and he's just getting back.  Is there a way you could give me a few dollars to help me put more gas in the tank?  I'll mail it back to you.  I can show you my military ID and my kids."  I took a $20 bill from my wallet and handed it to her.  "Don't worry about that.  God bless you and God bless your husband."  "Thank you," she said.  She then, as I watched, walked into the car the next pump over and got into it with two nasty looking urban black men and drove away.  No kids, no hint of any family.  I just watched.  See bullet point number three above.

  • "Take no thought of harvest, only of proper sowing," as T. S. Eliot said.  We have no idea what the seed will do.  Paul sows, Apollos waters, but God gives the increase.  The increase is beyond our control.  The increase is a miracle.  If we try to sow safely or if we waste our seed or if we cut off water to the plants that have sprouted from our seed, we prevent God from giving the increase.

  • If we simply seek to do God's will - scary as that is, then and only then the peace begins to come.


Benjamin. said...

This is odd. So what do you think about Dolan? Any chance, or is it just being exaggerated by the media? What is your opinion of him?

Kevin O'Brien said...

I think the United States Council of Catholic Bishops would love it if Dolan would be elected pope, because then they could go back to being what they were - useless, sleepwalking, self-congratulating, inept. He's their conscience and their leader, and their occasional reminder that they are the successors to the apostles. Most of them don't like that.

Benjamin. said...

Oh... so you think that he's been such a strong voice for good that they want him to leave?

Anonymous said...

I think perhaps the chunky blonde should consider a future in sales, because it is obvious she has the necessary skills..

I liked your post, it will be interesting to see who is selected the next pontiff.

Do you think that it was a good idea for the Pope to resign, as he is 85?
Maybe, others before him should have resigned as well due to advancing age?

Love your blog!

Amarillo, TX

Kevin O'Brien said...

My dear Beatrice, the chunky blonde could also be an actress in my touring troupe, for she had me fooled.

As to your other questions,I think Holy Father knows best. Personally, I plan on retiring as soon as I hit 40 - but that was many years ago and I have yet to be able to afford it.

Dante's Beatrice was in paradise. Is Amarillo anything like paradise?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should also enroll yourself in the financial fitness course your pupil is taking online! Only joking, we are still in quite a recession and although things seem to be improving economically we are only one foul budget from another Great Depression, even with the Fiscal Cliff deal.

Although Beatrice sent Virgil to bring Dante through the Inferno & Purgatorio, I like to think she was not yet truly in Paradise until her Dante arrives and she greets him in her chariot drawn by the Griffin.

Amarillo feels more like the Inferno in the summertime, although just north of the city is a national reserve called Lake Meredith near Borger that is a little bit of paradise and perfect for camping under the stars!

Have a lovely day!