March 21, 2010
Philippians 3:7-16~Forgetting What Lies Behind..
Snow in the shadows a bit of snow clinging to the sunless areas of the forest near Bentonville AR
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Labels: Scenic Arkansas, scripture
March 20, 2010
Reconcilliation and Absolution
Light To The World Lighted Cross that perches in a very steep hillside overlooking the valley below...
Mount Sequoyah Conference Center Fayetteville Arkansas
Every child who received Christian instruction learns the story of the man who's friends brought him to Jesus by lowering him through the roof. You remember that first Jesus says to him "My son, your sins are forgiven you"... This gave rise to protests from religious leader present and even today you will hear in Protestant Churches..."Who can forgive sins but God alone?"... Jesus goes on to say "Why do you ask this question? Which is easier to say, "your sins are forgiven or Rise, take up your bed and walk? But so you will know that the Son of Man has the authority to forgive sins I say to you "Rise, take up your bed and walk" (Mark 2:1-12) As a Protestent I longed to hear those word said to me... "my son, your sins are forgiven you" As a Church of Christ Preacher I would preach sermons about forgiveness and wonder..truly are my sins forgiven?... There is much emphasis on the Lord's Supper...and the need to be fully confessed and not partake in an "unworthy manner".Was I unworthy? Was that why certain sins kept "hanging on" Was there something unaffective in my baptism ( I Cor 11:27)
All along I wondered if I needed to have been alive in the time of Jesus to have heard those words of pardon and forgiveness, or would I forever wonder...
Bruce Sullivan "Christ In His Fullness"
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.”
St John 20:21-23
The Church is quiet, it is in the middle of the day, I can hear, off in the distance, the laughter of the preschoolers in the day care center that is run there on the campus. I wait in the Adoration Chapel until Msgr Scott comes and gets me... "Well... are you ready?" he says with a smile..."ready as I will ever be" and we walk into the church through a set of glass doors to the confessional room.
Gone are the days of tiny closets and wooden boxes. With scandal and accusations ever at the forefront, there are few truly private confessionals anymore and certainly none in modern Catholic churches in this country. You have the illusion of privacy but the lightly stained glass and the clear glass doors so that both sides of the screen are in full view from the outside. Its obvious that people are in there… As one young man said in class…”Why be so concerned about visual privacy, so you are confessing to Father…so what?” So what indeed my young friend, hopefully you will never have anything so pressing and shameful that such privacy will be needed.
But like the young man, I have similar feelings about this most misunderstood of the seven Sacraments. I wonder why people don’t take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to have this kind non judgmental person that cares about you listen to you unburden yourself. I have wondered how hard this could be month in and month out….that was until I sat down and really thought about what a monumental task this was going to be to prepare for my first confession.
First I thought that I was going to have to go back to my childhood and confess as many sins as I could remember. That was enough to make me cringe. How does one do that? So true to my 21 century electronic age culture and information gathering skills I went to that wealth of spiritual resource Google and pulled up this gem http://anglicanhistory.org/pusey/pusey1.html this treatise, written 150 years ago, was very helpful. Then I met with Father and he said “Oh, no you have only to go back to when you were baptized, which was 1990…and no laundry lists, lets talk about real things that hold you back, get you down… things you want to be rid of …” That really helped a lot. I have a lot I want to lay down and I only have to deal with recent sins instead of a lifetimes worth of sins. This is because baptism effectively washed the sins of my youth from my soul… This was a new concept when I first heard it….and I think that this is one of the things that draws me to the Catholic church… The Sacraments
The Sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions....
I intend to write more about the sacraments, but this is so important. We Evangelicals and Protestants of every stripe have lost a valuable gift in giving up the sacraments. I am only just now coming to understand the value of a tangible touchable understandable evidence of the graces imparted by our Lord… and the sacrament of Reconciliation or Pennace is one of the most misunderstood. I have heard from friends and family that “you don’t need a priest to be forgiven. Well that is true and the “forgiveness of desire” is found as a legitimate theological precept in the Catechism. However, the concept that “confession is good for the soul, is very accurate. As it says in the book of James
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:14-16
I can only explain by telling the rest of the story.
I sat down over a course of days and broke my life down into segments based on lifes experience. My single life prior to meeting Woody, my courtship and marriage, the first few years , the time in Hawaii and then the time in Arkansas and our divorce. Like I have said before our life together was a play in three acts and it fit neatly into the structure laid out by Rev. Pussey in that article. I also wrote about my experience with Mr. Wonderful and confessed my inordinate attachment to him and how sorry I am for the damage this has caused so many people. I confessed my feelings of resentment towards my parents and my family, how even as they have hurt me deeply the resentment is a cancer that I want to be gone from my life….
My self indulgent sins, personal flaws and faults I had a laundry list, as do most people I filled a dozen pages or more in this notebook with the entire mess. I prayed about it and wondered how I would do….
I entered the room and there was a chair for me. This was a special appointment as I was not going to be able to go in the evening with the other candidates, since I am working. I sat down. I cant kneel anymore. My knees are so bad from the nasty falls I have taken and my weight. I opened my notebook and after Father said the bidding prayers…I began
“ Bless me Father for I have sinned. This is my first confession. I was baptized in June of 1990, and have tried with all of my heart to live the way Jesus would have me to live and I have failed most wretchedly, may God have mercy on my soul….”
I began to read my notes and it all came back to me. The sins both of commission and omission… I let it all go, from my bitterness regarding my barrenness to my desire for a married man I can never have, to my active rage at Woody for his faults, to my resentments towards my family for their misunderstanding and non acceptance of me… I asked God to forgive me of the defects of character that plague me due to my father’s and Woody’s drinking, and my mother’s controlling behavior.
My uncontrollable anger… My inordinate desires I cannot control…even my immaturity that while is not a fault or defect of character but in my struggle to try to grow up, I hurt people, and cause a lot of grief.
Father asked a few questions for clarification, admonished me to not see Mr. Wonderful again, ask if he was the reason for my divorce. I could say no truthfully. While he inspired me to find myself and to reach for better greater things he wasn’t the reason Woody and I are apart…and with that, I received the penance of saying the Rosary everyday for three days in reparation for the pain I have caused other people… and then came the Act of Contrition which I felt with all of my heart as I said these words…
“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee, and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishment, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”
Then Msgr Scott came to my side of the partition and stood over me and extended his hands in blessing over me, and prayed the prayer of absolution:
“God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son
has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of sins;
Through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
I have stood under waterfalls in Hawaiian streams, the pounding shower of water that flows over you in a stream of refreshing blissful coolness after a hot sweaty hike to get to them…It is one of the most wonderful feelings I have ever experienced… I had a similar rush after this prayer… I felt like a burden of years was lifted off of me and that God really and truly forgiven me.
Heaven opened wide its windows and the light of God poured into my heart… I will never forget this moment.
Father asked me if I felt different… Yes I do and yes I will be different from this day forward.
I finish this on the eve of my reception into the Church on Good Friday night. I am at work surrounded by my coworkers that are as supportive of this moment as family should be…some even in a sort of awe that I would do this at this point in my life. On man said that I will be forever changed after tomorrow night. I know that I am changed even now. Thank you God for this great gift
Labels: Books, Catholic, Church, Faith, Personal Growth
March 14, 2010
Isaiah 43:16-21 ~ God Is Doing a New Thing
The Frozen Forest on a field of green grasss Bella Vista AR
Thus says the Lord,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
who brings forth chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The wild beasts will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.
Labels: Praise and Worship, Scenic Arkansas, scripture
The Lenten Journey
Late Spring at Lake Norwood Bella Vista AR
Yes its been quite a while. I had a birthday while I was away and that went well. My friend Diane took me to dinner and to see the brilliant choral group Kapelle
she also gave me a nice gift of a car emergency kit, something I can really use with my 60 mile a day drive
I am sorry that I have neglected my blogs, but time escapes me... I am living life rather than writing about it, praying and preparing for my first Reconciliation which is this week. I only have to confess up to the point of my baptism in 1990. That leaves a multitude of sins I need to forget and a multitude that need confessing, so I shall do that on the 17th.
In between times of reflection there is work, which is going along well. I still have much to learn, I made a goal to learn three new procedures every week. I run around begging for help to get my work done, because the training program is non exist ant. But I choose to not let that stop me and I get through my evenings, and one day I will be as proficient as anyone else there...The men have been better about things and I will have another lady on the shift soon. Im very excited about this.
Working there is a daily test of my willingness to put into practice the things I have learned in Ala Non. Most importantly I am responsible for my feelings and how I react to things around me... And if I say something in all good faith and someone takes it wrong it is not my fault or worry that this other person feels bad. Or if these men misunderstand that as a woman I have feelings and stress might just make me cry once in a while.
Mostly I smile and type away all night. I am so happy to have this job...I fear that somehow like so many of the good things of my life's journey, it will suddenly be ripped away from me and all will be lost...So I work hard, I have a full work load now, and often I fall behind... I am not as fast a typist as the others, who have been there for a long time, but by the end of the day or night as it were I get caught up and all is well.
I am trying very very hard to live in the moment...to make every moment count, every financial decision count, spend money very wisely... To not think too far ahead. I try to just enjoy the day and not think about tomorrow for it may never come.
I heard from my lawyer, and can sign the bankruptcy papers and file within the week. I have prayed about this and while I feel terrible about the money, I see no other way. No one will work with me and the int rest has gone up so high that I can never hope to pay it all back. There is so much that I need from medical care to car repairs. I see no help for it...
I have also started my annulment from Woody with his blessing. What I thought would be a slam dunk due to the circumstances of my civil divorce. But it is going to be the same long process as the first one. I am discouraged about this but will submit myself and try this again. I don't know how this will turn out...I have no witnesses to offer support for my case I have neither family nor friend from the time I was married... I will start looking at people here but it will be difficult to say the least. I shall have to be creative. I want to get this done as soon as I can, because Woody is in a very unstable situation, and may disappear off the face of the earth
It must seem to some that read my blog that I am in the same position, but no, I shall be here for a good long time. NW Arkansas is my home. The beautiful snowy winter has been a trial but also a blessing as well, and has shown me the rightness of my decision to stay here and try to make a life here.... I know I have grown as a person. I am choosing to take along all that is good in my life and leaving behind all that hinders or is burden rather than a blessing... to that end....In the time that I have been away my comment generator has been replaced with a different system that is not really compatible with my elderly blogging platform. I am going to switch to Blogger commenting in the coming days. The loss of over 1700 comments on this blog is painful but I don't want a system that will allow the random posting of photos and videos on my blogs. I am hoping to get this upgrade in soon... And I am seriously considering ending my journal My Wide Blue Seas completely and moving to a new blogging home. The number of posts (over 1400) many with photos makes for a large blog. I also question the relevance of this blog to my new life and would a new blog allow for a fresh vision. Its an interesting idea and one that I am seriously looking at...
And so it goes. My Lenten journey with its reading, fasting, and deep prayers has been a good one and I look forward to seeing where God leads in coming days
Labels: Blogging, Catholic, faith working, working