Thursday, September 25, 2014
giving Him our time and relinquishing control
I have written about my conversion to Catholicism before. I am very aware of my perspective as a convert, and sometimes I feel the need to share some thoughts on being that ex-prot/non-denom/evangelical. Now is one of those times.
I may have mentioned that just being raised non-Catholic, I was taught either directly or indirectly, negative things about Catholics. Whether it was my mother, who went to Catholic school ( I don't really know if she also was baptized or raised Catholic) talked about having to switch her writing hand from left to right, or make remarks about the Catholic families on our street; or if it was other things said by bitter lapsed Catholics I have known, I managed to unconsciously collect some misinformation along the way. All the usuals; statues being false gods, "working their way into heaven", the "worship"of Mary. and of course, the old, "they are followers of man made rules instead of followers of Jesus" thing. I did notice that most who would say that last one had found themselves on the wrong side of one of those rules and were unwilling to consider the Church's remedy. But anyways.
The few Church rules or teachings I have been thinking about recently are, the Sunday Mass obligation and the Rosary.
Some have wondered why this is required and is a mortal sin if missed *unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. " (~from the Catechism)
What makes sense to me about this, is that God knows our human weakness and tendency to be lazy. He knows how important it is for us to be in His presence, how much we need to be taught His Word and fed by His body and blood. How much grace we receive for our daily lives just by being at Holy Mass at least once a week.
It has been purposely made easy for us. There are multiple masses at any Catholic church in the world, offered beginning on Saturday evening going until Sunday evening. Most will only spend less than an hour at church. We have enjoyed, while traveling, masses in different places. It always amazes me, the true universality of the mass, and the brotherhood of Catholics.
So, the Church requires that we give God at least this small sacrifice of our time. That we prioritize and set aside some time for Him each week. He loves us, died for us, redeemed us, and we owe Him this act of love and respect in return. In short, He asks for some of our TIME. Time spent on on Him now that deposits His grace to live in a way that we might spend all time and eternity in heaven.
As much sense as this makes to me, I also realize that the gift of faith plays a part. the gift of gaining a perspective other than my own. Or at least be willing to do so. To not have to have all things be my way or bend to my own will. To be obedient, humble, docile to the Lord. Or at least, be willing to be made so.
It is not required that we pray the Rosary. It is an optional practice.
I have heard it compared to the "meaningless repetition" referenced in Matthew 6:7. Critics often state that it is not heartfelt nor original to the individual, therefore, less authentic.
My criticism of the criticism is this:
1. The words of the rosary are taken from the Gospels. Unless you are ready to put the words of the Gospels in the "meaningless"category, I suggest further consideration.
2. Repetition. Yes, we do repeat the prayers. While doing so, we meditate on the Mysteries, which are all about the life of Jesus. By doing this we are doing two things, spending some TIME in prayer, and going beyond our own thoughts. Gaining a perspective that is not our own. Generally, five decades of the Rosary takes about 15 minutes. So, I give to God this fifteen minutes talking to His Mother, asking for her intercession.
If left to myself, a few minutes in prayer and I would be distracted, my focus on Jesus difficult to maintain. The wisdom of the Church in offering a fifteen minute prayer, gives a us a framework to spend this time with God. Jesus, on His part, longs for us and we have this beautiful opportunity to give Him fifteen minutes in which He has our focus. Again, TIME.
I once heard someone say that praying the Rosary daily changed his life. I took that as a challenge. Now, I can't tell you how many times I have arrived at the end of a Rosary with some clear thought or direction, or some peace about a problem. I have not achieved perfection in the daily praying, but I never stop working towards it.
3. Being original is not all it's cracked up to be, and almost 100% of the time, what we think is original to us, is not. Check in with Ecclesiastes sometime.
I once wrote about this idea here. Just so I am consistent! (tongue is in cheek).
4. As far as being heartfelt, that is something that can wax and wane. Some days, a person can approach prayer with true passion and emotion, and others, not so much. The beauty of praying the Rosary, indeed, taking the TIME to do so, is that we offer ourselves in prayer whether or not we feel like it. If we allowed our feelings to dictate when and how we prayed, I fear prayer would become nothing more than a vent session with God.
5. Vent sessions with God are also fine. And needed. And if I can speak for God, welcome. Spontaneous prayer, ie;, just talking to God all throughout the day is a wonderful thing. Precious. Indispensable. I know this because God is a father, and as a parent, I know that we want to hear the heartfelt thoughts of our children. Their fears, hopes, requests. everything.
But, I submit to you, that praying the Rosary, and any of the prayers offered by the Church, (such as the Divine Mercy Chaplet), help to put us in a better frame of mind, to gain that heavenly perspective outside ourselves, with which to approach Him all the rest of the day.
So, I challenge you. Pray the Rosary and see your life change.
Also, consider giving Him some of your time. Make Mass a priority, Know that it will involve sacrifice, however small. See what comes of it. Trust God, and trust the wisdom of the Church.