Faith, Trust and Confession

I should have known something was up when I forgot to bring a book with me to read at Starbucks after Mass before going in to work.  As a result, I had nothing to read while I sat there with my scone and mocha, so I cleaned out my purse.  And I found this badly beaten up card with this prayer on it:

Prayer of Abandonment

 Father,
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

Charles de Foucauld

And that made me think of when I got the prayer.  It was when Fr. John told us that he was going to be assigned to Our Lady of Good Counsel, and was no longer going to be our pastor.  As a catechumen who had only been going to church for about 2 months, I felt as if my heart had stopped and the earth had fallen away beneath my feet.  My first thought was that I was going to leave, and forget about joining the Church.  I didn’t want to set myself up to trust, to have yet another person taken away from me.  I need security in my life!  My very next thought was, “Wow!  Am I stupid!  This is about God — who is pretty much the only person you can rely upon to be faithful.  How stupid to turn your back on Him, just because you are uncertain about the future.”  So, I fought hard and held back my sobs as I listened to him pray this prayer and tried to understand what was going on.

Time passes.  It’s now been a little over 11 months since Fr. John has left St. Anastasia for Our Lady of Good Counsel.  And truly, this has been a great move, both for me and I would guess for him too, at least he seems happy.  What has happened for me, was that his moving to Our Lady of Good Counsel has given me the opportunity to go to Mass daily.  He started a 6:30 am Mass, and OLGC is only about 10 minutes down the expressway from my work.  So, it works out perfectly.  I also have a second place where I can go to confession, although that can get a little scary.  🙂  Daily Mass is such a blessing for me.  Just ask my friends, I whine and complain like an Israelite in the desert when Mass is cancelled and I cannot receive the Eucharist that day. 

This has also given us a new pastor at St. Anastasia, Fr. JJ.  He is great.  I was skeptical at first about him, being an unknown — and I do not deal well with “scary” “weird” “new” priests.  But he, too, is an amazing man — in a completely different way than Fr. John.

So, many different blessings have come from the re-assignment, and it has been overall a very positive thing for me.

So, as I was cleaning out my purse and saw the prayer and remembered all these things, I smiled and thanked God.  For certainly, His plan in all this was much better than what I had thought in the beginning would have been the best thing to have happen.  His will was so much better than mine.  And because things worked out so very well, I thought that I should try to keep this in mind and give myself over to his will more.  Let His will and not mine be done.

Little did I know that I would be needing that prayer today.

After work today, I called our district manager per usual.  While on the phone, she let me know that the company had not been doing as well as they had thought with the printing side of the business and that her boss, the regional manager, had looked at ways to cut back on costs.  The end result:  I was going to be laid off in 2 weeks.  That’s right.  After working there for 8 years, I was about to be terminated.  What a shock.

My first reaction was to want to go to the car and call someone to vent and discuss this.  However, I had left my cell phone at home, so I faced an hour drive with no one to talk to except God.  Then, I remembered the Prayer of Abandonment, and how God had made things turn out so perfect, when I was sure that everything was headed for disaster.  Certain things would pop into my head.  Like trying to figure out how I can run right out and get another job so that I would have the security of a second income.  And how I didn’t appreciate this job and took it for granted.  It was going to be difficult for me to find a job like this one, where I basically just worked 2 hours on Saturday mornings and got $40 for it.  Other jobs might ask that I work evenings or on Sundays, which I was not crazy about doing.  I really wasn’t too crazy about the idea of working a full 8 hours on Saturday, but knew that this might be necessary.

Then, I stopped myself again.  Here I am, trying to “fix” things.  I thought again of that prayer.  Maybe — just maybe — God wanted me to not work here any more.  Maybe He wants to fill my time in some other way.  So, as hard as it is for me to be still, I am going to make every effort to *not* run out and do something with this block of time, but to really pray about it and try to discern what it is that the Lord wants for me in this regard.

The only question now is what to do about Saturday morning Mass.  St. Anastasia no longer has Saturday morning Mass, and it doesn’t seem like it would really make that much sense to spend $12 in gas to drive out to Plymouth if I weren’t heading that way anyway for work.  I’m not crazy about trying to find a “new” “weird” church locally, and I am not all that crazy about going to church by myself.  But, I will leave this, too, in the hands of God and trust that He will work something out for me.

One would think that maybe this would have been enough for one day.  But no.  See, because I was feeling bad about taking my job for granted, and because I wanted to make sure that I was reconciled with God, I decided to go to Confession.  I was expecting it to be Fr. JJ.  It was not.  It was someone’s boss, instead.  Hmm.  I almost decided to skip Confession today and to come back some other time.  Maybe OLGC on Tuesday, or try next Saturday for Fr. JJ.  But then that thought popped into my head again.  Why am I worried about who the priest is?  Why in the world am I letting that be a barrier between me and Jesus?  What could possibly keep me from reconciling myself to the only one who can make everything better?

Thank You, Holy Spirit, for giving me a swift kick in the butt.  I needed that.  Obviously, You are right and my logic is flawed.  So, I went in and sat in line.

Now, I don’t think I’ve posted my conversion story on this blog yet, so you may not know about The Wrong Mass.  Apparently, there *is* a Wrong Mass, for I have gone to The Wrong Mass twice now.  The first time this happened, I was told by Fr. John that I went to the wrong Mass, to whom I replied in a shocked, incredulous tone, “There’s a wrong Mass?!?!?!?!?”  Okay, keep that in mind.

I enter the confessional (or reconciliation room — I’m not sure what the difference is) and sit down and Msgr. asks me what scripture I brought in with me for confession.  In the same shocked, incredulous tone I say, “We were supposed to bring a scripture?!?!?!?!?”  [See the similarity?]

He nods and says something like, of course, scripture is how He talks to us and it is very important.  Luckily, I did happen to know one passage and was able to talk about that, even though it didn’t explicitly talk about repentance or anything like that, he said it was a good one to start with.  Whew!  Okay, okay.  I know, I gotta dig into the Bible a little more, and actually try to memorize maybe some of it.  Or at least tag a few passages for confession.  🙂

So, I’m already a little uneasy because this is an unknown-quantity priest, but so far, he’s okay.  It was actually a fairly helpful confession and I didn’t get kiboshed over the head in quite the way that I had expected to.  Instead, I’m supposed to be directing my focus this week on mercy.  Both seeing how I give it, and also seeing how I receive it.  It was hypothesized that from what I said, I appear to be someone who gives mercy better than she receives mercy.  Something to look into and grow with, which, I’m sure, was the point.

That being done with, I open up my little missal to my Act of Contrition.  So, of course, once again today, my plans are thwarted when he says, “Now, in your own words, express your sorrow to God.”  Oh man!  Doesn’t he know how horrible I am at spontaneous prayer??  I figure that God may get what I mean, but I’m certain that I sound ridiculous to anyone else.  So, I come up with something, and he doesn’t appear to turn purple or laugh or anything, so either it was acceptable, or he has got a really strong tolerance for the inept at praying.

So, while it is not yet over, it has certainly been a day for me to stretch and grow as a person.

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.  I pray that I will always trust in you, for your way is so much better than my way.  I pray that you will give me grace and confidence to know that you are my Father, that you love me, and that you will always take care of me.  Amen.

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