Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.—Hebrews 11:1
Thanks to a past full of serious arguments and broken friendships. religion and politics are now topics I usually leave alone in public circles. But since my Catholic faith came up during my recent doctor’s appointment, here’s an attempt to explain why he’s “treating” me with church involvement as part of my recovery from the relapse.
For many years I claimed not to need church to “keep me in line”, and that I had a more “mature” spirituality that didn’t confine God to any one faith tradition. Well, I still believe God can be found everywhere, in nature and in other people; but I eventually discovered that I really did need a church and a faith community, so I’ve actually been quite active in mine over the past several years, going to Mass nearly every Sunday and serving as a lector (Scriptural reader).
Unfortunately, working every weekend makes it hard to attend even the Saturday evening vigil Mass, so except for a couple of occasions, I haven’t made it to church in weeks. I’ve missed it, but I didn’t realize how much until the other day, when my psychiatrist reminded me that I am a “woman of faith”. Which is true: I’ve always believed in a God of love and mercy, but it’s more than that…..faith gives me an appreciation of His creations, a sense of purpose, even a willingness to endure pain if there is a greater meaning to it in the long run.
So today, when I went to confess this latest sin to my priest per my treatment plan (and I would’ve done it anyway because my pdoc can’t give me absolution!), I was once again astounded at the outpouring of God’s love and compassion through His representative on earth. Most people don’t like to go to Confession because they think they’ll be judged by the priest or made to feel ashamed, but my personal experience of it has always been one of amazing grace.
It’s like being washed clean of the past and polished to a bright shine. It’s also a great reminder that God’s mercy is abundant and always available, and that there is nothing that will make Him stop loving or forgiving me…..no, not even when I can’t love or forgive myself. That is an enormous comfort when I feel as though I’m irredeemably broken, whether it’s because of something I’ve done or because I’ve been ill. Or because of something I did WHILE I was ill.
But what touched me the most today was Father’s discussion about the way God works through people to convey His love for us. I’d never really thought of it that way before, but it makes all kinds of sense to me. Here is the ordained minister of God, reassuring me that I was forgiven before I ever stepped through the church doors. Here are the family and friends who show me in so many ways how much I am loved and valued. Here, too, is the wise physician who knows what will speak to my soul and heal it. God works through ALL of them for my greater good.
So when I emerged from the confessional, the first thing I did was thank my husband for showing me the love of God through his words and actions. I think he rather liked that. I know how good it felt to say it.
Thank You, Lord!