My very first “What the Faith” blog post was about how God chooses the right tools to bring us closer to Him. I think that’s a thought worth revisiting. Many times, the tools He chooses are well-worn but sturdy and reliable. Sometimes He chooses brand-new tools that are more updated, and attractive to someone who may need something a bit more modern.
I believe one of His favorite tools are our priests. Just like any toolbox, God fills His with some heavy-duty reliable tools, some that are more chiseled and made for delicate work, and some that are new and shiny. Some are there for just one thing, others are multi-purpose. Often, the right tool for the job is not the one that we would have chosen. God will surprise us with the tools He decides to use.
For example, John and Josephine have been married for nearly 20 years. John converted to Catholicism and received the Sacraments of Initiation shortly before he and Josephine were married. Like anyone, he has gone through some faith struggles. He has questioned many of the “rules” of the Church. Such as why it is necessary to go to Church every Sunday. His retort to Josephine when she questioned him about not going to Mass with her was that God would understand if John decided to stay home and relax rather than go to Church. He found many excuses as to why he could not go to Mass. John’s faith was just a little bent, not necessarily broken. Josephine, tried everything she could think of to convince John that he needed to get back to his faith, to his religion, to God. The discussion went from friendly debates, to arguing, to apathy and back again. Much to her chagrin, she was not the tool necessary for this job.
Rather, God choose, as he often does, a child. John and Josephine have a godson, Daniel, who was to receive his First Holy Communion. Daniel’s dad called and asked John if he was practicing his faith. John answered yes. John and Josephine were then asked to be sponsors for Daniel’s first communion. This triggered another discussion between John and Josephine about what it means to be a practicing Catholic. They looked it up and sure enough, everywhere they looked had it listed, among others, that regular, weekly Mass attendance was a requirement of a fully practicing Catholic.
John, while he wasn’t the best Catholic, is definitely a man with high moral standards. When he realized he was not by definition a practicing Catholic, he was distraught. He wondered if he should call Daniel and tell him he could not be his sponsor. He and Josephine discussed it, and they decided to begin going to Mass together again and that John could be a practicing Catholic quite easily.
They began going to Mass at a Church near them. God had begun the repairs with the sledgehammer that was John’s godson. Then, once the rough shape was visible, He has now begun the finer work with more refined, better detailed tools. The priests at the church John and Josephine now regularly attend are extremely faithful men who have touched Johns heart. He very much enjoys attending Mass, and his faith is growing each week.
Sometimes, the tools God chooses are not as visible or as noticeable as they were in John and Josephine’s case. Take Vicky for instance. Vicky was having a down couple of days. Nothing like a clinical depression, just some sadness that was harder for her to process. She was having a dream one night. In the dream she was about to do some very bad things. She had the conscience thought that she did not want to do these things and was trying very hard to redirect her dream away from the bad things. She felt (either in the dream or for real, she’s not sure) something flutter over her. It was like someone took a sheet and fanned it over her entire bed – or, harder to admit, but in all honesty, it felt like it could have been wings. Her thought was that it was either something bad trying to get her to do the bad things her dream was suggesting, or it was her guardian angel protecting her. Either way, she began to pray starting with the prayer to her guardian angel, and then the St. Michael prayer. As she was praying (and still dreaming) she looked at the wall and on it was a picture of God. The style of the rendering looked Greek, and like it was done in plaster. It was a 3-D depiction and in it, God was younger, with brown curly hair, a full beard and large round eyes. He was portrayed as very happy with twinkly eyes and a joyful countenance. Then, in front of the likeness, the real man appeared. He looked exactly the same as the wall-hanging, but was slumped and very sad looking. Vicky continued praying. She said the Apostles Creed and the Our Father next. As she prayed, God slowly perked up. With each word of prayer, He stood taller and became happier and happier until His “live” face matched the wall hanging face. He even showed a sense of humor as He looked at the wall hanging and posed in front of it to make the two faces match exactly.
Vicky woke up fully with a sense that her praying, not only in this particular instance, but every time she prays, makes God happy. He is filled with joy and love for those who pray to Him and all she wants to do is keep that feeling going. The things that were making her sad are still there, but the sadness is now secondary to the joy she feels for being able to give all her sadness to God, who turns it all into joy. In Vicky’s case, God chose her dreams as His tool to help repair her mood.
Most often, however, we are not aware of the tools being used to help us. Hindsight, prayer and reflection can bring some of these into focus, but we will probably never know how much and how many people or things God has used within our regular normal lives to help chisel us into the image He intends for us.
And so, my friends, I end this post with the thought that we should always be aware of who we are communicating with and how we are communicating. We may just very well be the tool in God’s hands being used to help someone else. Or that someone else could be there to help us. Or both.
Prayer to our Guardian Angel
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side, to light, to guard, to rule and guide. Amen
St. Michael Prayer
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God thrust into hell Satan, and all evil spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and Earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; on the third day, He rose again from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
Our Father, who art in Heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.