Posts Tagged With: penance

Giraffe Necks and Weak Coffee

Thursday – 11/8/12 – 7:00am – Casa de Misiones – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Earlier this morning I had an experience which hasn’t happened since my sophomore year of college, roughly 11 years go. As I was turning on my computer the screen goes all white and then dark again for a few moments before booting up. While the screen was dark and I was looking at it, I saw my reflection. And I didn’t like what I saw. My head looked humongous & my neck was like a giraffe. In college, the same thing happened as I was passing by one of the big ground-level window panes on one of the classroom buildings. I saw my reflection and didn’t like what I saw. Both then and now, I woke up from that initial displeasure with an “aha!” moment. The realization was that the mirror I was looking into was not an accurate one. They were both modern day versions of the circus-mirror effect. The difference is that with the circus mirror I never took it seriously enough to be displeased with my reflection, because I knew it was false. So naturally from these instances it caused me to reflect on the accuracy of the mirrors in our lives, whether they be a physical mirror that shows us what we look like or some person/situation that reflects some aspect of our lives. With both I realized that you have to have a good mirror or else none of your assumptions or opinions will be accurate. Another vital part of the equation is to be able to interpret the results in a good way. If the results are good, you have to build off of that in a way that does not also inflate your ego. If the results are not so good, then you have to be able to build off of that and not let it deflate your will and sense of self-worth.

My other little incident this morning involved coffee. Come to think of it, when does anything in my morning routine NOT involve coffee? Yesterday morning one of our missionaries in training (who is a morning person like me) was up before I was and made the coffee. He appeared to have put about half a millimeter of coffee grounds into the filter to make the coffee. Stuff tasted like flavorless hot brown water. But I didnt’ wanna waste the whole pot, and I also knew that the “brown water” had caffeine in it. So I swallowed my pride, figuratively and literally, and drank the coffee. My morning depended on it. I was determined this morning to educate him on how to make stronger coffee. To me, one of my pet peeves is weak coffee. Seems kinda pointless. I think if I end up in purgatory instead of going straight to heaven, one of my thousand-year penances will be drinking weak coffee day in and day out. Anyhoo, back to my story. I didn’t get up in time to beat him to the coffee maker. But to his credit he remembered what I said yesterday about weak coffee and put more coffee grounds than he did yesterday. Still not quite enough though. Also to his credit is the fact that the only brand of Mexican coffee available here is really weak stuff when compared to my beloved Community Coffee. Ergo I enjoyed my first cup more than yesterday’s first cup but I was still determined that at least my second cup would be stronger. So I took the plastic filter thingy hostage. By “plastic filter thingy” I’m referring to the thing where you put the paper coffee filter and then fill it up with coffee grounds. Once I was sure that the first pot was close enough to being done, I dumped out the rest of it. Put water in the machine. And then I filled that thing up with a Southern-Louisiana-Cajun-appropriate level of coffee grounds, which according to Sid, means at least 1/2 to 2/3 full. Gosh dernit, I want this stuff to curl my nose hair it’s so strong. I want it to be so strong that it puts hair on my chest (a feat usually reserved for a good beer or shot of whiskey). You get the idea. I’m pleased that the 2nd pot was definitely stronger. I’m even pleased-er that I think the bag of Mexican coffee we’re on right now is our second to last, and 6 bags of Community Coffee are waiting in line to take its place.

You know, as I look back on the title of this entry I think someone could easily misinterpret that this entry is written by some innovative Cajun who found a new type of bait to put in his crab trap. I also remember that yesterday we had a class on tips for missionary photography and blogging. But I didn’t think that a picture of a blank computer screen, my neck, a coffee pot, or a cup of coffee would cause my journal entry to be any more interesting than it already is. So please, just use your imagination. 😉

Have a good one. God Bless

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FORGIVE ME LORD…………..

Sunday 3/28/10 – 5:00pm @ CC’s Coffee on Johnston St.

I’ve been meaning to write in my journal for the past five days, but God kept presenting me with opportunities so I kept delaying it. I wanted to write about confession. I’ll spare you the details, but Tuesday I was in need of the sacrament of Confession. I couldn’t make it to noon confession @ Wisdom, so I tried going to Fatima after work, but the priest couldn’t make it. I know priests are busy, and he probably had a good reason, but this really frustrated me. It’s happened several times before. If it’s that much of a problem to be there, then don’t advertise that you will have confession at certain times on certain days. Anyhoo, so I pass by Wisdom on the way to Ms. Laura’s to see if I could catch Fr. Chester for a minute, but he was out on the road going to an appt. My chances for going to Confession were not looking too good. After our Coreteam meeting, I go back to Wisdom, catch the end of the Tuesday night Mass. I talk to one of the staff members to see if there was any chance I could pull Fr. Chester aside real quick to hear my confession. Instead of some nice, charitable, generic, non-commital answer that would encourage me to make the decision myself, she came at me with a stiff-necked response of “there are scheduled times when the priest is available.” No Duh!!!!! You think I don’t know that? Again, I didn’t expect her to ask the priest for me, but at least have some kind of decency and compassion in the way you respond to me. For God’s sake, I’m trying to restore a connection of grace between my soul and God.

You better darn well make that more of a priority of yours if you work for the Church. At this point, the disappointment was really starting to set in. Then I get the idea to go to the Community of Jesus Crucified to see if Fr. Frey or Fr. Champagne were there. Surely, they, of all people, would be available. Well, as my luck would have it, neither one was there. They were out and about on other priestly duties. At this point, I had just about resigned (consigned?) myself to not receiving the Sacrament. So I’m headed back home on Pinhook Road and I pass by St. Patrick’s. I see a car at the rectory, so I pull in to see if the lights are on. Sure enough, they are. For a split second, I ponder whether or not to disturb the priest. I decided that a slight inconvenience on his part is worth it, if on my part, my soul is restored to God. So, I knock on his door, and after I explain my situation, he mutters something about the situation being ridiculous (not joking, wish I could say I was) and then talks about how he just heard confessions for 2 and a half hours at a penance service, which was “scheduled to give people the opportunity to receive the Sacrament.” Well you know what, I couldn’t make it. Furthermore, ministry doesn’t always happen neatly on our own schedule. Sometimes *GASP!* you have to answer a knock on the door at night, after you’ve already returned home and become all comfy and relaxed. To the priest’s credit though, he allowed me into his house, heard my confession, and absolved me of my sins. As I finally achieved my goal of restoring my soul to God, I reflected on how I got to that point.

I deliberately chose to separate my soul from God by my selfish action. But I knew right away that I wanted to restore my soul as soon as I could into God’s grace and life. As I was making my attempts to go to confession and failing, I wondered if I was being impatient, and maybe if I should just wait until the next day. However, I realized that I can’t stand it when I’m separated from God. I also realized that we are never guaranteed our next breath, and that I might not live to see another day. That being said, I didn’t want my last day on earth to be one that was marked by giving up on trying to reconcile my soul to God. That’s why I drove all over town and went through all that trouble. And you know what? It was worth it. There’s nothing, and I mean NOTHING like experiencing the burden of sin being lifted from your soul through the sacrament of Confession. I felt like that whole series of events mirrored 2 separate bible passages. One was about the woman who kept after the judge to grant ruling on a decision she was seeking. She kept after him to do it. Finally, even if not because he desired to do it, he granted her a ruling because of her persistence. The other bible passage is Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” In other news, I feel like God continues to bless me as I journey towards my vocation as a foreign Catholic lay missionary. Right now I’m trying to live my life by learning to love where God has me at the moment. He is using this time leading up to my missionary training to teach me about patience and obedience.

I believe he’s also teaching me docility to the promptings of the Spirit. There have been so many opportunities in the small, normal, everyday circumstances for me to be a missionary. Sometimes, I’ve responded well, sometimes I haven’t. It feels like I’m doing an ok job in giving of my time and money. I’m not doing a good job of praying with others or having personal prayer time for myself. Being a missionary at work is really hard too. How the heck do I be Christ-like in a place I don’t want to be, and neither do I feel called to be there. However, even if it’s not my permanent calling, it’s where i’m called to be right now. And that means I need to be a missionary there. I know that’s what God wants, and if Jesus can do what he did, then surely I can receive graces his sacrifice to do the difficult things in life that I must do. I praise and I thank God for working slowly but surely in my life and helping me to grow and become a better person. I thank God for the many small victories and countless blessings in my life. I pray for the grace to be able to give my life to God and live on his terms and not mine. I pray for the grace to be able to TRUST him. Gosh, I know this sounds random, but I really do miss the people that were on the trip to Mexico earlier this month. Lord, help me to let friendships and relationships develop under your guidance, according to your plan, and on your timeframe. Thank you Lord for the many blessings of my life that have helped me to grow closer to you. Help me to bring others closer to you. Amen! Glory!

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MISSIONARY JOURNAL – THE VIRGIN MARY INTERCEDED FOR ME AND MY DAD

12-11-09 (final part)

Since it was a holy day of obligation, I knew I’d go to Mass. But I try not to let the “obligation” aspect be my only motivation to go. When I asked my dad if he was going to Mass, he said probably not, and of course I was disappointed. But, I decided I would hold him responsible as he did to me when I was younger. I copied some notes from a Lifeteen book and Catechism and left it on his chair at work right before I left to go to Mass. When I got to church, I said to Mary “Mom, I love my father, please pray for him”. 5 minutes later, guess who walked into church and sat right next to me?

It gave me so much joy b/c I knew my prayer had been answered. Getting to share Mass w/my dad was nice too b/c we hadn’t done so in quite awhile. The other blessing was the penance service at St. Ed’s last night. I went to confession w/Fr. Glen Meaux, a missionary priest. Besides giving me some good advice in the confessional, we got to talk missions a little bit. I ended up getting his card and sending him an email later in the evening. Had some questions about missions. Anyhoo, I better finish up soon with this entry. I’m expecting a friend to meet me here soon. God, I also pray that you give me the grace I need to dive deeper into personal prayer and daily Scripture reading. Lord, as I prepare to enter foreign missions, help me to be open to the graces I need to develop the gifts you want to bless me with. Amen! Alleluia! Glory!

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