The past six months have been some of the hardest months of my life. I used to think that the months that I was in RCIA were hard, but wrestling with finding the truth doesn’t even compare to trying to live it out.
Then you add a Pope who wakes up every single day preaching the Gospel and you get me on meltdown mode.
Pope Francis has been talking about my favorite sins since the minute that he hit the ground as Pope. At first it was all cool because he was so sweet and saying all the things that I love and then he started putting the screws to my pride and my cross got much heavier. I love Pope Benedict. He was my first Papa, I loved JPII also, but Benedict is the only Pope I’ve seen in person and he was Papa when I became Catholic. He has a special place in my heart. The way B16 writes helped me to learn my faith. To learn the why’s behind those stupid rules that I said I would never ever follow. He is a fabulous Catechist. But it was easy for me to hide behind all that knowledge. I used that knowledge to debate others and to set myself up on a nice little pedestal. It’s not his fault at all, it’s all me. Then came Francis.
The first screw to my pride was when he talked about gossip. About the dark joy that people get from talking about others. Yep, that would be me. Then he began talking about a lot of other things. The more he talks the more I realize that I really have a lot of work to do. At first the work was for me to learn; now I know and it’s time to live that knowledge. That really isn’t easy.
There are times when this life is so stressful, when I fail as a mother and forget to pick up my child from school (because he lives in his room online and I always assume that is where he is), when my uncle calls needing my help and I can’t help him, when my mom calls 27 times wanting me to talk to her, when the grand baby will not nap, and when my husband pisses me off to the max. But even when all of that happens I hear my Pope talk about mercy, love, charity and how it is more important to walk the walk instead of talk the talk and I beg God to give me the grace to make it Home to Him and get all these crazy people there with me. Then I have a glass of vodka and cranberry while helping my husband in his office and I realize what a short time I have to make a difference in this stupid world where people light themselves on fire. Where I make that difference is in this house helping these jack wagons become saints. The best part is they are all loving me back and helping me do the same. God is so good to give them to me. (Please pray for me to be the wife, mother, daughter and niece that God wants me to be. I need a lot of help.)
I can talk about mercy, love and charity all day long until the 4th child comes at me needing something. Sometimes it feels like they are all sucking the life out of me. Someone always needs some part of me. I really don’t know when it happened but last week I realized that all relationships require a piece of you. No matter who it is: kids, parents, family, spouse, siblings etc. etc. That is what relationships are. They are not about being around people who you take things from to make you happy, but about being around people who you make happy. Not about taking but giving. And the problem isn’t any of those people, the problem is me. I want to be locked in my room on Facebook instead of serving those that I love. That’s not love, that’s selfishness. That is pride and Papa Francis never lets me forget it. Boy do I want to just go back to B16’s catechisis. I think that Elizabeth Scalia’s book Strange Gods is spot on when she talks about how we like to make idols that reflect ourselves back at us. We can do it even with the knowledge that we have about our faith. That’s what the Pharisees did and some of the hardest words that Jesus ever spoke where to Pharisees. Not because they were following the Jewish law, but because they were doing it to glorify themselves and not God. Had Pope Francis not been humble enough to throw everything to the power of the Holy Spirit, I don’t think I would ever have come to grips with my own self-righteousness.
I agree with a lot of people: this Pope is killing me. That is not such a bad thing.
23Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily* and follow me.
24For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
25What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?
26Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
27Truly I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”