Saturday, November 05, 2005

Message Straight to the Heart

Haven’t paid attention to my health this week so I ended up sick with the works again. Headache, fever, cough, colds, body aches, the works! I’ve had one or two of those symptoms for weeks now but this morning I woke up at 3:16a.m. feeling like my body was burning with fever. I consulted Lingkod doctors and then dutifully took my medication and bed rest, even if my mind rebelled against canceling three appointments today.

Finally after lunch I felt I’ve had too much sleep already so I turned on the TV to EWTN. I caught the last few minutes of a special about St. Bernadette. Her impact on the world, especially in Lourdes, was featured there. Her uncorrupted body was shown and while watching, I told God that there is a certain degree of holiness that saints possessed that I could never, ever hope to achieve in my own life. I’ve been having some difficulties this week and I lifted up a prayer to God to help me see His love through my struggles.

At around 6 p.m. I had enough strength to have my prayer time. I wrote a simple reflection in my journal and asked God if He could love me despite my inability to even remotely exhibit saintly qualities on this earth. Then I had a sense of His presence! I don’t know how to describe it, but it was Love that I felt. I wrote about it – that I felt God enveloping me in His love, answering me with an immediate Yes that He loved me despite my sinfulness.

That strengthened me enough to make it to Lingkod’s First Friday mass. Fr. Steve gave a homily that left many bloodstains on the QT’s. He spoke about the call that each of us had to become saints. Then he asked us if we believed that we each had the capacity to be a saint. We either shook our heads or bowed them down because we could not say yes to his question. Then he decided to preach about that more as it seemed like a struggle for most of us. What he said wasn’t earth-shaking. It wasn’t rocket science. But it was the truth, and it was God’s Word, and it certainly landed on our hearts.

He preached about the kind of response that God expects from us. He said that we couldn’t plan our lives without giving room for the Holy Spirit to work in us. He said God would be pleased if we would stand before Him to say, “Here I am, Lord. I am a sinner. Use me.” He repeatedly said that we were called to be saints and I remembered my prayer after watching the life of St. Bernadette. I felt God responding to the question in my heart about His love for me.

What happened next sealed my fate, at least as far as God’s message for me went. Fr. Steve said, “God does not want a perfect heart. He wants your surrendered heart. God doesn’t want a perfect Ella. He wants a surrendered Ella”. He looked at me while saying this. Perfectionism has always been my struggle and it has been a hindrance in my service, my joy, and in my healing. There it was again, on a night I least expected it, drawn out from me and turned around in order to see what God was simply asking me to do.

A surrendered heart... My process of yielding has not ended. It has taken on a more difficult turn.

I thanked Fr. Steve for his homily. In fact, majority of the brothers and sisters approached him after mass and up to the fellowship to thank him for the message that they needed to hear today.

He smiled at me and said, “Just don’t blame me for the bloodstains on your shirt”. So he deliberately used me as an example, knowing I would be bloodied by the message.

But it was exactly what I needed to hear. It may take a lifetime for me to realize the unconditionality of God’s love for me, but moments like these bring me one step closer to appreciating such love.

Here I am, Lord. I am a sinner. Use me.

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