LET IT aLL sTART hERE
For Catholics who care...
Each morning I wake with the words that Jesus taught us on my lips and a plea to His Mother, Mary, in the form of a prayer. This has become my habit and the words of these prayers race around inside my head until they escape through the barrier of my teeth and out into the quietude of my bedroom. I pray, repeatedly, until I am calm enough to focus on the words of Blessed Mother Theresa: “God does not require that we be successful, only that we be faithful.” With this in mind… I am ready to start my day.
The soon to be Saint's words are a soothing balm for what ails me. Because, according to the world’s standards, I have not been successful at anything. So I am grateful that she has given me permission to erase the voice inside my head that insists: I need to be successful or I am nothing. I am also filled with gratitude for the grace and wisdom to have finally realized that, surely, it is far easier to be faithful in this life, than it is to be successful.
This realization, came in the form of God’s mercy, because I chose to avail myself to Him and He has been faithful to me in return. I tell myself and others: All I need to do is to just keep showing up: Take the time to pray, make the time to attend Church Liturgies, attend Mass as often as possible. I have discovered that if I just place myself in proximity to God…He will do the rest.
Henri Nouwen, a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian wrote: “Let us remind one another that what brings us true joy is not "successfulness", but fruitfulness”. He assures us that: “There is a great difference between "successfulness" and fruitfulness.” He tells us that it is the processes through which we experience fruitfulness, that enriches our lives and brings us joy. It is not the harvesting of the fruit that is most significant, but all that happens to us before that point-- as we learn to be self-less and cooperate with one other.
Being fruitful, instead of being successful, is not an easy concept for many of us to embrace. We have been taught, from the time we were old enough to identify the shape of a star, to desire one… either pasted at the top of our paper or on our foreheads. We learn at an early age that we must succeed in the things we do or we are not considered valuable. Few remind us that “the meek shall inherit the earth” or that “the pure of spirit are blessed”. Instead, every effort is made to convince us that we want to be Kim Kardashian or her male counterpart. To say that you wanted to emulate “the meek” or “pure of spirit”, in our secular world, would cause many an eye role or a chuckle. But that is exactly the path that I have chosen to take. I no longer wake up lamenting my failures, but am grateful for the "emptying out" of the false notions that kept me from being fruitful.
On this, Good Friday, I think of Jesus and how His being faithful changed the history of the world. Never was there a man who appeared to be less successful. “The Son of Man had no place even to lay his head”. (Luke 9:58) Jesus had nothing but the clothes on his back: no impressive job, no wife, no children, but He had Faith and he knew how to be faithful. Today, we are benefactors of The Son Man’s inheritance.