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As the priest explained how the magnificent statue he bought for our parish church cost about $50,000, my heart sunk.
All that money could have fed so many hungry people. I probably shook my head – not being able to contain my disgust. I wondered, why?
Why did he buy that statue? How did the other faithful Catholics sitting in the Church feel? Were they as disgusted as me? Were they confused? Were they proud?
I wasn’t proud. In that moment, I had questions.
I’ve been there. I’ve questioned my faith.
I think most people do.
I kept going to Mass on Sundays – but I understood why others may have stopped.
This was a time in my life where I had no idea what road God wanted me to take. I found the time to go to daily Mass at another local church. My experience there was much more pleasant.
Father Shelly reminded me of my grandfather. When Father Shelly preached, he just kept stressing with his words and his heart, how much God loved me. He reminded all of us sitting in that small chapel (because not many go to daily Mass) that:
Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love them.
I don’t know why you stopped going to Church.
I just feel compelled to tell you . . . God misses you so deeply. He thirsts for your return. And in a weird way, so do I.
I’ve heard it so many times . .. what’s the line?
“I think lightening will strike the church if I walk in it.” or
“The church will burst in flames if I walk in”.
Whether you are one to say these things or not, the truth is:
I tell you . . . there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.
When I first heard this I didn’t really understand it. I probably thought of that poor brother in the the Prodigal Son story.
But now, I totally get it.
When a friend of mine returns to weekly Mass or the Sacraments or prayer . . . I feel joy in my heart. There is a reunion of a lost friendship.
Think of a married couple who greets one another every day after work. They give each other a kiss and ask how each other’s day was . . . it’s nice.
Now picture a soldier who has been deployed for a year . . . who finally sees his wife again.
Which picture gives you more joy?
But your situation is unique.
You have a personal reason why you stopped. You have a list of why you don’t go back . . . but at the same time you are looking towards heaven and asking God questions.
You might be asking Him, “Why did you allow this?”
You might be asking Him, “What is Your will?”
His answer is the same. He wants you to come to Him like a little child!
Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
The Kingdom of Heaven is a real place, yes. But we also have a glimpse of that kingdom when we feel content and at peace right here and now.
Think of a 5 year old.
My 5 year old is happy to “do the dishes”. He’s joyful because he doesn’t think like an adult.
A 5 year old does not care that your Aunt is a know it all, or that your cousin is a hypocrite, or your neighbor is a jerk. The 5 year old just enjoys the moment. If you aunt or cousin or neighbor tells a joke – the 5 year old laughs. He’s not burdened with all the thoughts an adult is having about that person’s presence.
Some people don’t go to church because a lot of that parish or church community are a lot like that aunt, cousin and neighbor I just described.
A 5 year old wouldn’t let those people stop them from enjoying the presence of Jesus.
God wants you to be as happy as a 5 year old!
And if going to another parish or local church makes you that happy – or at least less uncomfortable – go there!
We live in a universal church. As Catholics, we are lucky. Our churches are found more often than many other Christian denominations.
Going to Mass at a local parish that makes you feel comfortable enough to talk to God is important. Going to confession at a parish that makes you feel comfortable is important.
When my husband and I went house hunting, one of the things I loved about our home was it was in Father Shelly’s parish! So eventually, that became my parish.
You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Pope Francis recently stated:
“‘There is an urgent need to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim.’”
I know I haven’t carried crosses as big or heavy as others. I don’t know why God has allowed some people to carry certain crosses.
But I see some people carrying crosses with faith and hope . . . and they inspire me.
Lately, I have seen amazing blessings in my own life that I believe can only be explained through the power of prayer and faith.
I want you to see those graces in your life.
I, too, want you to be as happy as my 5 year old!
You may not see it happen overnight.
But how many things that our worth it, are easy?
Heaven is worth it. The greatest love we can ever experience – the love of God – is worth it.
Come back. There are many people like me that will be so happy to see you!
With sincere love and prayers,