This morning, my friend Eric (quite without meaning to) prompted me to realize something about myself that it was important for me to know.
Recently, I'd said both to him and to my parents that I don't like being a "telephone" between people, especially when they can communicate with one another directly. On the one hand, it's indirect and might inconvenience me in a way that I consider unnecessary; on the other hand, I am paranoid about being the proverbial messenger being "shot", even when I don't need to worry about that.
But then I thought about Saint Juan Diego. Our Lady of Guadalupe could very easily have appeared to the bishop directly with her message, bypassing Juan Diego entirely. But she didn't.
I came to the realization that my dislike of playing "telephone" is just another example of my own pride talking. (I've come to realize that things I say in hostility and that almost feel "squeezed" out of me are often signs of pride.) Aside from the fact that I don't want to cooperate (there's my pride), it also means that I'm not taking the trouble to listen carefully (so as to make sure I get the message as the one who conveyed it to me wanted), to communicate it effectively (so as to prevent anything from getting lost in translation)--and I'm excessively afraid of what other people will think of me and how they will react to what I said.
...and it's just occurred to me that this last part is in line with the Gospel Reading and homily today! It was from the Sermon on the Mount, where Christ said not to worry about the future, because God knows what we need and because He takes care of the mere birds and flowers, who are of less value to Him than us.
To top this off, what better day for me to learn such a lesson than on the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, known for his humility--even unto baptizing Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ said to?
And it's also the one-year anniversary of the day I was diagnosed with pneumonia--after I very grudgingly gave in to the advice of my entire family (for two days) and saw a doctor about my illness.
Because of that, I was prompted to believe that Saint John the Baptist had interceded on my behalf, and I have been asking for his prayers and intercession since: I don't want to forget that, especially since pneumonia can be a fatal disease. And the priest at my church said he wouldn't doubt this.
And now I believe that Saint John the Baptist has interceded on my behalf again today. It is becoming a lot easier for me to have faith, and so I hope and pray, through his intercession, that I might be able to continue with this, and become ever more faithful: both trusting and trustworthy (loyal)--not only of God but of my neighbors.
And lest I be tempted to think that humility means self-deprecation, I received many compliments today: in confession the priest said I was making a wonderful improvement, and many people complimented me on my cantoring. Also, many people (including the priest and deacon and head cantor) are looking forward to when I do the Epistle Reading next week. I intend to take that seriously: to practice beforehand and to do my best when it happens.
And yet I'm not worried. I neither intend to take it for granted that I'll do a good job, and so fail to practice--nor do I intend to fret about stage fright and "what if I make a mistake?" and "what will they think of me?"
...in fact...it's just now occurred to me that that effectively is being a "telephone" between God (and Saint Paul) and the parishioners! Alleluia!
I've always loved it when seemingly disparate things come together to make a clear whole, a la puzzle pieces coming together and revealing the picture they depict. That's why I considered April 4, 2017 to be the best day of my life when it happened, because my entire life now seemed to be depicting a clear picture (even if I'm only slowly putting more of the pieces together and am still a long way from finishing it).
And now the same thing is happening with regard to what's happened to me today--and also, again, linked to this very date last year.
As a sort of epilogue, one thing in particular that caught my attention today also seems to fit into this idea of not worrying--especially since, until a few months ago, I had been prognosticating something awful for years (including on this very blog).
One of the blogs that I frequent compared American history to Roman history (albeit going through the periods a lot faster)--but what most captured my attention was the blogger's claim that Donald Trump's presidency marks a turning point in United States history. More specifically, the claim being made was as follows: since the Civil War, we have had an "imperial" government (the blogger defined this as easy to join but hard to leave), but the president wasn't the true "imperial" power (rather it was a plutocracy of bankers and businessmen) until World War II; then, gradually, the presidency has become more "imperial", until now with Donald Trump as our president, he comes the closest to being a true "imperial" president in every sense of the word, with the power to control the bureaucracy (though the blogger acknowledges that it's too early to tell if that will actually happen under Donald Trump's presidency).
This is the same blog that prompted me (note: without the prior knowledge and consent of the blogger) to add to the future narrative that I concocted, especially with regard to the next few years. That blog is what clued me in to the blood moon tetrad of 2014-2015, Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri's "prophecy" and the place of Ariel Sharon's death therein--and later to the idea that the economy of the United States and Mexico are founded upon illegal immigration.
That being the case, if not for Father Chris's email to me telling me to ignore a completely different blogger (one who suggested that the entire air and space program was grievously sinful), I might simply have used the above to add to my future narrative--postponing the events I thought would happen this year to a later date (not like I haven't done that since 2013). Certainly I do see circumstantial evidence for why the blogger said what he did, that might have convinced me.
I'm still not entirely sure that my predictions won't come true (the closest that I can think of to compare today to is Abraham Lincoln's presidency), although I'm not going to worry about it or act on desires that oppose the First Commandment (and today's Gospel message).
In fact, before I went to Liturgy today, I thought about how, had I continued in that vein--even if I'd turned out to be right--I might have wasted 1/3 of my life (the second 1/3, actually) worrying, and not be able to get those years back, but only knowing this once I was in my fifties! And I said a little prayer thanking the Lord for saving me from such a fate.
Since December and January in particular, God has saved me from two sides of the same false dichotomy: I was at one until the early 2010's, and at the other starting in 2012 and continuing until 2016 ended and 2017 began. And I'm all the more grateful.
I'm still not even close to where I need to be, but I feel all the closer than I've ever been in my life, and I couldn't be happier about that. It gives me hope for the future, which again was the message of today's Gospel Reading--far from the first time it's been just what I needed to hear at any given time! It gives me hope not only that I might overcome my deep-seated flaws of the past (as there was once a time when I didn't have them at all), but that I might grow in all the virtues (however slowly and however crooked the path) and just maybe be able to go to heaven when I die. Maybe.
And what a loving and forgiving and compassionate God, to make that a possibility when I've committed so many grievous sins (including some I knew were grievous) for so many years of my life! Amen!
Thank you for sharing part of your day with me. God bless you.
P. S. And don't forget: tomorrow is at the exact opposite end of the calendar from Christmas Day, the Nativity of Our Lord! And tomorrow I'll have had my trumpet for six months exactly--and I had a good trumpet lesson on Thursday this week, too! I'm going to try to practice every day, not only playing but also holding it (to build up my arm muscles). I'm so grateful not only for meeting people who can teach me things I didn't know but that are good for me to know, but also for what I figure out with no help except from God.
P. P. S. Forgot to mention: today my patience was rewarded as well! For the last three weeks, my bus trip home from Liturgy has been late (and it's uncommonly hot here at present)--but not today! Today, the bus actually came early to pick me up!
This fact also gives me hope that just because things are hard now doesn't mean they're not building towards something wonderful, if we're patient and can endure--to put it another way, "Whatever doesn't kill us only makes us stronger."
P. P. P. S. And I've just now practiced the trumpet some more and successfully played higher notes (sounding clear and good, I mean) than I'd been able to make at my lessons! I didn't realize just how wonderful a day it was until I did this blog entry!