Awkward Catholic

Living my faith as the awkward man of God that I am.


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A Song Out of Tune

That awkward moment when you’re in the department store and a Christmas carol you love, which is actually about Christmas starts playing and you spontaneously begin singing along only to realize that not only are you singing out loud but you’re completely out of tune. So you keep singing but slowly decrease in volume so everyone thinks you meant to sing out loud and out of tune. Of course, I’m always out of tune so that part doesn’t really bother me anymore. In fact, I’ve stopped even trying to sing in tune now.

That same thing happens in our spiritual lives too doesn’t it? We get out of tune spiritually, through our active choices to sin, our passive choices to watch T.V. instead of pray, through someone else’s actions that hurt us and dislodge us from our comfortable and routine faith. Sometimes it’s a combo of all of the above hitting us at once. But whatever the reason, we get knocked out of tune with God and often don’t even realize it. We’re just walking through the aisle of life singing along and suddenly look up and realize we not even singing the same song anymore.

Choir

I’ve known so many young people who started out singing the most beautiful song with their lives only to lose the song along the way; I was one of them. I was blessed though to encounter some truly remarkable “singers” along the way who helped me get back in tune. Probably the most important lesson they taught me was that of regular confession. Nothing in this life can retune your song as quickly or effectively as confession. Of course, by itself Reconciliation isn’t sufficient. There is no simple silver bullet that’ll slay the howling wolf inside us and make our song perfect. God’s grace is sufficient, yes. But God, in his infinite wisdom, made our salvation into a beautiful symphony, not just a solo.

Just as everything in creation was designed to work together in harmony to bring about God’s glory, so to our spiritual lives. Reconciliation, spiritual direction, community life, frequent reception of the Eucharist, adoration, silence, humility, Scripture, prayer, trust and on and on, all play important parts in keeping our spiritual lives in tune with God’s song. Sometimes though, nothing seems to work and it’s a matter of faith, of placing one foot in front of the other, trusting in God’s will. It’s in those times where we begin to understand the meaning behind the words we sing. It’s like when you discover the actual words to a song you’ve been singing your whole life and they’re completely different from what you though they were. Then the song actually makes sense.

Dark NightIn those dark nights when you feel abandoned or lost, as you place one faithful foot in front of the other, you gain clarity. As painful as it may be those faithful, weak steps reveal to us the truth and depth of his love for us. His thirst for you is so utterly complete that he would risk losing you so that you could truly love him in return.

It is not that he abandons us in those moments but rather, he is drawing ever closer; closer to us than we are to ourselves. We just don’t feel or see it. Our emotions, beautiful gifts of God that they are, cloud our vision, are like static on the radio, distorting our song. So he clears away the static of our emotions and senses so that we can hear his song over us clearly.

But no matter where you are in your song, it’s wise to keep an ear out for the tune. It’s all too easy to get distracted or lost in our spiritual songs. And remember, it’s never too late to pick the song back up, even after it’s been dropped for the hundredth time, the thousandth time. That’s the beauty of His song for you… it not only sets the rhythm of our lives, it adjusts and incorporates those missed notes, dropped beats and out of tune vocals.

Matt Redman’s: “The Father’s Song”


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Confessions of a Flawed Father

It’s Lent, a great time for confession, reconciliation and a new start. Hence…

I have a confession. I failed miserably the other night while putting my two boys to bed. My wife was out at a prayer meeting, her “Praying Wives Club – praying for their husbands” of all things, and so I had the pleasure of putting my two boys to sleep. It was story time and each boy got to pick a story. While reading “The Best Nest” with each boy sitting on either side of me I should have been on top of the world! I should have been thinking how blessed I was and soaked up each second, each word as two of the greatest blessings in my life snuggled close. Instead, as my eldest son (5 years old) tried to tell me what was going to happen in the story, trying to impress his father, I shut him down, “Yes, Gabriel, I know. Stop spoiling the story for your brother.” A few moments later he was again trying to impress me and I turned the page and shushed him because it was all taking too long.

Complete. And. Utter. Fail.9394078863_296f04b407_z (2)

The good news is, a little later after some time in prayer I figured out why I acted so horribly, so selfishly towards my son who was only trying to impress me and connect with me. For awhile I had been getting lazy in both my prayer and discipline. I’ve been acting more selfishly, and I’ve been letting my mind wander to where it shouldn’t. And these seemingly harmless actions and hidden thoughts have actually revealed their true nature in a big way.

Why am I telling you all this and not just to my priest? Because through this experience I’ve come to realize how my sin and lack of virtue affects not only my own soul but also all those around me! I’ve always intellectually understood that sin has communal effects, but now I see it face to face and it’s an ugly little demon.

Who does it really hurt when I fantasize in my head? My children, my wife, the teens I minister to, and myself. It even hurts those I’ve never met. So, I have resolved to fight harder, to pray longer and to love(1) deeper and when I fail, to stand back up, apologize and try again. Yes, I’m going to fail. Yes, I’m going to scar my children with my selfishness and failures. But I’m also going to teach them that their failures and wounds can do more than crush them; in God’s grace they can give glory to God through their wounds! A wise man once said that in heaven God’s glory is going to shine brightest through our healed wounds; that gives me great hope.

That night I resolved that when my son wakes me up too early the next morning, isn’t it always too early, I will kneel down on his level and apologize for something he has no recollection of. Sin is communal yes, but where sin abounds grace abounds all the more.

I think it a little ironic that we were reading “The Best Nest” since it’s all about how they made a mistake yet ended up together, happy and with new life. And isn’t that what this article is all about… abandoning what is good in a selfish search for something better only to find that the “better” thing is really just a loud clanging bell that’s only going to offer despair and grief. Fortunately, I found (was led) back home quickly.

My son, having such a good and generous heart, simply replied after my apology, “I love you daddy.” Now, with God’s grace I’ll be able to teach him what that love really means.

1. Love, as defined by Pope John Paul II is a gift of self, not some mere emotion or sentiment.