Some days just don’t begin as we hope or plan. From the moment we open our eyes, things just move in the wrong direction. Despite our best efforts – or not – things proceed down the wrong track and all seems lost. I was having one of those days today. One could find many excuses for it: the loss of my beloved mother only 6 months ago, a recent surgery (3rd one in 3 years), ongoing pain from the impact of the surgeries. To be honest though, none of these would be good excuses in which to wallow in sadness and despair according to my beautiful mom Joan. She taught me that I am blessed beyond measure and I know this is true, deep down in the depths of my heart. “There are so many folks living in sadness, poverty and real need – our job is to be their strength, to help them” she would say. It took reflecting upon my beloved mom’s wise words and a dose of spiritual reading to get me back on track.
Then after a few more moments contemplating my sad state, I reached over to grab one of the many prayer books on my bedside table. I have a funny relationship with these books. I cherish them yet easily ignore them, especially when the insights they offer are most needed. Luckily today I had the good sense to open one up in search of some guidance.
“Humbly ask God to increase your faith. Then, with new lights you’ll see clearly the difference between the world’s paths and your way as an apostle.” (St. Josemaria) I had to read this quote over and over a few times because it felt *perfect* for the way I was feeling. It is true, we need to ask God to increase our faith. I have been advised by many good and holy priests over the years to do exactly this, but then I sadly forget – due to getting caught up in the world. I tend to take all things on myself as if I am the only one who is responsible for solving my problems. But actually it is God – He wants to help us. Mom would provide this advice ALL the time. She lived it and trusted in God through the easy and tough times in her life. Most especially, she trusted God during the last 3 years while battling stage 4 cancer. Many would have become angry with Him, but she drew closer to God who increased her faith and walked hand in hand with her until He brought her home.
Ask for an increase in faith – like my mom – because God waits for us, meeting us exactly where we are. He won’t push Himself on us, but wants us to ask for His help. When we ask Him – he always replies! It may not be in the way we want but it will be in the way that is BEST for us. I have experienced this time and time again. When I take God out of the picture, I can’t see clearly and the world’s path is dark and gloomy. But with God, the lights illuminate a new path and eventually He shows me the way. This quote is an answer to prayer for me and I hope for those who may be reading this and who may be struggling this Lent.
In closing I would like to offer an Irish tribute to my beautiful parents – Joe and Joan Powers on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day. My beautiful mom allowed my 100% Irish dad to fully embrace his Irish heritage in every facet of their marriage and our family. (Irish Rovers music playing on the record player at the highest volume.) As an Italian with a little Irish blood, there was always lots of laughter in the house around mom’s tolerance of dad’s “over the top” Irish celebrations. In the spirit of counting her blessings, mom allowed dad to fly the Irish flag for the whole month of March and adorn the front windows with shamrocks. On St. Patrick’s Day, she made his favorite corned beef and cabbage and her very own Irish bread. (Not bad for an Italian beauty!) She attended every Irish celebration and drank the Irish beer he brought home. In return, dad treated mom like the queen she is and let her know that he was the luckiest leprechaun from the city of Cambridge for marrying a beautiful Italian named Joan Mary Franciose. On this St. Patrick’s Day – my family will be making the meal and hosting dad for dinner. We will remind dad that mom is close and that together, we are blessed beyond measure.
Don’t forget – Ask God to increase your faith and then listen for Him to answer…He will.