Monday, September 19, 2016

My Mom Makes an Appearance

The other night, I dreamed I was at Mass; Mass had just ended, and people were milling about and visiting. My daughter was with me, and we sat down to visit with Connie, an old friend of ours. I also saw my now-deceased friend Pam and her two girls (at a younger age), and went over to say hi to them. Pam looked better than I’d ever seen her, as if she had lost a lot of weight and grow in intellect (she was slightly retarded in this life). The girls were as I remember them from about age 7-8 (they are now around the same age as my 22-year-old daughter).
My mom, as I most like to remember her;
not the best quality photo, but you get the idea.

I went back to Connie and my daughter. Then, all of a sudden, my mom showed up. She had come to surprise me (Ha! I'll say, since she's been dead for 24 years!). She was radiant, healthy, mom at her best. I hugged her, and introduced her to Connie. 

I forgot about the dream till the next morning when I was praying Lauds. I can't remember what triggered the was something in the psalms, I think. Anyway, it really hit me then that I had dreamed about my mom. She doesn't tend to show up in my dreams, and this was so real I could remember little details, like how it felt to hug her. In fact, thinking about it made me shed a few tears, because it was so wonderful to see her. I wondered if she was in Heaven, and I said a prayer to her for my daughter, her namesake.

But then I reminded myself that my mom was not Catholic. I didn’t become Catholic till some years after my mom died, and I didn't come to the knowledge about the necessity of the Church for salvation till a few years ago; but after I became Catholic, I knew about purgatory, and so always prayed for my mom as if she were in purgatory, awaiting her move to Heaven. In recent years, I have often wondered if she could possibly be in Heaven. I know that she could be, if it was God's will. I know she expressed a heartfelt belief in God before she died. I know I want her there! And I know I have prayed countless prayers for the repose of her soul. I guess that's as much as I can know. I keep praying for her, even though it looks like she couldn't really be in Heaven.

So, it was a bittersweet awakening from that dream. But the very next day, when I was napping, I heard a rap at the window. It was probably a bird, which happens frequently, but the sound permeated my dream as a knock, and in the dream, I somehow knew it was my mom. “Mom?” I called out. “Mom, what do you need?” That was it. I woke up enough to realize it was a dream, and dozed off again.

Thinking about it later, I wondered if perhaps my mom’s soul was in fact going to enter Heaven. I wondered if perhaps she was there in the dream as an impetus for me to have a Mass offered for her. And so I have done just that. The Mass is to be said today, Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. Will you add a prayer for the repose of her soul? Her name is Ruth Collins.

I dreamed about her again yesterday. That dream is fuzzier in my memory, but she was there.

This experience has given me hope! It is very saddening to think that your non-Catholic loved ones might not be in Heaven. These dreams, and the sense of my mom really being there, reminded me that God does have the final say in terms of souls entering His Presence in Heaven. There is always hope.

In addition, it was a nice consolation, somehow, to have my mom seem so close. We were very close when she was alive, and I was at her side during her illness (cancer), and at the moment of her death. I can’t say that I miss her, really; at least, I haven’t missed her in years, because her absence has just become a fact of life. I suppose the dreams have made me miss her again, a little bit. Mostly, I just want her to be in Heaven!

Sometimes I wish my mom were alive still; other times, I think I have become her. Ha!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Guilty Conscience

My husband’s sons are all married and have children (and they all live far away from us).  Son #1 is married to a woman who is a fallen-away Catholic who pretends to still be Catholic, though he himself appears to be a faithful Catholic. Son #2 is married to a woman who has never been Catholic, and he himself is a fallen-away Catholic. Son #3 is married to a fallen-away Catholic, and I don’t really know whether he is a faithful Catholic or not.

Recently, our daughter and the The FiancĂ© had dinner with Son #1 and his wife – I’ll call her Jane. During the course of the dinner visit, Jane took my daughter aside for a "confidential" conversation, during which she explained that she might not come to our daughter’s wedding because of me. She fears it would be "uncomfortable" because I (allegedly) think Jane is the prime example of a bad Catholic (or something like that), and she thinks I would manipulate any conversation to make it into an opportunity to berate Jane for not being a good Catholic (for the record, I have never done this, and have not seen my daughter-in-law in person for close to 10 years).

Jane told my daughter that she goes to Mass every Sunday, implying that this makes her a "good Catholic", I guess. She also said she hoped that this frank conversation about me wouldn't upset my daughter, who replied that it certainly did. My daughter also suggested that the only reason Jane thinks I would manipulate a conversation is because Jane herself does that all the time! Ha! My daughter is getting bolder and less willing to put up with that kind of nonsense. My daughter also told Jane that her wedding is HER day, and she certainly hoped that Jane and I would refrain from any kind of interaction that would result in a distraction from the purpose of the day.

Jane said she had hoped that their conversation would be kept just between the two of them, but my daughter said there was no reason I shouldn't know. Jane hoped I wouldn't send her a barrage of emails. Well…I don't think I've ever sent the woman an email that wasn't a response to something she sent me! 

I pray for Jane's re-conversion to the faith every day; I count her as one of my “most stubborn” cases. I care about the salvation of her soul, and I've told her so in the past. I'm taking her confession of discomfort as a sign that my prayers are having some effect. To me, it seems perfectly clear that Jane is uncomfortable because she knows I’m right, and she doesn’t want to admit it. She doesn’t want to admit that she has created God in her own image, just like so many other Protestants have done. Once you leave the Catholic Church, you leave true authority behind, and everyone suddenly becomes free to interpret Scripture in the way most pleasing to each individual.  God is what each individual creates Him to be.

Jane, quite simply, has a guilty conscience. I think she knows that her use of artificial contraception all her adult life was wrong; that omitting the required once-yearly sacrament of reconciliation is wrong; that sending one’s Catholic children to a Protestant school is wrong; that condoning and supporting her daughter’s outside-the-Church marriage is wrong. But she doesn’t want to ever admit these things, and I am a constant reminder – just by my very existence – that she has missed the mark.

The prayer I pray specifically for Jane, and for a few other stubborn souls, is the prayer to Our Lady of Victory; in part, it says, "...we pray, that their hearts being softened by the rays of divine grace, they may return to the unity of the true faith..."  

Now, if only this effect can be seen in the rest of the family!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Wherever You Go, There You Are

From The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (which includes a couple of “Desert Mothers” as well):

Amma Theodora also said, ‘There was a monk, who, because of the great number of his temptations said, “I will go away from here.”

As he was putting on his sandals, he saw another man who was also putting on his sandals and this other monk said to him, “Is it on my account that you are going away? Because I go before you wherever you are going.”

It may seem like a pleasant proposition to live all alone, to not have to interact with others very often. I know it often seems so to me! But the truth is, no matter where you go, there YOU are. You can run away from others who trouble you, but your own soul, with all its sins and short-comings, will always be with you. And sometimes, accepting that person who is you – and striving to purify her – is harder than putting up with the faults of others.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.