In the RCIA I have continually taught, with great conviction, that being a real Christian is not easy. It requires agape love. That is, Christian love is self sacrificing love. To agape love is to always wish the well being of the other before myself.
Truth be told my favorite deacon and I haven’t stayed married for almost 38 years without getting that. But daily life usually doesn’t demand grand gestures. Sacrifice is usually in the small things.
Me: I am not going to complain that he leaves his shoes and socks everywhere. I will pick them up and say nothing.
He: I am going to cough and not say anything, but man why does she drone on and on when I can’t fix her problem.
But sometimes the sacrifice requires something much larger.
The idea of sacrificing for the other became much more than an intellectual concept for me recently. It became very real when our oldest grandson was approaching his first communion.
There was just no way that we could afford to fly to Ireland to be there when Dylan received his first Eucharist. We were resigned to the fact.
Until Mothers day. My daughter, Cathleen, said that Dylan wanted to speak with me. Dylan in his very best, and very grown up, Christopher Robin voice said, Granny why aren’t you and Grandpa coming. It is important and Grandpa is a priest or something and I want him to give me communion.
He and I had a long conversation where he made his case. I think he has the makings of a prosecutor. We ended the conversation by me saying, Okay Dylan grandpa and I are going to pray that we find the money to be there. Dylan: I will pray and wish. Me: Pray. Wishing doesn’t work. Okay, Granny I will really pray.
My favorite deacon and I did pray. Lo and behold the money appeared out of nowhere for exactly one ticket. We haven’t been able to see our children and grandchildren for two years. Gosh, Jesus you couldn’t spring for one more ticket?
After much persuading, my favorite deacon realized that he was the anointed one; the one who should go. Dylan wanted grandpa to give him communion.
Once the decision was made, I was feeling very triumphant. Look what a good and holy girl am I! Hey I am walking the talk. Doing the hard stuff.
I was far from humble. Why my newly acquired halo illuminated the entire neighborhood.
This, look how holy I am attitude lasted through many discussions and doing the laundry for the trip.
Then, I helped my favorite deacon pack. Oh dear is that a lump in my throat? The glow of my halo is not so bright.
Wednesday, he puts his luggage into the car. He kisses me goodbye. He backs out of the garage. I will call you on the road and let you know when I get to Chicago.
Lump in throat is getting bigger, and the halo is getting dimmer.
But I am still okay until he gets to Ireland on Thursday. I hear his tale of surprising Dylan and his brother Cillian when he picks them up at school. Oh and little Ella is beautiful, and she is her mother’s daughter.
Lump in the throat is so large that I can barely swallow. Okay now the halo is almost dark. This is not what I meant by the Theology of Staying.
Sometimes being a serious Christian just sucks.
On Friday, after talking to my favorite deacon, my halo is shorting out. This is way too hard. I can’t sleep. It is one in the morning. Even a dram of the creature doesn’t help.
Then the dam bursts. Now I am not one to cry, but when I do it is a frightful thing. It can go on for hours and hours.
So I call on our Mother. I begged her to please ask her Son to enable me to find peace and joy. And you know what? That is exactly what happened. I felt Mary hugging me. I felt peace and a quiet joy.
The next day, I listened to my favorite deacon as he described the first Communion of our eldest grandchild. There was no lump in my throat.
What peace! What Joy! That peace and joy is a total gift from God. There is no way that I could have such love for my family without grace.