Brighter than the Noonday

I just returned from five heavenly days. Literally. My husband, Mark, and I were attending the annual workshop for our Schoenstatt community — five awesome days of education, formation, prayer, and fellowship in an environment of sheer joy. The experience filled my heart and soul to the brim with every good thing a heart and soul can hold.

When I got home, however, it seemed as if everything that had been put in was emptied out. The headlines were filled with calamity and new challenges met me in seemingly every area of my life.

The Marines have launched a major military operation in Afghanistan, Farah, Michael, and Ed are dead, 467,000-some jobs down the tubes, Madoff’s off to prison, President Obama’s march toward socialized medicine continues and he’s been catering to a powerful interest group that threatens the sanctity of marriage.

On the home front I’ve got a late-teen-early-adult screaming for independence, a teenager who’s discovered he’s a teenager, a newly-adult daughter (turned 21 Saturday) and a son in Iraq who I miss and worry about constantly.

Well, I never was a big fan of Farah, Michael or Ed but I am sorry for their passing for the sake of their families. The rising unemployment rate worries but doesn’t surprise me. Madoff…I’ll let that one alone. Socialized medicine? Yup. It’s a big concern just like the raging joblessness in our country. Threats to the sanctity of marriage leave me extremely uneasy, too. The offensive in Afghanistan scares the bijeebers out of me. Recently surfaced issues and twenty-four years of parenting have taught me that there is no status quo and I’ll never be free from worrying about my kids.

I was especially disturbed, however, by my reaction to all these goings-on. After getting home and unpacking, I looked forward to sitting down at the computer and catching up on the "real" world from which I’d been blissfully secluded for the past many days. It didn’t take long for me to sigh, turn the thing off and leave the room.

Later that night, I scolded myself for my defeatist attitude. Hadn’t I just spent time with God, with my community, being rejuvenated and inspired? Hadn’t I just renewed my pledge of faithfulness in striving for everyday sanctity? Hadn’t I just renewed my promise to live in the spirit of the Evangelical Counsels?

Where did all that holy energy go?

It went into mechanistic thinking, that’s where it went. Mechanistic thinking is the kind of thought process in which we separate the human from the Divine, the Sunday sanctity from the weekday sanctity, the cause from the effect. I had separated the graces and gratitude of my workshop from the trials and tribulations of my everyday life. I’d completely forgotten to grab them, internalize them, and apply them to the world around me.

I’m reminded of my friend Job. I have a lot to learn from him because no matter how tough things got for him, he never gave up hoping in the Lord. In turn, the Lord rewarded him for his faithfulness.

If you direct your heart rightly, you will stretch out your hands toward him. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and do not let wickedness reside in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure, and will not fear. You will forget your misery; you will remember it as waters that have passed away. And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning. And you will have confidence, because there is hope; you will be protected and take your rest in safety. (Job 11:13-18)

If I have hope, my life will be brighter than the noonday, I will be protected and take my rest in safety. The trick is not to pack away the times of grace and rejuvenation but to unfold them and carry them along with me in my daily life.

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  • noelfitz

    This is a wonderful article, inspiring and full of hope. These are the type of articles which are needed. We should aim at Catholic optimism, rather than negative pessimism. God is good and the Lord is risen.

    There is enough bad news, so I do not really need to be reminded of my failings and those of others.

    I am also in a little group we call “the Community”. It is essentially a friendship and support group of nine people, four couples and a priest. We have Mass in our homes regularly. We feel blessed.

    I do not know the word “bijeebers”. Is it a sanitized version of bejaysus (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bejaysus), which in common parlance is not blasphemous, but not appropriate for polite company?

  • Warren Jewell

    In reference to the ‘Today’s’ lead article’s reflection about widowhood, and my own comment on it, here we have both article and the worthy noelfitz’s reminder of one great aspect of what ‘couple’ means. In this context, it means being recognized by even one’s too-often-former communities for the unity of the Matrimomny. For important instance, over twenty-six years ago, I seemed to abruptly and completely disappear from Worlwide Marriage Encounter’s radar altogether. Widowhood isn’t marriage, true; but the widowed are terribly wounded, even crippled veterans, of having given themselves to their marriages. But, I have long experienced that among the married, I am treated as if I just don’t fit, anymore.

    The author has her husband as direct reminder of the spiritual refreshment of their long learning weekend. Noelfitz and his wife are recognized among their small ‘Community’ as part of their unity of unities.

    In my years after Sharon died, I myself had to be VERY busy being father, worker, housekeeper, cook, worrier over sitters for my daughter after school, etc. Social life, of faith or just human society, was off-schedule. Some Sundays I just could not get up energy to get ready and go to Mass. Others simply dropping off a casserole would have been a blessing too gratifying to be expressed without gratified tears. Yet – no one – widowhood is verily the ‘non-vocation’.

    I complained before I was ever widowed that the Church in its complacent parishes had little room for even childless couples. The bulk of activities, etc., were based on family, such as school activites. Singles of every type – unmarried, confirmed bachelors, widowed – have no effective ‘time and space’ of ministry worth memntioning – at least, not in the very Catholic Chicago Archdiocese. Oh, now that I am too crippled to get to Mass, a minister delivers Sunday Communion. But, do you think my pastor has his secretary call the homebound about scheduling agreeable and cheering at-home visits, with Confessions and Communion?

    And, having gone to parish functions before, I am amazed how other lone Catholic adults seem to prefer to be left alone – as if another ‘single’ is some kind of veiled threat. The various ‘clubs’ seem to be little more than gossip reviews and next-casino-trip preparations, with no apparent ministerial goals or functions. Bible study was but a chat-fest. Once, I even found myself being subtly chastised for mentioning Catholic Exchange and EWTN online! Now, what would THAT be about?

    In part, it is not having my wife find the very few with whom we could find common ground. Such as if to punctuate how ‘un-fitting’ the widowed are – except with God.

  • http://www.margefenelon.com mfenelon

    Dear noelfitz,

    I’m so happy you liked my article. I, too, get wearisome from the constant barrage of bad news.

    My apologies if my use of the word bijeebers offended you – or anyone else. It’s a made-up term I’ve heard (and used) since my childhood without ever having linked it to anything blasphemous or inappropriate. I meant no insult.

    Thanks for tuning in to Catholic Exchange!
    Many blessings,
    Marge

  • noelfitz

    Mfenelon,

    Thank you so much for your reply to me. Of course I did not find anything in your article to offend me. On the contrary I felt better after reading it. It gave me encouragement and enthusiasm.

    Warren,

    as usual you get to the heart of things with insight and clarity. The fault with our Community is that we are too comfortable with each other. We have been meeting for about twenty years and we are at ease together. At times rather than having a meeting with Mass, sharings and hymns we got out for a drink or have a party. Every birthday is celebrated.

    When we started off the idea was we would invite new members, then as numbers grew we would split into two groups and hence evangelize. That never happened.

    I note in your post “now that I am too crippled to get to Mass”. I am very sorry to hear this. I had not realized you were so incapacitated.

    Would you ever consider contributing to “Faith and Life” more frequently?

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