Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mortification and Loving your Enemies

Today I was up early (not as early as DH. I know this because he hit "snooze" instead of "off" at 4 AM. I love him.Truly). I digress. At 8:07 I was in one of my favorite seats here...
 Wearing my least favorite footwear and 3 layers of clothing.
Heading, again, across the river. My it was beautiful today. Sunny and frozen

I went again to The Vigil because it's what I feel so strongly called to do right now. I'm not sure what effect I have on those mothers choosing this death for their children but I know that someone has to be there. Today I was there and I witnessed and I learned some good things in the process.

Mortification - When I walked up, the man they call "cowboy" was on a roll. I have never seen him in person and, well, let's just say it was an experience. He wears several pro-life signs and holds a crucifix, all while spouting ( as one vigil member remarked, about 20% good stuff, about 30% questionable and about 50% vile). I would agree. When I walked up he was raging (and I say raging because he is shouting at the top of his lungs) about "now they let women read the gospel and that is complete B-S, there is no biblical basis for that." He later went on and on about how many Church leaders are abortionists.

The vigil manager there at the time is a dear man. He comes, every Saturday to witness. Instead of greeting him warmly I immediately went on the defensive and questioned the presence of this man who is clearly at odds with the 40 Days for Life credo of gentle witness (although there are a few that get loud, none as crass as this man). That's where I failed. Badly.

And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?
I am called, especially there, to bear hardships and proceed with a servant's heart. Isn't it funny how you think you're ready (I had my handwarmers and mittens) and something hits you in your blindspot? Isn't it sad how quickly I can be diverted from intended mission? Tim spoke with me about mortification and how "sometimes it's just putting up with annoying people or things that you face on a daily basis." Why is it easier to stand in the freezing cold than to silently bear a misguided man's effort to "educate". (I was instructed, by the way, that the man isn't to be argued with as he can get very mean. So, after my initial upset and eventual acceptance, I stood and prayed for him while he prayed in his way. His intentions are valid but somewhere along the line, he went over the edge).

Not that I blame him. How can you stand down there, day after day, and not have anger and despair? I think, like having kids, the key is excess ;0) Let me explain. When I first went on a Saturday and saw the mothers walking in with their teenage daughters (today there was one that looked to be as old as my #1...I'm guessing it was a birth control thing) or watching the college-aged women joking with the escorts as they left post-abortion, it was devestating to me. How can they be so callous? How can parents think this is the best thing for their children? How can this be happening in a free nation.

I've been going for several years now and today something changed. Perhaps it was the reflection of my strong reaction to "cowboy" that made me step back. Whatever it was, I was able, as never before, to give a smile and "good morning" to everyone entering and leaving the building. I realized, I think for the first time, that they are all God's children, like I am and we all deserve to be treated with respect. Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn't but it's necessary to begin on one side with love...may as well be mine. 

Fr. Humberto has a lovely reflection on today's Gospel, which works so nicely on this topic. Jesus asks us to be "perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect". It's unlikely, being human and not divine, that we will ever reach that level but nothing is impossible with God. We are all called to be saints and as Father rightly points out, we should begin with each moment of each day. Try to make right now as perfect as possible. It seems, to me, a much more manageable feat.

As we continue through Lent, let's all try to be more perfect, like our Heavenly Father. Coincidentally (ahem) the Morning Offering has some good things with which to begin. I know this may keep me busy for quite a while.

"The fast of Lent has no advantage to us unless it brings about our spiritual renewal. It is necessary while fasting to change our whole life and practice virtue. Turning away from all wickedness means keeping our tongue in check, restraining our anger, avoiding all gossip, lying and swearing. To abstain from these things – herein lies the true value of the fast."
— St. John Chrysostom

We are blessed!

1 comment:

  1. tried to comment on this earlier-- What a beautiful post! thank you for your witness, and your wise insight :^)