I Had a Thought and Then…

I was participating in Mass yesterday at the Pastoral Center during the Catechetical Conference and an idea popped into my head and not a few minutes later popped right back out. Drives me crazy because normally when I receive something while at Mass, I want it to stick with me. Who wouldn’t? Right? It was a long day, setting up St. Mary’s Bookstore on 3 long tables a little after 7 a.m. then selling all day and packing up at 3 to take back to the store and return to the shelves, then close the store at 5. But, I had some great help and got to spend time with great people so I was all good. After dinner I watched a little football with my husband and promptly fell asleep on the couch. When I woke up, I asked about the game and my husband responded that Auburn just couldn’t seem to get out of their own way. And that was it! That was the message I received at Mass! I couldn’t believe it. It’s all about Auburn…no, I mean, it’s all about getting out of our own ways.

This past week my youngest daughter had several volleyball games and as I watched them fall short for the 3rd match in a row, I thought, “they just cannot seem to get our of their own way”. They did more to beat themselves than the other team did to beat them. Not saying the other teams were not good or didn’t deserve the wins but come on….talk, work together.

During Mass, the thought came clearly. Come on. Stop beating ourselves. We all need to get out of our own ways and talk, work together. Because after all, it’s not really about who gets what or who did this or that, it’s about how we treat one another during this mass confusion we call living in this world. Every day we are given many opportunities to be kind, to love, to change lives by what we say or how we say it, by what we do or don’t do. Social media especially has become a major player in how we treat one another. Think about some of the things we read and some of the comments made. We really are not very kind to one another. What if we knew that every comment, every action was to test our reaction? Do we discuss topics and work with one another? Or do we react with anger? We are constantly and continually beating ourselves here. We cannot seem to get out of our own way.
I am not good about this but what if we used all the bad things that happen to us or are said about us as the chance to make a difference? Maybe even by not doing or saying anything. Or, maybe by turning bad into good. I think that’s the major difference between us and the saints. With the Canonization of Mother Teresa I guess all of this has made me start thinking of the simple things she and the other Missionary of Charity sisters did and still do that all of us can do. Granted, few of us are going to serve the poor in India, but there are plenty of poor in our own cities. Wait. I’m getting off course. We all know we can do and be better. My point here is that we need to stop working against ourselves. We need to stop making what is good and holy seem so difficult. We need to take the simple opportunities put before us day after day and complete the tasks. We need to be kind to the meanest and love the haters and do for the ungrateful. We need to stop beating ourselves with unforced errors so to speak. Let’s talk. Let’s work together. Let’s share our good thoughts and let’s stay out of our own way.

The Language of Kindness

“Being a disciple of Christ means being meek and gentle.” St. John Chrysostom

As I park, I notice she is at the Grotto, bowing slightly toward the large figure of Our Blessed Mother. I don’t walk past her, not wanting to disturb her time in prayer. I walk around and hop up the larger flight of stairs and head for the Chapel. I sit and read a little about the Saint of the Day, St. John Chrysostom, “Golden Mouth”. I read a bit on his amazing talent of preaching and of using his words, the words of Christ, to turn others to the Faith. I sit and listen. Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I notice she enters the room. As usual, those who come in after her, old and young alike, stop for a hug or exchange a smile or a soft spoken word. It happens every morning but this particular morning it hits me. She speaks very little English and even that is rarely understandable. And. That’s. Just. It. We all understand the language of kindness. She is meek and she is gentle and she is always kind and all can understand. She never fails to ask me about my children and my parents and to tell me about her grandchildren. She is always smiling and praying and touching her lips to her hands and passing that kiss on to the figure of Mary or of Joseph or of Jesus. She is always in that Chapel and her kindness and her love for her Faith is an example to us all. She is truly an example of being a disciple of Christ and although we can rarely translate the words, we easily understand the language. As St. John Chrysostom spoke to small and great alike and all were able to understand by his word and his example, so too can those who have mastered the language of kindness.