A real text from last Sunday I sent to my little sister: aka. my ever-patient soundboard for my rants and raves and whiny venting…
Obviously she didn’t blame me at all for feeling that way, and gave me great advice to encourage me. I feel like I should be ashamed to admit that sometimes I don’t want to go to church. My good-girl Catholic guilt wants to creep in right now and tell me I shouldn’t post that. But it’s the truth. It’s real life. I’m sorry if you thought I was the one eagerly skipping into Mass every day. I’m not.
The truth is that some days I find it really difficult to go.
Especially during Lent because I find Lent depressing and I rebel against liturgical seasons trying to force feelings and devotions on me. But that is definitely another blog for another time.
I want you to know that sometimes I don’t want to go to Mass so that you don’t think it’s the end of your life as a Catholic when it happens to you. Because it will happen to you.
Maybe you have the best church ever. Or the best priest with the best homilies. And you just love every moment you can be there.
That’s amazing and enjoy that special grace. I absolutely believe we should seek out those kinds of churches and Masses and priests who can inspire us and help us grow in virtue and holiness. It doesn’t do anyone any favors if you force yourself to go the lack-luster Mass on one side of town while on the other side is one where your soul can be really, truly fed.
There will come a day (or weeks, or months) when Sunday feels like it comes way too fast and that obligation is way too heavy. It may feel like a burden and a bore. You show up and it’s the oldest priest ever who also has a thick accent and reads his homily s l o w l y from a notebook.
And someone is coughing on you. Or the lady next to you is so downright mean she makes you cry (again, another story for another day!!). Or maybe not even mean but everyone just seems judgy instead of welcoming. And let’s not even get started on the choir. Who is going to tell Carol her gift is not to freestyle the psalm acapella?
Or… like for me last Sunday… I don’t even know what it was. I just wasn’t feelin’ it.
That’s when you go anyway and it’s a pruning Mass.
Once I heard this brilliant homily/podcast by Fr. Mike Schmitz and he said that those times when you feel that way, praise God for that because it’s a “pruning Mass.”
In order to help a plant grow and bloom into the best it can be, the gardener must prune it.
Prune means: “to trim (a tree, shrub, or bush) by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth.” Without pruning, the dead stuff on a plant will kill off the good stuff… it actually sucks the life out of the healthy parts!
God the gardener, the creator and conductor and artist of my life, He needs to cut away the rotten parts of my heart. The parts that are selfish and lazy and proud.
You see, the times I don’t want to go to church because my “feelings” tell me it’s a hassle… that’s when I need to remember and force myself to believe it is NOT about me. It is NOT about my feelings. It’s NOT about what I think I need, but what God knows I need.
I need to allow myself to accept that when church is not fun and inspiring, God is inviting me to be pruned. And perhaps, those are the best masses for my soul.
He is inviting me to remember it’s not about what I get out of it, but who I am serving and giving glory to – the one who made the heavens and earth and who gives me each new breathe. So I need to stop thinking about ME all the time. All glory belongs to Him and He deserves my worship.
It’s about community. Mass is a communal offering, not a personal affair. That’s why we are encouraged to fully and actively participate together. It’s not just that God wants me to show up, it’s that I’m there as a sister in Christ to all those around me. We are part of a whole and the body is crippled without each of us playing a role.
A pruning Mass is necessary for your growth. You can’t avoid it. You need to lean in to the discomfort of having your vices trimmed away.
So yeah I didn’t want to be there. But I forced myself to sit in the front row. I opened that book to sing the songs and read the readings. I smiled my warmest smile during the sign of peace. I forced myself to make a mental list of those I wanted to pray for instead of a blanket “all the people” prayer. And I did it because I believe in an almighty, big God who loves me so much… and He deserves my time and praise regardless of my fickle heart.
He’s pruning us and it’s His way of loving us. Will you let yourself be loved?
You Are Enough
Don’t ever forget that okay? You are beautiful and precious and deserve good things — and I can’t tell you that enough! Look I even dedicated a side-bar-box-thing to it. God has a plan and a purpose for your life and He died and rose again because He wants to spend forever with you! Okay, read on. Important reminder over.
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God & Spirituality
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:1-3
If we attach God’s blessing to our fertility and our families it would mean I am more favored by God than the woman next to me who can’t have children. And we know God’s love doesn’t work that way.
And the salt in the wound of my tender millennial christian heart was when the “things” meant more to people than people. When the rosary and the praying of it was more important than looking and seeing your neighbor’s need wasn’t a holy card but a smile and a hug.
So yeah, I’m not the perfect Christian. Not always the loving, well-behaved daughter of God. But He is big enough to handle my big, complicated emotions. He is understanding enough to listen to my angry ranting and raving.