The issues surrounding the Philadelphia Archdiocese hit home in a big way last week. I was asked to attend a meeting that was to finalize plans for a school farewell. The pastor had asked me to explain a memento book I'd been pushing for since 6 days after the closings were announced. To say the least, I was beyond floored by how unprepared and disorganized everything was.
While trying to get a handle on the situation (I was trying to figure out how to work the tiny number of volunteers we had for the number of stations we needed coverage for), the principal (a sweet, wonderful woman who is doing the best she can in a situation in which everything is stacked solidly against her) misunderstood my attempt to figure out man-power as an attack on her dedication.
Poor Sister. I honestly feel awful for her and all the other people both in our and other schools who are struggling with the same reality. Alumni are knocking down the doors for some sort of open house / farewell, but no one wants to actually take the time to properly plan things out. On top of that, current families and students tend to get shuffled aside.
It's just a sad, disheartening situation all around.
And then in Jersey, in my own parish, there's been an atmosphere of bubbling anger and indignation still seething from the mergers over the last few years. With the last several meetings we've had, I feel like I'm watching our wonderful pastor struggle harder and harder against the overwhelming tide of criticism and ineptitude overflowing from his own superiors (who, in turn, are probably struggling with much of the same). In our last meeting, I couldn't get the image of Atlas struggling to hold up the weight of the world on his shoulders out of my head. Instead of Atlas, though, it's our poor pastor. Eeps!
So yeah... I've been a miserable little bum. Everything was really getting to me because I felt like I couldn't do anything to make any of it better.
Until I remembered the following quote from St. Francis de Sales:
Every Christian needs a half-hour of prayer each day, except when he is busy, then he needs an hour.
Ha! This quote is wonderful because it reminds us that no matter how busy we are, no matter how stressed or over-burdened we think we are, God never gives us more than we can handle. All we need to do is rely on Him through prayer, and all the craziness takes care of itself.
I was absolutely miserable, so I wasn't really expecting much to come of it. I then said to myself, "So what if nothing comes of it? Adoration isn't supposed to be for us. It's supposed to be a gift to Jesus. So stop your whining and be grateful for the fact that He allows you to spend time with Him at all."
(I really do have these sorts of conversations with myself... don't judge me! Ha ha!)
So I went. I didn't even bother with the veil. I just went in to the lonely little chapel room and said "Hi" to Jesus. I didn't recite any fancy prayers, and I didn't even turn on the lights. I just knelt before the monstrance and said, "Hi Jesus. I love You. Help me to love You better."
I didn't know what else to say. I really didn't. I was sheepishly grinning at Jesus, because I knew He was enclosed in the monstrance and was probably hoping for something a little more profound than "Hi Jesus" over and over again.
But I quickly realized that wasn't true. Jesus was just glad I was there with Him... that I came to Him when I realized the flood of emotion was too much. Like any good friend, He was waiting patiently (no... EXPECTANTLY) for me to ask for help. As I acknowledged the truth of that, an immediately wave of relief came over me. I felt happiness and love. I actually put my arms out a bit because I knew in that moment, Jesus was hugging me. I don't care how much of a crazy person that makes me. Jesus was hugging me, and darn it - I was gonna hug Him back!
After that, I spent the last couple minutes just "hanging out" with Jesus. I repeated my prayer of "I love You, help me to love You better" a few more times, and then thanked Him for the opportunity to come see Him.
I left with the dopiest grin on my face. I had gone over my Best Friend's house in the middle of the day and snuck in a few minutes of chit-chat. It really made all the difference in the world.
I then took the advice of a dear priest friend who suggested that lunch / dinner might be a good option to cheer up our pastor. Armed with his suggestion, I began making plans to surprise him (Fr. Atlas - I'm totally going to call him that from now on) with a luncheon. After all, Mark Twain said it best: The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
Hopefully this will provide a morale-boost to Fr. Atlas in addition to those of us who are able to attend. I sincerely hope we draw a good sized crowd for him. He deserves to know he's appreciated and supported by his community. He's done so much for us, and it's be nice to acknowledge him for his love to remind me that even though he's facing a deluge of criticism, he has a deluge of appreciation to balance it out.
So yeah... Adoration, even for a few minutes, really can make a difference!