This post is part of the First Friday link-up at Catholic Cravings.
Last year we had an exceptionally mild winter here in central Virginia, which must have been the cause of much embarrassment to the weather gods, as they are attempting this year to make up for that oversight with a vengeance. We were broadsided yesterday by a blast of Arctic air, and it’s only going to get colder over the next week or so. I realize that “cold” is a relative term – our low of 18⁰ F last night may sound toasty to folks in your part of the world, but it’s all in what you’re used to. We have thin blood, and we prefer our overnight lows to approach as near to the higher side of freezing as possible. It was 22⁰ F at noon here today, and I am not the only person contemplating moving closer to the equator.
It was under those questionable conditions that I left my house yesterday evening for Adoration. This being central Virginia, we have something of a shortage of Christians of the Catholic persuasion, and our parish only has Adoration once a month. If you miss it, as I did last month due to illness, you’re out of luck for the coming 30 days. So I wasn’t about to let a little cold weather stop me from driving downtown to adore Jesus in the Eucharist; as a former Protestant, I figure I have quite a backlog of missed Adoration opportunities to make up for….
There were probably 10 cars in the parking lot when I arrived, but I found that those folks weren’t there for Adoration. When I approached the chapel, I realized that it was gonna be Jesus, me, and Tom, the man who makes Thursday evening Adoration possible at our parish. Since I came screeching in at the stroke of 7, I knelt in the hallway leading to the chapel to watch Tom place the Host in the monstrance and raise it high in adoration. I entered the chapel and assumed my customary station in as obscure a corner as I can find (I am massively shy – so shy that my heart overflowed with joy when I got up to lead the Litany of the Most Sacred Heart after Mass this morning and found that someone had placed a large poinsettia on the piano, behind which I could stand to lead the Litany). A second man entered the chapel to adore, but only stayed 10 minutes. For the rest of the hour, it was Jesus, and me, and Tom. His son is a priest in Richmond, and I wonder if he dreams of packed chapels and perpetual Adoration.
It was a very short hour, but Adoration always flies by, at least for me. I know a lot of people will bring their rosary with them, or reading material. I’ve tried that, but my favorite occupation is still best summed up in the words of the old French peasant who explained Adoration thus: “I look at the good God, and the good God looks at me.” I was grieving, as usual, over the small number of participants. It is unfathomable to me why the chapel isn’t packed to overflowing at every Eucharistic opportunity. He is here, the One adored by shepherds and kings alike. They apparently had tons more sense than we educated, 21st-century spiritual geniuses.
When the hour ended, my friend and I knelt to recite the Divine Praises. Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar! Tom then walked to the altar and raised the monstrance high, turning it to face me in my obscure corner.
And it was just Jesus and me. Time stopped, and it became what I hope will be the defining moment for my year: I looked at the good God, and the good God looked back at me, with love.
Today is First Friday as well as the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. I am offering up my Rosary today for Catholic bloggers, several of whom have recently experienced setbacks, financial strain, miscarriage and the loss of loved ones. Last year was pretty hard on me as well. I realize that all of this, like the cold temperatures, is relative – my disappointment with my circumstances might be someone else’s glee at having accomplished so much. As much as I would love to put it all behind me and start over, I am, at my age, skeptical of things like New Year’s resolutions. They don’t stick. I have about 50 years of resolutions behind me at this point; I know whereof I speak. My life reminds me of that precursor to the endless loop, the old children’s song, “Michael Finnegan”:
There was a man named Michael Finnegan,
He grew whiskers on his chinnegan,
Shaved them off, but they grew in again,
Poor old Michael Finnegan (begin again)….
That song has become for me, as for so many, the soundtrack to my life, and it’s getting old. Only Jesus can rescue me from the endless loop of trying harder and failing harder, of “begin again, begin again, begin again,” because only Jesus can provide the missing variable: a new heart, a heart like unto His own. Hiding behind the poinsettia this morning, I prayed with special love:
As I consecrate myself to You, I ask You to create in me a new heart, one which will be free from sin and filled with compassion and love for all people. Make me an instrument in Your divine plan of salvation. Ever keep me strong in faith, hope and love, and never let me be separated from You.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Yours.
He is, after all, the One Who met me last night at Adoration, the One Who promised that He is indeed making all things new. Without Him, our resolutions don’t stand a dieter’s chance at a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through. With Him, we can be changed. We are changed. He breaks the cycle of “begin again,” and makes us new. We look at the Good God, and see Love.
New year – new heart!
On the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
Deo omnis gloria!