I went to confession this past Sunday, one of the things I love about my church is that Confession is available during the Divine Liturgy most Sundays. I try to go at least once a month, since that is what Our Mother told us to do in messages from Medjugorje. (It's important to do what Our Mother tells us!)
When I go, I usually wait to go after the readings and the homily, so I can hear what the Holy Spirit wants me to hear and learn before going for a good soul-scrubbing before receiving Communion.
This past Sunday what I remember most was how the priest started. "No matter how long we have been in the spiritual life, there is always opportunity for improvement, for growth. What I mean by that is there is always opportunity for us to have more joy in the Lord!"
On rare occasions, the priest who is most often my Confessor, who at one time did attend Charismatic prayer groups, will place his hand on my head after the granting of absolution and will say a short prayer for me. Either the first time I went or the second time, it was close to Pentecost and he prayed that I would receive the Holy Spirit along with some specific gifts. Looking back, that was a key turning point in the way I live my faith.
On Sunday he did place his hands on my head and prayed simply for God's blessings and peace.
I have not been at peace lately, and I think I have received the grace these past few days in my meditations, some of which he gave me as penance, to learn why I have not been at peace.
I had prayed during the Novena to the Sacred Heart to have what St. Faustina had, when Jesus told her, "I delight in your soul." I prayed that Jesus would find his delight in me, and that I would find my delight in Him. I also prayed for the gift of understanding, wisdom, and counsel because I seem to have understanding of the outlines of things, but not a penetrating understanding.
I am thanking God for answering my prayers. I learned that I do have a divided heart. My heart has the priority of loving God first and foremost, but not the follow-through during the passing moments of the day.
We attended a parade on the 4th of July and my three younger kids would position themselves when they saw floats or marchers throwing candy. Then they would as politely as possible swoop down to get the goodies.
In The Better Part this was exactly the example that Fr. John Bartunek used to explain how I am when I am looking for attention, whether it is checking my emails, or blog stats, or for a card in the mailbox, or at work, when I am striving to be perceived as success, and soaking in whatever compliments or recognition that I can come by.
None of this is "Seeking First the Kingdom of God". What is?
I am learning that it is to break from the tendency to slip into self-destructive thirst for recognition and success, and attention. I realize this tendency is deep.
I also realize that if I am loving God "with my whole heart, my whole soul, and my whole mind (Matthew 22:37)" then this shouldn't be in my thoughts, and certainly should not affect how I feel emotionally. Something is broken in my make-up when this is the case, and this is why I don't have peace. I know with my mind how things are supposed to be ordered, and I am not at peace because my heart is not ordered like Christ's undivided, and humble heart.
I need to seek only to be pleasing in the sight of God. I need to turn to him first thing in the morning, and throughout the day. If I don't feel like it for some reason, I need to ask him for his grace, because, he always answers the prayer for grace, with grace--his presence. Either in my knowledge that he is there, or in the sense that he is there.
If God is pleased with me, what do I care about the opinion of others? Now for the practical, how do I build the habit of not caring about the opinion of others, and seeking first for his will and to please him?
"My help comes from Yahweh who made heaven and earth." Psalm 121:2
Not sure I have that figured out, but as we are going on vacation, and as blogging has been feeding rather than being the antidote for my vanity, I'll be fasting from reading or writing in the blogosphere for the next week and a half. I hope when I return to have some better habits of loving and seeking God as primary to my living, and I have confidence "If You seek him, he will let you find him (1 Chronicles 28:9b)". Maybe I'll actually be able to do a "Sabbath Moment" post for Colleen's MEME?
Then I hope to do as Jesus did with his undivided heart. To love with self-forgetful love in love of God, and to please Him, and not to receive attention or recognition from others because of my efforts. Still to truly love others for who they are, and in gratitude for what goodness God has brought to light in them.