Originally posted October 3, 2005
My last prolonged conversation with God was during my vacation in July. We’ve had several short chats since then to discuss urgent matters that only He could help with, but nothing long and philosophical.
Yesterday, I found myself somewhere I hadn’t been in a long time. I was in church. A long time for me is months, though my attendance has been sporadic for quite a few years. Over the past 3 years, I’ve justified my poor attendance record with a fervent philosophical disagreement I have with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
Though my disagreement is extremely heartfelt, I am not ready to commit to it completely with my children. It seems important for them to attend religious education and go through the sacraments, as my wife and I did years ago.
My son’s impending confirmation is what got me to Mass yesterday. Sister Marinus, as wonderful a servant as God has ever had, is the religious education director. She has ruled that all communication regarding the program will be transmitted through the Sunday Bulletin. Translation, you should come to Mass. She also mandates certain days when the candidates for Confirmation have to attend a particular Mass. Yesterday was one of those.
As I sat there, I was looking at the crucifix hanging above the alter. I was wondering how so much man-made stuff got in between Him and me. So I decided to take my own advice and call Him. After all, from the pew I was sitting in, it was a local call.
“Hi God, it’s me again. Jim…” I thought.
Silence = I know who you are. How’s it going?
“Well, I’m here at Mass and I was wondering about why it is the way it is.”
Silence = You mean with all the music and shiny chalices and colorful vestments? How would you do it?
“Do what? You mean worship You?”
Silence = At least you know why people go to Mass. Mostly they whine that they ‘don’t get anything out of it.’ They don’t think about Me. Which is typical of children of all ages.
“I don’t have any fancy ideas about worship. I think the best way to glorify You is to behave the way you want us to. As Jesus taught.”
Silence = You’re right. It is the best way. And you really can’t do without it. But that's not the only way to give glory. It’s okay for people to come up with different ways to worship and pray. I’m open to new things, as long as they are consistent with My word.
“So the chalices and the vestments and the stained glass windows and the symbolism and ritual. You need all that?”
Silence = Of course I don’t need it. I don’t need anything from My people. I want them to love Me, to appreciate what I do for them. I want them to trust Me, to put their faith in Me. So no, I don’t need the place or the elaboration or the ceremony. I do think it’s nice though.
“Why is that?”
Silence = You have kids. In their lives, they’ve done different things to try to please you, their father. Maybe you got a ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ trophy. Or maybe they painted you a picture, sang you a song or put on a show for you? Did you enjoy that?
“Sure. I love my kids and when they do nice things for me, I really like it.”
Silence = And so it is with my children. They love Me and I love them. And when they do things to make Me happy, I really like it too. My children developed rituals and customs that are designed to please Me. I like that it brings them together. As long as their hearts are in the right place, I enjoy it very much.
More silence = Now let me ask you this: Do your kids ever do nice things for you immediately after they do something that makes you unhappy?
“Of course. As they get older, it grows into shameless manipulation.” I was kidding, sort of.
Silence = Don’t be cynical, they’re just being children. If you attribute their motives as manipulation, and communicate that, they learn to be manipulative. But I digress. What they are seeking from their father is forgiveness. They seek a return to a state of grace, in your eyes. My children, including you, are the same way.
“I see. So I need to go into the box, in the dark and tell my sins to a stranger in order to get your forgiveness?”
Silence = If that’s what you need to reach out to Me, then yes, I want you to sit in the dark and talk to ‘strangers.’ Many people are ashamed of their sins, and cannot bring themselves to say them very easily. It’s comforting to them to get their sins off their chests with anonymity and to feel they’ve been explicitly forgiven.
“I have to acknowledge my sins to be forgiven, but You don’t need me to say them to another person if I don’t want to?”
Silence = The only One you need to tell them to is Me. There is a catch, though. You need to be sorry. Not sorry you got caught, not sorry someone found out, not sorry you didn’t do it more, not sorry it’s a sin. Sorry you did it, along with an intention to avoid doing it again is what I want. I’ll know if it’s in your heart. Or if it’s not. And since you are My child, I will forgive you. Like you would with your children. Right?
“Right. That makes sense. So, I guess it’s time to leave. Mass is ended, go in Peace.”
Silence = Go in peace. See you here next week?
“Uh, I don’t know. I thought…”
Silence = It’s alright. These people around us are your brothers and sisters. I think it would help you to be around them sometimes. You can’t always go it alone.
“No, I guess not. I will be back. Maybe not every week, but I will be back. I promise.”
Silence = No need to ‘promise.’ Just keep calling when you want to talk. I’m always here, I’ll always listen and you don’t ever have to be afraid. You see, even if you turn your back on me, or forget about me or even get mad at me, I’ll still love you. But I like it better when we can have these little chats sometimes. I like that you listen.
“I like that you talk.”
Silence = I talk all the time. All people have to do is listen. All they have to do is trust me.
“I’ve got to get going. I’ll call again.”
Silence = I’ll be waiting.