I was a good enough Christian and a good enough Catholic. After all, I was raised in the Church and went to church every Sunday. Heck even in college when everyone else I knew dropped Church, I went pretty much every Sunday.
What I did the other six days a week or later Sunday afternoon didn’t matter. I wasn’t doing anything unusual, anything everyone else wasn’t doing. In fact, I could look at most of the people around me and find I was “better” than most in areas of faith and morality.
So what if I cringed over the thought of Confession? Other Christians were “better” than many of the Catholics I knew and they didn’t go to Confession. God knew how I felt. He knew when I was truly sorry and when I just said the right words and went through the right motions. Coming face-to-face with my sin in the confessional was extreme and uncalled for – except that in the Bible Jesus tells us to confess our sins to one another, and I really didn’t want to do that! – and He also tells the Apostles that they have the power to bind sins and the power to act through the Lord to forgive sins (The priest does NOT forgive sins in the confessional. He acts with the authority of the Lord who does.)
My husband didn’t have a strong faith when we met. In fact, he pretty much said he flat out didn’t believe in God or at least in God’s loving involvement, but over time, he seemed to change his position, and by the time we were married, he was going to Church with me every Sunday. By the time our kids were old enough to know, we were holding hands around the dinner table and saying a quick prayer before eating. Even in the car, I showed my faith, saying a “Glory Be” while passing a Catholic church and an “Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord” prayer while passing any cemetery or Cross on the side of the road.
I was a Good Enough Catholic-Christian!
I did a lot more for my faith than most good Catholic people I knew and they did a lot more than most other good Christian people I knew.
So what if I didn’t have time to thank God for the start of a new day as I woke up each morning?
So what if I didn’t say the Rosary very often? We were told saying an occasional decade was sufficient.
So what if I couldn’t get up the nerve, knowing what his answer would be, to ask my husband to go on that Marriage retreat?
I was still better than most,
and that made me Good Enough!
It was as if I thought, because my parents had had me Baptized, I was given the golden ticket. It was as if I thought because I went to Church or generally committed fewer serious sins than others I was guaranteed a free ride to Heaven.
As I got older though, I began to question how I was living. Things that had seemed strange, time consuming, or repetitive, things like the Rosary, called to me asking me to learn more about them, but I shrugged them off believing what others had told me about them instead of investigating them for myself. I knew I wanted to read the Bible, but I was a busy wife and mom with housework and part time jobs and small, active children to tend to first. God understood that. I’d do those things some day when I had more time.
I was a good enough Catholic.
Just like I was a good enough Mom
a good enough wife
a good enough friend,
a good enough ____________
God did understand how busy I was and how hard I tried, and I honestly did, but He also understood something else, something I didn’t want to admit to myself and certainly didn’t want to admit to anyone else.
My Good Enough Wasn’t Really Good Enough.
This past Sunday, Catholic celebrated the Feast of Divine Mercy. It is a celebration of Jesus’ visits to Saint Faustina, a Polish nun, during the 1930’s. Jesus asked Saint Faustina to pray a Novena (a prayer for each of nine days) with a special intention for each day.
DAY 1 (Good Friday) – All mankind, especially sinners
DAY 2 (Holy Saturday) – The souls of priests and religious
DAY 3 (Easter Sunday) – All devout and faithful souls
DAY 4 (Easter Monday) – Those who do not believe in Jesus and those who do not yet know Him
DAY 5 (Easter Tuesday) – The souls of separated brethren
DAY 6 (Easter Wednesday) – The meek and humble souls and the souls of children
DAY 7 (Easter Thursday) – The souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus’ mercy
DAY 8 (Easter Friday) – The souls who are detained in purgatory;
It was the ninth day of the Divine Mercy Novena that truly got me.
DAY 9 (Easter Saturday) – The souls who have become lukewarm.
Jesus said to Saint Faustina,
Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: ‘Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.’ For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy.
Jesus’ words here meshed with what is said in the Book of Revelations,
I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
Suddenly, I began to see that Good Enough
wasn’t really GOOD ENOUGH!
All my excuses about being too busy and not having the time to investigate the Rosary, to accept what others told me about it being time-consuming, empty, repetitive prayer without really researching why so many believed in it, about having too much to do to sit and read the Bible and ponder whether those words might still apply today rang false.
What rang most untrue was my comparison to others. I had looked at the faith of those around me and found I was “better” than them. Perhaps my faith was stronger. Perhaps my actions and values and maybe even morals were “better” than theirs, but I refused to acknowledge that where your friends are goes your future. My future didn’t look like anything special. It was the same as everyone else’s – middle of the road.
I didn’t seek out Godly friendships. I sought out friendships based on convenience and similar activities and interests, and those activities and interests really didn’t center around faith or even family, but around soccer and basketball and Boy Scouts and PTSO and altar serving, which was often just another activity.
I had to question what my friendships were based on and what would happen to them when soccer season ended or when the kids grew up or when…? What was I building that was lasting value in my life and in those whose lives interacted with mine? How was I helping those around me get to Heaven and if I wasn’t, why not? What was more important if I truly cared for them? What was I passing on to my children?
I certainly didn’t seek to lift in Love ad Mercy those I associated with. What I was doing was good enough.
But it wasn’t. Not really.
I wish I could say the change in my attitude, words, thoughts, and actions came as quickly as the realization that Jesus was talking about ME when He talked of those who are lukewarm, when He talked of souls that wound Him most painfully, when He talked of the dreadful loathing His soul suffered in the Garden of Olives, and when He called out to our Father to take this cup from Him.
I wish I’d changed myself when I realized the Book of Revelations was saying I would be spit out, not because of how bad I was, but because of how not Good I was, because of how blah I had treated my Faith, because of how saying the Salvation Prayer or going to Church or being better than the Average Joe doesn’t mean much after all.
But I didn’t change quickly. I had to start again every day. I’d sin in unbelievable ways, even though I knew better, and then have to resolve not to do it again while guessing that I probably would at some point. I’d tell a white lie or not encourage someone to stay in her Marriage the way I knew I should because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings and I didn’t want to lose her friendship. I was still acting for myself, out of fear of what would happen to me rather than out of Strength and Courage and Faith. I was still falling down because I wasn’t completely committed.
The Truth is, I still fall down. I still have moments when I doubt my commitment. And I still have more moments than I’d like to admit when I am lukewarm about my faith, but those moments are fewer and fewer. There is Hope because of Jesus’ Divine Mercy and because I now see good enough is merely lukewarm, not Good Enough at all!
God doesn’t expect perfection, but He does expect you to be on fire with heat of the Holy Spirit, to speak up when it’s called for and to keep silent when you want to exert your own words rather than God’s.
And being lukewarm doesn’t just extend to our Faith.
Once your realize you are lukewarm in your faith, your eyes open and you begin to see how many ways you are lukewarm without even realizing it, how you entered into your Marriage with a lukewarm attitude, how you treated your spouse with lukewarm affection, how you give your children lukewarm attention, how you give your employer lukewarm attendance, how you are lukewarm even in the rest you crave, and how you give your future lukewarm investment in so many areas.
The definition of Mercy is to Love the unlovable and to forgive the unforgivable. Many of the divorced think this means forgiving the spouse who walked away, a truly heinous offense to the world, to the Family, and to God, but there is one worse offense – that of being lukewarm.
Thankfully, while many of us find it difficult to forgive even minor offenses, Jesus’ Divine Mercy forgives even this greatest of all when we turn to Him and beg day in and day out to be heated up, to be lukewarm no more, when we DECIDE to be on fire for God no matter what happens around us.
How different would life in every area be if you refused to live lukewarm for one more second? You can do this!
Love and live lukewarm no more!
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