A friend emailed, asking prayers for her to do a better job of helping her spouse be more spiritually inclined, to want to pray more as a family, but most of all to go to confession. The spouse does not like to go to confession. He also does not particularly like to pray the rosary. He likes to read Scripture. The friend is worried that she is not doing enough to save his soul, and that if something happens to him, somehow she will not have done her job.
So it brought up an inner discussion, plus some correspondence with the friend. This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit had to consider what is its job, what is anyone's job? For a parent, that becomes more clear when there are young children to rear by teaching, example, and whatever means.
The friend's spiritual director said they should start praying the rosary as a family. Perhaps this has stirred the friend's concerns about her spouse and the state of his spiritual life. Seems that it has brought up a worrisome aspect that we all can face at some phase or other in our lives.
The words "unconditional love" have come to this hermit's thoughts lately. The physical pain and the accompanying emotional pain have been very high again. The hermit remembered messages in the past from Teresa of Avila and also St. Luke, the Physician, that said that when this soul in here, in this body, would attain to unconditional love, then it would be able to transcend the earthly pain.
Obviously, this nothing hermit has not attained unconditional love. Yet, it is a new day, and the hermit desires very much to strive more to unconditional love--of self, of others...and of God! Yes, it is important to have unconditional love for God Who has unconditional love for us. Sometimes we can put some conditions on our love of God and on His will and designs and desires for our lives.
Today's first reading from the Acts of the Apostles includes:
The hand of the Lord was with them
and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
The news about them reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem,
and they sent Barnabas to go to Antioch.
When he arrived and saw the grace of God,
he rejoiced and encouraged them all
to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart
for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith.
When it comes to our children, yes, they are our "job." But our spouses, am not so sure, especially if it has one thinking of the other as lacking in some aspect of being devout enough--even if some aspect of devotions are not happening, not a part of that person's daily life. True enough, some people are more spiritually inclined than others; and circumstances in life such as upbringing and life experiences, particularly suffering, affect our inclinations: to the world more, or to God more.
One thought that came to mind, is that of someone filling in where a perceived void exists, such as praying the rosary. It seems that instead, asking the spouse who likes to read Scripture, to read Scripture to the family and discuss it some, or to pick a Bible verse that they learn and put into practice each day, would fill the void by utilizing what the spouse brings to the marriage of his spiritual positives.
After all, in Mass there is the Living Word, and then the Sacrifice. The Living Word of God is given prime position in the first half of the temporal aspect of time in Mass. The rosary is a marvelous prayer and devotion, but it is the Lord's Prayer that is prayed during Mass and is the prayer Jesus teaches us to pray. (This is not at all to devalue praying the rosary, but it is to help understand in some way, that unconditional love might bear in on this situation. Don't place conditions on what others are to pray and then feel pressure that somehow they are lacking if they do not.)
As for not going to confession, that is another issue of whose job is it, and is the soul in jeopardy of salvation if he or she does not go to confession often, or at all? For children being brought up in the Catholic faith, the parents hold that job of teaching and leading by example, and having the children learn about confession and provide a way for them to get to confession. That is, in our time period, in this century and the past several, how it is.
It seems our job is ourselves, our own souls. This nothing hermit added in the correspondence, for the friend to take a realistic look at this hermit's own life! Two of the adult children have nothing to do with God, with prayer, or with any church. One does, but it is of a different level and aspect, of a different faith background with different "rules" of engagement, as is said....
Or, perhaps our job is to attain to unconditional love. And that means a love of God, others, and ourselves in as much as we are God's created beings. In being a light to others, and in teaching others and leading by example, we have the tremendous power of what affected the Church in Jerusalem, what turned their heads, what impressed Barnabas and thousands of others.
He arrived and he saw the grace of God....
If we remain faithful to the Lord, in firmness of heart; if we believe in Jesus Christ; if we are good and filled with the Holy Spirit and faith; then the hand of the Lord will be upon us. Others will "see" even if not with their temporal eyes but in some other aspect sense or hear--the grace of God.
Our job is to do what will help others see the grace of God.
Sure seems so, and unconditional love is a powerful showing of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: His Real Presence.
This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit is not there yet, but the desire is there, and it learns so much from the friend who stimulates such good inner questions and discussions--and helps this hermit to deeper conversion and contrition (Lord have mercy upon me, a sinner!) and desire to learn and do better with whatever life it has remaining.
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love one another and attain to unconditional love. Remaining in His Love is a good way to learn love from the Master. We are His job, each of us. He does perfect work; we only have to be willing to remain in His love and be humbly willing....