Lent is a time when we're supposed to go into the dessert of our spiritual lives, to clean out the clutter, to fast so as to know all the ways we've filled up our lives with things other than God, be it work, obligations, appetites, or ambitions. For me, the big obstacles are obligations and ambitions. I want to matter. I keep trying to find some way to matter other than God's way, which is stupid, but there it is. I want credit. It's a stupid thing, but ego is stupid so again, I know the reality.
The other day, I'd been listening to EWTN radio, but because they were doing their share-a-thon and we'd already given, I put on a podcast of Fr. Riccardo's. I was folding socks and only half listening when I recognized I knew the person speaking, giving the testimony in the talk and the witness came alive as I now attuned all of my mind to the man's words.
As a result, I stayed listening to the rest of the talk, Lord I Believe, Help My Unbelief, Part 2 of 4. Fr. John asked us to discern where are we in the formation process of becoming intentional disciples, (as discussed in Sherry Wendell's excellent book) and to pray for Jesus to reveal to us where we are. The five stages are:
1) Initial Trust: If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts. I look at how I started writing, someone said to send in a piece on why I sent my kids to Catholic school and I did. Wonder of wonders, it was published. So I then began to explore the possibility, could I do this?
2) Spiritual Curiosity: Wanting to learn more. Listening, reading, I even created a folder on an old computer called Catholic Apologetics where I put articles I found and wanted to remember, not knowing this was the tug at my heart my father and mother hoped one day would come, would I one day be hooked on more than practicing my faith, on discovering the more within? Wonder is the beginning, the root as Mark Shea's summation of Wendell's book discussion about the process or stages of conversion.
3) Spiritual Openness: I began submitting, and trying things, seeing if this could be me, and being willing to write about some of this, to bleed my faith on the page. But it remained still something I felt reluctance to do, and struggled to discern. What is correct, and what is not enough (not real) and too much (not necessary). Praying, reading, these things I knew to do from years of being Catholic, but adoration...I wasn't one of "those people" except I was but didn't know it yet.
4) Spiritual Seeking: I began reaching out to other writers, submitting more boldly, and allowing myself to be mentored, and wanting to be more, to know more, to be used more, Still, at this stage, I feared the work it might involve. I tested God. I asked for signs. I asked for loads of things and like the Israelites, God responded with lavish generosity and faithfulness. Which brings me to the brink, to dropping the net, or going away sad because it will require more. The next step would be to become an Intentional Disciple but that would mean 1) knowing what net I needed to drop, and 2) dropping it.
When Fr. John suggested we pray to be shown where we were so we could know what came next; I asked.
Now, I have to act. I know what it will look like, to be at stage five is to be willing to embrace the work because it must be done, rather than for the reward of the work. The net I must drop is the need for attention, the desire for reward, the ego trip of being recognized, or the prize of praise. I know if I don't, I can't pick up the cross, my hands will be already full. Lord I believe. Help my unbelief. How do I drop this net?
My small successes this week were to have a date night with my husband, read to my children, and figuring out, I need to drop my net. Hope your Lent is bringing you to a deeper place with Christ and your family.
Copyright 2015 Sherry Antonetti
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