The Last Six Weeks
So much has gone on in the last six weeks. I know I promised my blog readers that I would get back to a daily routine of posting here, and I haven't. I set expectations for you and for me and then failed to live up to them. I'll talk about that in tomorrow's post on Hope and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For now, I want to share with you my story of the last six weeks and how that ties into the relationship between hope and the sacrament of confirmation.
On May 26, 1996, I was confirmed in the Catholic Church. That's right. If you do the math, that was 20 years ago. I remember preparing for confirmation. It was a whirlwind experience for me, and I didn't really understand what I was saying yes to. I thought I did. I thought it meant that I was accepting my Catholic faith on my own, that I was going to receive the Holy Spirit, and I would be changed somehow. And all of that was true, in a sense, but not in the way that I thought.
The Miscommunication That Led to Disappointment
I thought once those hands were laid on me I was going to feel something special, but I didn't. I was disappointed. I thought I was going to feel instantly transformed, and I didn't. That disappointed me even more. Actually, when you get down to it, I was really looking at this as a moment when God was going to do something FOR me and I didn't understand that this was a sacrament about doing things FOR God. This was the miscommunication that led to my false expectations that gave rise to the disappointment I felt.
Writing a New Story
I actually had as many misconceptions about who God was and what He wanted as I did about Confirmation. It wasn't until I read the passage from 1 John 4:7-8 where it states, "Everyone who knows love, knows God, but everyone who does not know love, does not know God, for God is love," that I began to see God, the Catholic Church, and Her teachings in a whole new light. That verse was the beginning of writing a new story for what Christianity was and how the sacraments were to be lived. It would take me a very long time to write that new story down.
A Story of Love's Quest to Win HeartsI began to understand Scripture as a story of Love's quest to win the hearts and minds of the human race. Love was constantly pursuing us, trying so hard to get us to open up and let it in so that it could give us the good things we all want but getting misunderstood and rejected over and over again, yet not giving up hope.
The Slow Journey Toward UnderstandingIt would take me 20 years to unpack the meaning of Confirmation and to really get to the root of what it was all about. These last six weeks have played a huge role in unraveling that mystery. During Baptism, you say "Yes" and you open the door to allowing Love into your life. But during Confirmation, you accept God's invitation to be a partner with Him in answering the prayers of other people. You agree to be His envoy, being the voice, hands, and feet that carry His message of love into the world.
You sign up to be on the front lines, fighting the battle for the sake of Love, and you agree to give up everything in order to serve that mission of spreading Love to every heart. You battle the things that get in the way of people's ability to accept Love into their hearts each and every day. That is what Confirmation is.
And In Giving, We ReceiveIn March, I accepted the invitation to become a full partner in the mission to answer the prayers of others. I began a proactive search for ways to serve others on a daily basis. At least one person a day was the recipient of my services, without asking or expecting anything in return. The result of that was an improvement in the number of prospects for my business, several new clients, and the unlocking of insights and wisdom I wouldn't have gained otherwise. Everytime I helped them serve their problem, I discovered the keys to solving problems of my own.
The Commitment to Daily Prayer for OthersOn June 8th, I kicked that commitment to service into high gear. I created a list of people whose souls I would take charge of praying for daily. The list started with just 160. It is currently at 420. The results have been connections with other people at levels I've never connected with them before now. I went from having nobody calling me during May to having 5 people a day reaching out to connect with me, some of whom I've never met before.
The Intention to Serve Creates a Radar for Opportunities
Praying for people sets an intention to serve them in your brain. It opens your mind to look for opportunities that you can serve them. You'll develop a radar for the opportunities that your situation presents to connect people who can help one another together, or for ways that you could create a system or a product that would serve their needs. You'll begin to make connections with people who have ideas that you could use to further your goal of serving others. And every opportunity to serve them creates an opportunity to talk about Love and to introduce them to Love, because Love is a need we all have.
Whatever You Want More Of, Give More OfWith all of the good stuff that was starting to come my way on her mind, someone I love asked me why it was she didn't have all that good stuff coming her way. Didn't she deserve it, too? Didn't she have things that were just as good to offer?
I explained to her that she was seeing the seeds I'd been planting start to bear fruit, but you have to sow those seeds for a long time and put the work in to tend them for a long time before the harvest comes. Whatever you want more of in your life, you must first give more of to others. There's an old saying that says it takes money to make money, and there is some truth to that. If you want to get more money, you have to invest more money. You get the fruit of the seed you plant, and what you give out is what you'll get back in return.
If you want more Hope, bring Hope to others
Writing this book has been a journey into understanding more about hope. I wrote it because I thought it was going to help others. The person it has helped the most, though, is myself. In understanding more about hope and seeking to spread more hope to others, I have found more hope and been given the graces I needed to cling to hope during some of the biggest trials of my life.
Go forth, and share the Good News
Love is out there, still waiting to enter into the lives of so many. Our world definitely needs more Love, and the truth is that wherever Love happens to be, Hope and Joy will not be far behind. Love, Hope, and Joy are the Holy Trinity - wherever one is found, the others will be there with it. Increase Love and you'll increase not only the Joy in the world but in your own heart as well. Increase Love, and you'll grow Hope not only in the world but in your own heart.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." - Luke 6:38