God takes our free will seriously.
He lets us go our own way;
He pours graces on us;
He sends messengers into our lives.
He batters on the doors of our souls and calls loudly to us,
just as He called to Lazarus in the tomb:
Rev. Patrick J. McHugh
I was a senior in college when I began dating a Mormon. Enjoying the superficial benefits of dating, without intention to marry anytime soon, we remained together for several months before I finally brought up the proverbial “elephant in the room” – the difference in our faiths and my ultimate desire to marry a Catholic man. Although I wasn’t especially devout, I anticipated a difficult marriage if I did not share a religious foundation with my husband.
I had no grand intentions of reforming my beliefs or spiritual life, but confronted with the less-than-desirable option of breaking up, we agreed to start talking about our faiths and to try sorting through our differences. In was through these conversations that I began to hear Christ’s knocking at my heart’s door, where He was anxiously waiting to deliver a stern message – that I was never going to convert anyone to Catholicism living a life of hypocrisy.
I began to recognize this messenger God had sent into my life, and more clearly, His message: how obnoxious it was to think I could ever draw someone into the Catholic faith if I wasn’t authentically living it. Going to Mass on Sundays, saying grace before meals, even believing in what I considered to be the Catholic absolutes, like Christ’s True Presence in the Eucharist – all these things might as well have been for not considering my rejection of so many of Christ’s teachings.
I’d been “going my own way” for years, through most of my existence as a Catholic. I neglected the Sacrament of Reconciliation for years on end. I had no concept that getting drunk was sinful. I cheered on the “Catholics for marriage equality” float as it passed by in my city’s “Gay Pride” parade. Even as an active member of my college pro-life club, I desired to promote the use of contraceptives.
God took my free will and my choices very seriously in that time. He did not prevent me from making terrible decisions, but He persistently battered at the door of my soul, crying loudly to me with an invitation to come home. I simply chose to ignore Him, for I naively thought I was more free – that life was easier lived my own way. I am fortunate and incredibly blessed to have learned otherwise.
It took humility to begin opening my eyes and ears to the messengers God sent into my life. I hardly recognized them as such in times of selfishness and pride, which I certainly continue to battle when I struggle against what God desires of me.
But I must listen, then, more carefully to hear Christ saying again as He said to Lazarus in the tomb, “Come out!”