Being Catholic, like the song, “It don’t come easy, you know it don’t come easy” (Ringo Starr). I learned that years ago while attending a weekly prayer group. I learned so much about God there, but I also learned about His people.
One of the women in the group was that rare Christian who practiced her faith with quiet dignity. She welcomed all to the group, even those who would cause problems.
One particular gentlemen would come in ranting to us all that we must look in the mirror and see the errors of our ways and change. Sadly, he never turned the mirror toward himself. If he had, it would have probably cracked.
My friend would also stop the gossip in the group. The “latest” news was not allowed when our group was in session.
My friend decided that she had to change her life. She quit her job and began to pray daily in front of the Blessed Sacrament for a new direction. Everyone seemed taken aback by that, but she was determined to hear God’s voice.
Suddenly everything changed. My friend was questioned by other members about her life and her choices. As far as I was concerned, she was above reproach, but somehow the seeds had been planted and slowly other members began to turn on her. My friend was heartbroken.
One day, we sat on her porch and talked about the whole mess. The prayer group had disbanded mostly because my friend had been removed from her “position of authority” by her attackers and no one else really wanted to do the planning that it took for weekly meetings and outside activities. I knew this woman and I knew those people knew this woman and the accusations they hurled at her couldn’t have been further from the truth. The whole thing didn’t make any sense.
But it does now. They were jealous. Here was someone who dared to live the Gospel. Here was someone who put Jesus’ teachings into her every day life. And instead of following her example they viciously attacked her to get at the very soul that embraced and loved them. She was damned by them either way.
She and I had our differences, too. She was very interested in “Three Days of Darkness.” It’s been predicted by some visionaries that we will literally have three days of darkness that will allow demons to roam the earth and do what they will. I couldn’t read the book she gave me about it and when her conversations turned more and more to that subject I stopped her. She respected my wishes and never brought it up again.
One of her many qualities was that she never forgot a birthday. She kept a calendar with everyone’s day marked and if she couldn’t afford a gift, she would make one. A bookmark or a potholder would be slipped in an envelope with a birthday card and a personal note.
Years later, when she passed away, I attended a memorial Mass for her. A few of her attackers actually showed up. Others made their excuses. I sat in the pew seething. How dare they show their faces here? But I knew that she had forgiven them. She would see them as Jesus saw them and would welcome them without hesitation.
I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately. Perhaps after all these years she wants to be remembered. And I do remember. She was the Christian I strive to be.
It don’t come easy, you know it don’t come easy. It’s never easy being Catholic, but I think about my friend and how she handled the tough times. She looked beyond the pettiness and jealousy of her fellow Christians and there’s no doubt in my mind where she resides now.
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