Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God's will - St. Paul's letter to the Roman Chapter 8
I was so moved by this reading this morning because I'm still struggling with my frequent failure to turn to prayer when I'm tested. This week, I have really been tested, mostly because of difficult employees, and I can't say that my private reaction to their behaviors is what it should it have been.
Today, I had to confront someone about her disruptive behavior and as this was not the first time we were having this discussion, I had to initiate the disciplinary process, which is never an easy thing to do but which is necessary for the welfare of the employee as well as the co-workers who have to suffer through the bad behavior. A few minutes into the conversation and I could clearly see that I had unleashed something I wasn't going to be able to get back into the bottle. And then doubt began to cross my mind. Had I been cruel to this person? Had I taken everything into consideration? But the longer our encounter continued, the more convinced I became that I was correct to address her and that it wasn't going to be easy. I began to see first-hand someone who may not be mentally stable and I had a fear that after our talk she might try to harm herself in some way. So I decided to give her another chance before I implement the action against her.
I felt a lot of anger toward the person I had replaced in my position because she had swept so many issues under the rug. But did I once turn to the Lord and ask for His help in handling a situation I knew wasn't going to be easy? In fact, I had no idea how difficult it would be.
I stole away from the insanity of one of the departments for which I'm responsible to visit the Lord in the chapel for a few brief moments. When I entered, I saw two men, dressed all in white, kneeling at the altar. In fact, one wasn't kneeling, he was prostrate on the floor and for a moment, I was concerned that he had collapsed and needed help. I caught the attention of the other man and asked if they were ok, and he nodded in a reassuring way that told me he appreciated my concern but that I needn't worry.
The man who was prostrate was crying, and for a moment it occurred to me that maybe a family member had just passed away. Then he began praying out loud, something that I would ordinarily find disturbing. And as he prayed, I almost felt like he was praying the prayer that I should have been praying. He poured out thanks and praise to Jesus for His mercy and kindness to all, and he cried because so few know Him and love Him. I have no idea what event precipitated this but I was glad to be there. Before I knew it, I started to cry, too. What a mess I am.
The other night I came home with a pounding headache. Matthew and I both have a sinus infection, and while we're feeling better, we had a rough couple of days with the kind of pain that is overbearing and unrelenting. And once again, I failed to do what I should have done and fell into sin and then spent hours ruminating over how I'd tripped out and stumbled yet again. When will I ever learn that the Lord will not give up on me, even when I give up on myself?
I was getting dinner on the table tonight when a thought suddenly occurred to me. There is a weekly Wednesday evening Mass down the street from me which is preceded by confessions.
"I'll be right back" I said and dashed out the door as the incredulous family was left to ask: Where the heck is she going?
Sure enough, a priest was hearing confessions, there was no one else in line, and through the Alter Christus I was relieved of the burden I was carrying. The priest is newly ordained and when we finished, I asked him to never forget the power he holds in his hands.
"Never forget Father, that at your words, the Lord sees fit to come down and be received in your hands and at your word, He sees fit to dispense absolution on a wretch like me."
"Please don't forget to pray for me."
If I do, the Lord will find a way to remind me.