Our family was brought up Catholic. My parents were very strict about our attending church; even when we had become somewhat independent, as long as we were living under my father’s roof, he required that we attend Sunday Mass. After we got out from under that roof (and for some of us it could not have happened fast enough), Sunday mornings continued to be strictly observed—as blessed recovery time for the activities of Saturday night. Gradually as life got the better of us, though, some of us began to be drawn back to church.
Not necessarily the Catholic Church, however.
One of my sisters belongs to the Anglican Church. There is a reason she is a practising Anglican and not a practising Catholic. No, she is not gay. There are other reasons people choose not be Catholic. One of those is why she is Anglican.
Let’s just leave it at that.
Anyway, it seems that (some?) Anglican parishes invite members of the congregation to give homilies on occasion and as I learned from Facebook, on a recent Sunday it was my sister’s turn. I asked her if I could read her sermon and she reluctantly sent it to me (She thinks I am a writer. How wrong is that.)
Clearly she worked very hard at preparing her homily and I think she did a good job. She certainly made a deliberate effort to connect the gospel story to the lives of people in the pews; I have not heard many homilies delivered by priests that make such a connection.
She has asked me not to publish her sermon on this blog, so I guess I do have to respect her wishes.
Also, I am afraid of her.
So the gist of the sermon (I am allowed to talk about it, just not publish it) is that like Jesus, who in Luke’s gospel of the day raised the widow’s son from the dead out of compassion for her in her grief and desperation, God is compassionate toward ordinary people like us and does on occasion answer our prayers. She points out that there are numerous examples in scripture of God intervening in the lives of men and women and giving them help.
I told my sister that even though I did not believe in a personal God who intercedes in our affairs as a result of prayer, I liked her sermon. My sister is one smart and thoughtful person. She replied by asking me what kind of prayer life I had if my faith did not include this compassionate God or “a personal Holy Spirit.” She said that the two were closely linked for her.
I had to admit to her that I do not actually have a prayer life. I have not been able to pray with any kind of passion, or even sincerity, since I decided to become Catholic again. I do believe that God is guiding me on my journey; I do believe that God inspires me when I write well; I do believe that the Kingdom of God is within if only we will recognize and embrace it. But I do not know yet how to connect with God through prayer.
I am working on this aspect of my faith.
My sister is a Christian who really thinks about her faith, who tries to live her faith. I really admire that.
And to indulge a little in one of the seven deadlies, I even envy it.
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