I prayed the novena for Divine Mercy Sunday. There was only one day when I had to do two days' worth of prayers because I'd neglected to get it done in a timely fashion.
But I was feeling strange about it.
I know, know, KNOW that my faith is not dependent on my feelings or emotions. PRAISE GOD FOR THAT! But I have felt a very strange disconnect for a while now. For a time, I blamed it on the fact that I'd been three months between Confessions. But even after Confession, after the initial graces (I am blessed that I actually feel differently after most Confessions, even though it's not necessary) I felt very much the same as I did before Confession. I was having trouble concentrating at Mass. I felt disconnected. I felt UNAWED by the Consecration (which, I have to say, can often bring me to tears - I'm so emotional!). I received the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of my Lord, Jesus Christ, in Holy Communion but did not feel that closeness.
It was a dry time, folks. And dry times are not fun.
But, praise God in heaven, I've grown in my faith since the last big dry time in my faith. I did not feel abandoned. I did not feel as though God was not there. I did not think that I was losing faith, though I admit that I felt lukewarm. And when I prayed in the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the lukewarm souls, I knew I was one of them.
Yeah, I might look good on the blog, but in real life, I'm just another floundering, lukewarm soul. I lack the fervor my Lord and God deserves from me. I don't deserve the graces and mery with which He abounds.
But, as the Psalmist wrote in our readings this Sunday, His mercy endures forever.
On the way into Mass, I prayed something really specific. I said, "Father, when I prayed for lukewarm souls, I know it was a prayer for me, too. I've been lukewarm. I have been lazy about going to daily Mass. I was lazy about praying the Stations of the Cross during Lent. I am lazy about my Rosary. Help me. I believe - help my unbelief. I love You - enflame my heart so that I love You more. Draw me close."
Oh, man, when God answers prayers in the affirmative, He delivers in spades!
I started tearing up, overwhelmed by God's mercy and love, before Mass began. (I also prayed not to be distracted by the priest this week, who is not my favorite fill-in for our pastor. I feel badly even saying that much, but it can be a real problem when you're already in a dry time.) During Mass, I kept holding back tears. Every reading, every prayer, every response made me feel even more overwhelmed by God's graces!
By the time I was on the way up for Communion, I felt like just breaking down. I genuflected as I approached to receive. When I said, "Amen," I nearly started to bawl. I moved over to genuflect again before I approached the cup. I just wanted to fall on my face in front of Christ!
I took out my prayerbook to say the after-Communion prayers. (They are wonderful ways to focus your intentions - every prayer, though written to be said the same each time, summarizes exactly how you feel and what you desire.) I worked my way through them, and started to cry softly. I finished them (including the beautiful Anima Christi), and moved into praying for my specific intentions (family, friends, etc.). By this time, I was not as quiet as before, and Hubby knew I was crying. Probably people around us, too, but I can't help that. Sorry.
I asked God for the graces to feel more connected. I asked Him to please let me be closer to Him. In His great mercy, He let me get the emotional connection that is not necessary for belief.
I thank God that I know that I need not feel something to know that He is there. But I thank Him all the more that He knows my limitations and gives me the graces to let me feel that way. He knows that little emotional feed this week can carry me on for a long time. And I know that there will be dry times - dark nights - when I cannot feel Him or His grace or His mercy. But I will know they are there, anyway. Maybe someday I will have the faith and strength to get through dark nights the way Saint Therese, Saint John of the Cross, and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta did. Until then, I praise God for His mercy and goodness, which are never-ending!
God is so good! Praise be to the Lord in heaven on high!