There were a lot of little moments, beautiful things that were emotionally moving--among them my very first Stations of the Cross and the traditional burning of our prayer intentions outside, this time as part of a Eucharistic procession.
What really struck me, as I said to a friend I suspected it would, was my holy hour. Earlier in the day, we had a "quiet hour" of individual reflection. I had gone to Confession just before that hour, and spent time wandering the grounds as I did last year before I headed to "my spot", the church outside the mansion. There, in front of the tabernacle with my voice magnified by the incredible acoustics in the sanctuary, I poured out my heart to Him about everything I've felt (or really, not felt) this winter. Tears came quickly, but I noticed a marked difference in my usual behavior. I wasn't having a tantrum, rather just expressing my pain and working things out with Him maturely. By the end of the hour my knees were aching, but I was singing for the Easter joy that's coming.
Father told me during Confession that if the darkness should come over me during Adoration, to passively acknowledge it and then let it go instead of dwelling or forcing it away. The doubt did come during my midnight vigil alone, and I reconfirmed my belief that God was listening before picking up my Bible and running my finger down the pages. "What do You want to say to me?" I asked him, and opened to a random page.
This is my beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased. --Isaiah 42:1
"Well, that was creepy," I told the exposed Sacrament, unnerved. "But it was probably a coincidence." Shutting my Bible, I sat in silence for a few moments before offering him a challenge: "If You really are speaking to me, You'll do it twice. Want to play this game again?" Allowing my Bible to fall open on the floor where I sat, I was staring at Psalm 27, titled in my Bible as "Trust in God."
Um. Okay. Slowly, I began to read aloud:
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom do I fear? The LORD is my life's refuge; of whom am I afraid?
When evildoers come at me to devour my flesh, These my enemies and foes themselves stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me, my heart does not fear; Though war be waged against me, even then do I trust.
One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: To dwell in the LORD'S house all the days of my life, To gaze on the LORD'S beauty, to visit his temple.
For God will hide me in his shelter in time of trouble, Will conceal me in the cover of his tent; and set me high upon a rock.
Even now my head is held high above my enemies on every side! I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and chant praise to the LORD.
Hear my voice, LORD, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me.
"Come," says my heart, "seek God's face"; your face, LORD, do I seek!
Do not hide your face from me; do not repel your servant in anger. You are my help; do not cast me off; do not forsake me, God my savior!
Even if my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will take me in.
LORD, show me your way; lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
Do not abandon me to the will of my foes; malicious and lying witnesses have risen against me.
But I believe I shall enjoy the LORD'S goodness in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the LORD!
Excuse me. I think I just swallowed my tongue. Anyone who has been reading this blog for even a month will recognize how this psalm spoke over and over (and over) again about my deepest fears and struggles. In the chapel alone, I began to laugh--I'd been beaten. I believed without doubt for the first time in nearly a year. Desolation came back in time for Palm Sunday Mass a few hours later, but I saw it for what it was--an illusion from the enemy who wanted to steal my new light of hope.
This perseverance continued into yesterday, where I acted as lector for Mass back on campus. "A reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah: 'This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased...'"
I was reeling, but had to keep going. First reading finished, I continued onto the responsorial psalm. About four verses in, I felt physically struck by the awe of what was happening; it was psalm 27! The readings for Monday's Mass were given to me the day before without any foreknowledge on my part.
God is alive. Typing that is difficult still, but I have seen Him move in so many powerful ways this weekend. It's definitely hard for even this jaded skeptic to deny these days.
As we enter Holy Week, the whole world will hold its breath in anticipation of the King. And I'm delighted to say that at long last, perhaps only temporarily, I am anticipating Him as well.