The Day a Dead Priest Showed Up

I woke up this morning at a complete loss. I felt as if I was being abandoned by the man that I love more than myself. I was so tempted to yell and scream and cry and beg just like I have done all the other times in my life when I felt the fear of abandonment creep up on me with other men, including this same man. My love story can be a double edged sword because there is a lot of beauty in the fact that I’ve loved my husband since the 7th grade,  but there is also a lot of pain. He broke up with me because I wanted to be married, have kids and be loved in a way that no 14 year old boy is ready to love, even if they think they are. The best thing Stacey ever did was to break up with me, because if he hadn’t, we would have 17 kids in the foster care system, living in a RV trailer  and a bad crack habit. We were that dangerous for each other at that time. Hell, there are days when we are dangerous for each other now.

When you love someone so passionately there is a great danger in making them an idol. I do it all the time. I think that I love God above all things and then as I’m sitting in the line of confession, I realize that I love my husband more than I love God and I love the idea of the perfect marriage even more than that. This morning was one of those mornings.

I go to an amazing parish where confession is offered six times a week so there are plenty of times to go but there are also a lot of people who go to confession, so there are times when you wait in a long line and then don’t get to go. I went twice this week and didn’t make it. Yesterday as I sat there,  I could not pray. I had this horrible headache and I just didn’t feel good at all. I was sitting next to the most talkative little girl on the planet and I couldn’t even be mad because my head hurt so bad. I didn’t examine my conscience and then when I was about to go in the priest said he couldn’t hear anymore because he had Mass. I just walked out of there praying that I didn’t die because I had quite a few big sins to confess. Then I went to an Al-anon meeting, because I needed something to help me not burn my house down with my anger.

I made up my mind that I would be back at the parish first thing this morning for 7am confession. I woke up in time and went downstairs and began fighting with my husband. In the middle of it I could hear a voice in my heart that said “shut up and go confess”. I grabbed my purse and took off to my parish for the third time in a week. And I made it! I went in with a new priest named Francisco. I love that name because it’s my grandfather’s name and my grandfather was an amazing man. The first man that I ever loved. I did confess making an idol out of my marriage and husband. I never realized that I did that until I read “How Dante Can Save Your Life” and it all made sense to me. My penance was to go and look at the Crucifix and to meditate on love and sacrifice.

As I looked at the icon of the greatest act of love, I kept thinking about how I really don’t love my husband. I love to make him fit a role in my idea of the perfect marriage, but if I truly loved him, I would not try to force my opinions on him. I wouldn’t fear him leaving me and I wouldn’t constantly have to have the last word to prove something. Prove what? That I’m not weak or that I don’t need him? Why do I have to prove those things when the truth is that I am weak and I do need him?

When I got home I started working and realized that it was the Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe when the picture of him and his quotes started flooding my Newsfeed. The first one was:

“There will be sufferings, temptations; perhaps you will be haunted by discouragement… learn to be ready for the greatest sacrifices… do not desire extraordinary things, but simply to perform the will of the Immaculata…”
– St. Maximilian Kolbe

I needed that so I thought nothing of it and then this one:


At this point I realized that there was a theme for today: love and sacrifice. As I sat and thought about these two quotes and Jesus on the Cross, I realized that I don’t sacrifice for anything. I hate sacrifice. I just want what I want and I don’t really want to work to get it. I want good grades, but don’t do my homework. I want love but I don’t wanna get up early to make my husband breakfast. I want to be respected but I don’t want to build up. So I can’t truly love. Not God, not my husband not anyone.

I didn’t really know what to do with that. Then I read the story of how St. Maximilian Kolbe had given himself up for a man who was going to be put to death because he heard the man cry about losing his wife and children. So this priest stood up and offered himself up in that man’s place. It wasn’t until the last line that I realized this priest, who has been dead a long time, showed up in my life today. He has been praying for me this entire day from the moment that I woke up until this very moment.

“The survivor told the congregation, “ {Kolbe}is the patron saint of anyone in need . . . the patron saint of anyone that needs help.”

I was in need this morning. I didn’t know where to take my fear, anxiety and anger. I threw up a “someone help me today” breath and a saint showed up and prayed for me. I went to confession and laid every single one of my fears, grudges, moments of anger and lies of being unloved at the foot of Jesus and then I looked at that Cross and made the choice to come home and love my husband. I really had no idea where the peace came from, until I read that last line about this saint and I was sure that it has been his prayers that have helped me all day. He gave himself up for a husband and father, and today he showed up in my life to help me: a wife and a mother.


4 thoughts on “The Day a Dead Priest Showed Up

  1. You know, you have been such a wonderful light in my life and yet I realized today that I have never prayed FOR you, only in thanksgiving for your writing. It always seemed to me that you were WAY far beyond needing my prayers. But I guess even a mouse can sometimes help a lion, so I will pray for you regularly, so just in case Fr. Kolbe is busy the next time you need him you will know that someone is praying for you.


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