Holy Week 2019

Sooooo how’s Lent been? Good? Ok. Well, for me it began fairly good. My husband was home from Iraq, we got news that we are getting to keep our house and all the bills were paid. It all seemed hashtag blessed.

And then it all went right down the tube because Lent is LONG ya’ll. Some stuff went down with my stepsons that I can’t really share on the blog but it was rough and then my husband went back to the sandbox so that sucked plus tax day was yesterday. Also, grief is weird. It sneaks up on you. Tomorrow will be the third anniversary of my Tio Roy’s death and it is the one that is taking a toll on me this year.

Monday I watched like everyone else as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris went up in flames and I lost it. I have not been to Mass in three weeks. I was sick, depressed and then one of the Sundays I didn’t go because I had not been to confession and at that point I felt so defeated that I didn’t think there was any use in going. I know I need to go to confession because I am starting to hate everyone. As I watched that beautiful Church burn what I saw was a vision of my faith since Anthony died. That day everything that I thought was real went up in flames. Up until that moment I really thought I was a solid Catholic. I knew my faith, I knew answers to difficult theological questions, I believed that if you served God, He would protect you and your family and I thought my goal in life was to be a speaker who told everyone about all the wonderful things God had done for me. I really thought that I was living the happily ever after fairy tale, sure there was suffering but suffering was a part of the deal and I would say stupid shit like “I fear NOT suffering”. And then Anthony took his own life and poof, it was up in smoke. I often look at my Facebook memories and see the fake piety I displayed and want to punch past Leticia in the face.

I cried in a coffee shop as the pictures of the fire flooded my feed. On Tuesday the picture of the inside began to go viral and there in the middle of destruction stood the Pieta. The Blessed Mother holding the body of her son Jesus. Me and that sculpture go way back to 2010 in Rome when I saw the original at St. Peter’s. I stood there staring at it wondering how it could be so beautiful when it was every mother’s greatest fear. Looking back on it now I can see that even then, seven years before the death of my son, I sensed something that connected me to that statue of the Mother of all mothers. And after the fire that was watched around the world, there she was again. I am also here holding the memory of my son in the middle of a Faith that has been charred by grief.

Then today I watched the Beyonce special on Netflix. It is her Homecoming performance at Coachella last year and it was an experience. She talks about the way her body changed after giving birth to twins and the challenge of being a mother, wife and Beyonce while creating something from nothing and the freedom that comes from having an amazing team part of which is her husband. You would think that a 42 year old grandmother of two, mother of four, grieving mother of one and a wife in the suburbs of Austin Texas would not get much out of the struggle that Beyonce has, but I do. Because it is all of our struggle. The struggle of motherhood is universal. The struggle to stand after a fire rages through our family. In her special Beyonce said that her family is her sanctuary. Just like Notre Dame had a fire rip through her sanctuary, so did I when Anthony died.

I have been hiding from all things Catholic this week, which is kind of difficult when it is Holy Week, but when you are bat shit crazy like me, you do things like that. God is so good and so amazing that He knew I was spiritually putting a hoodie over my head with shades on so He spoke to me the one way He knew would get to me, through a work of art like Beyonce’s concert. The entire thing was God saying He loves me and has always been by my side.

That’s how my Holy Week is going so far. I also read an entire book since I’m off social media. Which can be considered a miracle honestly. We will see what the rest of the week has in store for us all.

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Motivation for the Poor

Something I’ve been noticing a lot lately is this new fad of motivational speakers and writers telling everyone how to “make it big” and they all basically say the same thing while using their own story of how the did it. The majority of these people are middle class white women who are “allies” of people of color (a term I HATE by the way and do not understand why brown and black people seem to not get how close it sounds to “colored people”, but that’s another blog post that is sitting in my drafts because I am not really ready for the flame-throwing that will bring me) and who don’t seem to see that their motivational advice is all basically the same and all for one specific audience: people with privileges that poor people do not have. Not just poor people, but people living the struggle.

I do not mean the “oh I had to be on bed rest” struggle either.  I mean the struggle of generational poverty and trauma. Of being a single mother and grandmother who has to wait tables to make ends meet or have more than one job. The people who are working for minimum wage at the conferences where these motivational gurus are speaking. The people who never had the chance to go to college and even if they did, they would be behind socially because we have to learn a new language around kids who went to good schools. People who are worried about racism and how it is an issue that they live, not just learn about in books and on the internet. People without insurance or a spouse or whose whole family has been riddled with addiction. People with a criminal record that means they will never get a job with benefits. People with bad credit which means they can’t rent an apartment or ever own a home. People who struggle with every single one of the issues that I just wrote at the same time. Who is helping these people learn to figure out and follow their dreams?

I’ll tell you Who: Jesus.

Yeah, I said it. Jesus. The one Name you don’t hear much of even though a lot of these spunky motivational speakers will say they are Christians. They use Christianity as a badge of honor but they do not dare speak His name or say anything about His Gospel.

Something I have been thinking about a lot this week is how equal holiness makes us. It does not matter how much money you have, what kind of family you were born into, whether or not you are a millionaire or work seventeen jobs, holiness is attainable for everyone. Not only is it attainable, but it is the purpose of our entire existence. THAT is the true goal of our lives, to be made into saints.

The key words are “be made into”. It is much easier to become a multi-millionaire than it is to be made into a saint.  Because allowing God to make you a saint means that your entire life will be set on fire right before your very eyes. Suffering is the fire that God uses to make saints (He does not cause the suffering, He USES it).

He will perform surgery on your life to take out every single rotten thing out of it and you will not be put under while it is happening. No, it will be painful. So so painful.

I can totally see why these nice, kind, superficial, easy and full of the prosperity gospel “methods” are so in fashion and so marketable while stories of suffering and being nailed to a Cross are not. I can tell you for sure that if I had known the amount of heartache, suffering and all around bullshit my life as a Christian seeking holiness would bring me, I would have run so fast the other way.

I did not know because God dupes us lost sheep all the time, it’s his MO. Just read the lives of the Saints, the unedited versions. He swoons us, loves us, does miraculous things for us and then our lives go right into the toilet. Motivational speeches and “how-to” books do not help when that happens. The only thing that helps is clinging to Jesus who went before us and Who hung on His Cross saying “Why have you forsaken me?”.

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs will be the Kingdom of God. 

That is the motivation for the poor. He isn’t a motivational speaker, He doesn’t give us a “how to be a success” plan, He gives us salvation.