A Christian radio program I listen to sometimes has this game where the listeners call to brag about their children named after the people in the bible. They pick different names every day; Luke, John, Joseph, Mary, Jacob, etc. The choices are endless, though it is mostly boy’s names.
The name chosen on this particular day was Daniel and I happen to be driving to the Blessed Sacrament listening to their show. A proud mom was talking in fast speed about how sweet and big hearted her 10 year old boy, Daniel, is. He helps her with the house chores, and always puts others first by asking people if he can get them anything. It’s usually nothing profound, or the world-rescuing kind of deeds, but I enjoy hearing the mothers calling about their children who are the inspiration of their lives.
The radio host asked the woman the last question.
“He sounds like such a cool kid! So what does Daniel want to be when he grows up?”
“You know, I always ask him, but he just says, I will know when God wants me to know, I am only 10 years old!”
I thought that answer could not have been more perfect.
I thought, even a 10 year old kid knows that.
* * *
I arrived the church and sat in the back of the quiet chapel in meditation when a lady walked towards me. I had my eyes closed, but I could feel her presence immediately. She had such warmth surrounding her being. I opened my eyes to look into the eyes of a kind, gentle soul in whom I have always observed deep devotion to the Lord. She whispered quietly, “Can you take the gift to the father?”
I did not expect this to happen to me. Honestly, I have never done it before. I told her so. She pointed another lady in the front, and said that she will be going with me, and that I just need to follow her.
The priest stepped down from the alter when the time came for the gifts to be offered. I walked right behind the lady and carried the wine to be poured for everyone participating in the holy communion. I handed the wine to the priest, and went back to my seat. I don’t think I realized at that moment how moved I would be by this event. The after effect was long lasting.
I remember the first day at the Catholic church in Hawaii. I had talked to the pastoral assistant who later became my close friend about my serious desire to convert to Catholicism. I sat in the back alone during my first mass on that day as well, feeling so out of place. I was there alone, with no guide, but I could feel the strong presence of the Holy Spirit sitting with me. It was so empowering. Through my ups and downs in my mental state, and many changes of jobs, places, friends, hobbies, seasons, the only thing that was constant in my life was my Catholic walk. I am not saying I was always steady on this walk of faith. I stopped here and there, distracted. I had let my depressive episodes cloud my judgement. The world sometimes got the best of me, and I was knocked down so many times. But I always went back to the Church.
With those thoughts flowing through my mind, and with the wine in my hands, I slowly walked towards the alter. That strong sense of the Holy Spirit I have felt almost three and a half years ago in Hawaii was still here. That short walk felt so different than any other. During that walk, I saw my whole life passing by right in front of the eyes of my soul, especially the last decade of my turbulent life full of mental and emotional pain.
I will never clearly know why I had to suffer so much. Was it just clinical? Was it the move to another country? Was it my upbringing? Was it my family curse? Was it my strong ego fighting so against the will of God?
I dropped my futile, and selfish thoughts quickly. I just don’t care anymore. It’s not like I am the only one who suffered. Everyone suffers.
Most of all, I know who suffered the greatest. I was carrying the proof of His great pain in my hands at the chapel.
Before I knew it, I was standing right in front of the priest. He made the sign of the cross, and I could feel the intensity of the Holy Spirit, so immediate, so direct.
Some people save money.
Some people invest in gold.
Some people build up social networks.
I— I collect pain.
Right before I handed the wine to the priest, I quickly gathered up all the pains stored in me. It was the only gift I had to give Him. I was truly grateful for the sufferings that I had been through and for all the pains I will have to endure in His name from here on.
* * *
When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, Peter asked him in disbelief, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Here is how Jesus answered.
“You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
I was reading that in bed later that night. I could hear Daniel’s remarkable answer echoing in harmony with the scripture. “I will know when God wants me to know, I am only 10 years old.”
A child trusting that God will let him know about his future in due time. Peter asking Jesus not only to wash his feet but also his hands and head as well. A surrendered life at its best.
I recalled the prayer I wrote in the prayer book before leaving the Blessed Sacrament. My desire to give up my life for Him was so strong this morning and I had to express my inner feelings in the only way that I know. I wrote it down. I told Him that I give him my life. I told him to let His will be known to this servant of His in waiting.
I know I don’t understand now what He is doing. But I also know someday I will.
There’s so much beauty in surrendering to God’s will without understanding.
“Beauty will save the world.”, Dostoevsky said. Beauty saved the world, already. The ultimate beauty of Jesus who surrendered His life even to death in His father’s will did save the world. We are saved by His beauty, by His beautiful death and His even more beautiful resurrection.
The more I understand Christianity, the more beauty I see. The walk of faith is not about martyrdom. It’s not about persecution, revolution, or reformation. It’s all about the beauty. It’s about the risen Lord, about the divine Love of the one who was crucified to take away the sins of the world.
St. John Vianney remarked, “God does not require us the martyrdom of the body; He requires only the martyrdom of the heart and the will.”
The crucifixion of the heart and the will leads a Christian soul to the afterlife of resurrection in the Lord. The life of witnessing the unfolding grace can start right here on earth. So, what more reward can we ask for? And what have we to fear in surrendering our hearts and wills?
“Every Christian who is a true imitator and follower of the Nazarene can and must call himself a second Christ and show forth most clearly in his life the entire image of Christ. Oh, if only all Christians were to live up to their vocation, this very land of exile would be changed into a paradise.”
– St. Padre Pio