Anyhoo ... this by way of leading into one such post in that unproductive genre.
I don't know if what I'm about to describe constitutes a "miracle" (actually I'm pretty confident it doesn't -- "the hand of Providence" is probably better lingo). But it was certainly uncanny. And a reminder that God always leaves signs around for us.
As some of you know, to quote a couple of text messages I sent a priest last week, "it's been shit for months ... Actually don't pray for me — it would just go to waste." I started (again) to feel as if I was at the end of the rope. A few facts suffice -- I hadn't gone to Mass since before Thanksgiving, I hadn't gone to my weekly hour at the Perpetual Adoration chapel since Christmas week, and I had been scheduled to go on a retreat in early December and couldn't bring myself to go.
But the old joke about women (as if I'd know .. haha) applies to God as well -- can't live with'm, can't live without'm. I was getting increasingly desperate and despairing the farther and more-determinedly I pushed God away. At one point, I actually pulled out a legal pad and drew up the pros and cons of whether I wanted to go on living. But then several things happened:
- Over the weekend, I had five sexual encounters "set" -- i.e., specific time and place, agreed acts. Every last one of them fell through, for one reason or another, on one or another's part. I may describe some of the details at a more opportune time. Suffice for now to say that I was risking more things than impurity. And that one of the liaisons didn't happen for reasons beyond humiliating;
- For unrelated reasons, Monday was time to clear out all the junk from my car and as I was sifting through a pile of old newspapers, junk mail, bills, etc., I came upon a solicit of a different kind, from the group Food for the Poor. It stood out among the envelopes, because it was actually a thin flat box, with a Miraculous Medal key chain and ring, one much sturdier than the one I was using but one tied to THE image of personal chastity in our culture (I'm holding the Medal in my hand as I type);
- On Tuesday, about an hour before our Courage chapter's meeting, I was still of two minds about going or not going. I walked to my patio window to see what the snow was like. And right in the middle of the floor, in plain sight with lots of clear surrounding carpet (i.e., it was not shoved against a wall and thus easy to miss) was my Brown Scapular. Which I had neither worn nor seen since early January. So there was Our Lady again, suddenly in plain sight, forcing Her presence on me. Maybe it's a commentary on my housekeeping, but I honestly don't remember doing anything near that spot that day except move away from it a duffel bag that had no reason for the scapular to be inside it. I'm not going to claim disappearing-and-rematerializing or anysuch, but never have I been so floored by the uncanniness, the synchronicity, the (yes) Providence behind what I have to believe is, in natural terms, a "chance" event. The way God writes straight with crooked lines.
After hearing all this, my confessor said that God "has you on a short leash." A leash I often strain against, no question. But a leash whose tug I need and is finally undeniable. Father heard my confession (through my tears). When I got home, I split the money I would have paid for one of the liaisons from which I had been saved, between Food for the Poor and two priest-related Catholic charities that had appeals in my "In" stack -- North American College and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. In my replies, I asked for Courage-related intentions. I threw away the "Pros and Cons of Suicide" list. Hopefully, my ship is righted and things are back to what-can-pass-for normal.