Heeding the Confessor

  

Parable of the rich man, by Rembrandt

The Rich Fool by Rembrandt

         Early this morning, the angels brought me God’s Will for the day, through the Litany of the Precious Blood of Christ. For some reason, of all the lines in the litany, today, only one glowed brighter than the rest and beamed its light into my heart:

Blood of Christ, strength of confessors, save us.

          Looking long and hard at the line, one little word lit up more than others: confessors.

          I knew what it meant, but what did it mean for me? Whatever explanation I came up with felt like blunted message board pins, which kept falling from the board. Nothing stuck.

          I didn’t have much time to ponder that because within the hour, I was at work and my superior called to see me. I generally go to great lengths to avoid a conversation with this man. Deeply insecure, he lived by the codes of self-pride and revenge. He was easily threatened by the efforts and achievements of others. To earn his favour, one had to either learn the art of mincing around him or that of apple-polishing. If you stocked his barn with the necessary plaudits, it kept him appeased and smug, and you were out of his crosshairs for a time. Blessed with none of those talents, I found it much easier to keep a low profile and stay well away from him. Despite all this, upon getting his call, I placidly trotted into his office like an unsuspecting cow.

          And was led to the slaughter of the spirit.

          He had my cooperation on a project, but it wasn’t enough. He wanted my cheering and fawning too.  I believed in obedience to my superiors as long as it did not put God second.  I was not in the business of shoring up a fool’s barn with the worldly gold of flattery and adulation. Irritated, he sought to bend me to his will. With a few swift strokes, he rent to nothing my years of toil.

         I stumbled out of the office, fiercely concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other because suddenly, it seemed I had forgotten how to walk.

          The hours of the working day suddenly seemed interminably long.

          I made it home late in the evening. Resolved to being stoic, I tried to shrug off the incident. Bravado lasted all of two minutes. And then, it all came out.

Confessor1.jpg

          Later, emptied, I went in search of comfort and enlightenment. Nancy Shuman’s pearl for the day in the Breadbox Letters was Philippians 4:13 ~ In Christ who is the source of my strength, I have strength for everything. I stared numbly at the verse. Strength to do what? I felt the verse stare back at me, willing me to dig deeper.

          In Victor Moubarak’s I’m Running Out Of Priests, this lit up – “..do not judge … too harshly. Indeed, we are all sinners; some of us perhaps deserving more forgiveness than others.”

          Forgiveness. I felt a tug this time. And a weariness. I hadn’t even gone an inch past my hurt, but there was God already asking me to scale the Everest of my weaknesses.

          I looked at the picture of the Divine Mercy on my wall. In Christ who is the source of my strength, I have strength for everything.

          I forgive. It sounded false and tinny even to my ears. The words meant little. It wasn’t too hard to say them then, but I knew well enough that in the coming days, when I would single-handedly whip up a bitter storm within me with a rehashing of the hurt and the clever rebuttals I didn’t think of, forgiveness would not come as easily.

          How am I to forgive him? I asked heaven. Give me the words to pin me to Your will so I cannot run from it.

          I went to seek the words in the quotes of saints on forgiveness. At first, nothing stuck. Then, one caught my heart and wouldn’t let go:

To the extent that you pray with all your soul for the person who slanders you, God will make the truth known to those who have been scandalized by the slander.

          I flailed, I don’t care what he or anyone else thinks about me. I have been asked by Heaven to forgive him and I need the words for that. I determinedly resumed my seeking.

          Yet again, like blunted pins, nothing stuck. Finally, I stepped back from all that had been given to me, to discern what had settled on my spirit thus far. The same breeze found me:

To the extent that you pray with all your soul for the person who slanders you, God will make the truth known to those who have been scandalized by the slander.

          There was something there. I peered closely at the quote. Then, I saw who it was attributed to. St. Maximos the Confessor.

Confessor.

          The very word in the Litany that lit up early in the morning. God’s way of telling me to heed the words of the Confessor.

          Wanting to forgive even in the red tide of anger,  I had asked for the prayer I could never wriggle out from, but He gave me something else. He gave me the purpose to the prayer of forgiveness – To the extent that you pray with all your soul …… God will make the truth known. It never crossed my mind that forgiveness could lead to this!

          The veil gently fell back in place. I had been given a glimpse of something ahead. There was more to praying for this person than I might ever know. My forgiving him was the necessary first step, however bitter. But this time, I was not troubled to pursue the mystery of what lay ahead. A dew-wet peace had flooded my soul. My Jesus was before me, holding out His hands to me.

          I placed my wound in them.

          And then, I found the words.

          Blood of Christ upon me. Blood of Christ upon him.

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