Monday, April 17, 2006

Holier than moi

Maybe it was began yesterday, when I prayed for the third day's intention of the Divine Mercy Novena: "For all devout and faithful souls." It seemed to me that the prayer was meant to be for — well, for those who were praying the Novena!

"Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from It." [my emphasis]

"Us?" What's with this "us?" I'm not holy nor am I "devout." I try to be faithful, but too often I fail utterly. Anyway, today I realized — and accepted — a somewhat hard to swallow fact.

Every person I know is holier than I am.

Today, after the Rosary which we pray after Mass, a man approached me (please pray for him...and thank God too, because he was brought into full Communion with the Church this Easter!) and said the most astonishing thing:

"You pray with such holiness."

Let me explain.

The way we pray the Rosary is this: five different people, and they vary, lead each decade. The man who coordinates the whole thing opens the Rosary, and, after the fifth decade, leads everybody in the "Hail Holy Queen" and "Saint Michael" prayers. My job — when I'm there — is to start the closing prayers, and to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, the Archdiocese of Boston, and the Cardinal Archbishop. That's it.

The man's comments made me squirm.

I know that they were well meant, but I felt like a fraud. Holy? Balderdash. This man — no doubt because he's a holy guy — mistakenly assumed that the fact that I've got a reasonably pleasant voice (and know all the words) somehow implied piety.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Everybody I know — and this certainly includes those who aren't Catholic, those who are Catholic but don't practice the Faith, those people who, for reasons of their own, dislike me intensely, and many atheists — is a holier person than I am.

And you know...that's why I hang out with them!

Tennis, anyone?

I'm miserable at the game, myself, but friends who are good all advise the same thing: if you want to improve your game, always play with people who are better at it that you are.

I realized tonight that the fact that I'm the least holy person I know isn't an altogether bad thing.

Oh, it's bad that I'm not holy, of course.

But at least I play, and live, with those who are far better at this holiness business than I am.

And because of that — and, of course, because of the help of the Risen Christ — there's hope for me yet!

Pray for me. I pray for you every day.