Living in the Two Hearts

My Spiritual Insights and Musings

Part I: In the Beginning

The place was Laramie, Wyoming.  The year was 2001, and God was calling me to return to Him.  I was born and raised Catholic, though to be truthful it was more like what we call today “Cafeteria Catholic”, for there were some things that the Church taught that my family disagreed with.  As any good builder will tell you, whenever a foundation is compromised, do not expect the house to remain standing.  Thus in 1996, I left the Catholic Church as a result of some “unfortunate events” that sent my shoddy house a tumblin’ down.

In 1998, God began – little by little – to rebuild my house beginning by re-establishing its foundation.  He began by moving me back to Wyoming from Colorado to complete an associates degree in Education at one of the many local community colleges found throughout Wyoming.  It was here that I became involved with a rather orthodox Protestant denomination and received my first ever biblical instruction thanks to a certain teacher that attached herself to me.  After two years of study I graduated with my associates and God moved me to Laramie, Wyoming, to further that degree in the form of a BA.  Naturally, I assumed I would continue in the Protestant tradition, but God had other plans.

It was in Laramie that I came to realize I was missing Jesus in a way that I could not explain.  After another series of “unfortunate events” I was literally removed from the church I was attending and began to look into attending Mass at one of two local Catholic Churches.  My first Sunday back, I suddenly realized how I was missing Jesus.  I was missing Him in the Eucharist!  After making a full confession, I clung to Him in the Eucharist, and I took every opportunity presented to me to spend as much time with Him in re-establishing my lost foundation.

After a series of… retreats (bet you thought I was going to say “unfortunate events”), and encounters with Him, God brought me to a contemplative community of nuns living just 30 minutes south of Laramie.  It was here that He built up the Liturgy and a Love for the Liturgy into my foundation.  My time with the sisters was unbelievable!  Though I did not have a vocation with them, I’ll always remember them fondly as they allowed me to be a part of their community during the time God had allotted for this.

With this now solid foundation of Eucharist and Liturgy, I began to attend the other Catholic Church in the Laramie.  Mainly because they had Perpetual Adoration AND a Love for the Liturgy alive and well in their community!  (Both/And – Good Theology! )Thus providing me with the tools to maintain the new foundation, and to add to it so that I could grow in the fullness of the Love of God.

Plus, as it turned out, He wanted me under the prayerful protection of a mother and son duo who shared with me their devotion to Our Blessed Mother, Mary, and to the Sacred Heart of her Son, Jesus.  It was explicitly because of their care through prayer and instruction that I was able to truly make an advancement towards Holiness – a Holiness that all are called to – and this also began the process of forgiveness and healing.

On the second Sunday after Easter, 2001, known as Divine Mercy Sunday – established by Pope John Paul II in 2000 – a significant change took place in my life .  It all began when my prayer warrior friends gave to me some excellent instruction regarding a chaplet for Divine Mercy along with a novena.  This was for the purpose of obtaining the promises given to all those who would willingly pray the Novena and Chaplet for nine consecutive days, and then at the end, make a full confession and receive Holy Communion.

The Promise?  They who would do these things out of Love would receive full and total remission of their past and present sins and for the temporal punishment due for those sins.  This is no joke!  Check it out for yourself on the Divine Mercy Sunday  link provided on the side bar.

Since I sincerely and willing desired (aka Love) to receive healing so that I may begin my life anew in Christ, I began the novena nine days prior to that Sunday, and joined my friends in Adoration at 3pm – the hour of mercy when Jesus died on the cross – to say the chaplet.  I also began to write down a full and complete confession that I would make the Saturday before Divine Mercy Sunday at the completion of the novena. (can you do the math to figure out when the novena started? 🙂 )

My confession was 5 1/2 pages long, and I’m sure I forgot some stuff, but God’s memory is far better than mine, so I had no doubt that forgiveness would come, because I was seeking it from God with a pure intention, and I believed what He promised would be given to me.  The confession itself lasted 25 minutes with tears of repentance and sorrow for all that I had done.  Thank heavens for priests who keep a box of tissues in the confessional!

The next day, Divine Mercy Sunday, I received Jesus in the Eucharist and I KNEW, I JUST KNEW, I HAD BEEN FORGIVEN!  Freely and fully forgiven!!!   It so overwhelmed me that tears of complete joy began to flow from my eyes, so much so, that it was a bit difficult making my way back to my seat.  God still had a lot of work to do within in my heart, but at least now He had a heart ready to work with and a heart that would work with Him.  Little did I realize that this was just the beginning!

My friends knew, too.  Mother and son are very close to Mother Mary and her Son, Jesus.  So they knew I was beginning a truly new life in Christ – they knew my soul had been returned to its baptismal state, free from all stain of original sin.  By the way, this is what the Catholic Church calls a Plenary Indulgence – see the Catechism no. 1471 for further details.

Does this mean I was made perfect?   I wish it had!  But no, my nature was still fallen, and I still struggled against sin.  What was different about me involved my interior – that is my soul – which was now more disposed to receive the graces God desired to give to me as the impediment of serious sin had been fully removed.

A quick note to all Catholics: If you are baptized and receive the sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist, and the indelible mark of Confirmation on your soul, and you do not attend Mass, this is a grave sin – a mortal sin – one that separates us completely from God and all of His works.  This is what I did by choosing not to attend Mass, the celebration and worship of our Lord and God.

If your interested to see what the Church teaches, please see CCC 1855-1859: for Mortal Sin, and CCC 1330 -1332: for why the Mass is so important, and finally  CCC 2192: for why all Catholics must attend Sunday Mass. Remember, once mortal sin is removed, God’s graces can once again begin to flow into your own heart directly from the Heart of God!

Back to the story…

Now, one very painful and yet sometimes positive truth about me – I’m very stubborn and hard-headed.  Anything God wanted to do with me would require not just my heart, but my broken pride.  He knew it and I was slowly and painfully becoming aware of it!  I did say there was a positive side to this nature of mine – it comes in handy when I’m called on to defend the faith, especiallywhen I KNOW the Truth.  But so far, that’s the only time my stubbornness comes in handy. 🙂

Thus God had quite the obstacle to overcome when trying to reach my heart.  Thankfully NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD (Lk 1:37), and I think He might just like challenges.  So with some well-placed and well-timed events, God effectively changed my opinion about subbing and teaching in the Catholic School system.  Thank heavens that He did!  For I had not realized the value of being able to share my faith in the classroom until that first moment when I had to address a problem between two students and the solution required my personal witness.

I had already graduated with my teacher’s degree in December 2001, and hadn’t even looked at the Catholic School system because the pay is much lower than the public, and it seemed to me that classroom materials would also be lacking.  Where all of this is somewhat true, little did I realize that in becoming a Catholic School teacher all of my talentsI had developed would be utilized while new ones were discovered.  Thus the rewards of teaching went well beyond my imagination and original misconception.  So when the semester of subbing came to a close, and a job opened up in this school, I applied, I interviewed, and…

I was not hired.

To say I was “taken aback” is an understatement.  I was stunned and very disappointed.  This disappointment boiled over int0 out-right frustration and hurt.  As a hurt child, I shouted to My Father, “I thought You wanted me to teach in the Catholic Schools?  You were the one who effectively closed the doors to the public schools, so what’s going on here?!”

Ever see that movie, Joseph, King of Dreams?  In it, Joseph also makes the same cry of frustration, “You were the One that gave me the dreams!  My dreams are lies!  What have I ever done to deserve this?”   The song that follows after Joseph comes to his senses, reflects amply what happened next to me…

By now I was sobbing and fully enraged, when very suddenly,  a literal warm blanket of Love came over me, and I truly felt the loving arms of a mother surround me.  Immediately I was calmed, and a quiet and definite voice said, “Anne, Trust in Me.  I have not abandoned you.”  It was a very powerful moment, and one that I shall never forget.

“I thought I did what’s right.  I thought I had the answers.  I thought I chose the surest road, but that road brought me here… If this has been a test, I cannot see the reason.  But maybe knowing I don’t know is part of [trusting You.]  You know better than I.  You know the way… I’ll take what answers you supply.  You know better than I.”  ~ Joseph, King of Dreams

A few weeks later, I was called about a job in the northern part of Wyoming at another Catholic School.  They had two openings, and thanks to a recommendation made by a priest who knew me really well (he also had baptised me as an infant), I was called and asked to come up for an interview.

After an 8 hour drive, I arrived at their school and was brought into a classroom were the interview committe comprised of two priests, the principal, four parents, and two members of the Parish Council.  Sounds daunting, doesn’t it?  Miraculously, it wasn’t.  It was comfortable and relaxed because this is where God wanted me to teach.  In fact, the whole interview felt like a group of good friends gathering together for a chat about Catholic education – what works and what doesn’t work.  Most importantly, they asked me how would I make my classroom fun and interesting for my students.

I should mention briefly that the other interview was only between myself, the principal of that school and a teacher.  My ideas were not petitioned, and any thoughts I had on Catholic education were pretty much rejected.  But at the time I was too self-absorbed to recognize what God was doing, how He was preparing me to leave Laramie, letting me know this was not the place He wanted me to teach.

So, in a small town in Northern Wyoming, in an even smaller Catholic School, I began my teaching career as a 5th grade Teacher.  By God’s divine plan I was given a house to live in, located across the ally from the school, furniture to furnish this beautiful home built in the 1930’s, and the opportunity to grow and make a difference in the lives of 15 students.  He also provided me with the needed assistance with loading and unloading the moving truck – not all the furniture was in the house, some came from family members as I made my way to my new home.

God was certainly correct!  He hadn’t abandoned me.  I just needed to Trust in Him.  Yeah, I know.  Duh!  The Divine Mercy that healed me taught me that I could Trust in Him.  But remember, this is just the beginning of God’s working with me at rebuilding “my house”.  We had only just established the foundation six months prior.  The “frame” of “my house” was taking form, but there was still a long way to go; and God still had many more amazing things planned.  My job was to simply to Trust in Him!

~End Part 1

 

2 Responses to “Part I: In the Beginning”

  1. Josephine Ogden said

    With a name of Anne, you must have a needs to be stubborn. But I prefer to think it is the virtue of dedication and strength, given in the name through baptism. The Bible makes a big deal over names, as you well know. Best of graces, J.K.Ogden.

    • Anne Elizabeth said

      Actually, JK, Anne comes from the Hebrew word meaning grace. It’s grace that guides my own life as grace comes only from God above, and HE IS my life in ALL things. Name ARE important. If they weren’t, the the name of Jesus would have NO SIGNIFICANCE (cf. Phil 2:9-11); but it DOES!
      May God bless you in ALL things and bring HEALING where it is most needed! (=-P

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