On my Journey, I have encountered the Holy Spirit in different situations either prodding me gently to go ahead when I’m feeling insecure; as a wonderful embrace of Peace after receiving Holy Communion or the sacrament of Reconciliation; as a Friend I can rely on when I really can’t find words and am at a loss when it’s really important, and crucially also, as Someone who nudges me to speak up when I find it difficult to stand my ground as a Catholic Christian. I experienced these nudging’s a number of times and did not take heed of them, retreating to my solitary place of silence where I didn’t rock the boat because it became too uncomfortable. I would then go away from the situation, agitated, frustrated with myself and with a sense of sadness and not just a little guilt for not challenging ignorance or even worse, a direct attack on Catholic morals and values.
However, the Lord is patient when waiting for me to learn a lesson! After many missed opportunities and uncomfortable times of introspection, it gradually dawned on me that if I didn’t say anything I would be living a lie, to myself , the people in my life and most importantly, to my Lord. The path to this realisation was signposted in neon lights with:- hand-picked mentors from the Lord, who continue to provide me with the tools to unpick my insecurities; courses, reading, groups, including a wonderful parish, invitations that illuminate and continues to improve my knowledge of the Faith; by the courage, faith and love for Jesus ever-present in our priest, Fr. Peter; and of course, the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation. I could add to the list, but will leave it there and perhaps return to this topic at a later date.
Herewith a thought for the road. I quote from the http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2011/11/hain-the-consequences-of-the-i-dont-want-to-offend-mindset/ which hosts a piece written by Randy Hain:
”The saddest and most glaring point about the “I don’t want to offend” mindset is that we rarely think about how we are offending Christ. We get bogged down in minor personal concerns and our own fears when we should be thinking about His sacrifice for us on the Cross. We should routinely fall to our knees in gratitude and recognize that nothing we will ever face can compare to what He did for us. We will be supported through our fears, difficulties and struggles if we will go to Him in prayer and ask for help. His sacrifice then and His ongoing love and support, He will always sustain us in difficult situations if we will only be humble, acknowledge Him, embrace Him and love Him.”
The punchline for me:- ”The saddest and most glaring point about the “I don’t want to offend” mindset is that we rarely think about how we are offending Christ.” Keeping quiet, avoiding the subject, directing the conversation elsewhere, pretending not to hear…are behaviours that lead us to offending Christ in our quest for ‘peace’.
I have learned from my lessons that it takes prayer, courage and continued searching for true knowledge about the Faith to stand up and be counted as a vanguard in God‘s army.