Sunday evening I spoke to a priest about my non-profit. His name is Father Bob Connor, he is an Opus Dei priest from New York City. I use to go to confession to him when I was a child and have very fond memories of his advice. Father Bob radiates the essence of humility and use to live with Saint Josemaria Escriva. He was telling me some stories about St. Josemaria and it was so amazing to talk with someone who not only knew him, but lived with him. As I was talking to him I thought to myself, Man, I am so blessed. I know some really saintly priests. Father Bob lived with Saint Josemaria and Msgr. Essef knew Saint Pio. What is going on here? This is such a gift from God. Father Bob told me to call Father Benedict Groeschel to get a clear answer on the question I asked him and to mention that “Father Bob Connor sent you.”
In closing the conversion I asked Father Bob a personal question about forgiveness. His reply penetrated my very being as he said, “The greatest way to imitate Christ is to forgive. It is higher than any other virtue. The core of Christ’s mission was forgiveness and mercy. The hardest thing you can do in life is to forgive your enemy, to not only forgive, but to love someone who has hurt you. Forgiveness is the essence of the Catholic Faith.”
My right hand, which held my blackberry started to shake and millions of thoughts raced through my head. What if I don’t live that out? What if I just thought I was choosing to forgive, but I really wasn’t? What if I was all talk?What if didn’t love enough? What if I didn’t pray enough for the grace to forgive?
I asked God for the grace to calm the heck down and rest in His peace. And was instantly reminded that someone I admire very much is praying a prayer to Saint Michael daily for me not to be so judgmental and scrupulous of myself.
Before saying our goodbyes, I asked Father Bob what his favorite saint was. He had been in a car accident and I wanted to pray for him through the intercession of his favorite saint. He is so self-giving and changed the conversation to me and said he would be the one praying for my non-profit through the intercession of St. Josemaria.
Father Bob helped me to see that I really need to work on being less prideful and to allow God to use me as He wishes. He reminded me of how everything we have is a gift. Nothing in life is earned through good behavior, nothing is deserved, but instead every breath is a blessing and one that we often take for granted. He told me some of the injuries from his car accident and said that while they are very painful, being able to sit down in a chair, stand up without assistance is not something that we have “earned.” God can take away those gifts at any moment. And if we are truly alined with Christ we would understand this and accept it without complaining.
Lately I have been sick a lot and it’s really draining. Sometimes I feel like I’m 80 years old, instead of 25. The doctor isn’t sure what is wrong yet and Father Bob helped me see the beauty in embracing God’s will.
“We are at Jesus’ disposal. If he wants you to be sick in bed, if he wants you to proclaim His work in the street, if he wants you to clean the toilets all day, that’s all right, everything is all right. We must say, “I belong to you. You can do whatever you like.” And this is our strength. This is the joy of the Lord.” – Blessed Mother Teresa
The plaque outside the Mother House in Kolkata, India where Mother Teresa use to live. Her Sisters still live there today.