It’s been a long day! Awoke at 5am, off to work, home at 9pm and now settling in to reflect. It seems to have become the norm for me. No life you might say? Maybe so but I am fortunate to spend it with Jesus. I think about Him all day in pretty much all I do. There are times I get lost in work or in the moment, but I am brought back to Jesus.
Today, I listened and read the readings for the day a few times, not only to write about it but to put it into practice. The Gospel message today, STAY AWAKE! Be prepared when Jesus comes like a thief in the night. I think St. Monica was prepared. Her perseverance is a great example to me. So tonight, I open up a little my desire to never give up.
I have been married 42 years with 2 beautiful daughters and 3 beautiful grandchildren. I was brought up with no religion and my wife was a non-practicing catholic. We were high school sweethearts and that’s my background. 10 years into our marriage, I had an affair. I am an adulterer. I got caught and I lied much about it to my wife. We went on a Marriage Encounter Weekend, one which I told her that if they try to shove God down my throat, I will walk out. When we checked in, they asked what my religion was because it was blank on the app. I told them “put down nothing, NOTHING!” I was just about ready to walk.
The weekend changed my life, our lives. We could not get enough of Jesus. I took private instruction from a priest to prepare for my Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. At the Easter Vigil, in the morning we had our marriage blessed, at Mass I was baptized with my two daughters, received Confirmation and First Communion. 4 Sacraments in one day. Could it ever get any better than that?
We became leaders in Marriage Enrichment, RCIA, Bible Study and I am a musician and put together a group of former professional musicians who wanted to give their life and talents for the Glory of God. Then it happened. Preparing for a talk on troubled marriages, I opened up about my infidelity. It brought immense pain to my wife and when more of the truth came out, it did great damage even though it had been over 30 years ago and prior to my conversion.
I share this because St. Monica prayed and prayed and prayed for the conversion of her husband and her son, the great St. Augustine who was quite the sinner. Her prayers were answered in God’s time and they both came to know the Lord. I now pray greatly in the same manner. Our Sacrament has a feint heartbeat. It’s been 5 or 6 years, maybe longer since the truth came out. What hurts the most for me is the pain that I have caused her from not only the infidelity in breaking our covenant, our friendship, but also the lies to cover up the truth.
I trust in God. It may sound very smug to some as you read this, but I am at peace. I have learned more about love, responsibility, sacrifice and complete dependence on God because of this. I also suffer the agony of knowing what I have done and the pain I have caused to the person I love most in my life. I am not fearful of sharing this. What usually happens is that people forgive me, they try to help me to forgive myself, people want to give me advice of what I need to do to “fix” the situation and all kinds of things. Some can relate and some will say “once a cheater, always a cheater.”
To reiterate my point of sharing this is that St. Monica never gave up hope in Christ and neither will I. The Lord knows my heart and my desires. In peace, I accept all the redemptive suffering He wills to give me. He suffered greatly for me, I will suffer greatly for Him. Unfortunately, a big part of my pain is watching the most beautiful person in your life, who loves Jesus with all her heart, soul, mind and strength, not be able to find peace in forgiving. And to think that every time she looks at me, it brings to mind my great sin.
I would like to think that St. Monica, her husband and St. Augustine are rejoicing greatly in heaven in the presence of Jesus. That is my hope for all of us that through all the sins of our lives, through God’s great love and divine mercy, we will one day rejoice with Him for all eternity. St. Monica, pray for us. Amen.