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How often do I think I know better than God?


Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon | CC BY ND 2.0

Colleen Duggan - published on 01/11/18

What my 14-year-old heard at Adoration was a reminder to me to shut up and trust.

About six months ago, my husband, John, signed up for a 2 a.m. Adoration hour. Soon after, our 14-year-old, Patrick, became aware of John’s predawn commitment and began asking questions.

What on earth, Patrick wanted to know, would prompt John to get up in the middle of the night, drive across town, and sit in an empty chapel for an hour?

John explained to Patrick—again—about the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. After the teachable moment, Patrick asked John if he could accompany him one night, John agreed and Patrick hasn’t missed a week since. For the last several months, both John and Patrick attend a 2 a.m. Holy Hour at the church across town.


Read more:
What is perpetual adoration and why is it deeply personal?

Recently, Patrick told me that Charlotte, a woman we know who has been sick with cancer, was on his mind the entire time he prayed in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  

“I really feel like I’m supposed to give her a rosary,” Patrick told me.

I hesitated. While my family has prayed earnestly for Charlotte and her family, I didn’t know if Charlotte was even Catholic.  

What if a rosary offended or confused her?  

I felt a great desire to manage the situation, to discourage my son from what I saw as shoving rosary beads into a dying woman’s hands. Rather than offer my (unsolicited) opinion however, I muttered this prayer:

“Lord, sit on my tongue.”

I didn’t want to give in to the temptation to dissuade Patrick from the inspiration, even though I thought I knew best. It was hard to resist discouraging him, though, so I repeated that one-line prayer over and over every time the subject arose.

The next day,  Patrick went to school with a rosary and a note that said, “You may need this.” He gave it to Charlotte’s son and asked him to bring it to her.

Charlotte died six days later.  

I learned after her death, Charlotte was Catholic. 

In an instant, I saw how easily I might have thwarted God’s plan. I could have discouraged Patrick from serving Charlotte when she was most in need.

The situation made me wonder, how often do I think I know better than God?

The incident reminded me of a children’s book we own called The Weight Of The Massby Josephine Nobisso. It’s the story of a starving, old woman who goes into a bakery. The woman can’t afford anything so she promises the owner she will have a Mass said for him in exchange for bread.

The owner scoffs and says, “What good is that to me? I need money.”

By the end of the story, even the old lady is admitting she didn’t recognize the priceless weight of the Mass, the true gift available to all of us in the Eucharist.

When John brought Patrick to Adoration, I thought it a sweet scene, an opportunity for father/son bonding.

Pat must like the adventure of it, why else would he get up in the middle of the night? I wondered. He must like the one-on-one time with his dad, I thought.  

Like the old woman, I too had forgotten the weight of the Eucharist; I had forgotten the powerful experience of sitting in His presence and the good He can accomplish through us when we bask in His glory.

Good thing Patrick hadn’t.

Read more:
My friends had one last request: Would I help them get to Heaven?

Read more:
Have you ever heard of the “butterfly effect” of Eucharistic adoration?

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