Almost a month ago, I had said that two things had happened and ended up talking about just the one. To some degree, I’m glad I waited longer to post about the other thing because more things have been happening ever since that I feel are related and they all took place during Mass.
That particular weekend prior to my previous post, I took my daughter to Mass. She usually behaves very well, autism or not. But for some unknown reason, that particular day, she decided to explore the church. Instead of staying with me where we usually sit in the back, she decided that her place was up front, near the altar. She kept on going up there and I kept on bringing her to the back. While that particular parish is very accepting and understanding about young children, I don’t like being the center of attention, I want my daughter to learn that we can’t just wander around during Mass, and I don’t want to distract people. And I have to confess that, while my daughter’s autism goes almost undetected, she starts shaking her hands when excited or starting to get frustrated and people look at us weird.
Eventually, she got frustrated, as expected, because of my taking her to the back again. I ended up taking her to the gathering area, where you can still listen and see what is going on, but your child does not disrupt as much. Many parents with young children do the same and we all let them run around in that big area.
The priest preceding that day was the pastor of the parish (there are three priests total who celebrate Mass over there regularly and they seem to be on a rotating schedule or something.) The Gospel was about trusting in the Lord and the pastor, a Monsignor, preached about trust. I am so glad I was in that particular area of the church and that only one more parent was in there for a while because I burst in tears.
The following weekend, the Monsignor was not celebrating Mass, but one of his fellow priests was. Instead, he was wandering around that gathering area, talking to people. He talked to my daughter and she responded with a weird face expression she does when stimming. And she did a bit of said stimming. The priest said something cute to her about her face expression. I have not shared with anybody outside my family that my daughter had been diagnosed with Autism at that time. For some reason, I felt comfortable enough to share that with the priest. I don’t remember what he said to me, but he was extremely nice. We started to talk and I shared a little bit what had been going on at home, the divorce, Etc.
One thing took to the other one and I’m pouring my heart to him about what had happened when I turned to another priest for advice concerning my marriage and the abuse that was taking place, how I was struggling with my faith, and a few other things. The next thing that happened was a turning point for me. He apologized for what the other priest had done to me. I told him that it was not necessary because he wasn’t the one who did that to me. But he somehow felt responsible.
He then proceeded to say that, while he believed in the sanctity of marriage, he didn’t believe God wanted people to stay in an abusive relationship and suffer. He also added that, even though marriages should be until one of the members passes away, some marriages are not meant to last and they do not last and people should not stay in them if they have valid reasons, such as abuse of any sort.
I couldn’t believe my ears. I started to feel relief. I started to feel a sense of hope in the Church shining again. I also started to feel my eyes getting teary. I thanked the priest for his words and making it possible for me to start restoring my faith like that. I also thanked him for his last sermon, for being what I needed to hear.
These are the things that push me to force myself to try to trust in God again because it was as if He was speaking to me and nobody else in attendance during that sermon. The whole sermon was something I needed to hear. Word by word, the priest brought up my doubts, my questions, my thoughts, and my feelings. He covered anger towards God, not trusting in Him, the going back and forth believing and not wanting to believe… He didn’t leave one rock unturned. And he was very honest when he even went as far as to say that we may never find the answers to some of our questions; nonetheless, God loves us and is there for us even if we feel that He is not.
That was the first sermon of many to follow. For several Sundays and the occasional Saturday in a row, these sermons seemed to be like a Father talking to His daughter who is struggling and trying to stay afloat, trying to find some hope to cling onto, and trying to find answers. It is embarrassing to go through these Mass celebrations not able to not cry. But it felt good and much needed. Like cleansing my heart and soul.
After that encounter with the Monsignor, other chance encounters took place. The following weekend to the one him and I talked in that atrium, I was once again there with my daughter and a woman approached me and started to talk to me. Since having a child, I have noticed people approach you more. Children have that power to build bridges. The lady and I kept talking and all of a sudden it was time to leave. We both realized that we haven’t mentioned our respective names to each other. That’s when I realized she was actually a nun! And she had been so in touch with the topics we talked about. She seemed so in touch with life and its ups and downs. She said a few things that also touched my heart in an incredible way.
It is amazing how sometimes even through something trivial, God seems to be talking to us. I am glad that my antennas were up and I caught those signals. I also hope that I can continue to encounter more messages in the most unexpected moments, which happened to be the right moments after all, exactly when I needed them the most.