Betty Duffy

Monday, October 31, 2011

What you think you want, is never really what you want

I've lost my Magnificat*, and even though there's only one more day of October, and then I get to refresh with a new issue, I feel lost without it. I don't realize until I've lost it, how much I depend on those prayers of the Church.

My husband, watching me dismantle the house in search of it, asked why I don't just say my own prayers in the morning, and the answer is because I'm terrible at praying. I know that God knows what I need before I even ask. I know that just redirecting my intentions toward God is a prayer. I know that unloading all my morning demons, and my stupid grievances, and complaining about my sore back, and all that, is prayer. But it also, all of it, is dripping with the self I'd like to leave behind, if not for eternity, then at least for ten minutes in the morning.

I wanted to turn back to a meditation that Mrs. Darwin read aloud on our drive home from New Orleans, which had something to do with the selfishness that's not satisfied with what it has, but wants what others have too. It resonated with me at the time, because I was already trying to figure out how to rearrange my life so that I could always hang out with fun people having conversations about books. Maybe I could gently uproot the family and move us all to a college campus, or blow our bank account, take out loans, and invest in a commune of Catholic artists and writers. Gently, gently…because mommy wants conversation!

It was ridiculous how quickly my mind embraced the absurd, and began to dwell on it as an alternate, and possibly beneficial, reality to being satisfied with my life.

And then there was another meditation in Magnificat last week about how pride craves "Infinitude," like the little packman eating it's way through life, each bite manifesting the next until, what? Power outage? Until Mom says turn off the video games and clean your room? Pride hates authority. It hates equality, because it sees everyone else as competition. And it looks down on it's inferiors, feeling encumbered by their needs and inferior opinions (if I could find my Magnificat, I'd reference whoever said all this).

It really is a curse to be afflicted with pride. Because your chief sin is the very obstacle to understanding how much you require God's aid. It's a blockade. If my own opinion and way of viewing the world is always correct, if my own personal prayers are always superior to the prayers of the church, then how will I reorient myself to the reality that God is the authority of my life? I am not the authority on my life. I am not even the authority on my emotions. Could I even put into words what I'm feeling one minute to the next? Very few of the things that I will for myself are worthy of putting into words, much less a prayer. "Not my will, Thine."

Unless there is some objective voice in my life to break through the delusion, I can persist for sometime unaware of the truth about myself and how I clod around on the backs of others. The prayers of the Church are that voice for me: the liturgy of the hours, the mass, vespers.

They remind me that what I think I want is never really what I want. They remind me to thank God that I have healthy kids, still safe and innocent, a vibrant marriage-- not a perfect one, albeit, but one with two living people in it who will not give up on this endeavor of conforming our lives to each other, our children, and God's will (as revealed through the teachings of our faith). We are financially cared for. And we have this Faith itself--a faith that provides infinitude, even to the proudest soul--all the bread I can handle, and more each day, an antidote to pride.

Indeed God has poured out blessings on me while I slept. I just need someone to point it out for me. Several times a day.

* For those unfamiliar with Magnificat, it's a monthly publication, mailed to your door, that contains morning prayers, daily Mass, a meditation, and night prayers, all laid out, nice and handy, each day. So, you don't have to flip back and forth in your missal wondering if you're in year A,B, or C, etc. I'm not getting paid for promoting Magnificat.


Lisa said...

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you should get the Magnificat app. It's worth the money to always have the Magnificat on hand!

dmv said...

Lectio divina. 'Nuff said.

BettyDuffy said...

Lisa, unfortunately, I don't have an I-anything, but many friends sing the praises of I-Brieviary and the like. I'm always kind of thrown off, however, when I see someone pulling out the smartphone in Mass. I know there are apps for all kinds of churchy things, but my first thought is always, "Please...can't you part with the thing for an hour?"

Just call me The Judge--one more reason I may never see the pearly gates.

Lizzie said...

I'm exactly the same with electronic devices and Church...I think it's my simplistic, live in a rural commune side. See you in purgatory???!!

This was such a poignant piece for me as I've been on a similar journey with realising what a blessing 'prayer of the Church' is rather than my own prayers - how on earth do I know what's best to pray for? Only in silence and through reading the psalms, scripture etc. can I begin to know God's intentions for my friends and family and my own life...

This article by Dwight Longenecker is beautiful and connected to this theme - you may have already seen it. I've read it a few times in the last couple of days and think there is much to ponder in it.
Thank you, as always, and God bless

Dwija {House Unseen} said...

My husband always seems to know just what to say and think, but mostly all I can think of to say is "I don't know what's best, so can you just make it better?". I'm guessing God is not super impressed by my endeavor!

Dorian Speed said...

You always make me feel guilty about my Big Dreams.

(This comment intended in 77% jest, 19% rueful self-recognition, and 4% penitence.)

BettyDuffy said...

Oh man, Dorian--it's because my own big dreams always lead me astray--and they're always mutating. Maybe your big dreams are more well-mannered than mine.

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Dorian Speed said...


BettyDuffy said...


Maureen said...

My Aunt is 95 years young, a nun and she loves her Magnificat! One of her issues got lost in the mail, and she missed it so much that I went to a store and bought her a copy. I also bought several others. I brought them all to her and she and her community happily snapped them all up! They should think about developing an iPhone app!

Maureen said...

PS: I did not read the other comments first!!

I'll get that app now!!

Consider getting an iPhone -- lots of fun and lots of really serious Carholic apps