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Here I am, Lord…Broken

Here I am Lord Broken

“That next day I sat in Adoration for an hour. Instead of reading or writing, I just sat there staring at the Blessed Sacrament, fixated on it as a life source. I was all out of ideas. I wasout of energy. I was losing hope. Something far stronger than me had its grip on my son.” ~ My 13th Station, memoir

When I was young I naively believed that all I needed in preparation for the big bad world was a college degree, a solid resume, and a little luck. As a poorly catechized Catholic, I was never taught the immense richness and beauty of the faith, nor did I learn about the essential need for forming an intimate bond with Jesus. These concepts were simply foreign to me growing up. I eventually left the Church at age 18 to spend the next twenty-two years flailing about—getting that college education and building my resume while living the cycle of sin.

At age 40 I came limping back to the Church, tail between my legs. Life had humbled me. A powerful hunger for knowledge about the Church of my heritage launched a years-long process of self-teaching. I devoured books as if they might evaporate before I could finish them, such was the sense of urgency. I gobbled up books on the Saints, writings of the Church Fathers, the Doctors of the Church, Scripture, and became pretty well-versed at apologetics. I was on fire.

It was during these early years after returning to the Church, about twenty years ago, that I discovered Eucharistic Adoration. I will never forget entering that dim little chapel and immediately, instinctively, falling to my knees in front of Jesus, present there in the
Blessed Sacrament. Thus began a deep love for spending quiet, special time with Our Lord in Adoration.

Who knew that these weekly visits would become my number one most important survival tool? It was as if Jesus timed my discovery of Adoration just in time for the exceedingly difficult years that would follow, unknown to me of course. I looked forward to my Wednesday evening “dates” with Jesus with such devotion and love in my heart. I began journaling while I sat there immersed in the warmth of His graces. Over the years I filled multiple journals with the details of my faith journey. I jotted down gushing passages about my children, as well as sorrowful entries about my crumbling marriage, while in His loving embrace.

For a few years there I gave up my weekly commitment and just popped in to the chapel at will. Funny, because looking back it is clear that those were the years that I should have committed to several hours per week. The wheels had come off. Spiritual warfare raged in my home, my marriage ended, and my dear son was overcome suddenly with depression at age 19.

Throughout the six years that my boy battled depression and, subsequently, alcoholism, I relied on just about every tool the Church provided. I found sources of strength in a daily rosary, Adoration, intercessory prayers, novenas. Still, my son’s illness worsened and his life began to unravel. I would go to that little Adoration chapel seeking solace from the Source of all graces, relishing those times when I was alone in the room with him so I would just wail and cry with abandon. Jesus was there for me.

Tragically, my beloved son didn’t make it. He lost all hope and took his own life at age 25 on October 23, 2013. I can say with all sincerity that without my deep faith and ironclad bond with Christ and His Mother I would not have survived the grief. Over these last six years since losing my son I have leaned on Jesus even more for the strength to go on. Now each week in Adoration I plead for His Loving Mercy on my son’s soul, to eventually allow him into Heaven.

I am a different person now when I visit Him. I still write in my journal and pray my rosary in the little Adoration chapel, but I am a depleted version of my former self. Even so, I know on some level that getting that dose of time each week with Jesus is helping to sustain me, even propel me. He still has plans for my life, and this time I realize how much I will need Him.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theresa Anthony is a freelance writer who specializes in writing within the addiction and mental health space. Her recently published memoir, My 13th Station, offers a transparent journey into her son’s battle with alcoholism and depression, culminating in his suicide, as well as intense spiritual warfare. My 13th Station is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble in both ebook and print formats.


RESOURCES

DBSA {Depression, Bipolar Support Alliance}

NAMI {National Alliance of Mental Illness}

NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE

MTHFR {genetic mutation associated with depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia}

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Charla Ink Slingers Novenas Prayer Spiritual Growth

My Novena Habit

images-6I have a confession to make: I am addicted to Novenas.  I just most recently completed the Novena to the Immaculate Conception, and I am getting ready for the Christmas Novena coming up.  I was thinking about why I get so excited about praying when I know a feast day is about to arrive.  I don’t know exactly what it is about these prayers that motivate me, but I think it means I must need work at prayer itself, which is something we all could improve.
st jude

What is a novena?

Modeled after the nine days that Christ’s apostles stayed in the Upper Room until Pentecost, novenas are nine days of concentrated prayer.  They are usually prayed in conjunction with a saint’s feast day or other feast day within the Church.  Beginning ten days before a feast day (ending the day before the feast day,) specific prayers are said for nine consecutive days to request the saint’s intercession on our behalf for our intentions.

I have realized that what it takes for me to feel fulfilled by these prayers is sincerity in my heart and acceptance of God’s will.  There are some novena intentions that I have prayed that God has affirmed and others I know will be taken care of in God’s time or in in God’s own way.  Nevertheless, the peace that arises within me from these prayers—answered or not—is inexplicable.

Here are the several reasons the act of praying novenas works for me:

  • Novenas are organized.

These prayers follow a predictable pattern; there are specific prayers each day to be said.  I appreciate the organization and expectation involved.  I tend not to be very disciplined in many things.  Novenas allow for discipline in my life.  There is an expectation involved and this helps me dedicate myself more to prayer.

  • Novenas are goal oriented.

There are a set number of days—usually nine—that traditional novenas involve.  I must say I have not tried any of the longer ones, but nine days keeps my attention and I feel quite accomplished when I complete a course of prayer.  I do goof sometimes and miss a day, but I quite simply make it up the moment I think about it and am able to.  I have recently been trying to attend Mass on the feast day after a novena is completed; it is a great way to celebrate completion of the goal.

  • Novenas involve camaraderie.

I know that at any given time, somewhere around the world, someone is praying with me.  I try to think of that person or persons, whoever they may be, and include their intentions with my own.  There is a gathering of prayers involved and it helps me.  I can also ask friends and family to pray a given novena with me.

  • Novenas are a call for reinforcements.

I am so very flawed, and sometimes I think I am in no position of worthiness to request anything from God. This is my humility, but my pride steps in and wants a response from Him.  Either way, I call in the “big guns” of prayer: the holy saints of heaven.  I ask people so holy, so devout, and so in tune with God’s will, to pray for me and with me.  I cannot do any of this alone.

  • Novenas involve trust.

My desires can be so egocentric; I may tend to think my wants and needs need to be satisfied.  Obviously, this is not so.  I trust that no matter what happens with my intentions, I have given it my all; I have prayed with sincerity and with emotion and asked other holy people to pray with me.  If I have done all this, I have never felt let down after praying for nine days.  I know that what occurs will always be God’s will and he has heard me and He will take care of everything in His way.  This has always been a tough lesson to learn.  The more dedicated I am in praying a novena, the more at peace I am because of this trust.

st joeMy favorite novenas include: The Divine Mercy, St. Jude,
St. Joseph, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Monica, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  My habit is fed by praymorenovenas.com; I get sent email reminders every day, so the practice could not be easier!  The Novena App for iPad is also a good resource.  I highly recommend you explore this means of prayer.