Sunday, March 07, 2004

Email from a Friend and My Reply. Any Jobs Out There for Self-Styled Prophets?

Subject: Your purpose in life
Date: Sun, 7 Mar 2004 13:58:50 -0800

Anyway, I was thinking: do you ever wonder what your purpose is here, God-wise? I see you as sort of an Old Testament prophet. They called Israel to account when they strayed from God like you try to get people to follow the Church's true teachings. It's not the most popular calling but it certainly is a necessary one.

For me, the music has always been there in a way that has to have come from God. How many 5-year-olds teach themselves piano? As soon as I learned to read, I picked up my sisters' beginning piano book. My sisters, 7 and 9 years older than I, received piano lessons when they were little. They didn't take to it so they didn't continue and no one else got any lessons. In fact, we were forbidden to touch the piano because my sisters damaged the pedals once when they were little. (They knocked the piano bench right onto them.) I was so drawn to the piano (my mother played and sang -- she studied voice and piano at Eastman School of Music in Rochester) that I used to sneak to it when my mother was at work. I never did anything to hurt it, and by the time she figured out I was using it, it was obvious that I was seriously trying to play it.

So much of my training in college, the extra drama and language classes that my voice teacher insisted on, helped prepare me for liturgical ministry. I certainly would never have signed up for a (speaking) voice and diction class on my own!

I think there's more to come as we progress . . .. I think/hope our paths will become clearer. I'm one of those who chooses to look at the priest shortage as a gift of the Holy Spirit, something that pries people off their butts from the pews and into ministry. The days of Father doing everything are past, and I think that so many people have a damaged image of the Church that sometimes a lay woman has a better chance of connecting with a
fallen-away Catholic than a priest might.

Pat

-----

I told my son about the above email last night when I was watching him edit the hours of videos he shot when he was in India and New Zealand. He was busy overdubbing some of the landscape shots he took of where the LOTR was shot with the music from the closing credits of The Fellowship of the Ring. I told him my friend said I'm like an Old Testament prophet.

He cracked, "Old Testament prophet jobs pay much?" Apropos question, that one is, since I am not currently employed.

I am seriously thinking recently that my stance as a prophet may actually be self-ordained. I struggle with this from time to time. I feel obliged sometimes to tell people exactly what they are doing wrong because the Bible says that if we don't warn the sinner, we will be lost, but if we warn the sinner, and the sinner repents, then we have saved both ourselves and the sinner. If we warn the sinner and the sinner does not repent, then we have at least saved ourselves.

I just grabbed the following quote from a website so you can see the words from Ezekiel, if you are not familiar with them:

[Ezekiel 3:17] SON OF MAN, I HAVE MADE THEE A WATCHMAN UNTO THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL: THEREFORE HEAR THE WORD AT MY MOUTH, AND GIVE THEM WARNING FROM ME.
[Ezekiel 3:18] WHEN I SAY UNTO THE WICKED, THOU SHALT SURELY DIE; AND THOU GIVEST HIM NOT WARNING, NOR SPEAKEST TO WARN THE WICKED FROM HIS WICKED WAY, TO SAVE HIS LIFE; THE SAME WICKED MAN SHALL DIE IN HIS INIQUITY; BUT HIS BLOOD WILL I REQUIRE AT THINE HAND.

The person who sins will be punished for his sin.If however you have the wherewithal to effectually rebuke the sinner and perhaps cause him to repent and you do not use this gift then you too will be punished. We are to be held accountable not only for the bad we did but also for the good we could have done and did not do it.

[Ezekiel 3:19] YET IF THOU WARN THE WICKED, AND HE TURN NOT FROM HIS WICKEDNESS, NOR FROM HIS WICKED WAY, HE SHALL DIE IN HIS INIQUITY; BUT THOU HAST DELIVERED THY SOUL.

You may not be successful in trying to help others reform themselves but at least you will have fulfilled your duty. It will not be your fault in any way.


The above passages were what drove me to talk to a friend I dearly love a few years ago and tell her to stop telling me about her adulterous affairs. I couldn't stand hearing about how she would be friends with a couple and start sleeping with the husband, all the time guiltlessly being a friend to the wife. She seemed to really enjoy the intrigue of sneaking around and almost getting caught.

Sometime during the 60s, she picked up the attitudes of many men around her that adultery was a kind of sport, and she decided that women too could play that game. Since she has been operating for 40 years on that flawed basic principle that she was making a stand for women, she was ignoring the reality of what she was doing. She still believes in sex outside of marriage, and (in her late 60s) is still trying to find the right man who will appreciate her sexual derring do along with her other truly wonderful personal characteristics.

I told her that what she was doing was seriously sinful and that I had to warn her because of the passage I quoted above. It was terribly painful, but we got past it. At least she doesn't tell me about her adulteries any more, even if she is still doing them.

I've been telling off my friends and my daughter. Lucky for him, in the past 13 years I pretty much stopped telling off my son.

But, it just occurs to me from looking at the first words of the above quote, which I usually skip over, the Lord had appointed Ezekiel his watchmen over the house of Israel. What makes me think he has appointed me? I read some place that one of the tests of a real vocation is if the Church agrees you have a vocation. Who says I have a vocation? Have I been deluding myself all this time?

I hate to actually talk about this but I must. My personal failings (my besetting sins) are so large (no pun intended) they devalue my witness as a Christian.

What I regard as prophecy may be just what the 12 step groups call "Taking other people's inventory," which is an attempt to avoid taking their own inventory.

I have to counter this distressing self-discovery (and self-disclosure) with something positive that I know.

Even Elijah spent three years alone in the Wadi Cherith being fed by ravens and then in an upper room in the widow's house before God sent him to confront the prophets of Baal. Come to think of it, he probably didn't eat much at all during that time. The raven probably wasn't bringing him steaks, and when the famine was at its height while he was in the widow's house, for him to eat more than the minimum would have been to starve someone else.

I truly believe that my isolation and lonliness are God's way of driving me out in the desert so He can make me what He wants me to be.

I think often of how in Hosea 2, God drove Israel/Gomer out into the desert and kept her away from the false Gods she worshipped and from her adulterous lovers.


5 Therefore, I will hedge in her way with thorns and erect a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths.
...
9 If she runs after her lovers, she shall not overtake them; if she looks for them she shall not find them. Then she shall say, "I will go back to my first husband, for it was better with me then than now." . . .
16 So I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart.
. . .
21 I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy;
22 I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the LORD.


I've got to take this log out of my own eye. Today is the acceptable day of the Lord.
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