Fishing for Toilet Paper by Teresa

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” Lk. 8:17

God makes use of anything.” -St. John Vianney

Try as we might, true holiness cannot be achieved without God’s grace. But never-fear, God is there to help us achieve our goal, we just need to be willing to use every opportunity to give Him honor and glory. I truly believe this, so when we left for Mexico 3 weeks ago that was my goal.

There are 2 cardinal rules for those visiting rural Mexico from the US. The first: don’t drink the water, and the second: don’t flush the toilet paper. The first rule is for our safety, the water can make us sick. The second is due to a lack of sufficient sewage capabilities. For most, I would assume, these are manageable though inconvenient rules. I almost looked forward to the small sacrifices that these would require of me.  I would not always having water at my disposal, unless I brought my water bottle and the gross but easily do-able sacrifice of throwing dirty toilet paper into the trashcan. What I was not completely prepared for was just how habitual throwing my “trash” into the toilet was. More than once I found myself fishing out that “sacrifice” after a brief lapse of concentration allowed my paper disposal to begin floating in the watery abyss below.

One thing that I neglected to even begin preparing myself for was what happens when there is a combination of not following rules #1 and rule #2. For my part, I was very good about not drinking the water, but children do not always prefer to do as directed. Therefore it was not long before I found myself in a bathroom with a small 2 year old looking up at me saying he was “all done,” and me realizing that, among many other things, there was toilet paper floating in the porcelain throne below him.

So now the dilemma: to fish or not to fish. If I just went ahead and flushed, it would probably go down with no trouble this once, and no one would ever really know. I mean no one besides a two year old was in the room with me, and I had given him the task of pulling up his britches.  And really, what kind of an example would I be to him if I did go for that toilet paper—It would be like the fulfillment of all his earliest fantasies: it’s finally OK to play in the toilet!

It struck me at that moment, how often I do this. I had been so willing to offer every sacrifice I could to God, and now I found myself trying to find any way out of this small thing that lay before me. God gives me a plethora of occasions in which I can offer my life to him, but I talk myself out of these opportunities for service, these awesome opportunities for grace. Had I not, just two days earlier,  waited in eager anticipation for opportunities to offer to God. My growth in holiness is directly proportionate to my willingness to use EVERY opportunity to forget about myself. My comfort should be nothing when a circumstance like this arrives. God sees me. God knows my heart. Offering to God an obedient heart is worth more than the trauma of anything I could face, especially in this particular circumstance. Jesus became man. He, who is so far above us in every way, chose to take on our human nature to redeem us. I, a mere human, could certainly endure exposure to this “fallen nature” that floated before me.

In the end, I was able to remove the offending material, which had for the past few seconds spent its time happily soaking up all that it could of its surroundings, and not only that, I was able to do it with a smile! What a wonderful gift! I was given an opportunity to suffer, if even just a little bit, to challenge my comfort zone,to show a 2 year old that even Mom will follow rules no matter what must be endured, to offer to God my circumstance and to receive grace, and it all happened within the span of less than a minute!

If every challenge of my life from this moment on I conquer as triumphantly as that one, I have no doubts that when I approach the pearly gates, I will be recognized! St. Therese’s “little way” has never been more real to me. Every opportunity is an opportunity for grace and growth in holiness, even when it requires fishing for toilet paper!

Asleep in the Light

The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can’t fight
Cause it’s asleep in the light

Keith Green

“For if I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting.  For necessity is laid upon me.  Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (I Cor 9:16)

With these words the Apostle Paul exemplifies an attitude and realization that should be heavy upon the heart of every Christian, every Catholic, every priest, every lay person, every man, woman, boy, or girl that has been touched by the Good News.  We have an obligation, a duty, a necessity, a demand laid upon us by God Almighty to share the riches of our faith with others.  We have been privileged through God’s grace (Eph 2:8) with faith in order that we may share it with others.  Others have a human right to hear the Gospel from our lips.  “How will they believe in one of whom they have never heard?” (Rom 10:15) 

How many times have we heard the quote “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words.”  And yet sadly it’s often used simply as a justification for not preaching the Gospel.    Recently I heard a man misquote this as “Preach and don’t use words.”  Frankly, I would not be surprised to discover that some believed the quote was “Preach and it is necessary not to use words.”  And yet the Sacred Scripture and the Church call us to “Preach the Gospel always, and if possible, use words.”  People need to hear the Gospel, the Good News! 

The Good News is that God loves us and offers us new life, abundant life, life in the Spirit, life in Christ.  How can we not offer this life to others?  Saint Augustine once said that men were beggars before God.  One could say that evangelization (sharing the Gospel) is like one beggar telling another where to find food

We who have “been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come” (Heb 6:4-5) must bear witness of it in our lives and words.  I am reminded of the Samaritan Woman in the forth chapter of John who immediately after speaking with Jesus at the well went and told the people in her town about Jesus.  We must do likewise.  Pope John Paul II goes as far as to say that those who do not respond to God, bearing witness to the gospel in thought, word and deed, “not only will they not be saved, they will be judged more severely.” (Mission of the Redeemer 11)

When we choose not to share our faith we choose to allow another to starve spiritually.  To return to our analogy, another beggar may complain and refuse to eat the bread you lead him to because he dislikes its taste but how awful it would be if you simply hoarded the bread for yourself instead of leading others to the food source.  Why do we understand this idea when it concerns real food but not with the Gospel itself?  Don’t we remember that Jesus said “Man shall not live by bread alone?”  And yet how can they know if we Christians don’t tell them? ( Rom 10:15)

“The Church, and every individual Christian within her, may not keep hidden or monopolize this newness and richness which has been received from God’s bounty in order to be communicated to all mankind.” (Mission of the Redeemer 11)  God has gifted us with faith so that we can share it with others.  Have we lost our love for Jesus? Are we sleeping in the Light?