One of the obstacles to sharing this roundabout path to the Sacred Heart with you is that in many cases it is only visible in retrospect. The sequence is hazy at this point, even to me. So I’m going to start with a timeline, which will hopefully serve as an outline for the sequence of posts to come. Though I may not write them chronologically, we ought to be able to plug them into the timeline in the end.
Part of the reason for doing this exercise at all is that every so often someone hears me say something like, “God has me here for a reason,” “God told me such-and such,” or “God is leading me toward X,” and asks me what that means. God doesn’t speak to me audibly, but He opens some doors—in my heart, in others, and in the world—and closes others. This timeline and sequence will hopefully show what I mean.
We begin nearly two years ago…
July 2016 — Traveled to Poland for World Youth Day in Krakow. Shared my heart with my Poland daughters and grew closer to Saints Maximilian Kolbe, Faustina Kowalska, and John Paul II (among others).
August 2016 — Wrote a personal manifesto of sorts, entitled “A New Mission” (shared as a blog post under the same name the following spring), focused on the the cry of my heart to write and to reach out to people on the fringe of the church.
Fall 2016 — Began praying, journaling, and talking to Jodi in earnest about what God wants me to do, wondering why I have a great job at a parish that I love and still feel so discontented.
Winter 2016-2107 — Began seeking new work, including freelance and part-time work with Catholic and non-Catholic organizations; began planning Archangel Stomp as a ministry.
January 2017 — I left my long-time men’s group, which focused more on moral theology and politics, in search of one focused more on faith sharing and God’s love and mercy.
Spring 2017 — Shared my intention to leave my work at St. Michael so the parish could hire someone in a timely manner; lots of freelance leads and potential projects.
Summer 2017 — Left St. Michael at the end of June as planned, but with no certain projects and no safety net. Continued to pray, write, and look for work. Praying with Saints Padre Pio and Gemma Galgani. Joined a new men’s group that is finishing a Bible study on St. Peter.
August 10-13, 2017 — My third Demontreville Retreat: I couldn’t really afford the time or the money, but it was necessary at this point to spend time with God, one-on-one. Saw clearer than ever before my own role in Christ’s crucifixion and my own need for God’s love and mercy.
Mid-August 2017 — Went to work for FedEx Ground in Rogers, sorting packages so we have at least a little money coming in. It doesn’t make ends meet, though; I need steady work by September. Praying with St. Francis of Assisi and reading The Soul of the Apostolate, on the importance of the interior life.
September 2017 — Hired by Saint Andrew Catholic Church as their half-time communications, evangelization and outreach coordinator, just as our savings was running out. Started year one of the Catechetical Institute. Also, we bought an Airedale puppy. Beginning to think more about how my sufferings, however small they are in the big scheme of things, can be offered for others.
October 2017 — Just when my lower back won’t move another package, I’m hired by St. Michael to rebuild their parish website. Employed full-time through the holidays! Fleshing out a Catholic radio show idea I pitched to KRWC. While visiting St. Patrick’s Catholic Book Store in Maple Lake, I noticed a framed print of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts that stole my own heart. Immediately added it to my birthday list—an odd thing for a grown man, but then, I’m an odd guy.
November-December 2017 — Too busy to work on anything else except Saint Andrew and St. Michael, my own writing, the radio project, etc., are languishing. Daily scripture reading and prayer is calling me into deeper relationship with God, and always at the forefront is the image of the Sacred Heart and the outpouring of Divine Mercy. I did not get a Sacred Heart print for my birthday…maybe for Christmas? (Yup!)
January 2018 — Against my worldly wishes, I found myself being called to a new full-time role at Saint Andrew, overseeing faith formation, among other things. Brendan leaves for a semester in Rome. One of my Poland daughters dies following a ski accident; I learn after the fact of her devotion to St. Faustina and Divine Mercy.
February 2018 — A young husband and father from our community died unexpectedly, and again St. Faustina and Divine Mercy appeared. Started full-time at Saint Andrew, happy to have steady and adequate income, but distressed that none of the things I set out to do are coming together. My spiritual director reminds me that it’s God’s plan I’m seeking, not my own. This mistake I often make is assuming the plan for today is also tomorrow’s plan and running with it, without continuing to listen to Him.
Lent 2018 — Gave up sarcasm and snarkiness as symptoms of my mindlessness and hardness of heart toward my family. Begin reading about my patron St. Francis de Sales and his protegé St. Jane de Chantal. The more I read, the more I’m drawn to their heart-centered spirituality.
Easter 2018 — Feeling strongly motivated to help the poor in our area, not through donations, but prayer and service. Divine Mercy, Salesian spirituality, service to the poor, Sacred Heart…why am I being pulled so many directions? My new men’s group begins a Divine Mercy study; one of the first lessons focuses on the Sacred Heart revelations to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Brendan returns home from abroad, bring me an icon of St Faustina and a Divine Mercy plaque with “Jesus, I trust You” in Polish.
For a summary of the three previous entries, in particular, see Easter Greetings.
May 2018 — I share these various threads of devotion and calling I hear in my heart with my spiritual director, and he gives me a history lesson and two pieces of advice that begin to draw them all together. Some providential downtime at the Engels with a young reader’s biography of St. Margaret Mary and a new Christopher West DVD bring the Sacred Heart starkly into focus. Began reconsecration to our Blessed Mother, and a steady diet of Sacred Heart imagery and spirituality.
June 2018 — The month of the Sacred Heart. Every day His Heart is manifested to me in a new way, providing me with new opportunities to love as He loves. Often I fail, but sometimes…sometimes…He raises me above myself.
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I’m sure this timeline is incomplete and out of sequence, but it’s the start of a road map for these posts. Perhaps I’ll even plug them into this post as links!