I have many Williams in my life, both living and deceased, that I have been praying for with much intensity lately. My nephew and my son of course are always in my prayers but recently these other Williams too have been heavy in my thoughts and prayers. Included are my friend William who made rosaries for the Bookstore (his story) who just recently died, my grandfather William Theodore, my Uncle William and my husband's good friend William who suffered a terrible stroke and is struggling to recover. My dad William died in November last year and I'd like to share a little lesson he sent me.
I try to go to daily Mass in the small Chapel of our Church after I drop my daughter off for school. (If you know me, you know I need all the help I can get.) As many of us do, I have my "assigned seat" in the Chapel and pretty much get that seat each morning if I am early. About 3 weeks after my dad's death, I went to my seat and my kneeler was missing. I thought simply it was my dad telling me that I needed to do penance to at least make it up to, if not farther than, where he is in paradise. (I know he loved the idea that there are "many mansions", perhaps different levels...who really knows, but...) So each morning I'd go in and kneel on the floor as others knelt comfortably on their cushioned kneelers (believe me, these people probably do not need the penance I need). Anyway, many, many weeks later, I was given a message through the homily or through something I read or through a thought that came into my head that my dad was teaching me that sometimes we have to do what is "uncomfortable" in this life to truly do the will of God or to gain a spot in heaven. We need to talk to those who make us uncomfortable or reach out to the man on the street or to those in prison or call a family member who drives us crazy or a coworker who unnerves us or scares us. We need to go to confession and reconcile with others. We have to deal with what God gives us especially if it is out of our comfort zone. I felt good. I felt I understood the message. The next week, my kneeler was back!
Then, my niece got sick and I felt like since her name is Grace and I (slow as I am) realized while praying the rosary that I say her name as I pray Our Lady's prayer that I should share that idea. I felt the nudge to share it with my siblings and ask them to pray Hail Mary's for Grace each day until she heals. Well, I was uncomfortable for some reason to ask them to pray the Hail Mary every day. I don't know why. I guess I felt like they knew to pray for her and I didn't need to tell them. But, I'm just sayin...2 days later, I went to the Chapel and my chair was missing. I got right on my phone after Mass and group texted the family that we should pray the Hail Mary for Grace each day and all agreed that it was a good idea. Forget being uncomfortable. God wants us to ask. He wants us to be bold. And, a couple of days later, my chair was back. And please do not get me wrong, I know it's not my dad coming and moving around furniture in the Chapel, but the timing is uncanny!
So, I am sitting in a book group several weeks ago with a Dominican Sister who tells us about the graces she has received from reading some of the writings of one of their former Mother Superiors, Mother Marie William, O.P. She says she's probably a saint for all she had to struggle through for their order during her time as Superior and we should feel free to pray to her for our intentions. She had no idea when she shared that that I had Williams on my mind. The idea of praying to Mother Marie William, who I knew, for my Williams, simply gave me goosebumps. Actually, tears filled my eyes. And then.... I got on their website and found the quote below. It is simply No Coincidence. Go. Venture out of your comfort zone. Be bold. Follow Him.
Because God chose us and we were willing to make our pilgrimage
along a narrow road, the travel is bound to be less comfortable and more
demanding of us than of other Christian pilgrims. …Our perseverance in
faith and vocation depends on the depth of our prayer life and our
fidelity to our vows. So does our happiness. Whatever we do, Sisters,
let us do it for one purpose—God’s greater honor and glory. Be faithful
to your prayers—lead the common life, practice regular observance with
freedom and love. (Mother Marie William MacGregor, May 26, 1971)