I could go to the 8 a.m. Mass instead. But Something Has Happened which gets me out of bed at 5 a.m. to feed my horses then wash, change and go at 6:30 a.m.
(I’d like to say that ‘Something’ propels me out of bed, but Satan still tries to make me lie in, and think – nah! I can always make the 8 o’clock. Presumably the Devil hopes I’ll go back to sleep and wake up too late for Mass at all.)
What Happened to Get Me Up So Early?
A miracle, that’s what.
On Ash Wednesday I received a text message at 8:17 a.m. from my son, which read: “Just got outta church. How’s that for a shocker?”
I was totally dazed, bowled over, non-plussed, over-awed - you get the picture. This is the son who doesn’t like going to church on a Sunday, let alone during the week! I was astounded that he’d even paid attention to the fact that it was Ash Wednesday.
As you can imagine, I wrote back immediately to tell him how thrilled I was. I had to add “P.S. Did you wipe the ashes off?” What 20 year old college student is going to walk around campus with a fuzzy black cross on his forehead?
“Nope, I’m still wearing ’em,” came the brave reply at 1:50 p.m. I let him know that not only had he made my day, but God’s, too.
The Power of Prayer
He had two basketball games that evening. There came another text late afternoon: “Can you pray with me before the games?”
I was happy to do it. After praying with him I added that when he got nervous on the court he should remind himself that “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” He agreed to do that.
His team won both games, and he scored as well. But he wasn’t very pleased with his own performance, though he wasn’t discouraged.
There Are No Coincidences with God
Later that night he texted me again: “You wanna hear something spooky? I had already forgotten, but the Tony Dungy book talked about being energized by failure today, and the verse was Phillipians 4:13 ‘I can do all things through Christ…’”
He is reading Tony Dungy’s book The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge which, to quote the book description on Amazon.com, “contains 365 reflections….on living an “uncommon life” of integrity, honoring your family and friends, creating a life of real significance and impact, and walking with the Lord.”
The book is certainly having an impact on him. Especially if you have a sports mad child, you may want to consider buying it for him or her. My son made several poor decisions in the past few months, and God is clearly working through Tony Dungy’s words to turn his thinking around. He seems not to want to disappoint his parents any more, but rather to honor them and God.
Setting the Example Works!
My son then called me on Sunday to say he’d been to Mass every day since Ash Wednesday, and was going to continue doing so.
(So it wasn't just because he had basketball on Ash Wednesday, in case you're wondering!)
I asked why he felt called to do this. His reply made my heart sing: “Well, you go every day, Mum, so why shouldn’t I?”
About a year ago, I asked my former parish priest, “How do I get my son to go to Mass?” He replied with the simple statement: “Continue setting him the example, by going to Mass yourself.”
And now my son is setting me the example. Remember, he’s a college kid whose classes don’t begin until early or late afternoon – through his own organizing.
And Mass at his local church is at 7 a.m. every day!
Now you understand why I have no excuse to lounge in bed on Mondays and Fridays instead of going to 6:30 a.m. Mass twice a week.
This is Tony Dungy's book, The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge.
Let's not forget that this is written by a man whose 18 year old son committed suicide, and yet he still walks with Christ.
P.S. I'm just suggesting this book - I don't get anything if you buy it!