Every Monday morning I drive twenty miles to my guitar lesson. I leave early enough so that I can attend Mass and still get to my lesson on time. On some occasions though, I have not allowed enough time to do both or I have been delayed due to road work en route. Then, since I prefer not to be late for Mass, I stop at a coffee depot where I can sip a cup of coffee, surf the Internet via my iPad Mini and then head over to my lesson.
In the past six months or so I have found that I feel more inclined to stop for coffee and fritter away my time on the Internet than to attend Mass, regardless of how much time I have. That bothers my conscience, because I know that Mass is so much more important than anything else I can be doing. Furthermore, I really do want Christ at the center of my life. What’s more, I am a professed Lay Carmelite, and one of myCarmelite commitments is to attend Mass daily as often as possible. My desire is to be zealous and faithful in practicing the Carmelite way of life.
I am engaged in spiritual combat. I don’t think it’s between choosing sin versus virtue. Rather, it’s choosing between a lesser good and a greater good. I ought to choose the greater good. I know that.
I struggled with this, as usual, while driving to my lesson. I prayed as I drove. I asked our Blessed Mother and my guardian angel to help me choose for the Lord—to help me sacrifice my pleasure for a higher good. It helped. Sort of. For part of the journey I had firmly decided on going to Mass. My mind was made up—until is wasn’t. Then I’d say to myself, “Come Lent, which is just around the corner, I’ll definitely choose Mass, but for today and next Monday it will be the coffee depot.
That was the decision. Then it wasn’t.
I drove right past the coffee depot and toward the church. “Thank you, Mary. Thank you, guardian angel,” I prayed. When the church was in sight I noticed something different. A barrier obstructed the front door. It appeared that carpentry or painting was going on. I drove into the parking lot. There were very few cars. Since I was earlier than usual, I figured the lot would fill up with cars soon. So I parked and walked to the side door where I usually enter. There was another barrier there. Ironically I would be unable to attend Mass after all. Strange, isn’t it?
So I would go to the coffee depot after all.
My thoughts as I left were about how awful it would be if, for some reason Mass would no longer be available for me or for others—at all. What if Mass became forbidden? How I would regret not choosing the greater good whenever possible.