Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Courage and the Closet Christian

I have been ignoring this blog. Not because I'm too busy. Not because I can't think of what to say. No, I've been trying my best to ignore it simply because I'm afraid. Well, terrified, I think is a better word. Even though this blog is anonymous, I'm afraid someone might figure it out. Even though everyone who knows me knows I'm Catholic, I'm afraid of being outed as a true believer. I'm afraid of people knowing that I don't just decorate my house with crucifixes and Sacred Heart pictures out of anthropological interest, that I don't just send my kids to Catholic school out of tradition, or because it's a better education. I'm afraid that the whole reason I'm even doing this is so radically telling that I simply can't hide if I continue it.

My reason for blogging is love for a little girl, barely six years old, languishing in a poor orphanage in Eastern Europe because she has Down Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, diagnoses which, over there, mean institutionalization for life. This little sweetie is Brigita on Reece's Rainbow Adoption Ministry.

This is the little girl I can't get out of my head. One little face that propelled me, a secret dabbler in the faith of our fathers, to pray my first novenas (all the way to the end, that is...) and beg God for the faith of a mustard seed. She spurred me out of my lukewarmness, to get to the sacraments regularly, to read the works of the great saints, and to say the scary Holy Spirit prayer that requires you to PROMISE to "submit to all you that you desire of me, and accept all that you permit to happen to me." I'm in over my head. And I don't want to blog.

But on the other hand, I want Brigita to have a home and the love of a family. Others have been trying their best to help her. I've been sitting by watching them do the brave thing in what seems like a futile effort, telling myself lies about how I'll sit down and write something just as soon as I get that next load of laundry done, just as soon as I change this diaper, just as soon as... No. Enough. This is not helping Brigita.

A really good justification I thought of was that no one will read this blog anyway. Best to leave it to the experts. Only these guys aren't really experts. They are just ordinary people with hearts overflowing with compassion for special needs orphans, and the courage to pick up the challenge that lies before all who see this great need. Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we do not know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows we know and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12 I didn't come up with that Bible verse myself, btw - I'm a cradle Catholic after all, lol.

Mother Teresa said famously that God does not ask us to be successful, but only faithful. So, ok. How about if I just be faithful here in my own little world? I tried this for awhile. It seemed like God was giving me the green light at first. This being the first Lent in nearly two decades where I didn't qualify for the "pregnant or nursing mother" exemption, I had to, horrors, give up meat on Fridays, and do a bit of fasting. I'm not gonna lie - it was easy. Also, giving up coffee (something I had previously regarded as impossible) was easy. My newfound confidence suggested a brazen plan. How about a little more prayer? Like, regular prayer. And, being nicer to my husband. None of this was all that hard. I thought I had it made. But God is so clever. He had set me up. He is so that way.

Turns out He had given me the ability to do those things, and He could take it all away. On the last leg of Lent I got the chance to recall my previous weakness. By reliving it. The first part of Lent was all, "Oh, I can give up meat one day a week. Little Brigita has to eat some kind of bland gruel every day of her life." And the last part of Lent was "St. Francis, how DID you get that cantankerous 'donkey' under control?" Thoughts of coffee (and cookies and donuts and...) crowded out all that profound stuff I had been exposing myself to. Now, I'm not bright enough to know whether this was a ruse of the devil, or whether God wanted me to know my utter dependency. What I do know is that this Lent stuff is real. Christianity is real. Woe be to me, I'm thinking, if I just set this all aside.

And then came Easter... I was half expecting to have some great big revelation concerning the Resurrection and all that, but I guess I'm probably not ready. And how many times is it necessary to recount the tale of Peter denying Christ anyway??? I did get a little gift, though, that made me cry tears of joy. A valiant teenage blogger, who writes on behalf of special needs orphans declared Brigita his "orphan of the week." Right below her beautiful little photo were the words, "Christ has Risen indeed, alleluia!" What does that mean? I could be wrong, but I think it means go forth and fight the good fight. He has secured our victory already.

Please, if anyone out there stumbles upon this post, please do something - anything - to help the precious sweetheart who has completely stolen my heart and knocked me off my horse. A donation, a prayer, a blog post, a tweet. Anything. I've got it on good authority from a lovely woman who has met her that Brigita is a sweet, gentle child, and would benefit so much from the love of a family. Here are some important links:

Helle's giveaway. Win cool stuff from Norway! Helle is Brigita's official Reece's Rainbow warrior. Read her touching post on Brigita's birthday. Helle blogs for orphans at The Noggie Bloggie.

Caleb's post about Brigita. Caleb and his buddies are teens who advocate for special needs orphans on their blog, Speaking for the Silent.

Brigita's profile page at Reece's Rainbow. You can donate to the older girls' fund here.

And, if you're on Facebook, search for the "Finding Brigita's Mama" event, hosted by Stephanie from Daily Smiles blog. Read some of what she has written about Brigita here and here.

Thank you, guys, for all you are doing for this sweet girl.


  1. Oh I enjoyed that. Join the ranks of all of us Protestant and Catholic crazy people who have been knocked over the head by a passionate God for His little ones over there who have no voice. Welcome aboard.

  2. Julia,
    Thanks so much for your kind comment and welcome. Your blog has been such a huge inspiration to me! It's an honor to be in such company.

  3. Beautiful my sister in Christ! I am crying tears of joy for you as Christ draws you closer to him by breaking your heart for Brigita!

    Thank you for all your support on my blogs!!

    I greeted St. Rita on your behalf and for Brigita this evening!

    Much love,