Thursday, August 30, 2007


"My prayers are always heard and answered. God either gives me what I want or He takes away the desire I have to make it mine." (Dennis Sheahan, Resident Sage and Keeper of the Aphorisms)
Strive for success and remember you won't get what you want unless you want what you get. (Yogi Berra, Native of St. Louis where English was rarely spoken)

The other night my wife and I were finishing our night prayers when a flash of my guardian angel's sword brought me to a cold sweat. I thought that he was trying to beat back the "devil who is prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour." (1 Peter; 5, 9) But no, I was the one that the angel was looking for. I ducked, but his spiritual sword got me anyway, right in the heart. Before we could finish the doxology of Compline, I was chuckling heartily. Of course the Mother Abbess of the Saint Maximillian Kolbe Mobile Home Monastery was not
smiling. With pursed lips and flashing eyes glaring she demanded, "Why are you laughing?" I immediately snapped to attention and said, "My guardian angel just stabbed me in the heart." "Good," says she, "you deserve it, I know. What did you do now?"
"Well, I think that God must be just a little bit on edge with me for something that I did today. I mean, now that I think of it, it was really personal. All week long I knew that the California Lotto was going to have an $80 million jackpot. I prayed every single day, many times every day, that God would give me the winning ticket. So, of course, all week long I decided that I was going to buy my usual $20 dollar array. I mean, I was really into this. I was even kneeling on my arthritic knees during the Mass instead hooking my bum to the pew behind me. I was holding my hands piously, bowing profoundly before taking the host for communion, smiling and really being gentle when shaking a lady's hand during the exchange of peace. I mean, it got so bad that I was even listening to the short homily with my eyes open, for goodness sake. Now this was really a full court press."

Comes Friday afternoon and I am full of sass and I have a crunchy new Jackson in my pocket. I just know that God is going to do this for me. I get a moment of freedom from the Abbess and I run down to the liquor store that is owned and operated by the Chaldean Catholics. No messing around here. You gotta hit the halos. I get my twenty tickets and on the way home, in a moment of weakness, I figure, "What the heck, a little bribery can't hurt." So I say to the Man upstairs, "I'll give you back 10%, before taxes, every year." Now, I am sinning big time. Not
only do I bribe Heaven but I am feeling like I'm unbeatable. Hell, man, I just gave up 10% of the proceeds. I know that the Abbess is going to be livid. My sons, God bless 'em, are going to bathe me in acrimony for hours. Ten percent! When are you going to learn? But I decide that it's worth the money to get God on my side. I'll go through the human torture to get the money that the charity is bound to bring. Then a brilliant idea sneaks out of the cracks. "Not a word until after you know for sure that you've got the pot, you hear?" Oh, perfect. So that's what I do.

So the Abbess, AKA "The Voice from the Kitchen", says, "You are so rotten. You're lucky that your guardian angel just nicked you. I would have done away with you." I say, hurt to the core, "He couldn't put me away because I would have gone to hell."
"You're a crazy old coot. Why did you insult God that way? You kiss up to Him and then you insult Him by buying twenty tickets. Don't you think that if He wanted you to win, all He would have needed was ONE ticket?"
"All right already. I'll apologize to Him before I thank Him if I win. If I lose, I'll know why, and I'll apologize anyway. I'll tell him that I got the point."

Well, let me tell you. God is a humorous guy (ooppsss, person). He answered all my prayers, despite my insult. He made me win. I actually won. I checked the numbers and when I saw the results I was laughing so hard I nearly fell off my chair. I won...$1.00. One, big beautiful picture of George Washington. So God and I kissed and made up and we're friends again. I mean, I won. My prayers, bribery and all worked! But I have a sense of humour too. I'm still praying and everything, but Now I'm hooking the pew and I'm closing my eyes during the short morning homily.

Now that was Saturday, and none of the other people who were sacrificing, fasting and flogging themselves with whips to impress God and get Him to give them all that money walked away totally happy. So on Sunday morning I tell Him, "Look, I get the joke. That's neat. So I'll tell you what, I'll put the single back into Arnie's coffers and you are going to make it a winner on Wednesday, right? Forget all those other half-hearted praying and sacrificing christians and remember the sweet old man who writes for, the best evangelizing
magazine in all creation. Right?" Well, I've been praying now for four days. I did buy one ticket, because even God can't make you win if you don't buy a ticket.
If you'll give me a moment, I'll go check the results so that we can celebrate together. Hang on a bit.

Well, the buck that I gave back to Arnie because it came from God will make someone happy, I'm sure. The Abbess still loves me, and my children haven't started proceedings to put me in a home yet. I'll have to go on wondering if He does all this stuff to me to save me from a long stint in Purgatory. That's what I like about prayer. God always gives you something to be happy about. Mostly it's the ability to be happy knowing that He is there enjoying your life with you. It is filling you with the grace of being satisfied with what you have and not going crazy over the useless things that you don't have yet. Having Him is all we need, and He knows it. That's the best lesson that we can all learn a little bit better every day of our lives. Let's do it together. We'll get to be better people that way and you won't feel the slightest need to cry at my funeral because Old Peter, and Jesus Himself and I will be laughing at the day that I was stupid enough
to throw sand in the eyes of God with those extra nineteen tickets.
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