Sunday, January 9, 2011

It's All Greek to Me-- An Absolutely True Story

This morning I found myself praying the Divine Office at my gym's "smoothie bar." (Tessy had a cold, so I kept her out of the gym's babysitting area and Jon had run home to pick up the forgotten swimsuits.)

I held Baby Tess in my lap and marveled over then deep reflections on Our Lord's Baptism. Then I started softly chanting the passages from the Psalms.

A lady sat down next to me at the microscopic size tables.

I got a weird vibe from her from the start, but I just kept focused on my prayers.

Finally, I look up.

Guess what she is reading?

"The God Delusion."

The irony was so funny. The Carmelite and the Atheist sitting side by side.

After a while, I said something. "Do you like your book?" It was so strange because she was so active in liking her book but she sort of fell apart in her defense when she looked at me. It was as if something shiny was distracting her. (Baby Tess? The new wedding ring that I had just asked a priest to bless after Mass 20 minutes earlier? Who knows.)

I am so NOT articulate and strong like my Leila from "The Little Bubble" or Jen from "Conversion Diary". In the middle of trying to be "overly" agreeable while a total stranger explained to me that while she agrees that reason proves that God doesn't exist she didn't like the authors insinuation that all believers are idiots-- I actually said "Cool!" (Sorry Jesus!)

I didn't say anything about chanting 5,000 year old ancient prayers to the scientifically proved "delusion" while sharing her same gym smoothie table.

Then my husband came in. We chatted about our family's work out plans. The lady nearly fell off her stool when she heard mention of 3 other children. I left to change into my work out clothes.

When I got back, the lady had returned to her book and now my husband was praying his Daily Office next to her.

I am SO out of my element in this gym. But God has something going on here that I can't see.


  1. I do know a few religious people who have read that particular book out of curiosity.

    Also, I have nothing against big families, but I would also do a double-take if you told me you had four kids just because you look so young!

    (I am envying your gym, from thousands of miles away....I want to join one in our neighborhood, but it costs almost $300 a month...)

  2. Oh, I totally would have said "Cool!" or something like it if I would have been there! I never know what to say in those situations.

    I'm sure God will use you and your beautiful family in a wonderful way at that gym! :)

  3. Hello L. This is Abby's Husband Jon. I wanted to reply to your comment regarding people who read materials that are counter to our Faith, out of curiosity. I have heard this argument before: either "curiosity is healthy" or "know thy enemy" Both of these arguments are foolish justifications for doing something you like to do and know is wrong. The fight hasn't changed in over 2,000 years, and our weapons are the same. Satisfying our curiosity regarding how evil works is simply dangerous.

    Besides, I met this women--and she made her point clear--she does not believe in God and believes that people who do are delusional and/or simple.

  4. Well, Jon, you and I are going to have to agree to disagree on that one -- I read all sorts of materials on evil subjects with which I have zero personal involvement. I believe that knowlege is power, and thorough awareness of something is the way to have power over it (though I am not a religious person). I do know a priest who read that particular book, and I would guess that he and I see eye to eye on our reading matter.

    But if this particular woman was indeed an athiest, then....I think she was indeed looking askance at your big family.

    (I am still envying your gym.....)

  5. Oh A! I'll be praying for you!!!!

    I've been praying each day for my husband- and for Abigail and I- that the Lord would bring people into our paths that day whom we can minister to or be a blessing to. I'll pray that for you, too! And remember- what He calls us to, He also equips us for!!!

  6. I just replied to a "joke" about religion on a "mommy" email list I am on (it was essentially equating the public observance of your religion to rape)...

    I am going to get a lot of guff and will probably be told to " lighten up" and be more " tolerant"...

    And last year I would have thought of that and not hit SEND....

    But not this year, this year I care more about truth and loving my Lord more than the supposed esteem of other women...

    Please pray for me as I pray for you and your whole family!

  7. Tom Hedkvist, 10-gruppenJanuary 10, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. "Preach the Gospel always. Use words only when necesary." St. Francis

    Your life is your testimony of the truth of Christ, Abby. He'll give you the words, if and when you need them.

    However, I must say I do think it is legitimate to read books by atheists/agnostics/other religions/other philosophies. It can be very helpful in talking to others about Christ to understand their current worldview and the language they are using to describe certain ideas. When I was in college - a serious Catholic college - one of the friars actually led a group of honor students in reading the NYT bestsellers that where preaching New Age philosophies and atheism so that we could better evangelize those around us. It was in no way a temptation to our faith; in fact, it strengthened my faith. After reading the depressing, empty worldveiw offered by many of these writers, Christ's hope and joy looks even more miraculous and I was filled with a greater gratitude for the gift of Faith in my life.

    Now if that is all that makes up your reading, you could definitely head for trouble. But if such reading is undertaken in the right way and in conjuction with prayer and reading of good Catholic doctrine, I see very little danger. The more dangerous books to souls are usually Catholic ones full of half-truths and poor spiritual advice. A blatnant falsehood or complete misconception about the Truth is way less dangerous than a slight twist on the Truth, just enough to put a soul down the wrong path without their even realizing it.

  9. Haha, I'm the worst at explaining anything and making it sound like it makes sense. Frequently I say something completely different from what I was thinking. It IS so cool how God is always doing things, and we might not even have a clue.

  10. There is a new book out by Patrick Madrid and Kenneth Hensley called "The Godless Delusion." It counters the God Delusion and is a REALLY great book! :-)

  11. Great post, Abby. And I just wanted to say for the record that I doubt I could have been so articulate as to come up with "Cool!" I am *really* awkward in situations like that. :)

  12. There's a reason you and your family are in the gym (besides the obvious health one!). You may not see it now, you not see it ever - but rest assured, there is a reason. Like a previous poster quoted St. Francis, you are a witness in one of the most unlikely of places.