We're visiting my cousin Brittney in the hospital yesterday and today before we need to head back home in a couple of hours so I can be at work at 7 tomorrow morning (it's about a 3 hour drive). The girls have been behaving remarkably well and seemed to have learned a major lesson about wearing seatbelts. Now that Britt is pretty well cleaned up and looking more like herself (and not as sensitive to noise in the room), we let the girls come in and see her and join us in praying for her.
In the middle of all this, we did manage to make it to Mass this morning. I'm really glad we did: it always seems like, at times like this, the readings speak to exactly the situation we're in. Today the first reading, from Ezekiel, and the Gospel from the 21st chapter of Matthew both spoke about how we are given free will to choose to follow God's command and live or to turn away from God and face the just consequences; not only that, though, they both tell us that we are not stuck with bad choices we make at first, but can repent and choose God later, and still be just as saved. This message was of some consolation to me thinking about not only Brittney, but her whole family as well. When Britt was just a little girl, her parents--for reasons I'm still not sure I really understand--stopped going to Mass. This became a fairly big source of tension in the family because my mom is Brittney's godmother and, rightly, saw it as her duty to try to make sure the Britt and her sister were receiving an education in their faith. This, if anything, wound up pushing the girls further from the Church (obviously through no fault of their own) because my aunt and uncle felt pressured by my mom and seemed to get defensive about it.
A few years ago, though, when Britt was probably about midway through high school, her grandfather on the other side of her family died. The really amazing way our parish priest at the time handled these issues and interacted with Britt's family went a long way toward bringing the family back to the Church; not too long after, Brittney and her sister received the sacraments of communion and confirmation and fully entered the Church. From that point on, with a few glitches here and there, they've generally been very active in youth group and other activities in the parish, and have often acted as St. Paul reminds the Philipians to do: "humbly regard[ing] others as more important than [them]selves."
Brittney's a sophomore in college and, as so often goes (including with myself), has sometimes acted out more of the "fool" part of the "wise fool" year. But I feel pretty confident in the state of her soul and, regardless of how her medical condition goes from here, comforted knowing that she, eventually, did "go out and work in the vineyard."