I have struggled of late, actually that is a lie, I’ve been struggling for a very long time, sometimes what feels like a lifetime. In all actuality, it’s been about ten years. During that time, I have never lost my faith, I’ve prayed to God, I’ve asked for forgiveness, I’ve tried to live a better life, but I’ve never given up my arrogance, that is I believe, until today. In 1986 I married a man I loved very much and in 1994 I began a ten year affair with another. The affair partially ended about eight years ago but in all fairness it was over a couple of years before that. It has never been over for me. I made a horrible mistake, but not because it ended my marriage, because it took my soul. My ex husband forgave me, my children forgave me, my family forgave me but in my utlimate arrogance I believed that I could never forgive myself. My sister would tell me over and over God had already forgiven me, he had taken my sin, he died for it, but in my arrogance I believed I had to pay for this sin until the day I died and maybe when I looked into the eyes of Jesus, I would finally feel forgiven. I site the word “arrogance” consistently because that was exactly what it was. I thought I had to punish myself for the rest of my days no matter that I believed God had forgiven me. Who exactly did I think I was? This revelation came about recently when I began having “night terrors” not bad dreams, I’ve always been a dreamer and have had my fair share of nightmares. I believe it all started a few weeks ago with a mass to celebrate the death of my mom in a church I grew up in, got married in and sat through funeral masses of my mom, dad, aunt, grandparents and godfather in. When we left the church that night I said to my husband “I hate this church, it has nothing but bad memories for me, funeral masses of those I loved, not to mention standing at the alter promising to love and cherish the father of my children for the rest of my days.” For me, that felt like the beginning of more shame, guilt and self punishment. A couple of nights ago, I dreamt I was looking into the face of the devil screaming over and over, “I believe in God.” The night before last I grabbed my rosary beads which I keep under my pillow to comfort me and couldn’t hold them, as I was terrified of them. I told my sisters of these “dreams”and my older one wisely said “I believe you are finally letting go, finally forgiving yourself and the evil that’s been holding you back, feeding on your shame and guilt, is trying to get you to stay in that place of darkness.” Yesterday when I came home from work, with my sisters advice swirling in my mind, I sat down to quietly try to face the demon and find out what it wanted from me. Ironically I grabbed a very old book called “my Sunday Missal” I took from my aunt who passed and was like a mother to me. I clutched my rosary beads as I didn’t feel afraid of them in the light of day, although I do admit I looked them over rather carefully, closed my eyes, pictured my demon and said “I am not afraid of you, I am not afraid of the devil, I believe you are real, but you cannot touch me, for if God is for me no one can be against me.” I opened the missal to a random page and a miracle occurred, I began to read a passage where Jesus battled the devil. It also spoke of ridding one evil to face seven more. I was beyond words. I called my sister with the hope she could help me interpret what I’d read, I began reading the passage to her and she finished the rest by heart. The miracle however, does not end there. I spoke to my youngest daughter yesterday about what had been happening and she told me, without obviously knowing the passage I was about to read, “mom, when you face evil and it sees you are not afraid, it will try to enter your heart and soul.” To prove even further that I had experienced a true miracle, a custodian whom I’ve become friends with and admire, told me today, again without any knowledge of what my family had told me or the passage I read, with only the knowledge of my trying to confront my fear, “be prepared, the struggle may not be over for evil seeks to hold on where it feels it can.” Today on the way home from work (after I might say a wonderful night’s sleep last night) feeling anxious about tonight I asked God to forgive me for one more thing, my arrogance, my arrogance in thinking (and believing) that I had more power than he, that after being told over and over that he had forgiven me, I was so arrogant that I believed that wasn’t enough, that I had to keep punishing myself. I told the devil that at one time I was a fallen angel, just like him, but just like him, I was given the chance to rise to the right hand of God and although he chose not to, I choose to. I have no idea what tonight will bring. I have no idea if my battle is over, but battle I will. I will fight for my soul, I will let God fight with me and most importantly I will give up my arrogance. I choose to be forgiven. Thank you Lord for my “night terrors” and for putting people and signs in my path that have let me experience a true miracle!