Have you ever noticed that God does not crash the party? He sends “invitations” and provides the venue, guests and food, but the response is up to us.

I’ve often ignored His “invitations” until things got so confusing, I dug through the trash to retrieve them. Now, when adversity shows up, I RSVP quickly and arrive early.

Over the years, I’ve gotten to know many incredible men who chose the priesthood. To each, I have posed difficult questions, and I’ve concluded that they’ve heard and seen it all. Their feedback reminds me to take a “chill pill,” because regardless of how things appear, God is in control.

Our former pastor, Rev. John Waldron, was blessed with wisdom and intellect. He was an “invitation” sent my way. Father Waldron was so smart, he’d often answer my question with a question.

One day, I approached him after mass with a dilemma. He was collecting bulletins left behind in the pews. After hearing my predicament, Father Waldron responded by posing a question for me to consider. A few moments passed, and a “light bulb” went off.

With gratitude, I left the church smiling peacefully. Father Waldron continued picking up bulletins.  

Young people willing to share their ideas are inspirational “invitations.” Recently, a student I met expressed his reservation about the words in the Nicene Creed recited at Mass, “One holy catholic and apostolic Church.” He didn’t accept the idea that the Catholic Church is the only holy and apostolic Church on Earth. Unlike me at his age, he was interested in discerning truth, and he knew that a creed is a statement of personal belief.

I enjoyed telling him, “The definition of the word ‘catholic’ is ‘universal:’ involving all and having sympathies with all.” When he look at me skeptically, and I added, “Look it up. I wouldn’t say it either, if I didn’t believe it.”

My husband, Mike, and I enjoy traveling. A benefit of belonging to a worldwide Church is that there’s always a Mass nearby.

It’s amusing that, regardless of how many thousands of times Catholics go to Mass, we often forget when to sit, stand and kneel. We struggle to name the seven sacraments or how Catholicism differs from other Christian faiths.

Most of us don’t accept the “invitation” to Mass for the dogma, doctrine or ritual. We go to worship God with other forgiven sinners, to receive the Eucharist, to hear the Gospel and to be reminded that God is with us and for us.   

Books are also “invitations.” I recently enjoyed “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” by Jordan Peterson. Peterson acknowledges that “life is suffering,” and offers ideas with hope-filled common sense. His teachings have been embraced by millions.

My favorite chapter was titled, “Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.” I took Peterson’s advice to listen and learned something astounding: America is one of only three countries in the entire world that allows DTC (Direct to Consumer) advertising of pharmaceutical drugs, with product claims.

On that note, I highly recommend a pill that has been proven miraculously effective without any negative side effects. It’s my personal favorite: the chill pill.

Life is hard for everybody and, whether it looks like it or not, God is in control. Heaven-sent invitations are everywhere. We ought to RSVP quickly and arrive early.  

(Mrs. Bonanno attends St. Mary’s parish in Albany and can be reached at berni@nycap.rr.com.)