Saturday, June 25, 2011

Corpus Christi

“If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering.”  (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1804)

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Invisible Illuminated

For all who know well the feelings of solitude and isolation, misunderstanding and loneliness that come from living with an “invisible” illness of any kind, I offer you solace, I hope, in hosting the following video which portrays the hidden sufferings of so many. Though it is not specifically about Lyme disease, it may as well be for all its similarities to the illnesses featured.

As far as these illnesses are alike to what Lyme sufferers may experience, for my part I can attest, it is understandable that such disease can be, as the video states, experienced as "soul-destroying and demoralizing" in the absence of a deep sense of communion with Christ. Yet amidst our many and varied sufferings, hope and joy may be found in the remembrance of His presence therein and in the knowledge that what we suffer in union with Christ is purifying and restorative to the soul, not destructive.

We may recall that St. Paul tells us, "we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh." (2 Corinthians 4:7-11)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Good Friday Revisited

Today is Friday and on Fridays Catholics are encouraged by praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary, to meditate upon the sufferings of Christ in His Passion.  In the midst of my own prayerful reflections on our Lord today, my thoughts were turned to the reactions of the people closest to me upon learning of my diagnosis with Lyme disease.

One friend with whom I’d imagined I’d be able to break down and cry chastised me with disgust, feeling I had wrecked my vocation by going out and getting Lyme disease.  Another bewailed his own fate exclaiming: now you can’t take care of me!  And the third of my closest friends at that time was at first shocked, and clueless thereafter as to the daily battle that would ensue, being far removed from sight of me in a monastery.

Comparing these reactions to those that Christ encountered is fairly simple.  How many of His friends and disciples believed it was all over for Jesus when He entered into the agony of His Passion?  How many thought: this ruins everything?  And among His closest friends, His apostles, how many said to themselves: now you can’t take care of me?  How many were shocked by what they saw Him subject to?  How many whom He had known and loved in His life were not there to see His suffering, to witness what He went through, to understand, to care?      

And then, there were my parents.  My mother, watching me day after day, losing weight, limply crumpled over plates of food, who sat with me for as long as it took to get enough down my throat.  Who had to see my face sunken in, my eyes ringed with black, my gaze a glassy distant stare… and my father, who wept at the sight of the IV tubes hanging out of my arm, asking why not me instead? 

Mary saw all that Jesus went through and stood by Him, and went through it with Him, as did my mother with me.  Had Joseph been alive, would he not have wished it were him instead of Jesus?

As for penetrating the paschal mystery, we know that in His own way, the Father in heaven witnessed all that His Son endured, and He was with the Son, and the Son came for our sake to bear that suffering for us, like the earthly father Joseph would have wanted to do if he could have done, like my own father wanted to do for me.

Monday, June 6, 2011


What is successful in the eyes of God and what we account as success are not quite the same.  When we think of success in an endeavor, it produces the effect for which we have striven, or perhaps an even greater effect than we imagined possible.  Yet in God’s assessment, it is simply that we have surrendered ourselves wholly to His will that makes of our efforts a success. 

In the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, it is written that she had been given to see how much her confessor was to suffer in carrying out a work entrusted to him by God.  Sister Faustina questioned our Lord saying, “Jesus, this is Your affair, so why are You acting this way toward him?  It seems to me that You are making difficulties for him while at the same time ordering him to act.”  Jesus replied: “Write [in your diary] that by day and by night My gaze is fixed upon him and I permit these adversities in order to increase his merit.  I do not reward for good results but for the patience and hardship undergone for My sake.” (86)

We may have an idea of the way we think our lives will go and then something happens to change our course.  We’re shunted to another track or maybe derailed altogether.  We do what we think is right, expecting a certain type of outcome, and something different occurs.  Maybe we can begin to see and understand why and where it is leading, but then again, maybe not. 

When we surrender ourselves to the will of God, discerning it through prayer, through circumstance, through the results of our efforts to cooperate with His loving plan for us, whether it is possible to understand or not, the surrender itself is pleasing to Him who does not lead us into harm but shepherd’s us according to the best way for ourselves and those others whose lives and souls we touch by our own.

Though for many of us here, it is illness that has seemed to divert us from the path we intended to travel, our surrender to this change in our lives is compatible with His will, for it calls us to embrace with patience, a hardship.  For some of us, it is a short time we will pass through, for others of us, it will be an ongoing struggle, yet His gaze is fixed upon each of us in the knowledge of what we suffer, and not one splinter of the cross we bear which pricks our skin goes unnoticed by Him.       

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"Let Your Heart Listen"

“You are My beloved child.
Out of My own self I have created you.
My life is your life;
My breath is your breath;
My Spirit is your spirit.
There is nothing to fear, for I am with you,
mighty in the midst of you.

I am the life that heals you.
I am the love that lifts your heart and sets you free.
I am the wisdom of your mind.  I am the light of your path.
I am the peace of your soul.

I am with you dear child, through every hour
of the day and the night, standing with you,
upholding you, supporting you,
revealing Myself to you and through you.

I am the love that will not let you go.
I seek you out when you do not know how to reach Me.
I speak in your heart to comfort you.
I am the life of your body, and My life is perfect and eternal.
Trust Me.  I am your health.

I am with you in all the experiences of your life.
I am the power in you to understand;
I am the power in you to forgive;
I am the power in you to become.

Beloved, I am with you.
Live in Me.  Rejoice in Me.
You are My beloved child.”

(From a parish bulletin)