SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING column for September 12, 2000
SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today, I wish to share with all of you the graces that come to us when we, as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, attend Holy Mass. This was vividly brought home to me on the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. On this special Marian Feast, the Octave of the Solemnity of the Assumption, we celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass along with the Healing and Anointing of the Sick. It was a solemn Mass, and while there weren't many people there, nonetheless, I felt the powerful intercession of Mary for all of her children, and upon my family and myself.
During the anointing, standing with Michael, Kevin and Kellin, I know that all of us prayed for ourselves to be healed in whatever manner God chose for us, and we also asked for healing for our Kevin, who is suffering from a total emotional breakdown which occurred two years ago. The graces that God showered on Kevin were as a flood of brilliant light. I was given the grace to see these graces, and I was so overcome with emotion at the moment that I could not stop the tears from flowing. Kevin was in a particularly bad state this morning, and Mike and I had to help him to the altar where he was prayed over, and then, a little later, we processed back to the altar where we were all anointed with holy oil. When I returned to my seat, I was given an interior vision of the Mercy of God in a manner in which I would understand the fathomless Mercy of our God and Our Lord and the Holy Spirit. I saw, in this interior vision, Almighty God seated upon His throne. Upon His lap were Mike, Kellin and I. We appeared in this vision to be about three to four years old…in other words as little children. Then, I saw that God had cradled in His Arms a tiny baby, wrapped in baby blue blankets, and I knew that this was our son, Kevin. God's Merciful eyes rested upon all of us, and to Mike and I He said: "Thank you!" I knew in that instance that our son Kevin is as a baby in God's arms, that He is guarded, loved infinitely, and that the pain of Kevin's illness, for himself and for us, has not gone unnoticed by God. In fact, I knew in my soul just how much God is pleased when any of us shoulder the crosses of life and give them to God with joy and with peace, trusting in Him totally, with utter confidence and absolute Love.
How often do we say to ourselves or in spoken words: "God, I love you"!!!
Do we think about this during the day, or are we unaware of God's presence in the stress and routine of daily life? God wants us to think of Him all the time. Impossible, you say! On the contrary, it should and must be the only thing we are truly, deeply thinking about even in the midst of work, of play, and even in rest and recreation. Yet, for so many, the idea of thinking about God all the time is marked by some unrealistic picture of an already canonized Saint on his or her knees, in Church, before the tabernacle, or in a prie-dieu in a tiny room, with candlelight glowing before a statue or picture of Christ.
Why that is a good picture, it is not necessarily the whole truth of holiness. Those called to the consecrated life, in contemplation, etc, do spend many hours in prayer; we who are not called to the consecrated life are no less called to such holiness. How do we go about this? By knowing, in the intellect of our soul, exactly what we are, the good and the bad. All the good comes from God and is not ours, but His gift to us. The bad may and does consist of faults, character weaknesses, and our own personal sins. These things we must know and recognize, and acknowledge before God before we can become as little children, who are not worried about a thundering Zeus of a god that threatens us with thunderbolts if we stray from the path. So many, many people I've known and still know are paralyzed in their spiritual life by this image of a threatening God who will smote us with fire and brimstone if we fall out of line. Yes, God is all just, and we must account for anything we have willfully done against His Most Holy and Perfect Will. Are we going to wait until we die, when we have our Personal Judgment, to acknowledge our sins, or are we going to do it now, while we still have time to change our ways, to make atonement for our sins, and to gain graces to strengthen us so we don't fall into sin again?
Personally, God has worked in my soul so many graces that I do think about Him all day long. In everything I do, in everything I say, in the way I act or do not act or speak, I am thinking of Him. He is there, holding my hand, guiding me along the rough road of being a mom of two teenage sons in a world gone mad. He is there to comfort me, to uplift me, to ennoble me when I am feeling down, and to instruct me when I have displeased Him. So very often I go to confession to repeat the same sorry laundry list of faults that I've been confessing since my first confession. Only after our trip to Lourdes did I come to a more complete understanding of what sin really is, and what is the difference between the sin and the character fault, or failing. No one is perfect. Only God and the Blessed Mother were perfect that is, without sin. We all sin!!! But there is a big difference between faults and sins, and we need to understand this difference, for in this understanding we build up the Mystical Body of Christ, rather than tear it down.
All of this came to my heart that morning at Mass, during the anointing, and particularly during Holy Communion. Why? To remind me anew of my own weaknesses, to confirm humility of heart to me, to renew me, and to make me even more humble, for I possess nothing of myself. Whatever good there is in me, is God's gift, and the sins I have committed…well, let me just say that I have learned first-hand that in making a good confession, true contrition of heart is necessary in order to receive the fullness of God's mercy, to erase the sin, and to build up the soul as a fortress against any further sin. This holds true for both venial and mortal sin, and we must not become complacent about our venial sins, even though today many parishes downplay the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and even some priests go so far as to tell us that we shouldn't be going to the sacrament, because our venial sins are forgiven at the Mass. It's hard to realize this, because the new rubrics have taken out the words of absolution, but Holy Mother Church confirms to us that we are forgiven at this time of our venial sins. It is good, also, for us to confess our faults and weaknesses, in order to allow God's grace to flow into our soul, to recognize the weakness and fault and to work on them in the future. We may never conquer our faults and failings, but God expects us to make a tremendous lifelong effort in this regard, so that we are always humble of heart. We must seek humility of heart, and realize it is a grace given by God. We must learn to work with the graces God gives us, and to stop comparing ourselves to others who seem to be given more graces than we. God alone knows, He is free to give as He chooses, and our "job" is to always remain the little child, sitting on His lap, and loving Him with our whole being. It's not that hard. In fact the way of perfection is quite simple. It consists only of our willingness to be meek and humble of heart while having absolute trust and confidence in God.
In my next article I will expand further on what I experienced during this grace-filled Mass and service on Our Lady's special feastday when God rewarded His Blessed Mother for her total fiat by giving her the highest honor one could receive who is not Divine: Queen of Heaven and earth, of the angels and the saints.
Next issue: (Tuesday, September 19)
September 12, 2000
volume 11, no. 168
SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING
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