DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN     October 9-11, 1998     vol. 9, no. 198


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          With the messages for the world having been concluded three years ago, slowly the public "Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart" has been able to return to the fullness of being Cyndi Cain, wife and mother (roles she never abandoned even for a moment during the public years). However, after much prayer and discernment, she feels strongly that there is much God wishes her to share, for He continually teaches us in our hearts and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, we are to share, to learn, to grow and to be there for one another, as He is always there for us.

          In each weekend issue she hopes to find the time in a busy schedule of caring for a sick child, schooling another son, and the regular work of keeping up a home not to mention helping with the ministry, to write a few lines in sharing with all the experiences and lessons learned in her own introspection. Cyndi has chosen to call her few words, humble and poor in the face of the Almighty, "SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING", for He has placed these words in her heart. To suffer: How all hate the thought, and how, when one is a mother who is faced with the onset of an illness for which the cure may be years away we feel our hearts break in many places. Yet, God hears a beautiful melody here. The angels hear it, too, and so do the saints. The melody reaches to the Heavens and joins with the unending chorus of all the hosts of Heaven praising God. It is Cyndi's sincerest hope that perhaps, together with the reader, we can take our sufferings, which are different yet similar, and place them into this great hymn of praise to the Creator, our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, and learn to make beautiful music unto the Lord. Below is her twentieth sonata.

There can be no Symphony of Suffering if we try to evade our crosses

          This weekend, Blessed Edith Stein will be canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II. This is a momentous occasion for all of us; it is an occasion to which we should pay close attention. The Roman Catholic Church may not call us to canonization. However, that does not mean we are not called to be a saint-for we are, each one of us.

          Edith Stein's life has been examined minutely by the Holy See. The prescribed miracles have been worked through her intercession to the satisfaction of a rigorous panel within the Curia. We see the tale end of her life, as a Carmelite Nun, who was sent to the gas chamber along with many other Jewish women, for she was born a Jew. We see the maturity of her faith culminated in the acceptance of her death, in the fulfillment of her commitment to Jesus Christ by dying, not so much for being a Jew (even if the Nazis thought that), but for having converted to Catholicism, by radically changing her life, and touching the lives of so many around her. And that conversion did not begin in the death camp; it began long before when Edith, intellectual and educated, had to choose between the paradox of religious belief versus the materialistic society of her time - the time of post World War I and the hatefulness of World War II. We see the life of Edith Stein in its completion, now glorified for the honor and glory of God by canonization. Edith Stein's life was one of suffering, and she learned how to make a beautiful symphony from that suffering. Now, we here on earth see the perfection of that melody, and wonder how we're ever going to achieve such a thing in our own poor lives.

          Pondering on this, last Sunday I watched, along with my husband, a program aired on ABC's "20/20" about Audrey Santo, the girl/child lying in a coma-like state in Massachusetts, to whom miraculous events have been attributed.

          Before I go any further, I want to say that the Church has made no official ruling on this matter, but has placed it under formal investigation, which is still moving forward, so the final decision rests with the Church. However, from what I saw, from what my soul heard and saw, I personally am convinced that the story shown on this program focused not on one, but on two saints of our own time.

          The first, of course, is Audrey, who at the tender age of three fell into the swimming pool and drowned. She has been in a coma ever since, and the medical professionals long-ago told Audrey's mother to pull the plug. The child may or may not be conscious of what goes on around her. That's not the point. That she is an innocent child, having committed no actual sin in her life, having still the purity of her baptism upon her soul, God has chosen to work through her to heal so many others who come in faith to seek their God.

          But the other saint, the one that most overlook, is Audrey's mother. If you happened to see the show, then perhaps you caught that, too. If not, it would be difficult to put into words here what was said (or perhaps not said) about Linda Santo, the untiring mother of such great faith who has worked all of these years to tend her daughter, with prayer always on her lips.

          As I watched the program I saw two very similar saints, and both had patience of a heroic nature - Linda who cares round the clock for her daughter, and the daughter who lies in a coma-like state, unable to move, to eat, or anything else…yet she is not dead. She is being held in God's hands, and He uses her, and no one, no doctor on earth, knows how much that little child suffers for the sake of His Sorrowful Passion.

          On the other hand, Linda Santo is a living example of the Beatitudes, the Great Commandment, of the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ. She embodies heroic virtues that go beyond mere words to describe, and she does so with kindness, gentleness, and with faith so strong that no one has been able to knock it down in all the years of suffering she has endured. The symphony of suffering in the Santo household is unique in many ways for God has chosen to pinpoint this household as an example of the exquisite charity we must all have for one another, the absolute respect for life we must possess, and the undying faith in Him that is paramount in our salvation.

          Is it any wonder, then, that the walls themselves weep oil? Is it any wonder that statues and pictures weep oil, that there are tears of oil, of water and of blood that seep, unexplained by any scientific method, from the same statues, crosses, and icons?

          Does it matter that the doubters and detractors are still looking for a way to prove the entire scenario is fraudulent? God will win out in the end, but in the meantime, the symphony that the Santo household offers up to God each day is an example for all of us.

          As mothers, we should see in the example of Linda Santo a model of the same motherhood that the Blessed Virgin Mary was to Jesus and is to us this day. For fathers, we must look at the repentant father who returned to face the state his daughter is in, and might well remain in for years to come, to the fact that God has chosen to use little Audrey to bring His healing graces to many others. The normal life that any family seeks does not exist for the Santo family. Does normalcy exist in any family today? Are we not all, in some manner, diseased by the misuse of technology, the presence of illness of varying degrees, and the corruptness of the society in which we live?

          Look at the life of the Santo family. There lies Audrey, day after day, coma-like, yet a true instrument that has brought her sanctity, and has brought sanctity to her own family. It is not a question for us to determine whose suffering is the greater-Audrey's or that of her family. That is up to God. What we should look at, if we wish our own daily symphony of suffering to have dignity and beauty before the Throne of God is the manner in which each accepts the cross, the manner in which each responds to the grace God gives to keep moving forward in faith, hope, trust and love.

          These essential ingredients are the core of the life of our soul. If we neglect them, if we discard them preferring the materialistic society in which we live, then we are in our own coma, but unlike little Audrey, our coma is a deadly one, for it brings on the death of the soul.

          Let us, in the coming week, take our eyes off ourselves, and place them upon God, where they belong. Then, through prayer, let us examine our own lives, and see those crosses, which have been given to us by God. In so doing, we will be better able to hear what melody we are giving back to God-a beautiful song of praise and thanks, or one of bitterness and complaint. If you find that your song is the former, then give more praise and thanks and ask for the grace to go forward. If it is, by chance, the latter, then it is not too late to get in tune and form your life into a symphony of such celestial music that the angels harmonize with you.

          Edith Stein wove a beautiful melody, which will never end for her. Little Audrey is doing the same, and the melody woven each day by her mother is of such Heavenly notes that we, in our humanity, are embarrassed, even shocked by its beauty. We shouldn't be. Instead, we should look upon it as a true sign of what God expects of each of us in our every day life, and then we should strive to do it. God is the one who brings all things to Perfection, as he did with Edith Stein, as he is doing for Audrey, for Linda Santo, and the entire Santo family. Let us join then with the Heavenly choir and sing in joy because we do suffer, and not because we flee from it.

Cyndi Cain

October 9-11, 1998       volume 9, no. 198


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