Feb 20, 2023 |
By Drucilla Coghill
I have a colorful scar from a serious illness. When I first got sick, I delayed going to the doctor for treatment because, at the time, I didn’t recognize the meaning of the symptoms I experienced in my body. However, my doctor now says there is a 50% chance of having this problem again, so I’ve been on high alert for symptoms ever since. Going to the doctor as soon as I notice something will (hopefully) keep it from becoming so acute.
Periodically I notice a slight ache or pain. When this happens, I immediately pay attention to every symptom and try to assess if the illness is coming back. But I’ve noticed that the scar area will hurt for a little while and then go away. Now that I’ve realized moderate discomfort doesn’t signal impending doom, it’s become a source of amusement. (I guess that’s been my way of keeping myself from being overly anxious).
I’ve chosen to look at it as though it were Frodo’s stab wound from Weathertop in The Lord of the Rings. Because the injury profoundly affected Frodo, it occasionally bothers him on anniversaries and other significant days. In this spirit, I’ve chosen to view this sporadic pain as a reminder of what I’ve been through and an invitation to prayer and gratitude.
As I pondered this phenomenon, I realized it might be helpful for me to view other parts of my life in a similar fashion. After returning from the convent, I was extremely distraught and in a great deal of misery. Fortunately, as time has gone on, this has slackened. But on occasion, I am still confronted with a dull pang of sadness or some other emotion.
This used to make me fearful because I wondered if I was about to spiral back into the crying, mourning, and active grief. But now I recognize that it’s simply a reminder of a very significant event in my life.
I need these reminders because I have a tendency to want to rush forward to the next thing, especially if the previous time was difficult. For example, I say: “Being sick was awful, but I feel better now, so I’d prefer to forget about it.” Or, “My time in religious life radically changed the course of my life, but can I please just move on?”
But then that twinge of sorrow, longing, or ache hits me. Sometimes it’s more subtle than others. But I need to give heed to these feelings. If you ignore a small child tugging on your clothing and wanting to be noticed, he or she will either start screaming or tragically give up.
I don’t want my important life experiences to suffer from either extreme. Instead, I need to let that gentle nudge be enough to help me remember what I’ve been through and show reverence, love, and respect to my experience. I now see that it’s an invitation to pray for deeper healing and grieve this time more fully.
Let us all pray for each other during these times, especially when memories unexpectedly pop up. When you are confronted with old pain, how do you respond? I would love to hear about it.
Feb 9, 2023 |
I knelt on the floor of the chapel in my favorite spot – next to a pillar near the front, hidden from view of most of the chapel, but near the tabernacle. Almost immediately Jesus’ words from the Gospel of Luke surfaced in my mind: “And he said to them in reply, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.’” (Luke 7:22).
What was also clear was that these healings would form five mysteries to meditate on through the Rosary (or six – to include “the poor have the good news proclaimed to them” if you pray a Brigittine Rosary). Praying with these mysteries has opened my eyes to just how much Jesus can and will heal me.
There are ways where spiritually I cannot see, and Jesus wants to heal that blindness. There are times when I want to follow Him, but cannot because of brokenness that is keeping me from moving. He desires to heal that too. When I feel untouchable because of my sins and failings He makes me clean again – especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation where my soul is washed clean by His Blood.
There are so many ways Jesus desires to make me whole again, and this redemption is at work even now. Healing sometimes isn’t easy. Sometimes there is the fear of disappointment, or wondering if the remedy will be more painful than the malady, or knowing that to be healed means that life will be changed and there is no going back.
As I pray with these mysteries, I sometimes sense Him ask me in my heart, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6) and with each mystery I ask for the grace to say, “Yes, Lord. I want to be healed.”
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First Mystery: The Blind Regain Their Sight (Luke 18:35-43)
Now as he approached Jericho a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging, and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!” Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He replied, “Lord, please let me see.” Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.” He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God. When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God.
Second Mystery: The Lame Walk (Luke 5:17-26)
One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set [him] in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.”
Third Mystery: Lepers are Cleansed (Luke 5:12-16)
Now there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where he was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately. Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.
Fourth Mystery: The Deaf Hear (Mark 7:31-37)
Again he left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”) And [immediately] the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. 37They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and [the] mute speak.”
Fifth Mystery: The Dead are Raised (John 11:38-44)
So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.