Archive for the ‘suffering’ Category

Have you ever been “wrecked?”

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

I have launched a new blog known as Be As One: A Single Flow … and wanted to share with you a review of an important new book. Come on over and read the review and see what else Be As One has to offer you.

 

Pain, suffering and sacrifice are dirty words in today’s world, meant to be avoided at all costs. In the process, the meaning and value have been lost.

Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life, the impressive debut book by blogger Jeff Goins not only restores the meaning to suffering and sacrifice, but exhorts the reader to value, embrace and learn from them.

What does it mean to be “wrecked?”

Click here to find out.

 

Click to Tweet & Share: Jeff Goins’ impressive debut book, Wrecked, “slams” into life as we know it http://wp.me/p2D9hg-1k

 

Would you like to learn along with Susan how to live your life in single flow?
Send an email to susanwbailey@gmail.com
to subscribe, and never miss a post!
Follow Susan on Facebook and Twitter
Listen to Susan’s music Read Susan’s blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

The beautiful heart of St. Paul

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Reflection on today’s readings (May 23, 2012) Acts 20:28-38; Psalm 68:29-30,33-36, John 17:11-19

Many women do not like St. Paul. I am not one of them.

Ever since I asked St. Paul to intercede for me for a special need (more on that in a moment), I have found myself reflecting on his life, his writings, and his enormous contribution to Christianity.

From Acts Chapter 20

Today’s reading from Acts moved me deeply. I found myself welling up as I imagined Paul’s impassioned plea to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus. Knowing they would never see them again, they wept openly, throwing their arms around him and kissing him.

Saying goodbye

Any mother knows the pain of an empty nest when the son or daughter leaves home for the last time. You struggle to hold it in so you won’t embarrass yourself and often times you just can’t help it. I had said what I thought was the final goodbye a few times to my son, first when he went off to college and lastly, when he moved to a neighboring town. That last time was especially hard. Now he is moving out of state at the end of the summer and I haven’t dared to begin thinking about that yet!

Paul’s attributes

What I love about St. Paul is his commitment, love and fortitude. This man emptied himself each and every day out of love for his Lord, but also for love of the people he was sent to minister to. There was never any hesitation. He never pulled back, never worried about what others would think of him. He was focused only on pleasing his Lord.

Knowing who you are

Paul was fully aware of what he had been. He had been forgiven of some pretty horrendous sins and he never forgot to be grateful for the privilege of carrying the Good News. That gratefulness acted like gasoline on the fire of his love.

A special intercessor

I especially love St. Paul’s focus and the example he uses of the marathon runner with the eye on the prize. About a year ago, for some reason, I asked  St. Paul to intercede for me for a very specific intention. I asked him to run beside me whenever I found myself stuck in traffic when I desperately needed to relieve myself. Because of a medical condition, this happens frequently. The pain is unlike any I’ve known and the emotional distress makes the pain more acute.

At the first sign of trouble, I call upon St. Paul to run beside me and we run together. Taking on his focus, my emotions are controlled and the pain is less acute. As a result of these encounters, I have developed an affection for St. Paul which has caused me to read more carefully the extraordinary writings which built on the foundation of our faith.

Empty, and beautiful

It is no wonder that the presbyters at Ephesus felt such a strong connection with Paul who, for 3 years, had spent his life for them. Each day, he was empty, and beautiful.

And I think of that man, that saint, running beside me, comforting me in my little trouble. How good our God is to provide these wonderful saints for us!

Matt Maher, a Christian singer and songwriter, recorded a wonderful song about St. Paul that he called Empty and Beautiful. As you watch the video below, think on today’s reading and the man who knew exactly who he was and what had been given to him. He knew too what to give back and why.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhaHB1Cad_4

God works through the least of His creatures

Monday, September 5th, 2011

This is the story of the tiniest of crises in my life: a tale of a cat. And how God is right there in the middle of this most trivial of moments.

If you are an animal lover, you may disagree that this crisis is small. If you’re not, you’ll know exactly what I mean! :-)

It began 4 weeks ago when I had to take my elderly cat, Bacci in for his physical. Although Bacci had a history of being super sensitive to the slightest change in his routine, I felt he would manage with a physical.

As expected, Bacci was so fearful of the exam that he was shaking, and purred to comfort himself. At 14 he had lost significant weight and had developed an infection due to scratching around his mouth (his gums were bothering him). The vet cleaned up the area around his mouth, put a cone around his head, prescribed antibiotics, and then told me he had a hyperactive thyroid that needed treatment (the cause of the weight loss). I was upset to see the cone because I knew deep down this would never fly. I was so right!

Bacci became unhinged after that visit. He couldn’t cope with the cone and began acting out (by not using the litter box) until I had to remove the cone. The antibiotic did not agree with him and as a result, he was losing more weight. I could see that he was spiraling downward (something I had seen in previous elderly cats) and felt the end was coming. It did come, 1 week and 3 days after the annual physical.

I was devastated. Usually I have my husband doing the “dirty deed” but he wasn’t home. I could feel myself becoming unhinged as I prepared to take Bacci to the vet for the last time.

I felt silly calling upon Jesus and Mary to see me through this but I knew if I didn’t call upon the Lord now, I wouldn’t call on Him for more important matters. I began to pray to His mother for intercession and immediately I felt her unique touch of peace. I just wanted to hold it together so I could follow through with what I knew needed to be done. Bacci was suffering terribly and putting him down was the right decision.

After it was done, I cried and cried. Bacci had been adopted from my mother’s nursing home and I felt guilty that I had not been able to provide him with the peaceful life I promised. Bacci had had a tough time in our home as he was not used to other cats, and the other cats sensed weakness in him and tormented him. I felt it my mission to make this cat feel safe, showering him with attention, hugs and kisses. And ironically, just before the physical, he seemed to have reached a happier place. It was a bitter end to the story.

It was also the last physical tie to my mother and I began grieving over her all over again.

Such a small matter, putting down a cat. So many people are hurting in this world and I lose it over a cat!

And here I discovered that the Lord is truly in the midst of everything in our lives, right down to the most trivial of details. He showered me with unspeakable graces and consolation, even in this smallest of crises. My daughter came home on a dime when I called to tell her of Bacci’s fate. My son sent me a beautiful letter telling me that my care of Bacci despite all the difficulties showed him the example of kindness and gentleness that he wanted to emulate.

God’s light had actually shown through me by the care of one of His creatures. This trivial matter was used to broaden my heart and show others that love.

I learned through Bacci that God will use anything and everything to demonstrate His gracious, abounding and unending love.

Truly, God IS in everything!

Here I wrote a tribute to Bacci if you’d like to know more about this sweet cat of mine.

 

Enjoying this blog? Subscribe by email and never miss
a post! Receive also updates on Susan’s ministry.

Part 10: beautiful Godly woman – the gift of healing

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

In following up on the previous post, the sacrament of Reconciliation is a one of healing, directed at the soul. The Church provides another sacrament that addresses physical ailments and their emotional and spiritual dimensions in the Anointing of the Sick. Genevieve Kineke, in The Authentic Catholic Woman reminds us that this sacrament is far more than than the giving of last rites:

  • It grants the sick person peace and courage to bear the infirmity
  • It helps the sick person to recognize that the infirmity is linked directly to Christ
  • It binds together the sick person with the community as we all come together to pray for the sick and offer up their infirmities
  • When given at the point of death, it gives the sick person grace for the journey

(pages 35-36, The Authentic Catholic Woman)

Kineke maintains that women by necessity are especially skilled at offering healing since it usually falls to them to care for their families (page 36, Ibid). From nursing babies to caring for children with the cold or flu, to taking care of elderly parents, women have many opportunities to offer healing and comfort to others. A natural outgrowth of this is the nursing profession (although it didn’t emerge as a profession until the Civil War). While the doctor may diagnose the ailment and perform the procedures necessary for the healing, the nurse is the one who administers the vital care, both physical and emotional.

There are so many opportunities to be the image of Jesus to the sick, both in taking care of physical needs and spiritual ones. Sickness makes one very vulnerable, and possibly open to spiritual matters. Thus, taking care of of the sick is a corporate work of mercy that mirrors the Church in its concern for the soul (page 38, Ibid).

I recall reading a book by my favorite author, Louisa May Alcott, about her experiences as one of the first nurses in the Civil War. Louisa was itching to serve her country and would have fought had she been permitted to, but instead, took care of the wounded. Her book, Hospital Sketches, her first real success as an author, tells poignant tales of her encounters with the soldiers. She wrote of bathing their wounds, administering medicines, writing letters to loved ones, or just holding the hand of soldiers as they died and offering comfort. Alcott was gifted at nursing, having cared for her dying sister Elizabeth (Beth of Little Women ). Her care of the soldiers was indeed a corporate work of mercy.
(If you wish to read more about Louisa May Alcott as a Civil War nurse, check out my blog called Louisa May Alcott is My Passion.)

Some of my fondest memories of my mother were of her taking care of me when I was sick. She was the best. Although my mother (because of her New England Yankee heritage) was not normally physically affectionate, I could so feel her love and care whenever I was sick. She was extremely thoughtful. I recall as a child, lying on the couch sick, and she came home from shopping with a special book for me called The Littlest Angel. Even now thinking of that book, I feel an urge to cry because the love shown by the gift of that book touched my heart so deeply. Caring for the sick involves such little acts of love and they mean so very much.

When my mother became elderly, I was able to return the favor. I did not immediately embrace the job but rather grew into it. It was hard watching her fading away and even more difficult knowing that she suffered from despair, having no faith in God and even, at times, being hostile to the idea of God. She was not easy to be with but I know she appreciated whatever I could do (along with my sister and brother).

Despite dementia and a morphine haze, my mother knew that we loved her and demonstrated that love to my sister the day before she died through a look she gave to her. My sister was able to discern the meaning of that look and knew my mother had communicated, “I love you” and “thank you” through her eyes.

The Lord orchestrated a way for my mother to receive last rites from the only priest she ever trusted, the one who had ministered to my father. My sister and I were both at the ER when my mother was brought in but the nurse approached me, asking if we wanted to bring in a priest or minister. I hesitated momentary because I knew my mother would object but then decided that since I was the one being asked, I would say “yes.” That “yes” brought in Fr. Giggi and I knew from then on my mother would be okay. As mentioned before, the administration of last rites grants the dying the grace to make the journey. I actually didn’t know that at the time but now as I write this, I see that granting my mother the ability to receive last rites helped her on her journey home to God. It was something I had prayed for in earnest for years.

Miracles happen every day in the smallest ways. In some ways, these are the greatest and sweetest miracles. It is a constant reminder that the details really do matter. God works through us in the small things of life. Offering the comfort of healing to others really gets down to the nitty gritty of imitating our Lord. He rarely healed from afar but most times touched the person He was healing. How fortunate we are as women to have been especially gifted with the ability to offer healing to others! It is the most beautiful of gifts.

*******************************************************

Links to all posts in this 11 part series

Part 1: Discovering the beauty of woman through the eyes of God – a multi-part series

Part 2: The beauty of a Godly woman – learning to say “Yes.”

Part 3: What makes a beautiful Godly woman – Holiness.

Part 4: What makes a beautiful Godly woman? The way of beauty

Part 5: What makes a beautiful Godly woman? Modeling ourselves after Holy Mother Church

Part 6: Beautiful Godly woman – living sacramentally

Part 7: Beautiful Godly woman – hospitality

Part 8: Becoming a beautiful Godly woman – how meal times can become a beautiful sacramental expression

Part 9: A beautiful Godly woman is an agent of reconciliation

Part 10: beautiful Godly woman – the gift of healing

Part 11: Conclusion – Becoming a beautiful Godly woman – the journey is just beginning

 

 

Part 9: A beautiful Godly woman is an agent of reconciliation

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Woman’s intuition is sometimes scoffed at, but as women, we know that we possess something akin to radar when it comes to sensing the moods and needs of others. In chapter 3 of  The Authentic Catholic Woman, Genevieve Kineke draws the connection between the sacrament of reconciliation and the unique ability of women to sense hurts and needs, and offer healing. Knowing how to build bridges that heal rifts in relationships brings others closer to our Lord, making us as women agents of reconciliation (pg. 32, The Authentic Catholic Woman).

Jesus as the supreme agent of reconciliation died on the cross to take on the sins of the world. Even as He was dying, He forgave those who crucified Him (“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”) and offered salvation to the penitent thief through forgiveness. The prayer which He Himself taught the apostles says, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us . . .” We are required to be such agents of reconciliation in order to receive the same from our Heavenly Father. In everything we do, we are to imitate Christ, and what better way than to offer healing through our abilities as peacemakers.

We all know that family life is full of conflict, both large and small (pg. 32, The Authentic Catholic Woman). Nothing hurts more than a falling out between a husband and wife, or a parent and child. Since we are the most vulnerable with regards to members of our family, we are open to being hurt emotionally and sometimes physically. The rifts in the family (the domestic Church) are a small reminder of the disunity in the universal Church, and the pain we feel is the pain Christ knew over these conflicts. Kineke reminds us to unite our own sufferings with Christ as the work of restoration is hard, involving much suffering (pg 33, Ibid).

In the end it comes down to love versus fear, and only love can offer reconciliation and renewal. Fears of getting involved or getting hurt serve only to block reconciliation from happening. We have to step out boldly to affect reconciliation.

I have to admire my two cousins, sons of my father’s brother. For some reason which we will never know (since my uncle has since passed on), my uncle became very angry with our family after my father passed away. At the time it seemed like a small slight with regards to funeral preparations, but it blew up into a feud. It was irrational (and perhaps based on the fact that we did not reach out enough when he lost his wife to cancer years ago), but because it was irrational, I immediately let it go. There was no point in holding on to it. I was sad that he no longer wanted anything to do with us, but reaching out was fruitless.

Or was it? When my aunt (his sister) passed away, we all went to the wake and funeral. During the wake, we spoke at length with my uncle’s oldest son who is truly an extraordinary man. He decided not to involve himself in his father’s feud with us and was very gracious to us (even through my uncle tried to perpetuate the feud even during the wake!). At the dinner after the funeral, I could see how the younger son was torn between loyalty to his father and the absurdity of the feud.

Unfortunately the feud was never reconciled as my uncle was not interested in resolving it or even discussing it. But his sons continued to reach out to us and we to them with Christmas cards and lovely sympathy cards from each of them after my mother’s passing. While it was not possible to reconcile with my uncle, the feud died with him because his sons were willing to take the chance and reach out. I am eternally grateful to the both of them, and their mother would have been proud. Perhaps she, in her spot in heaven, helped to act as the agent of reconciliation between the two families. We’ll find out when we all meet again.

Remembering my brave nephews reminds me that it is always worth it to stick your neck out and try to affect reconciliation. This is what Jesus’ mission was all about and it needs to be my personal mission as well.

*******************************************************

Links to all posts in this 11 part series

Part 1: Discovering the beauty of woman through the eyes of God – a multi-part series

Part 2: The beauty of a Godly woman – learning to say “Yes.”

Part 3: What makes a beautiful Godly woman – Holiness.

Part 4: What makes a beautiful Godly woman? The way of beauty

Part 5: What makes a beautiful Godly woman? Modeling ourselves after Holy Mother Church

Part 6: Beautiful Godly woman – living sacramentally

Part 7: Beautiful Godly woman – hospitality

Part 8: Becoming a beautiful Godly woman – how meal times can become a beautiful sacramental expression

Part 9: A beautiful Godly woman is an agent of reconciliation

Part 10: beautiful Godly woman – the gift of healing

Part 11: Conclusion – Becoming a beautiful Godly woman – the journey is just beginning

 

Contemporary Example of True Shepherds

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Reflections on the readings for February, 22, 2011
1 Peter 5:1-4; Psalm 23:1-6; Matthew 16:13-19

Yesterday I saw the most wonderful article in the Boston Globe about the archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley. He was sent to Ireland to represent the  Church and offer sincere apologies with regards to the sex abuse scandal there. The Church in Ireland has been deeply wounded by this scandal, even as we have felt it here in America and especially in the Boston area where the story broke and was extensively covered by the Boston Globe.

Therefore it was especially welcome to see coverage of this story in said Boston Globe, and on the front cover too, above the fold. It is the perfect reflection of what a true shepherd in Church ought to be as pointed out in today’s first reading from 1Peter:

Beloved:
I exhort the presbyters among you,
as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ
and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.
Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

The article by Lisa Wangness begins as such:

DUBLIN — Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin lay prostrate before a bare altar as the packed cathedral watched in silence.

They listened as lectors read long sections of government reports detailing horrific abuse of children in Dublin parishes and church-run industrial schools.

Then O’Malley and Martin washed the feet of eight abuse victims. Several wept as Martin poured water from a large pitcher and O’Malley knelt and dried them with a white terry cloth towel.

Anyone familiar with the story of the Washing of the Feet, read on Holy Thursday liturgy, knows that Jesus was teaching his disciples true service and humility. He was putting the disciples in positions of authority and wanted to make sure they understood that being in authority meant to serve. Washing someone’s dirty feet (and in ancient times, they were especially dirty!), normally a slave’s job, was the perfect example of true service and humility.

Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Martin understood that. They knew that if the Church in Ireland, and around the world, was to begin to heal, that they would need to show the ultimate sign of humility towards the sex abuse victims. Thanks be to God that they were open to the Holy Spirit enough to show this sign.

This is what St. Peter meant in his writing to the Church; he knew firsthand because the Lord had shown him, even though he initially resisted.

May more shepherds be like these two men – not just clergy, but all shepherds, for we all tend our little flocks.

Here is a link to the entire story.

Update on baby Joseph – keep the prayers coming!

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Thank the Lord and our Lady for interceding for baby Joseph – there has been a temporary stay on pulling the plug:

Baby Joseph saved from life support removal –
transfer to Michigan hospital likely

Today’s gospel reading from Mk 9:14-29 is the perfect reading to reflect upon for this miracle – the father of the boy possessed by the demon cries out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” Later, Jesus tells the disciples that this type of demon can only be driven out by prayer.

It appears this demon responds to prayer as well. Let us keep up the fight, and I will keep you informed.

Pray for baby Joseph and his family

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Baby Joseph cannot breathe on his own and the hospital plans on pulling the plug at 10am on Monday. The parents only want a tracheotomy done to remove the ventilator so they can take him home and have him die with them. This is such a sad story, but a frightening one too. Please visit this link on Facebook, “Like” it, and offer your prayers for this poor family.

Here is an article about what is happening.

If you don’t have Facebook, please offer prayers for this family. The time when the plug is the be pulled is rapidly approaching.

Only prayer can turn this around. Thanks.

Endurance – reflection on readings for Friday, Jan. 30, 2011

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Today’s readings
Hebrews 10:32-39, Psalm 37:3-6,23-24,39-40; Mark 4:26-34

“You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.”

So says verse 36 of today’s first reading from Hebrews. That line stuck out at me because I heard something very similar today while praying the rosary while vocalizing the spiritual fruits of the fourth and fifth sorrowful mysteries – “patience” and “final perseverance.” Both “patience” and “perseverance” are listed as synonyms of the word “endurance.” And just what does “endurance” mean? Here’s the dictionary definition:

  1. the fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc.
  2. the ability or strength to continue or last, esp. despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina: He has amazing physical endurance.
  3. lasting quality; duration: His friendships have little endurance.
  4. something endured, as a hardship; trial.

In this reading from Hebrews, Paul is admonishing the people to maintain their fervor for Christ. He cites how they had been willing to suffer together for the faith: “You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, knowing that you had a better and lasting possession.” (verse 34). Now they are letting that fervor slide – the passion has faded, the newness has worn off, and it’s time for the long term battle.

In The Word Among Us today, the meditation speaks of our relationship with Christ as being more like a marriage rather than a brief romance. A relationship that culminates into marriage begins with great passion, but as the years go on, the passion may fade but a deeper love takes its place. This love is willing work to keep the marriage alive, whereas passion runs at the first sign of trouble.

In the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary, Jesus is going to his death. He is first beset with anxiety so great that He prays to His heavenly Father that the hour would pass without Him having to drink of the cup. He is then betrayed, flogged, mocked, spat upon and crowned with thorns. Utterly humiliated and deeply wounded, He is then forced to carry a heavy cross, the tool for his execution, and He is crucified, dying the lowliest and most painful of deaths in public with most of his friends fleeing the scene.

Jesus knew the meaning of endurance. He also understood that the glory of the resurrection awaited Him after the long hours of suffering.

Mother Teresa also knew the meaning of endurance. After experiencing and obeying her “call within a call” which included a long period of extreme intimacy with Jesus that she described as ecstasy, the Lord seemingly withdrew from her just as she set forth to do His will. She was left empty, desolate, with deep longing and thirst for that intimacy with Jesus to return, but never to see it again in her lifetime. Yet she persevered to the point where the world was totally unaware of her suffering.

Mother Teresa kept her eyes fixed on Jesus – she knew He would lead her home to Him. Even though she was plagued with doubts, she kept on because she knew she had “a better and lasting possession.”

My life is easy these days so I can’t say that it is hard to endure right now. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was in the throws of helping to take care of a sick mother over several years, often careening from one crisis to the next. I thought of it the other day during yet another snowstorm on the east coast, and how hard it used to be when my mother lived at home and we had these snowstorms, worrying about how she would be cared for. I had a pit in my stomach for a moment, remembering those times.

There are small things to endure, such as over 3 feet of snow on the ground with huge piles all over the place, making the world feel very closed in. The seemingly endless act of shoveling yesterday was an act of endurance! :-)

St. Paul is right. If we can just keep our eyes fixed on the “prize” as he calls it (our home in heaven with Jesus), and really believe it will be there after going through the trials of this life, somehow the burden becomes lighter. Knowing that Jesus Himself went through it and allowing Him to carry the burden for me as He so longs to do, makes that burden lighter. If I have asked for prayers and I know people are praying, I can feel the burden growing lighter, making it bearable.

Passion is great, it’s fun, and it’s fleeting. The patient love that St. Paul is calling for from the Hebrews is the love that will save us. It saved Mother Teresa, it can save us too.

Jesus: fully God AND fully human – reflections on the readings for January 12, 2011

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Today’s readings
Hebrews 2:14-18; Psalm 105:1-4,6-9; Mark 1:29-39

Jesus, incarnate, is Jesus fully human

The title of this post might seem obvious, but for some reason all during Christmas the whole idea of the incarnation of Jesus really hit home. He became more real to me as a man. It reminds me of something that happened over the Christmas vacation.

I blog regularly about my favorite author, Louisa May Alcott, and I happen to live near Concord, MA where her family homestead is located (and it is a year-round museum). The public library in Concord has many of her handwritten letters and I went to look at them. One letter in particular about the death of her sister really moved me so I hand copied it. In the process of doing that, I thought about the letters I had seen from my mother’s relatives who had lived during the time of Louisa May Alcott (which was throughout the 19th century) and Louisa suddenly became like one of those relatives rather than the far away (and dead) author whom I so esteemed. She became more real to me and I felt closer to her.

This is how meditating upon the incarnation of Christ has made me feel closer to Jesus. He is no less God to me, but his humanity is more real.

Hebrews 2:14-18 illustrates the meaning of a human Jesus

As a result, today’s readings really spoke to me. Do you ever have times when you’re reading the scriptures and it’s like God is chattering at you with all these insights? That’s what today was like.

The first reading from Hebrews spoke of how we as humans “share in blood and Flesh, Jesus likewise shared in them . . .” Jesus shares our flesh and blood. He felt the cold and heat, like we do. He felt the rain against his skin, like we do. He probably got sun burn living in the desert – many of us have experienced that. The body of Jesus embodies God, who cannot be contained, but He never shied away from experiencing even the most mundane things.

Hebrews goes on to say that in order to defeat the Devil, He had to defeat the power of death by dying Himself. He had to experience everything we experience to unite us to Himself and to triumph over the thing we can’t – death.

This reading ends by saying the following: “Because He Himself was tested through what He suffered, He is able to help those who are being tested.” Jesus suffered real wounds, real tears, real mental anguish, and He triumphed ultimately over it all. To me this says that as long as I cling to Jesus, there is always hope, even when life tempts me to despair. The incarnation of Jesus is one of the most profound mysteries that we can focus on.

How does the humanity of Jesus relate to the Eucharist?

The beauty of meditating upon the humanity of Jesus is that it is helping me to appreciate the Eucharist all the more. The Eucharist is a piece of bread that I can eat, that I can totally consume. And Jesus is that bread; He allows me to totally consume Him – He WANTS me to consume Him. When I think of that piece of bread being digested and flowing through my own blood . . . it’s an amazing experience of intimacy.

Jesus’ healing touch

Moving on to the Gospel reading, we read of Jesus healing Simon’s mother-in-law of her fever. What struck me here is that same theme of humanity and intimacy – Jesus only needed to say the word and she would be healed. But instead, He grasped her by the hand and helped her up, and the fever left her. He knew the power of human touch. He so totally understands our need for touch to impart intimacy. I believe this is one reason why we are asked to physically consume the Eucharist for it makes the experience of receiving Jesus more real, if we able to see Him in the bread.

Final thoughts

This weekend, while on retreat with confirmation students from our parish, I saw our pastor in a new and wonderful light. I realized through listening to him talk that every moment of his life is prayer. The Gospel tells us that Jesus got up before dawn to go to a deserted place to pray. I thought immediately of our pastor, who gets up every morning at 4am and walks 4 miles through the town. When I asked him how he was able to do that, he smiled and said it’s because he has such a rich inner life. And I knew that was true. Just like Jesus, Fr. Mike rises before dawn, walks through the deserted streets and prays to his Heavenly Father, just like Jesus did.

The spiritual life is so rich, and it becomes even richer when I connect the spiritual world with the physical one, the one that God so lovingly made.