God sees through our eyes, hears through our ears, loves through our hearts and helps through our hands.
Prior to my conversion last year – through God’s Grace and no merit of my own – I felt terribly terribly alone in my suffering. Despite having more than I deserve – three healthy children and a beautiful husband (God bless them), a job and a home – I had lost my fourth child before he had ever been born and nobody at all around me seemed to care very much at all. Perhaps they did in fact care, but I could not see it in how they spoke to me about it.
Perhaps I was blinded by my own pain or perhaps the pain that they themselves felt at seeing me grieving caused them to want to shut my grief down without acknowledging it because it grieved them to watch me grieve. Whatever the reason – and I am entirely sure that the reasons were well-intentioned – the pain caused by the reactions of others was significant.
During the years that followed that child’s death, the most terrible pain was caused by the seeming unwillingness of others to acknowledge the life of that precious soul. I used to wonder how it was possible that the most important human being in the world to me was a child that everyone else was referring to as a “miscarriage”. He was a person. I know how he looked, smelt, felt and sounded. He is so real to me that I can hear him laugh and listen to his voice inside my heart, I talk to him every day and pray with him every morning when I wake up and every night as I am falling asleep. For I believe the words of Saint John Vianney, “We must take great care never to do anything before having said morning prayers. The Devil once declared that if he could have the first moment of the day, he was sure of all the rest.”
This child is as real to me as the Holy Spirit – and almost equally indescribable and close to my soul…
I have reflected very much on this experience of loss and suffering in the months that have followed my so recent conversion – after all it consumed so much of my life beforehand that it changed the person who I was.
And I have come to a conclusion about suffering…
My conclusion is very simple… I believe that a human being can endure ANY suffering at all – even the most unimaginable grief – so long as they do not feel afraid or alone.
And so, part of my vocation – following my conversion – is to remind others that they are not alone so that they do not need to be afraid.
Following my conversion, a couple of my sisters told me that for years they and my father had prayed the Divine Mercy for me to find peace. I never knew at the time – but even then God was working wonders in my soul – preparing me.
Perhaps at that time I was not ready to know this information – all in God’s time. What I do know for sure, is that it was those prayers that inspired God to come after me – His lost sheep.
These days, I pray for many souls – I always have – but there is a difference in the way that I pray these days. Before, I would pray in the silence of my heart. God would hear my prayers and answer them – but perhaps the people for whom I was prayed felt alone and afraid as I had while I was waiting for the Grace to endure. Now things are different… Now, when I pray for others, I tell them. It is really quite a minor and simple change, but it is a change that makes all the difference…
Now, I must admit that at first, I was very embarrassed to talk to others about praying for them. It is easier to pray than to speak of it. But I felt compelled to share my prayers so that others were not alone, so that they knew that there was another soul in the world who thought of their suffering and prayed for their strength.
But now I am used to the discomfort, and I tell people when they are in my prayers…
You see when we see another’s pain – through the Communion of Saints – God sees it too! Of course God – who is omnificent – can see all and know all without any help from us. But God is our Eternal Parent, and what parent does not feel greater love for their children when they watch them looking after each other?
You see, we know God is watching us when His other children – our brothers and sisters – tell us that they have especially asked Him to…
It is in this way that God sees through our eyes, hears through our ears, loves through our hearts and helps through our hands.
And when we join with others in their pain, we can help them to realise the words of Saint Alphonsus De Liguori, who was a Doctor of the Church, and who said, “Worldly people call illnesses misfortunes, but the saints call them visitations of God and favours.”
For when I pray for others and myself, now I use the words of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, and I say, “Lord, what do I want, what can I want, apart from You?”
And anything that brings us closer to God is a joy – even through any terrible pain…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.