Updated: Apr 24, 2021
We were born to die so that we could live
I have always been a worrier. When I was little, I worried that I would fail my exams – and so I studied extra hard so that I would not! When I was older, I worried that I would not be likeable – and so I tried extra hard to make myself friendly. Only a few years ago when tragedy struck in my life, I worried that God did not love me – and so I tried very hard to think about Him very little indeed.
The only problem with all that worry, is that over time, it really drains you…
I am sure some psychologists are looking at what I have just written and thinking to themselves, “That woman has anxiety.”
They could be right! But since, that old worry never limited me – and rather powered me on to bigger and better goals for the most part – I have never really needed to address it.
The only problem was when the worry caused me to drift away from my Beloved, it was then and only then that things started to fall apart…
And yet, since the process of what I now call my conversion – which happened through Grace no merit of my own, while I was praying for my little niece who was so very sick last year – something changed in me…
There was an exact moment in time – like Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus – where I heard the voice of God in the silence… And it was BEAUTIFUL.
A very dear friend of mine sent me a link to a podcast yesterday. The podcast is called “Universal Sisterhood – Put on your crown” and it is created by Jessica Doherty (nee Greenwell) who is a woman who went to my school a few years ahead of me.
My friend asked me to listen to an episode, and she commented that she could see similarities between Jessica’s story and mine.
It does not surprise me. We are LOVED BY THE SAME GOD – AND WE KNOW THAT NOW!
So of course, there are similarities in that experience.
Now, I am no saint. Far from it. I am terribly, terribly sinful. Even while lifting my eyes to Heaven, I still manage to walk through the muck over and over again – my poor poor God.
And yet, where before, in the paraphrased words of Pope Emeritus, Benedict, what had felt to me like the silent absence of God, was in fact His silent presence!
Years and years and years ago now, I attended a funeral Mass for a woman I had never met, who was the mother of a child we were teaching at the time. Her name was Anna Corey. I have never forgotten the homily given in that Mass.
Father John Flader conducted the funeral mass. I did not know who he was at the time. I said to a friend later, I do not know which priest offered that mass for that lady, but I need to get to know that priest – I need to learn, and I need him to teach me.
Later I made a few half-hearted efforts to find that priest, and eventually gave up. After all, I did not know his name – I only remembered his words – and I felt embarrassed to impose on the family of the bereaved in asking for such details.
And yet, God knew I needed to hear something more… Father Flader is one of the beautiful priests who prayed with us for Clare – I was directed to him without ever speaking to him by another friend, last year when my little niece was very sick. I contacted him via text message and never spoke to him until recently. I did not know he was the same priest I had been seeking. And while he prayed with us, he referred me to materials to listen to and read without knowing that I was seeking guidance…
There is no such thing as a living saint. All saints are dead – because to become a saint one must enter directly into Heaven after their death… But it is true that there are people who live their lives in trying to BECOME saints…
Such people – though flawed through our fallen human nature – are at peace. “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
They do not waver. They do not doubt – at least not within my hearing.
When Father Flader spoke about Anna Corey at her funeral, I saw that peace in him, in her.
She was a very young woman who suffered greatly before she died. Her death was undoubtably a tragedy… And yet, in it… there was PEACE.
I had considered dying as a process that happened TO people. They were the hapless victims of this powerful force that overwhelmed their reason and free will, leaving them cowering in fear, thrashing among the waves, slowly and painfully drowning in terror and despair.
That was NOT the story that I heard that day inside that church about Anna.
Anna was no victim of a process – she was an active and rational PART of it. She gave her fear to God and WORKED for a HOLY death.
One story that I have never forgotten, was the story that Father Flader recounted, one that he was told by a nurse after this lady’s death. One day, Anna was due to take morphine for the pain. Her nurse asked her if she was ready for her meidcation. Anna replied that she was not. When the nurse asked her why she did not want her pain relief, because the pain was surely terrible, Anna replied, “I am offering this pain for you and your family.”
Imagine her pain. Imagine her decision.
That is a rational decision by a woman with a clear and strong faith in the power of her suffering to bring good – though her mimicry of the ongoing suffering of Christ on the Cross. Hers was an example of peace.
She was not thrashing around in her bed trying to escape the inescapable. Instead, she was reaching out to the experience that God had allowed her and was USING it for HIM. She was using it to bring others to HIM and to reduce HIS suffering on the Cross!
She LIVED her beliefs – she DIED them as well…
“Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” (Joshua 3:5).
And what was I doing all this time during my life before my conversion? I was thinking, when I am dying on my deathbed, then I will be like Anna…
Now… Since the Holy Spirit entered into me and filled me with Grace, I have changed my thoughts…
Now, I think… THIS is my deathbed, for I was born to die so that I could LIVE…
NOW I WILL BE LIKE ANNA!
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.