Image provided by Janet Moore is in public domain: artist: Botticelli Pietà (detail) ~ 1490
A few days ago, I witnessed my daughter’s skin being torn from her body …
the excruciating pain she endured is hard to shake …
For me, the saints’ martyrdoms that were most disturbing were those whose agonies consisted of their skin being ripped, torn, or cut from their bodies or those who were burnt alive…
Hearing about the sufferings of these saints left me cringing and grimacing in sympathy at just the thought of the unimaginable violence they endured.
This is why I wrote about the Apostle St. Bartholomew. When I found out he was flayed alive, I knew that his horrific pain and sacrifice needed to remembered and honored.
Likewise I had to share about the young boy saint, Jose Sanchez del Rio, when I was blessed to hold onto and praying with the relics while listening to his story: The skin of the soles of his feet were shaved off before he was forced to walk on salt and through dirt and jagged rocks as he was forced through the town and cemetery on the way to his death. His skeletal remains show that this 13-year-old boy was hit and punched so mercilessly that his jaw had been shattered and most of his teeth had been knocked out. He endured all this rather than deny Jesus, shouting “Viva Christo Rey” – “Long live Christ the King!” before he was killed by a firing squad. (It is so worth reading more about him and watching the movie, For Greater Glory, which shares his life!)
Additionally, it was incredibly moving for me to visit the ancient Church of St. Lawrence in Rome, and venerating the man who died so generously that he could quip, “Turn me over, I’m done on this side” as they roasted him alive over a fire.
Lastly, I wrote St. Polycarp, who assured his executioners that they didn’t need to tie him to the stake as they placed him on a pyre to be set on fire. Perhaps God spared him the pain of being burned alive as a beautiful smell of baking bread emanated from him and the flames fanned out as a sail around him – forcing his executioners to kill him through the sword as the fire could not touch him.
I've contemplated again the sufferings of these saints in light of my daughter's own suffering.
My daughter’s agony was a result of sunburn.
Not your typical sunburn, or even the worst sunburn you’ve ever experienced if you’re fair skinned like me,
rather it was the flesh-killing kind…
I watched her writhe in agony as more and more blisters formed on her body… blisters the size of tide pods, which eventually conglomerated and joined together into a large mass of what looked like boiled skin…
A sunburn so bad that this 95 lb young woman’s feet and ankles swelled like tree trunks.
The pain of blood rushing down into these swollen burnt areas of flesh has made getting up to stand or walk unbearable.
So when the burn unit nurses tore off her top layer of skin it was for her healing …
It was a miraculous intervention that we were desperately sought as her skin became ever more leathery looking and her pain and symptoms increased each day and the doctors we had seen had no idea of how to help her… I reached out in desperation for prayers from those whom I knew to be great prayer warriors… I prayed for help and guidance as I didn’t know where to turn, because I knew that she desperately needed medical attention.
Within a few hours after these pleas went out – a series of miracles took place – as I was given the advice to call the burn unit at a local hospital and ask to speak to a nurse. The nurse who picked up the phone was surprisingly easy to reach – after waiting for hours and still hearing nothing back from doctors – this nurse picked up the phone, listened and offered to see my daughter and help. (I will forever be grateful for this nurse's kindness and generous help and for those who prayed for her.)
Within the hour, this nurse had her scanned and skinned and bandaged up with specialized anti bacterial burn dressings that would stay on for a week.
It was a true miracle. She has a long road to recovery and her pain is ongoing, but she will be well.
Yet, the trauma of seeing her in pain, as the flesh underneath the skin was exposed, still leaves me mentally cringing and raw.
My emotions are in tatters …
At both witnessing the agony of your loved one, and the desperation of striving to find help when no help can be found - perhaps this is all exasperated by the recent months-long, years-long searching for medical help for my husband….
who, likewise, endured incredible pain and suffering that no one we had seen could help;
but, who, eventually, through miraculous interventions, is now on a long, ongoing path toward healing …
There are few things more painful than having to watch helplessly as your loved one suffers…
Particularly moving for me was going to the Stations of the Cross last night, and meditating on the tenth station, when Jesus’ skin was ripped from him as they stripped him of his garments right before they crucified him.
As I stated at the beginning, this has always been particularly moving for me, but the depth of what he endured for love of us has never been more real…
Nor more emotionally jarring…
Again, there are few things more painful than having to watch helplessly as your loved ones suffer… especially if it is your child who is suffering.
Never before has the physical sorrow of Our Lady been so real for me.
Her mental and emotional sorrow – the sorrow of her soul –
has been an indescribable gift to me for many years …
her motherly intercession and love have helped me endure tremendous sorrow…
How much greater is my understanding of how watching Jesus’ agony must have physically traumatized Mary –
How deeply the judgment of bystanders added to her pain –
how indescribably deep was the trauma and sorrow she endured!
O Mama, for although you were perfectly conformed to the Will of God, still you were human!
How much more deeply do I know the physical trauma and suffering of watching your child be in torture …
I know what we experienced was nothing in comparison -
and that the agony of her skin being ripped from her body was all for my daughter’s good…
Yet, it is a life lesson.
It has been a soul lesson that has drawn me deeper into knowing a fraction more of the pain both Jesus and Mary endured out of love for us.
Oh, the depth of God’s love!
Oh, how wondrous and unfathomable it is!
It is my prayer, that just as my daughter has experienced a portion of Jesus’ agony, it, likewise, gives her a greater awareness and appreciation of the cost of her salvation and the depth of suffering Jesus freely choose in order for her to be in union with Him both now in prayer and forever in eternity.
She already has such a strong faith, but I pray that Jesus’ Sacrifice penetrates ever more deeply in her soul and inspires her to love him with ever greater love in return so much so that she longs to live a life ever closer to Him.
I pray that she may know to the core of her being that He, alone, is the only One who can fulfill her and make her whole - being there for her with perfect love and compassion that helps her carry her crosses, as well as live a life of such great LOVE of God that she begins to experience ever more her heaven on earth.
I pray that she,
and all of our children,
fall desperately in love with Jesus –
with a love so deep that it carries them through all they have to endure,
while it brings them love and joy and peace unimaginable besides
through offering themselves to God and to others –
for that alone is the secret to happiness.
© Janet Moore. 2019. All Rights Reserved. First Published at: https://enteringintothemystery.blogspot.com/2019/03/drawing-near-to-christ-while-witnessing.html