“I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things.” Said Mother Theresa.
I had been working in the same field for so long and then the pandemic hit. I felt like a car stuck in the mud. It was a difficult period for everyone but for me, it was a wakeup call. I needed a new direction. My job involved working at home for months and although I paid my bills, I needed something more. I think a person does not realize this until we are looking at events in the rear-view mirror.
I would not say I was suffering from burnout because I did enjoy my work. I always have. I would read a lot during the pandemic since we were in lockdown for quite some time. But I do not want to be a victim of circumstance. I want to be free and embrace what God sends me. The parishes were closed for public Masses, but my pastor was kind to me, and he would allow me to attend a private Mass with him sometimes. I was fortunate. I thought often of the early Christians in the catacombs or the persecuted Catholics around the world who suffered daily trying to go to Mass and I would pray for them.
“For those who believe, everything is a sign!” said Blessed Benedetta
Every morning before Mass, I read about the saint of the day. Blessed Benedetta piqued my curiosity. Blessed Benedetta was stricken with poliomyelitis at an early age. She had a crippled left leg and needed help to walk but her health only deteriorated as she got older. Despite having great intelligence, she had physical challenges. She wanted to study medicine, but successive operations left her deaf and with a crippled left leg. She needed to wear a brace to prevent her spine from deforming. A clever and happy child, she began keeping a diary at age five; it became a lifelong record of her faith and the way she carried the cross of her disability. Much of her primary education was provided by Ursulines. In her teens her overall health continued to deteriorate. She was able to diagnose herself and found that she had Recklinghausen Disease-Neurofibromatosis. As time passed, she had further surgery which led to more paralysis, loss of other senses and then the medical dream dissipated. Becoming more determined, she hoped a cure could be had at Lourdes. Nothing. Her movements were limited to her right hand, and she lost her ability to speak. Benedetta experienced changes but they were going in the wrong direction.
Benedetta had further surgery in August of 1959; it left both legs paralyzed, and the young woman wheelchair bound. She then turned her sick room into a center of support and communication for others. Her friends from medical school visited her and she wrote to many people. She still maintained her love of God. Benedetta and her family visited Lourdes in May of 1962 in search of a cure; a paralyzed girl lying next to her was completely healed, but there was no change for Benedetta. On 24 June 1963 she went again to Lourdes. As her family waited for her to be healed, she received her own miracle – the understanding that she would not change a thing about her condition. She became a witness for Christ though no change came. How many of us could accept that fate?
“Sometimes I find myself defeated under the weight of this heavy cross.
Then, I call upon Jesus and lovingly cast myself at His feet,
He kindly permits me, to rest my head on His lap.” Blessed Benedetta
I had had grandiose dreams of doing many great things, but I needed to put that into perspective. I needed to follow reality. What was my experience telling me? Only when challenges confront us, through work, relationships, or events, are we ready to sit back and think about our lives. I remember once during Mass, the priest told me that when life does not go in the direction we are searching for; when he is silent, it is then that he is trying to speak to us. Fulton J. Sheen “Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.”
How often does the Lord try to speak to us but we spend all our time doing the talking? For me - probably every day. We look for new opportunities, but we live a nostalgia for what we lost instead of what we might gain. St Bruno said, “While the world changes, the cross stands firm.” I need to be reminded that God never changes yet he may ask us to change. He may ask us to endure a hardship, or he may ask us to suffer with him. I am not so sure I would say yes so readily. I certainly do not have the ability to interpret or understand what God is trying to say. Who could ever be His counselor? But if we stay still and allow Him to speak, He will make Himself known.