Thursday, August 23, 2012

Publicity for the Group

I'm pleased to say that the diocese is now publicizing the Bl. John Paul II Society of Redemptive Suffering in the Catholic Newspaper.  Here is a clip of the advertisement.  Many thanks to all those who have helped to make this happen.  Now, it is in God's hands to get people there.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Saints

The saints of the Catholic Church are phenomenal individuals who were cooperative with God's will.  Some of their prayer lives were simply astounding.  I have a deep respect for St. Rita, St. Faustina, St. Therese.  These three women lived remarkable lives with a deep and abiding sense of love and fidelity to their way of life.  All as well have suffered greatly in their lives and embraced the mystery of the cross with open arms.  If you click on the icons of each saint you may read more about them.

Personally, I am noting like the saints.  I really am someone who needs to continually work on that I might be faithful to Christ in all things.  On area in which I know I'm not doing so well with is praying.  I have a deep desire to pray yet it is difficult for me to simply start it.  I don't find all that much consolation in written prayers.  The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a good prayer to pray.  I have found that it builds up a deep sense of trust in God and his will.

I continue to strive to fight the habitual sins which I commit.  There are times when I get down on myself because I know that I have sinned.  Typically, it stays with me until I enter the confession and hear the words of absolution.  Such a great peace comes from these two sacraments.

What I've come to learn all the more is to focus on God's will for me and to follow it through day and night.  May God help us all to discern his will for us and give us the grace to always be faithful.

Hard to Follow His Will

The past few weeks have been filled with more insight into the cross.  I've had migraine headaches since I was seven - I'm 38 now.  They've always been debilitating when I get them.  Lately, they've been happening almost every three days or so.  I've had to leave work two different times, including today.  I can honestly say that this is the greatest cross I've had to bear in my life.  The pain is excruciating and it wears me out for about a day; but thanks be to God.  He knows far better than I do why I need this.  

Although the migraines are horrible I'm becoming more fearful of the consequences of them than actually having them.  I do not want to leave my work and get in trouble because of them but I can't do much to control them.  Thankfully, I'll be going to a neurologist in the next few weeks.  Hopefully, I'll be able to find some solace.  

In all of this I am learning more and more that I simply need to let go.  God is going to give me the crosses he chooses whether I like it or not.  I'm finding out that I still desire to have a lot of control over the cross and that letting go is the greatest challenge thus far.  Although I pray that God's will be done, I still find myself saying "no" to him when his ways don't fit mine.  

Personally, I find that it's difficult at times to discern the will of God.  How can I possibly know his thoughts or his ways?  I've struggled with that for quite some time.  One thing I'm finding out is that I don't necessarily need to know his thoughts or his ways, but I do need to be faithful.  Trying to discern why God allows this or that seems to make the cross a little more difficult.  It seems to intensify the cross.  Letting go and trusting in Providence lightens the load a little because you recognize that you're in loving hands.  I need the grace to be able to do this at all times.

One book that I have found extremely helpful is Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence.  This book has been a companion of mine for many years.  It has helped me open up my insight into how God typically works.  Br. Lawrence's book, The Practice of the Presence of God is also another phenomenal book which leads one into the mystery of God's will.  Everything becomes God's will; everything becomes prayer.
I highly recommend these books.  

It is difficult at times to know and understand God's will, but it is necessary to strive to be ever present to it.  In doing so we will find the greatest amount of peace we can imagine.  Looking to the imagine of the Blessed Mother can help us understand how to follow God's will.  The three theological virtues (Faith, Hope, Charity) reside in her.  Let us turn to Mary, Help of Christians, to teach us the ways of her Son.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Cross - Not What You Always Think It Might Be

I will be honest.  When I first found out that I was HIV+ I thought that was it, that I'd be dead within a few years and that my life now was simply to prepare for the inevitable.  I didn't know much about the disease at the time so I assumed that what awaited me in the near future was a process of dying from this disease.

Two and a half years later my health is doing quite well.  Yes, I have some difficulties at times with certain things but it's nothing really to worry about.  More than anything I've noticed that it takes about 1 1/2 - 2 times longer to get over a cold or to heal from a scrape or a bruise.  There are times when I feel a little exhausted or simply worn down, but nothing all that big. 

Now I'm at a point where I have to reevaluate a few things.  I'm recognizing that I'm most likely not going to die in the next few years or even the next few decades.  Medical care for this disease has progressed so well that one can live mostly a normal life.  What I thought was a deadly illness has simply become a chronic one.  There are some challenges with this as well.   I have to recognize that the cross is going to be something far different than I imagined.  What exactly will it be?  I'm realizing that I honestly don't know, that I can't plan for it, and that I need to live in the moment and take it as it comes.  Maybe the cross in all of this is not my one day dying from the disease but instead a continual letting go of what I wanted or how I thought things might be.  Maybe the cross of this disease is letting go of control of how I think things should be.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Experiencing Suffering In Others

I work in a profession where I deal with suffering on a daily basis. It's hard at times. Recently, I lost my first patient and I took it to heart very hard. It's one thing to deal with your own suffering and something totally different to see others endure it.

All of us are ignorant about suffering, myself completely included in this. It makes no sense to us at times and provokes many, many questions that rarely get answered. I can, with God's help, endure that which he wishes to give me but that doesn't mean others can. This isn't because they do not have the capacity nor the grace, but they might not understand it.

I've seen adults and children suffer greatly and have seen fear on the faces of many. It's a hard job. I've also experienced a great moment of grace with an individual who at first seemed hardened and mean. Last week I had the opportunity to speak with her privately and to simply be present to her. Tears flowed from her eyes when she began to talk about how much she was suffering and her whole demeanor completely changed. The hardness completely softened and the meanness turned into gentleness and love. Truly, this was a great moment of grace both of us were experiencing. God was present.

Since that time I have seen this lady again and the moment we saw one another her face lit up with joy. I had an opportunity to simply be present to another individual in her pain and I know it made all the difference in the world. This has nothing to do with me personally, for I did nothing on my own, but I knew that God was present in that moment and using us to convey his grace, mercy, peace and love. The effects of that one moment were palpable. I'm learning that I need to be more conscious of others suffering.

I need to be ready to reach out to them if I think they simply need someone to be present in their pain. I may not be able to take it away but I can be there with them as they strive to endure. The mystery of life is truly that, a mystery. God really is present in all moments of life, even the darkest ones, and for that I am grateful.