Saving Treyden: Epilogue

Saving Treyden 3If the words Cassie posted on Saving Treyden at Facebook on June 7th are some of the saddest words I have ever read, these words posted yesterday are certainly some of the bravest:

June 13th
Today is one of the first times that I don’t have any words to say.. Treyden received his wings today, he was surrounded by nothing but love. Travis and I held him close and said our goodbyes. We will always be with you Treyden as you will be with us. Love you always and forever for infinity xoxo
Thank you all for your prayers and support for our entire family
Love always
Cassie, Travis and Treyden

No words? Really? What more could you possibly say, Cassie? In those few words, you said everything. In the midst of death you reaffirmed life and love.

Although so many people prayed for a miracle, there was no miracle. Or was there? I have little doubt that Treyden has received his angel wings. But what of the rest of us? We who are left behind must somehow come to terms with living in a fallen world that sometimes brings us disease, suffering and death. How are we to do this?

Two days ago I parked my ATV for a brief respite from my ride. Out of the grass came a piping plover, scuttering on her thin stick legs. She went about 10 feet when suddenly she flopped all askew and cheeped pathetically as if injured. Then she got up perfectly healthy, came over directly in front of me and flopped again. Then I understood. A ruffed grouse mother will do this too, pretend injury to lure danger away from her nest. In other words, this little mother was willing to risk her life for her little ones. Later, I took my wife for a ride and we parked there but this time a distance away. And there was our piping plover with her three little ones, watching them carefully, making sure they didn’t venture from the grass onto the lot. God has built this selfless protective instinct even into his creatures.

Human parents love their children insanely. When they are happy, we are happy. When they are in pain, we feel their pain acutely and ours as well. Like the piping plover, we are there for them, ready to risk everything for their protection. We would gladly suffer in their place. We would gladly give our lives in their place. I can think of no pain deeper or wider than the pain parents have for their children.

God blesses us with children not only to carry on in the world but to teach us about love. Not only how to love but to give us an idea, just an inkling, of how much He loves us. It is no accident that the Lord’s Prayer begins with “Our Father….” If we love our children insanely, He loves us many times that. God is love. Everything He does, He does out of love for us. Not the least of which was sending His only son to suffer and die for us. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He told us the world would send us tribulation but to take heart, because He has overcome the world. In His wisdom, suffering is part of God’s plan. St. Philip Neri once said “the cross is the gift God gives to His friends.” Or as St. Paul said, all things work together for good for those that love God.

There is so much more that could be said, but for now I’ve said enough. I would leave you with the following quote  and reflection from Making Sense Out of Suffering by Peter Kreeft, the opening quote from St. Teresa:

“Everything is grace.”

What do we do about that?

Not a passive resignation. For our activity too is grace. Our struggle against suffering and every form of evil, physical and spiritual, is part of God’s will for us and part of our growing. But at the same time as we thus say no to suffering, disease, death, and diminishments, we also say yes to God’s overall plan, which includes both our efforts and their failure to fully conquer…. Resignation to God but nonresignation to the world, not fighting God but fighting the evils of the world – that is our destiny.

This is what you will find at Saving Treyden, not just the nonresignation and courage of Treyden’s parents but the prayers, support and love of thousands of others, most of them strangers like myself. Cassie and Travis may not have been able to heal their son, but they have helped in the healing of many, many others. Perhaps there was a miracle after all. God Bless you all.

(If anyone would like a more personal visit with Treyden and his family, you can find them at: http://cuethelight.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/a-letter-to-treyden/  and  http://cuethelight.wordpress.com/blog/)

Lourdes, Communion and My Conversion

Lourdes WaterAlthough I begin each day with prayer and try to keep every day holy, I must confess that I do not go to mass every Sunday. Or even most Sundays. Although I went through a painful annulment process last year, I do not receive communion as often as I should. However, this past Sunday did not begin like other days.

I was in an extreme amount of pain. I had been praying hard for healing of the Treyden Kurtzweil family (Saving Treyden on Facebook), people I probably will never meet. I too am a parent, and I am also a grandparent of a beautiful, healthy 8-month old boy. And even then it has been hard to imagine the grief Cassie and Travis must be experiencing. I have two vials of holy water from Lourdes that belonged to my mother. I had never opened them, not even when my elderly mother was dying. I did not feel that would have been right. God’s will trumps holy water. But Saturday morning I did open one, blessed myself with it and prayed for the healing not only of Treyden but especially for his family. Although I saw no moisture on the tip of my finger, it felt cool on my forehead, unnaturally so. Like alcohol evaporating. Except that the coolness lasted a long time.

I was disconsolate with grief. How could so many prayers from so many people go unanswered? My prayers and my grief had taken me out of myself for a change, and in so doing, I was able to step back and take a good, hard look. I realized that the person I saw was himself in desperate need of healing. How disordered and self-indulgent his life had become. He was only able to see this when he became concerned about someone else.

So Sunday morning I took the bottle of Lourdes water again and blessed myself. My prayers would not only be for the Kurtzweils but for my own healing as well. I was desperate. Let’s be clear about what happened next: I do not hear voices. But I might as well have, because my next thought came as a complete surprise. You anoint yourself with holy water when you could be receiving the body and blood of my son.

The power of this thought was irresistible. I would have to go to mass. Instead of finishing my usual prayers and the mass readings, I prepared myself for mass and receiving the Blessed Sacrament.

The opening hymn was “Jesus Christ, the Healer.” Tears began to well in my eyes, and I could not even choke out most of the words. The water from Lourdes had sent me exactly to where I belonged. I had not realized the daily mass readings would be about death and healing, about the sons of two widows being brought back to life. I had not realized the whole theme of the mass would be about Christ’s power to heal. I had not realized Father Andrew’s homily would be rooted in all the funerals he had attended and about grief and how shared grief brings us closer together. And most certainly I had overlooked the healing power of the Blessed Sacrament.

During the entire mass, I felt I was truly living something miraculous. The deep healing my soul needed so badly had begun. When we really need Him, God will be there for us.  If He can be there for me, I am sure He is there for Treyden, Cassie and Travis in their time of deepest need.

Saving Treyden: The Final Chapter

Saving Treyden 2These are some of the saddest words I have ever read, which appeared today on Facebook, Saving Treyden:

With a heavy heart I am so very sad to share that treydens MRI results showed something that none of us were expecting. There shows an extreme amount of leukemia in his brain and spinal cavity. The doctors told us there is nothing more we can do. Devastated doesn’t even come close to what we are feeling… I have no words we are currently in route to go back home and be surround by all the love that we all three desperately need.
I cannot thank you all enough for your love and support we will need it more than ever with the days to come
Much love the Kurtzweils

They are now on their way home from St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. These courageous people whom I have never met have fought so hard for their brave little man. So many, many good people have pledged their prayers for Treyden and his family. I simply could not let myself believe that God would not give us the answer we all sought. This without regard that the CCC clearly says “even the most intense prayers do not always obtain the healing of all illnesses.”

I still have faith that God answers all our prayers, although sometimes He doesn’t answer them in the way we would like or understand. He acts for our good. The wisdom of man is folly to God. Who are we to question His works?

And yet the suffering of innocents remains one of the most difficult issues for Christians to wrap their arms around. We have faith that God is infinitely good and infinitely powerful. He could grant Treyden a healthy life in a twinkling. But it appears He will not. Surely He will welcome Treyden with open and loving arms. The suffering of that small child will be as nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed to him. Treyden will serve his Lord and Creator in Heaven rather than on earth. The Lord has His reasons.

Unfortunately, for those of us left on earth, His reasons will remain a mystery. Oh, the suffering of his parents, past, present and future is so very real. I wish I could wash away their pain with my tears. I wish I could mend their broken hearts with my prayers. I do not ask for whom the bell tolls. I only hope that this sad event will not lead them to question their faith.

I will try not to question mine, but suddenly that has become ever so much more difficult. At the moment I have been muddling through Making Sense Out of Suffering by Peter Kreeft. After that I will re-read The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis. I need to get a better handle on the world’s suffering. I need to strengthen my faith. Many, many others who prayed for Treyden will be doing the same. I hope none of them decides that their prayers fall upon deaf ears. I hope none of them loses heart. I will pray for that too, along with that gift of the Holy Spirit called understanding.

God does hear our prayers. God does answer our prayers one way or the other.

He does.

Postscript: None of this is intended to deny the occurrence of miracles. They happen. It would be contrary to my faith to deny them. One should never, ever give up hope. I still pray for a miracle. Continued at Saving Treyden: Epilogue.