Although 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.
I ran across this beautiful poem this morning in Medjugorje Day by Day.
If I should never see the moon again
Rising red gold across the harvest field
Or feel the stinging soft rain
As the brown earth her treasures yield.
If I should never taste the salt sea spray
As the ship beats her course across the breeze.
Or smell the dog-rose and new-mown hay,
or moss or primroses beneath the tree.
If I should never hear the thrushes wake
Long before the sunrise in the glimmering dawn.
Or watch the huge Atlantic rollers break
Against the rugged cliffs in baffling scorn.
If I have to say good bye to stream and wood,
To wide ocean and the green clad hill,
I know that he, who made this world so good
Has somewhere made a heaven better still.
This bears witness with my latest breath
Knowing the love of God,
I fear no death.
Inscribed in the Bible of Major Malcolm Boyd, killed in action in France, June 1944.