Sunday, January 25, 2015
Jack dreamed of flying airplanes and serving his country and he was on his way to achieving those goals as a student at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He was one of those rare young men who had made the cut, securing a coveted spot in the prestigious and highly respected military academy.
Naturally Jack's parents and younger brother are devastated. They are reeling from their sudden loss and the excruciating pain that feels like acid to the soul. They already know this pain.
Just four years ago their newborn baby died suddenly of cardiac arrest right before their very eyes. His precious life ended as abruptly as his brother Jack’s. There was no warning, no goodbye, nothing to indicate impending doom. And no one could ever have imagined that this family would find themselves in this place of death so soon.
I don’t know why this happened and I won’t begin to minimize their tragedy with an assessment of God’s purpose and plan for their lives. I will pray and I will ask God to let them know in a powerful way that he is with them, that he is carrying their cross to the foot of Calvary where he has ransomed their pain and their suffering.
The place where hope hangs it’s weary head because that is where God revealed his promise to redeem even the most tragic set of circumstances; the place where one day all that feels so very wrong-will one day feel alright.
And I will urge the Blessed Mother to wrap her mantel of protection around their bleeding hearts because who knows better than she, this kind of searing grief?!
And finally, through my own tears of sadness-I will hug my sons a little tighter tonight…in gratitude for the time we have together and for the continued blessing of their young lives.
Matthew 25:13 “Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Saturday, January 17, 2015
“I am claiming it and he is always good!” I responded joyfully!
Following two weeks of swelling and pain in my right leg and especially the knee, I gratefully accepted the glowing report from an orthopedic surgeon. “You have youthful knees. No arthritis, no bone rubbing bone-everything looks fine,” he said looking a bit perplexed. “Thank you God!” I blurted out
As I stared at my x-rays, I was amazed at how normal my bones looked considering the pain I had been in for nearly two weeks. “I thought my dad’s arthritic knees and joint pain had been passed on to me,” I explained to the doctor, “because I remember him wincing about the pain and dreading the steroid shots.”
“Nope, both your knees look fine. You have a slight shift in your right knee cap that you have always had so maybe you bumped it and that caused the swelling and fluid that led to the bakers cyst,” he continued. He really had no other explanation for the painful and pulsating swelling that had derailed my daily walks in the park for several days. This was music to my ears! “A heating pad should take care of the baker’s cyst,” he continued.
I smiled as I left his office . “You will be healed!” I could still hear those beautiful words from Queen Esther’s court of 17 sista’s who laid hands on my knee all the while prophesying healing and great and wondrous gifts from the almighty God! At first I thought to myself, “I wonder if I will really be healed”…and just that quickly I claimed it. “Yes, I will be healed!”
As we gathered together at a Florida beach side retreat, praying and singing, I absorbed the gifts of the Holy Spirit which flew around the room descending and ascending to the chorus of rapturous emotion that was as contagious as it was soulfully healing.
I understood in my heart that the unconditional love of these women, the power of their anointed prayers, their steadfast belief that God can and does move mountains in cooperation with my yes, could without a doubt produce a healing! These ladies, who had been tested by fire, burned in the furnace of life and saved by the blood of the lamb, were dancing for joy in thanksgiving for God’s glorious promises! It was an amazing vision!
Today, as I sat in morning Mass thanking God for Queen Esther's Court and for all my many blessings…I smiled again as the lector began to read:
The word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit,
joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
No creature is concealed from him,
but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him
to whom we must render an account.
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
SO CLAIM IT! GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD!
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
I sat straight up in my chair, searched my purse for paper and pen and wrote down those striking words during a lecture by Dr. Kenison Roy, a leading addiction physician here in New Orleans. "What do you mean by that?" I asked. "Addiction to opiates is the most important thing in the world to the addict," he replied thoughtfully. "Nothing else matters."
I knew he was right, I understood what he was saying, but I had never heard it put so poignantly, “closest to the soul.” I closed
my eyes and really tried to absorb the power and the pain in those words. It was pretty unsettling.
Our soul is created by God, willed by God, not our parents. Though we are physically made of matter in the image of God, our soul gives us our greatest value, animating our body, so that we are living, breathing human beings with a spiritual nature. Unlike the body, our soul never dies…It is truly immortal!
Addiction to opiates like heroin and Oxycontin poisons human beings; destroying our physical nature; hi-jacking the brain, triggering drug dependence and then changing our behavior and who God intended us to be. Opiate addiction suffocates the light in our soul which severs the soul’s intimate connection with the will of God for our lives. Our free will is literally held hostage.
The human person-the addict-is driven by their animal nature and their survival instincts and the uncontrollable urge to continue using the very drugs that are killing them. It is as though the addict has been reduced to a zombie-like state with one goal-taking more drugs! “Nothing else matters!”
The consequences of addiction and the shame produced by this dark human bondage seeps into every level of society, cutting across all economic, social, and religious divides. Loved ones caught in the insidious path of destruction are especially vulnerable because addiction ravages and distorts the sacred intent of family life. It’s painful.
I experienced the soul binding pain when two of my sons hovered at death’s door. Opiates changed them and yes-nothing else mattered. Today, following a long hard fought battle, they are in recovery, and healing-both physically and spiritually. Their transformation from the darkness into the light is nothing short of miraculous!
That’s the good news-there is absolute hope, there is help and there is healing. A Catholic priest once told me that addiction is the 21st century sin. If that’s the case, it is imperative that we fully understand this predator because this is one sickness-one sin-that is absolutely preventable!
Thursday, October 9, 2014
“Are you worried about Johnny in Liberia?” That’s the question I am asked almost daily since the Ebola outbreak.
Every mother naturally worries about her children. However, in this case worry is not the word I would use to describe my feelings. Trust is much more accurate.
I trust my son’s judgment. Five and a half years ago he chose to enter into a faith based community, Comunita Cenacolo, to heal his interior brokenness and the drug addiction that placed him at death’s door. I trust he will continue to make healthy choices that will protect him from Ebola. I trust God who is the author of my son’s life and the source of his decision to commit two years of his life to serving the Liberian people by caring for their orphans.
I trust my son’s heart, knowing that he is on his knees asking God for strength, courage and direction in the face of both his interior challenges and the exterior hurdles. I trust God who is right there with him, carrying him on the wings of grace through those unpredictable storms that are blowing his way.
And I trust my oldest son’s desire-despite the potential hazards, to live an authentic life of truth through service to others. I absolutely trust the overarching and unconditional love of God who formed Johnny for this very moment in time long before my child ever entered my womb.
Johnny’s physical, psychological and spiritual resurrection has brought me a peace that is beyond human understanding, and I trust this is Johnny’s destiny-designed by God.
“So do I worry? Very simply, I trust.”
But he knows the way that I take,
But he knows the way that I take,
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
“I am a doctor visiting. John looks great. See pictures below.” “He is wonderfully well and full of joy you should be very proud” “I'll let you tell the other parents that everyone in the community seems well.” Dr. Timothy P. Flanigan
I opened my email and those wonderful words greeted me! A surprise message sent all the way from Liberia by an American doctor who traveled there on a medical mission.
God is so big…and technology has made the world so small…and the hearts of good people are exploding with love and I am so grateful to be a recipient of that river of grace pouring forth all the way from Liberia to New Orleans!
Sunday I spoke with my oldest son Johnny and he told me about an American doctor who met with him and the other members of Comunita Cenacolo who are caring for orphan children in Liberia. When I hung up the phone with my son I immediately searched the internet for information about the good Dr. and I found his blog…And then lo and behold he emails me the next day. What a gift!
Via email I thanked Dr. Flanigan and his family for their sacrifice and their service. His response to me says it all. “Thanks. We have five kids too. I've copied my wife Luba who is holding down the fort and doing all the hard work with none of the credit.”
Dr. Timothy Flanigan is an Infectious Disease Specialist in Providence Rhode Island, a Catholic Deacon, and married father of five children who is on a medical mission to Liberia….Please go to his blog at http://www.timothypflaniganmd.com/?p=371 and follow how the holy spirit is guiding this gifted man in the midst of great suffering and in the face of a tremendous health risk-Ebola.
I think about that a lot. How some people are destined to lead others to a higher level of discipleship through their sacrificial work. Dr. Flanigan, Johnny and all the members of the community in Liberia are modern day apostles, serving the poorest among us in response to a direct call from God. There is no other source or reason for them to be in Liberia. God called them-and they said yes. In my mind, it is as simple and as powerful as that.
I’d like to close with a portion of Dr. Flanigan’s homily about fear and faith, at this past Sunday’s Mass in Liberia. You can read the entire homily which was posted on his blog on Sept. 8th…
“What to do? What to do? What does NOT work is to deny the presence of fear. It does NOT work to try and overcome it by becoming even more and more disciplined, by working at it harder and harder, and being more and more careful. (Though there’s nothing wrong with discipline, hard work, or being careful.) But … try as we might, we cannot force away our fear, or our doubt, or our sin. It is part of our very humanness. We all have eaten the apple, and are all fallen.
“What can we do? We can literally throw ourselves into the arms of Mary and Jesus who know us better than we know ourselves. Jesus has known us since we were in our mother’s womb. We literally have to abandon ourselves into Mary and Jesus’ loving and tender arms … and we know that Mary’s arms always cradle us close to the Heart of her Son.” Dr. Timothy P. Flanigan