Monday, April 23, 2018

HEALING HOPE




I am publishing this blog today asking for prayers for a friends 20 year old son who is entering Comunita Cenacolo today, after a long, difficult battle with his addiction to opiates, cocaine and other life threatening substances. I first wrote this for a blog published by my professor at Notre Dame Seminary here in New Orleans.

From the Darkness Into the Light

There is no challenge that will stretch a parent’s capacity to love with the merciful heart of Christ more than when their child is suffering from the brain disease of addiction. This is one darkness that will also push a parent to climb up on the cross with Jesus and cling in desperation to his battered and bloody body. The agony of the crucifixion and the pain wrought by active addiction are parallel journeys intimately embedded in the mystery of the Cross where victory over sin has been claimed for eternity. Meditating upon the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, fully absorbing his sacrificial love, is essential for parents whose children have been seduced by this very cunning, baffling and powerful force.

“Nothing is more beneficial…No remedy could be as effective for the healing of our wounded souls as the continuous contemplation on the suffering of Christ.” St. Augustine

Addiction amplifies our disordered nature brought on by original sin. The horrific harnessing of the human mind through pornography or gambling, or through the abuse of drugs like alcohol and opiates, rewires the person’s brain producing the uncontrollable urge to continue doing the behaviors that are destroying them and using the drugs that are killing them.

Addiction simultaneously suffocates the light in the soul and leads to the sinister oppression of free will. It is as though a force has taken over their battered yet breathing corpse. What happened to the child that nursed at your breast, who squealed with delight at Christmas, who brought you such incandescent joy just because they existed? They are still there and because they are still among the living, we must never give up hope!

Addiction is a progressive, insidious attack against the sanctity of human life; it distorts the sacred intent of family life; and it eventually spoils the community through the resulting increase in crime. The consequences of addiction and the shame produced by this dark human bondage seeps into every level of society, cutting across all socio-economic and religious divides. No one is immune.

I experienced this powerful plague as it hemorrhaged the lives of two of my five sons. One of them confessed to me years later that he had been so tired and depressed that he was one click away from shooting himself with a gun. I firmly believe that God and the Blessed Mother heard the anguished cry of my son’s soul and intervened on his behalf.

The soul-binding fear and despair that I felt during those dark days, pummeled me into complete submission to the Lord’s will because none of the medical solutions were helping. I prayed for the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit as I fell to my knees before the tabernacle of the Lord and begged for God’s mercy on my children and for the strength to carry me through each day. Jesus did not let me down.

He gently lifted me up and carried me deep into his Sacred Heart where His pulsating love pumped new life into every fragment of my fragile nature. I grew progressively hopeful as He inspired me to seize with complete abandon the graces of my baptism and my children’s baptism. He urged me to humbly enter daily into that sacred space, Holy Mass, where the paschal mystery is celebrated in the eternal now. The word made flesh, the flesh transforming life and the circular love that has no beginning and no end propelled me along a spiritual trajectory that changed my life and lifted the darkness that had shrouded my family.

Before I knew it, the sanctifying graces that were transforming me, spilled over to my sons and saturated their wounds with His healing love. Ever so slowly they grew stronger as they literally willed themselves into recovery and the long progressive process of restoration and renewal.

We are intimately connected to our children as we are to our God, and the synchronicity of our DNA and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is more powerful than we can humanly understand. So, hang on tight to your faith and believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who delivered on his promise to redeem mankind, and the same God who designed for us the most powerful toolbox in the world, the Sacraments of our Catholic faith.

Pick up those tools so that you can look with compassion and love into the eyes of your children, deep into their soul where Jesus resides. Love them with the same everlasting love that Jesus gives to all of us each and every day; hold them tightly as He is holding us, and always remember that victory has already been won!

“We believe that in the darkest night, it is possible to find light again.”
Mother Elvira Petrozzi, Comunita Cenacolo

Monday, March 20, 2017

"FINDING DORY"

So many of you are “Finding Dory” on the movie screen. I found Dori in 1986 high atop a mountain in Medjugorje Bosnia Herzegovina.

“This is a holy place, not a Catholic place, a holy place.” Dori’s words of wisdom captured my heart as I interviewed her for a television documentary on the reported apparitions of the Blessed Mother to six young visionaries.

"...a holy place." This profoundly simple proclamation of heaven’s earthly anointing spoke to my soul-and I immediately felt drawn to Dori! Who knew that this groundbreaking news assignment would lay the groundwork for a deeply spiritual connection with Dori that has spanned nearly 31 years.

What touched me back then and continues to inspire me to this day is Dori’s natural willingness to look at life through an unfiltered lense of universal love; her deeply pragmatic yet prophetic view of the gifts that God has given her; and her willingness to carry her crosses and imperfections with quiet dignity.
Dori’s stepson became her own as she cradled him for years with a mother’s love until the day he lost his battle to M.S. Dori poured every ounce of her strength and devotion into the love of her life, Lou, until the Lord called him home a year and a half ago.

Like Dory in the movie my Dori has understood the core value of life as she consistently and persistently searches out her family and friends to gather them home with joyful gratitude and heartfelt appreciation.

Today Dori turns 86 and I marvel at God’s goodness, gifting me with a friend who is not only loyal and giving, but overflowing with a contagious spirit of adventure and an overarching desire to unite individuals from all walks of life.

The best part is that I can actually keep up with her! Seriously-I’m not joking! If we were the same age she would have left me in the dust a long time ago!

So thank you Dori for the uending laughter, for teaching me by your example how to climb over the walls of separation that conquer and divide others, and for the hope that you have given me through your unquenchable thirst for life! You are an inspiration and a gift that I am praying will keep on giving for many many years to come!

Happy Blessed Birthday my friend!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

WORLD YOUTH DAY 2016 KRAKOW POLAND

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven..."
Matthew 18:3-5

Out of the mouths of babes!

World Youth Day in Krakow Poland announced to the world that God is very much alive, hope is in endless supply and the future of humanity rests in the energizing faith of our youth!

Hundreds of thousands of young Catholics from around the globe converged to make this the largest gathering of its kind in the world! They inspired unity among diverse cultures and their obvious joy yielded an outpouring of love that is certain to spread far and wide well into the future.

On a personal note I am so proud of my friend Benny's son Daniel who is on the video! Go Comunita Cenacolo!

Check out this story at the link below-
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154005834943821&id=181277843820&_rdr

Sunday, July 31, 2016

CELEBRATING LIFE AFTER DEATH

My friend Karen bid farewell to her husband this weekend and I know the passing of his life from here to eternity has been painful.

She celebrated anyway, because that’s what loving someone is really all about; celebrating their life and their love and their unique imprint on our world…even when they are no longer here.

Great loves always leave an indelible imprint that never fades. It is as though an ethereal spirit remains to remind us of the value of that person and their place in our life.

We feel them in the raw and rigorous process of grief that only time can carry away. We embrace them in the joy that, for now, is secondary to the loss that lingers longer than we would like. We hold them in our hurting hearts because it is so true, “parting is such sweet sorrow.”

In a special ceremony Karen celebrated Mel in one last dance of love that honors the gift of their marriage, the joy of their lives together and the hope that they brought to so many by their bold choice to live a life of love, “until death do we part.”

For the living, death often destroys us because when we define life only as a tangible physical reality then we close the door to the unlimited potential of our supernatural forever. Karen’s celebration of life after death reinforces that living and dying co-exist in a natural unfolding of our eternal destiny.

Karen released the pain of Mel’s passing to the resurrection of beautiful memories; soulful laughter, humble forgiveness and heartfelt moments of truth. And though she probably didn’t know it, she also honored her husband and her friends with renewed hope….For out of the darkness of Mel’s death came an illuminating light of love and an inspiring peace that can never be put to rest.

Monday, July 25, 2016

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL IN LIBERIA

Where there is life there is hope and where there is hope, there is God. I’ve always believed in that uncompromising truth despite the debilitating darkness that refuses to dissipate during active addiction.

As I watched my oldest son Johnny slipping deep into the abyss I clung to hope, praying through the paralyzing terrain of relapse and recovery, believing with every fiber of my human will in the saving grace of God who is the source and the summit of all hope!

Last December I witnessed the powerful manifestation of hope in action during my 24 day visit to Liberia West Africa where Johnny has now been a missionary for 31 months. I watched with gratitude as he juggled his daily work routine, which is wrapped around prayer, with his responsibilities to the other missionaries and to the orphans, 31 children ages 1 and a half to 17. I marveled at his strength and resiliency amid the long hours, the sweltering heat, and the humble living conditions.

I was deeply touched by his desire to reach out to a badly battered nation reeling from poverty following two civil wars and life threatening diseases like Ebola, Typhoid and Yellow fever, and Malaria which Johnny survived three times.

Seven and a half years sober, Johnny is a man for others and the man I always believed he could become. As we strolled down a winding dirt road in the “bush” where mud houses are nestled in between overgrown shrubs and palm trees he introduced me to his Liberian friends. Laughing and joking with them in “Bassa” the local dialect he has been teaching himself, Johnny proudly announced. “This is my “ma,” she’s come to visit me and Liberia.” The villagers beamed with pride, hugged me tightly and said, “He is a good man. He is also our son!”

During those precious weeks with Johnny I experienced his humility and yes-his humanity, as he talked about the future. “I don’t have to make a lot of money, but I want a career that has meaning,” he shared. “I’d like to get married, but I want a wife who prays.” We can only hope!

Hope is the eternal whisper, the persuasive knowing that prods us to hang on when we are feeling helpless and afraid. Hope pushes us to believe in a solution even though we may be blinded by disbelief. Hope is heaven’s promise to carry us when we think we cannot go one step further. Hope harnesses the power within that propels us forward so we can rise above the darkness until we reach the inevitable light that always comes after the storm.

It takes an act of our human will to reach out to the hand of hope; to believe in a power greater than ourselves; to summon every ounce of strength when we are depleted by one more disappointment. Hang on anyway and remember my son Johnny who is living, breathing proof that Hope springs eternal!

Mary Lou McCall
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