Original Oil on Canvas Divine Mercy by Kathleen Carr – http://www.carrfineart.com
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:25
I hope everyone has had a very Happy New Year and Christmas Season. As the new year starts, I see a lot of people trying to get in shape again after the holidays, and I will tell you, I am no different. But I may have a different motivation. I will begin by taking you back a few years in my life.
I used to be really athletic. I played basketball, softball, field hockey, swimming and diving, when I was growing up. If it was outside, I especially loved it. I played softball in high school and college. I was fit physically, but my spiritual life was an ebb and tide, sometimes I was faithful, and many times I wasn’t.
As I have grown older, gotten married, and had children, I have had my ups and owns with keeping fit, just like any of us. But I used to consistently try to at least run or jog to keep in shape. When my friend was murdered I began to get my spiritual life in shape. I was no longer a luke warm Catholic, I was and remain on fire for Christ, despite my many failings. I know He is the Living God and his mercy is boundless. For a time both my body and soul were on a trajectory of fitness aimed at the Lord.
In October of 2012 I went on a retreat with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation. I was in adoration for quite a while and I heard the Lord clearly say to me, “Divine Mercy Marathon.” It was clear and loud. I fought with the Lord a bit because I had only ever run a half marathon, and not a full one. I told one of the sisters about it and she and I both thought I was supposed to run a marathon for the Lord. Someone on the retreat even asked me if I was a runner, and I took that as my sign that I should run a Marathon for Divine Mercy. But because I had never run a full marathon I told the Lord I would do the half marathon for him. (This makes me laugh now because even then I was always trying to get out of what God asks me to do as I have talked about here). But I did think God’s request of me was totally appropriate because the path to Sainthood is not typically a sprint, it is a marathon. Most Saints work over their lifetime to achieve the state of perfection that gains immediate entrance to heaven. I even wrote to Fr. Michael Gaitley about it and received a response back from him wishing me blessings in my half marathon.
I began training immediately. But I was thwarted at every turn. I got extreme plantar fasciitis. I could not run. I could barely walk. I experienced knee issues too. I complained to the Lord that I was trying to do what he asked (or at least half of it), and I didn’t understand what was going on.
And then, the Boston Marathon Bombing happened. I was stunned. It was probably the first time I had an inkling of a charism of prophecy. I abandoned my training so my body could heal, and I prayed for all the souls involved in the bombing and began my serious search for a Spiritual Director. I was also hired to work a lot more in ministry with adults this time instead of just children.
Fast Forward to this year and so many things in my life have changed. I love my work in ministry and I have my Spiritual Director. He has trained me, as a coach would train a marathon runner, to reach new heights in my spiritual life. I have experienced God in my soul like never before. But my body has fallen by the wayside. I put on weight, as many of us do, and I knew I was not treating my body as a temple. I had severe arthritis in my knee, and so walking could be an issue some days, much less working out. I have not been taking care of body and soul together. I have decided that has to change. I had plasma replacement therapy in my knee, and my plantar fasciitis has long since healed, and for the first time in a long time, I can run again. Not far mind you, but I can do it without pain.
Which brings me to today. Constantly in my prayer I hear, “everything is connected”. I mean, all the time I hear it. So I was on the treadmill today, just trying to run a mile, mind you, and I hear “Divine Mercy Marathon.” And I think, now is the time, although it could mean something else. I was meant to pray for mercy for the Boston Marathon Bombing, but I am also meant to run in reparation for Divine Mercy. I want to run a Divine Mercy Marathon in reparation for the sins against the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. Or at least a half marathon (lol, I know, doing half of what God asks.) God always tells me to get outside myself. I want to do this for others. But I feel unable, unfit, and just generally afraid. I figure if it is meant to happen, it will, and I will succeed, because like everything, if God wants it, it will happen. It’s not about me. God has had me just BE with him these past few years, and now I am ready to BE and DO. (I hope I have been doing in other ways, but this will be a huge sacrifice).
So for now, I begin training. If this is not God’s plan, he will let me know, he will block it like he did before. Say a little prayer for me that my knees hold up, and my ankles, and my feet. And if you want to run one too, I encourage you to do it. It doesn’t have to be an actual marathon, like I want to do, but there’s probably some task that takes some work that God has been calling you to do. As always, pray, discern, and do. Do it in love.
In the end, whether I complete a marathon (or half marathon) or not, I just want to be able to say to the Lord;
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7