But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb… John 20:11
It’s been awhile since I have written anything so I thought I would update you on my life.
On Friday, May 6, I ruptured a disk in my back lifting my mom into her wheelchair. This was just shortly after I spoke the week before on Radio Maria, USA’s show, Battle Ready with Father Dan Reehil, that I wanted to hold nothing back from God, that I understood suffering purifies us, and I wanted to be purified. I don’t think these things are ever coincidence.
It’s not that God wants us to suffer, because suffering is bad. It’s that God wants us to love Him enough that we are willing to suffer. It’s the love God is looking for – because that kind of love is Christ on the Cross.
Now, when I tell you I have never experienced that level of pain in my whole life, I mean it was a 10+, I can’t think straight level of pain. More pain than childbirth for me. I don’t go to the ER generally ever. I think I have been 3 times in my life, all for life threatening things. But this level of pain – this sent me to the ER crawling in on my hands and knees.
The devil tried to tempt me with thoughts that God didn’t love me. He even tempted me with thoughts of death being better. I sobbed and sobbed and begged God for mercy. It was in this night I gained an understanding of the night of long suffering of Christ. I am talking about the night between Holy Thursday and Good Friday. It was as if I knew all these thoughts were flung at Him and the depth of Jesus’ understanding of all we go through, both physical and mental. Jesus understands those who have thoughts of suicide because of physical and emotional pain. He understands all of our mental anguish. And I was made to understand the unending ocean of mercy he wants to bathe us in. Though Christ wants us to choose love regardless of suffering, He offers His mercy to everyone who is suffering, and we just have to say yes. He always wants us to hold on to hope that His promises are true, because they are, in fact, true. In that space between life and death, lies the mercy of God. I pray that everyone says yes to it and doesn’t lock themselves into hell.
The road to recovery has seemed long to me, though in the scheme of things it is rather short. But needless to say I have been confined to my home again. My doctor would not prescribe narcotic pain medication because so many people get addicted. I admire his stance, but this brought on a lot of physical pain for me. I am not here to debate my doctor’s decision. I will just tell you that this led to nights of excruciating pain where the medications I did have simply didn’t help. I experienced temporary blindness in one eye from one of the medications that was given to me. I cried out to God. Still, I tried to offer all this suffering up and get outside myself to pray for others. That is the goal, to love others and be stripped of ego, I have prayed for this for years.
But I am a failure. By Tuesday, May 17, I was yelling at my husband, crying about my situation, and cursing with words I haven’t used in a long long while, caving in on myself. My husband got me to the chiropractor and I experienced relief. I apologized to Jesus and set out to keep moving forward. There are two paths, stay on the path of prayer and faith and move forward, or fall off the path back to the old ways of living. I am not going backwards. I have experienced the love of God and in these moments where He feels absent to me, I refuse to believe that He is absent. I have faith.
By Sunday the 22nd, I was able to hobble back into Mass. On Monday I made it to confession and Mass. But some things have changed for me which I will now try to explain as best as I can.
Back in 2018, when I was on pilgrimage to Medjugorje, I felt the Lord ask me to receive the Eucharist kneeling. You may remember I had already had a dream and conversation with God about receiving on the tongue. The parish where I work is a Novus Ordo Mass parish. There are no kneelers or altar rails in the line for communion. I listened to what I felt God speak to me, and then I ignored it. I already wore a veil, and received on the tongue, I was afraid of the judgment of man. I mean, how many things was God going to ask me to do? I justified to myself.
Then came the 2020 pandemic. The shutdown broke my heart. When we reopened, I told the Lord I would do whatever He wanted, and I wouldn’t worry about the judgement of man. I received kneeling on the tongue, and I was blessed enough that our Diocese hadn’t banned tongue reception. While we took the prudent measures to protect, this was still allowed. I am externally grateful for that.
I have knelt down ever since. But here I find myself today with a bad back that made kneeling down without an altar rail for support, impossible for me. So like I do, I had a conversation with God about it. I just told the Lord that I wanted Him to know that my receiving standing up wasn’t out of disobedience.
It was as if a lot of things poured over me about the Liturgy and communion and standing and kneeling at that moment of my conversation with God. I am not sure I understand all of it, or if it is even correct, but I am going to do my best to explain.
The Latin Mass everyone kneels for communion. This is a posture of humility, of a sinner in front of her Majesty, the King, receiving the gift. Since I began to be on fire for the Lord, this position of reception has always made sense to me even though I just did whatever the church I went to at the time did until the pandemic.
What I saw in my prayer during Mass about this, was Mary Magdalene in a heap on her knees at the foot of the cross. Here she was, a penitent sinner, watching the death of her Lord, perhaps not understanding, but still, at the cross. Though scripture isn’t clear that Mary Magdalene was kneeling (it says standing were the Blessed Virgin Mary and then lists the other women), tradition has always depicted her this way in the art I have seen, on her knees. She is contrasted with the Blessed Virgin Mary who is sinless and full of grace, and John who rests in the bosom of Christ and as a Priest is grafted into the Holy Family in a way that others are not. They both are standing.
It is only at the empty tomb that we see Mary Magdalene standing, having been through the cross, and now bowing to look for Him at the tomb (John 20:11). The risen Lord appears to the woman who is standing after having been through the cross.
The new Mass has everyone standing with a bow to receive communion, which, in light of this, to me, is a posture of Resurrection. The problem with this is, most are still filled with sin, don’t confess, and want Resurrection without going through the cross. While I understand both positions – one should actually lead to the other.
Acceptance of suffering and total forgiveness takes time in the human heart. For these things to take place, virtue needs to grow. It is these things that convert us into other Christ’s. And it is these things that are desperately missing in the world.
It is a process of being purified. It is as if, while the Blessed Virgin Mary is the archetype of the church and Mother of the Church, Mary Magdalene stands as the purified church. The one whom seven demons had been cast out of.
Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. Mark 16:9
It is as if the church herself still needs these demons cast out; the demons of pride, envy, lust, gluttony, sloth, wrath, and greed. We find ourselves in a period of history where we are brought to our knees at the cross of purification, so that we may stand in the Resurrection of being purified. I am starting to understand why the Saint of the Year I picked was Mary Magdalene. In scripture she is the first the Lord appears to and she is the apostle to the Apostles. She is a purified bride made for transforming union. She was at the cross with the Mother of God, mediatrix of grace, and a Priest who was given to us to bridge the gap between heaven and earth so we may be purified sacramentally. God heals his family members.
Since the time I began to realize all that God is, I wanted to kneel, knowing I am not worthy that he should enter under my roof. I cannot at the moment physically do this. But the Lord was kind and gentle with me at Mass. I am currently bearing a cross. I have never felt as more of a failure than right now, and never even more dependent on Him, as I am now, crying most nights for Him and His mercy in the physical pain I am in. It’s almost as if in my complete helplessness, what does the Lord do? He stands me up. Not me, not my merit, not my earning, not anything I have done at all. A glimmer for me that in helplessness and surrender – Resurrection is on the other side – that I may stand. It is God who stands us up, we should not be standing ourselves up without Him filling us and guiding us there. It is a posture of pride to think we can do this on our own without having surrendered to our crosses. We must stop fighting the cross.
I had actually been praying this whole last year to be able to stand at the cross like the Blessed Virgin Mary. I was so positive that I was not doing that during this trial. That all I am and all I can do is fail. And then I had this moment at Mass – when total reliance on Him is all I can do to make it through, and I stand at communion, as if to signify – He will bring me where I need to go, because I am not my own Savior.
Lastly, my friend Ashley sent me something about how Saint Margaret Mary offered Jesus His own heart. There was a time I wouldn’t have understood this. But here, in this cross that I bear, I understand. I have decided when I awake in the night to make an act of reparation to His Sacred Heart. Because it is usually dark and I am tired, I just used my own words. I leave you with this prayer;
Lord Jesus, I desire to make reparation for my sins and the sins of mankind that have injured your heart. I give you my own heart, but I know it doesn’t contain enough love, though I desire it to. So, I offer you your own heart, which contains an infinite amount of love, along with my own heart, that the world may be repaired and your heart consoled. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.