In a world of broken people

     You alone can make us whole.

Wounded hearts and minds and spirits,

     broken bodies, battered souls.

 

USA, Summer of 2010; four years into my faith formation program, almost ready to graduate.  I cannot help but reflect on the differences in how I view the world now vs. four years ago as the Holy Spirit pours words in my heart to express what He has shown me.

 

Not long ago a friend and I were discussing some troubling things that were happening at their workplace.  The new buzzword was ‘wounded’ and from my own days in the business world I could see the way it would be used to allow employees to get away with not doing their work; their co-workers being told they must learn to be more sensitive because, “we’re all wounded.”

 

This idea played through my thoughts for quite some time and I began to see that, while I didn’t agree with the way it was being used, it was true.  I would go so far as to say that I don’t believe there is a soul on the face of the planet that isn’t wounded in one way or another.  Be it physical challenges like blindness or paralysis, mental-emotional disorders or illnesses, various anxiety issues or troubles on the spiritual front……none of us escapes; we’re all broken in some way.

 

God was teaching me to see what happens when we leave him out of our lives.  For example; although our society claims to be very advanced, especially in the realms of science and technology, and while vast numbers of people flock to psychologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and other mental health experts, in hope of finding the right medication or the right ‘outlook’ to deal with painful life issues, things are getting worse; and the experts fail to explain why. 

 

Talk shows fill the airwaves with souls confessing their dirty laundry to millions of viewers, and they often seem proud of appalling behavior and unkind things they have done to other human beings.  Cell phones are everywhere and many seem to find no impropriety in discussing very personal issues in public!  This demonstrates the soul’s need to articulate its sins (CCC 1450), yet, with the exception of the priest, the confessionals of our Catholic churches are often empty.

 

Commercials by the hundreds promote ‘the perfect life’ one can have if they only take a certain medication.  It often takes longer for the spokesperson to tell viewers about the numerous side effects of said medication than its supposed benefits.  Patients walk into doctors’ offices asking for anti-depressants describing the commercial.  I want the one where the couple is walking on the beach” or “I want the one where the guy is rowing his boat across the lake.   The number of commercials for anti-depressants and sexual dysfunction medications alone is staggering!

 

The divorce rate among Catholics is as high as in the rest of society.  Families are torn apart, not realizing that in addition to being a physical entity, a family is also a spiritual entity.  We can separate our bodies from one another, we can tear up the marriage license, but we cannot extinguish the bond of unity that exists between our souls. 

 

One day in the midst of this line of thinking I remembered something I had read about Our Blessed Mother.  It was a reflection on how she must have felt during Jesus’ Passion and it described her as being completely broken holding her dead son in her arms ……it went on to explain the tremendous graces that came to us through her willingness to accept this brokenness…….and it was this that solidified the idea in my mind and heart that what the world considers broken, isn’t really broken at all when viewed from a spiritual perspective.  Thus, the question mark in the title of the poem.
 

 

When the first words of this poem came to me my mind flew around the globe picking out those suffering from famine, war, terrorism, corrupt government, natural disasters and the like, and also to those who have debilitating diseases and conditions…..those who seemed the most ‘broken’ from my worldly perspective.  But I knew that these were not the ones the Holy Spirit was turning my heart to.  He meant, as did Jesus in Matthew 23:27, those of us who pretend to be faithful, who make it look like we are good Christians, but whose beliefs and behaviors are often just the opposite of what they should be. 
 

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.  You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.  Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.”

I was one of these people! and among the first few concepts that God taught me was the fact that the devil is real and that evil forces are at work in our lives every day.  It was difficult facing the fact that I was wallowing in secular beliefs and ideas that are opposed to what the Church actually teaches, but I needed to know the Truth, and while it was a shock…….it was also quite refreshing for my soul!

While I personally believe that abortion is the taking of an innocent life, I didn’t think I had the right to “impose my beliefs” on anyone else, and I had bought the lie that it’s okay for Catholics to be pro-choice. What I didn’t understand about abortion, contraception, all forms of sinful sexuality, the ordination of women to the priesthood (See CCC 2270-2275, 2370, 2331-2400, 1577 respectively), and other ‘hot button’ issues like this, is that they are intrinsically evil; the thing in itself is evil, and this is why the Church teaches against them.  In the prideful act of choosing to accept and believe such things are okay – just like Adam & Eve - rather than humbly accepting what God has put in place through His Church, I had turned my back on God and the Church. 

In my ignorance of what the Church actually taught on these issues, and of who God really is, I supported them.  My rationale went something like this: “If Jesus was here today He would understand the need to keep the population down.” or “If there aren’t enough men wanting to be priests, maybe that’s a sign from God that women should be ordained.” In His great love for me, the Holy Spirit wasted no time shattering my illusions with this scripture verse:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Do not be carried away by all sorts of strange teaching. Hebrews 13:8-9a

When my conversion began in 2006 I would spend hours on end in a dark church, no one there but Jesus and me.  While I had no idea of how He would do it, I had been told that “Much healing takes place in adoration,” and I clung to that hope with all my heart.  I really didn’t expect much. I honestly didn’t know how badly ‘wounded’ I was.  I thought I pretty much had things figured out and was doing all the right things to be successful.  The devil would play mind games with me, telling me how much time I was wasting and things like that, but something stronger simply pulled at me until I found myself in church once again.

Flash forward to today and I will tell you that daily Mass, regular confession, and lots of adoration have softened my heart and allowed me to be open to the grace God was pouring out on me.  I am a new person on the inside, thanks to these practices, a good faith formation program, and solid spiritual direction.

God alone can heal the wounds that lie so deep in our hearts that we may not even know they are there.  He can also heal us physically, mentally, and emotionally…….so gradually that we don’t notice it until one day we discover to our astonishment that a bad habit, like yelling at people in traffic, or an ailment, is just gone!  I have experienced this; you can too!

Wholeness can only be achieved when we acknowledge our spiritual needs as well as the physical, mental, and emotional.  Since our soul will live for eternity, we need to make sure our spiritual needs are at the top of the list.  Go to confession; Jesus is waiting for you there and absolution is FREE!!

With love & prayers,

Becky