“I was in Beirut”, relates this priest from Italy. “There were many war casualties at the hospital. One day I had to anoint more than fifty persons. I recall going to the bedside of a woman whose body was all in plaster, practically tied up to the bed. I gave her Communion and then I asked her what had happened to her.”
“Father, last Sunday I went to Mass with my husband and my ten year old daughter. We invited to lunch my mum, my sister and my mother in law when a bomb struck and destroyed our house completely. It killed my husband, my daughter, my mum, my sister, and my mother in law. I am the only one that survived, and this is how I am, in shreds!”
She started crying, she cried a lot. And I cried too in the face of this tragedy. She looked at me. “You are a priest, you have come to support and encourage me and you are crying?!” “In the face of such a tragedy, even stones would cry!” I replied.
She surprised me. “Father, I want to tell you something. Here in hospital, I who lost tall my dear ones and my body is all broken up, in spite of everything, this week I discovered that God is love, that God loves…”
Believe me, – the priest recounted – I did not know what to say in front of such a statement. The only thing I told her was this: “Listen my sister, before coming near you, I passed by many wounded young people, none of them wanted to go to confession, none of them wanted to receive Holy Communion. I ask you to pray for them.”
“The day after – and this is sheer truth – I passed by these young people again and many of them were changed. I remember in particular, one of them who was very angry at me the day before, and did not want to hear of God; that morning he called me himself and insisted that I to listen to his confession. He made a very moving confession.”
I had to go back to the woman and ask: “What have you done?”
Looking at me, in pain but very calm, she said: “Nothing special. All through the night, the plaster was hurting me, my body was all aching, but I kept repeating: “I offer it for these young people, Lord… for these young people, Lord…”
Yes, even pain can be transformed into a source of grace…
A war veteran who had lost a leg appeared at the shrine of Lourdes sometime after World War II. As he hobbled his way along the street to the shrine, some smart guy remarked, “This is ridiculous. Does he think God is going to give him back his leg?” The young man overheard the remark and turned towards the speakers and said: “Of course I do not expect God to give me back my leg. I am going to pray to Our Lady to help me live without it.”
No flower can bloom in paradise that has not been transplanted from Gethsemane.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.