Good News

As I was heading out of church, I knew.

I am healed.

Stained-glass window, Holy Spirit, churchIt didn’t come like a bolt out of the blue or a disembodied voice, or like some televangelist with his palm on my forehead saying the words.  I just knew.  After Mass and some friendly conversations, somewhere between my mental genuflection before the Tabernacle and crossing the threshold out into the world, my worries and prayers concerning whether or not I have cancer had an answer – I am healed.

And I was filled with a light, clear brightness like a many colored stained-glass window radiant with sunlight.  I don’t want to say that this was merely a pleasant feeling, for it was more of a deep-down knowledge.  Later, as I prayed the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary at home, I again experienced the awareness and was brought to tears of joy.

Even when I thought about how healing has different meanings, that this knowledge of mine might not mean that my uterine fibroids are benign, I still had a sense of peace.  I knew that I was healed and that meant something.  Maybe it meant that I was healed of my fears and my wariness of hope.  Maybe it meant that I would have a peaceful, joyful, and impactful transition into the next life.  I didn’t know for certain.  I just knew that I was healed. Continue reading

When I Die

This is a message that I plan to leave behind for my loved ones… and so… for everyone.

Yesterday, April 6th, I celebrated a milestone birthday – but, really, every birthday has been a kind of milestone for me since I was 13. For, when I was diagnosed with my motor neuron disease at the age of two, the doctors told my parents that I wouldn’t live to be a teenager. Thankfully, I have been given the gift of triple that prediction. With the fragility of my health, I am ever mindful that each birthday I celebrate may be my last – and I love life with all that I am. So, the words that follow are not mere words for me.

When I die – as all of us creatures must – I believe it will be according to God’s Perfect Will. If I am killed – because of murder, or because of injuries sustained in an accident, either negligent or willful – or if I die through neglect or the malpractice of mistake, then my death will be by God’s Permissive Will. God will permit the consequence that is my dying even though it will not be at the Divinely appointed time or in the Divinely appointed manner – but I believe that God will grant me, if I am one who truly loves, special grace so that I may spiritually experience the blessings that were divinely intended for me should I have lived out the fullness of my God-given lifespan.

And when I die, I want all of the people that I have loved to understand that in God there is only loving mercy. No matter the time, cause, or manner of my death, God’s love pours forth enough forgiveness to heal every wound, to right every wrong, to mend every broken heart, to save everyone in need of rescue. God’s love prevails. Eternally. And, so, joy does not end. If those who have loved me are unwilling to accept this truth, then, perhaps, they never truly loved me. When the time for heartbreak, anger, sorrow, mourning, and grieving is fulfilled, then those who have truly loved me will continue to love me without end. They will continue to love me without end by turning to God for Divine mercy and healing and by accepting the forgiveness that God’s love offers to everyone who seeks truth. The truth? The truth is that I have always belonged to God and I always will.

We creatures live and breathe upon the earth for only a short while; like the daffodils in the springtime, the blueberries of summer, all the autumn foliage, winter snowflakes, and animal life of soil, forest, field, water and air. We bloom in our season and then are seen no more by eyes that can weep, eyes that can close. The earth is ever full of beauty to behold, of tenderness and delight, and for as long as our earthly bodies draw in breath, let us breathe in the rich fragrance of life, never jealous of what God has created – never holding on too tightly or wresting too vehemently in the self-centered wish to possess. Everything belongs to God and that is the true glory of every thing, every place, every moment, every person. Nothing exists without God. With God is every experience of joy, of love, of beauty, of goodness, of life. And the suffering that we experience as we live and breathe upon the earth are reminders that we are not our own, that we are not God, and that we do not create the beauty that we behold.

The sufferings of life are reminders that can return our minds and hearts to the Source of Being and, so, to know the peace that the world cannot give, the peace that is the fullness of joy. If we do not let our sorrows, pains, losses, frustrations, angers, afflictions and conflictions serve us as reminders, then we stray into the abyss.

The abyss is of the fallen, of those who turn away from God’s mercy and healing, of those who turn away from the truth. It is the destruction chosen by warlords and the perverse abuse that is the domain of the selfishly wicked: the terror and trauma inflicted by those who will not accept the truth. Those who will not love the beauty of Creation as God’s creation, those who will not love human beings as images and likenesses of God, those who will not love themselves as sacred creatures belong eternally to God – these will choose to turn away from truth, to reject holiness, to deny Divinity and so will close themselves off from the Divine love, mercy, and healing that can only be received by those who are open to reception. They will fall to deception and will not be able to recognize true beauty and delight in true life.

I pray my loved ones will not fall to such deception when, after mourning my death, the time comes to heal. Everything is in Divine hands. God is all in all. If there is any joy in life, if there was ever any beauty in my being upon the earth – then it is the joy and the being of the Beautiful One who made me… and Who holds me, with the tenderest loving embrace, eternally. I am where I belong.

God loved me into existence. And God has already saved my life. When I die, see and recognize the grace among the living… Turn to the Infinite/Eternal One from whom all life comes, to whom all love returns, and know peace, forgiveness, healing, strength, joy. Life is beautiful… because the Beautiful One lives.

Christina Chase

God Told Me to Do It, Religious People in the Media, and the Truth about Prayer

Saying that God told him to leave, NFL hopeful Adam Muema walked out of the combines workout last Sunday.  “(God) told me to sit down, be quiet, and enjoy the peace.”  By doing this, the running back prospect said that God would fulfill his dream of becoming a Seattle Seahawk.  One sports reporter, Matt Rudnitsky wrote in response: “I hate to mock somebody for their religious beliefs, but even Tebow never approached this level of ridiculousness. Skip workouts to sit on your ass? Actively hurt your draft stock? You believe in a benevolent God, but you think he’d tell you that?”

Because this story of one young man (who has since gone missing) is being connected to religious people in sports, and to religious beliefs in general, I want to share these thoughts on prayer.  As a Christian, I, like most religious people, don’t believe that God speaks directly to me in order to steer my every action, like in the Bible accounts of Abraham and Moses.  It might be nice if it worked that way (or maybe not, lots of prophets were stoned) – but it doesn’t.  Prayer requires much more deep reflection… God’s “voice” is much more subtle.  So, what is prayer?  This story and this question reminds me of a dialogue that I once imagined taking place between an imagined reporter and an imagined public figure who is also religious:

Reporter: “You went through a tremendous trial in your life.  Did you pray during that ordeal?”

Yes, I did.

Reporter: “Did it help?”

Yes, it did.  You know… Prayer has layers.  If you aren’t a person of faith, then you will look at the surface, which can be scientifically analyzed.  Research shows that people who actively pray, especially the repetitious kind of prayers, mantras, meditations, rosaries, etc., can handle the stress of a situation better than those who don’t pray.  It calms the person so that they don’t suffer so much from the tension, discomfort, pain, fear, and can even help the person to focus better and make more rational decisions.  As a person of reason I understand that – and as a person of faith, I also look deeper, to see the layers beneath the surface, and understand prayer in full dimension, in its entirety.  Sincere prayer, I believe, opens one up to something outside of oneself, a supernatural grace, a kind of divine assistance.  Prayer is a way of receiving a holy gift – be it one of clarity or courage or comfort..

Reporter: “So… When you pray, you’re listening to God speak to you?”

Well, what do you mean by speak?

Reporter: “I don’t know, like, you call on God and he tells you that everything is going to be okay or tells what you need to do.”

Well, life would sure be a whole lot easier if it worked like that, wouldn’t it?  Like the guy in charge, who knows everything and always wants what’s best for you, knocks you upside the head and says, “Hey, don’t do that.”  Or, “Don’t listen to the GPS, go straight.”  Or, maybe, “Here, play these numbers in the lottery tonight.”  But, it doesn’t work like that.

Reporter: “But, you do believe that God helped you, right?”

I want to help you understand what I mean, so allow me to ask you a question: have you ever been truly loved?  I hope so.  I don’t just mean in the boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife way, but also by your mom or dad, an aunt or uncle, grandparent, sibling, or your own child… or maybe a teacher or a really good friend?  When someone truly loves you, they help you out, maybe with their hands, or their smarts, or something.  But, they also help you, sometimes most importantly, by just being there… by loving you… by believing in you.  That love can give you the courage to do things that might have otherwise been impossible.  You become more able to be who you were meant to be, to find your way, to do the right thing, to reach your full potential, to be all that you can be.  Love is powerful like that – human love and most profoundly, I believe, divine love. …  So, you see, prayer is a lot like loving – it isn’t merely about words.