Being Whole Rather Than Cured
Dolores, one of my parishioners, died. As a young woman she had been
a teacher and a member of our Family Life Group in the parish but
for the last fifteen years she had been paralyzed. She was a tiny
sickly little woman and yet she was one of the finest persons that
I have had the privilege to know. While she was physically sick and
disabled she was one of the most whole people I have ever met. There
was a peace and a joy about her that she communicated to all about
her. She was ever joyful and never complaining. This peace and joy
was also communicated to her husband, daughter and three sons. There
was a great peace about her passing and her funeral. It was as if
she had gone to a place where she had already been.
to a few months before she died she had continued her family life
apostolate. I would send couples to her, especially foreigners who
were marrying Filipinos. She had a great knack of hearing where they
were at, and communicating what was relevant to the need of the couple.
After their wedding more than one couple told me that one of their
greatest memories was their session with Nang Dolores.
illustrates for me the difference between being healed and being whole.
She never seemed to ask for healing. Indeed, if she had been healed
she may have been just another woman like any of her neighbors caught
up in the rat race of life. But being the whole person that she was
and yet disabled she was available in a special way to the Lord.
This Sunday's Gospel tells us of how Jesus called the disciples to
"follow me and I will make you fishers of men." "At
once, leaving the boat and their father they followed him." To
follow Jesus is to enter into discipleship, to accept a discipline.
Many people can start out very dramatically but they lose heart along
the way. Then Jesus asked the disciples, "Who do you say that
I am?' and Peter answered, "You are the Messiah the son of the
living God." He was rewarded for his bright answer with the leadership
of the group. But then when Jesus spoke about suffering, Peter remonstrated
that surely there must be a mistake. Jesus rebuked him saying "Get
behind me Satan." True Christian prayer must be a prayer that
embraces the Cross. Jesus said, "Come to me all you who labor
and are burdened and I will refresh you." He will refresh us
and make our burdens light but they will still be burdens.
that seeks divine intervention only to remove suffering is not truly
Christian prayer. It is not prayer following Christ who said, "Father
would that this Chalice would pass from me, but not my will but yours
be done." It was a presentation of need to the Father in full
trust that the Father would do the best thing.
himself experienced the prayer for relief from human suffering that
apparently was not answered. Sometimes I find people like Dolores
who are fully at ease with their suffering, but others come along
to pray over them telling them that they must have faith in order
to be cured. Often it is those who are doing the praying over that
are diseased, and they may be just indulging their own ego needs to
is a form of prayer that asks us to follow Christ by letting go of
all. We let go of words and images and even of any experience or desire
for experience of God. To meditate one just uses a mantra, a prayer
word. The prayer word that the great Benedictine teacher of Meditation,
John Main, recommends is ma-ra-na-tha, an Aramaic word meaning Come
Lord Jesus. When you meditate you do not think of the word, you just
listen to it. When you become distracted you know exactly what to
do - just come back to the prayer word. This discipline of prayer,
this way of being a disciple is disarmingly simple. But do not make
the mistake of thinking that simple means easy. Trying to say the
mantra is like trying to pick up mercury with a fork, it is constantly
eluding your grasp. But the patient perseverance in this activity
slowly has an extraordinary effect on your life. You begin to become
patient and persevering in the ups and downs of life. Your prayer
ceases to be a prayer of wanting but one that transcends wanting.
it makes you into a person like Dolores who is no longer interested
in being healed but who becomes truly whole.
into Silence - A Pathway to Life. Copyright © 1998 by Claretian