Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Sacrament of Marriage - Graces to be had in Illness and Suffering

This week has been an amazing challenge for the Everett family. Other than Raymond Kolbe who is breastfeeding, Lucille, Anne-Marie, and myself were hit with a really bad stomach bug.

Anne-Marie was fortunate in that her case was mild. This is good, due to Lucille's concerns with a little one's hydration levels.

Lucille and I on the other hand were not. Sparing the grueling details, we were emptied completely on Wednesday. Myself over the afternoon and evening, and Lucille over the late evening and all night.

When we encounter this type of illness, extremely intense, but temporary, we have a very serious set of decisions to make.
  • Is this suffering going to be redemptive? That is, do I make an act of my will to give my suffering as a small offering to Jesus on the Cross?
  • Am I conscious of the Sacramental grace that I have as husband, wife, or child - yes, children have a special kind of sharing in the Sacramental graces of Marriage - to accept the "Duty of the Moment" which is to suffer and offer sacrifice for my family?
  • Do I accept the suffering with gentleness and humility or do I get cranky and frustrated?
  • When both husband and wife are down with the illness, do I focus in on myself and refuse to go beyond my own pains and take that extra step to help out when asked?
  • Do I go beyond my own pain and offer to help when I see a need?
  • And finally, if I fail and cause even more hurt, do I reach out in humility and plead for forgiveness from my wife, husband, and/or children?
When both husband and wife are down, it can be extremely difficult to run the household.

On the one hand, we have a two and a half year old that needs to be constantly cuddled because she is both sick herself and has never seen both her parents in this state at the same time. And on the other, a five month old who is breastfeeding, teething, and has his ongoing needs to have something to keep him occupied, position changes, etc.

This certainly can be a recipe for disaster if our focus was inwards, that is on ourselves only.

We have the graces to conquer these trials in our Sacrament of Marriage. These graces are lavished upon us by God the Father through the Sacrament to help us deal with extremely difficult trials.

He gives us the grace to:
  • Make that act of the will to make this suffering redemptive.
  • Get beyond my own suffering and reach out to my wife/husband and children in their need.
  • Have the energy from virtually nowhere to accomplish the most important tasks to keep us functioning like heating up the chicken soup!
  • Reach out to those around us to help out with things like bringing in groceries specific to our illness needs.
  • Remember that even our recovery time is redemptive.
There are so many more graces to discover in our Sacrament.

During the most violent part of the illness, I made a point of making sure that Lucille knew that I was offering all of my suffering for her by telling her outright. I wanted her to know, that even in the midst of my most weakest and helpless state, that I was focused on offering this suffering for her. I wanted her to see in my eyes that this was, for me, an offering of one of the deepest forms of love and grace that I could offer for her: My suffering.

The offering of my suffering for her went a long way in helping me to eventually accept gracefully the suffering that came my way. I started off a bit on the cranky side. :D

The offering of our suffering for our family can help us to focus in on the graces that the Father has waiting for us through our Marital Sacrament. We can learn a number of lessons in humility and explore some of our human limitations.

Prayer: Father, thank you for the gift of suffering. Thank you for the gift of graces that you give us in the Sacrament of marriage. Thank you for drawing us closer to Jesus Your Son in our suffering. Father, help us to give glory to your name in the midst of our suffering just as Jesus did. Help us to embrace our Cross, to carry it with dignity, and to allow ourselves to be nailed to it when you deem it our time.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, envelop us in your Wound.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, keep us warm in the Fire of Your Love.

Thank You Jesus, praise You Jesus, glory to You Jesus!

Pax vobis (Peace be with you),