Mad at the Saints: Finding Peace in Suffering
My newsfeeds are full of the exciting announcements regarding soon to be Blessed Fulton Sheen and soon to be Saint John Henry Newman. So why am I feeling a little miffed? I mean, I particularly love Fulton Sheen, and I am happy to have Cardinal Newman become a saint, but if I'm honest, I'm a little mad at them.
Both of these holy men needed a miracle to advance forward in the process of sainthood. They both delivered. Every pun intended. See, Bishop Sheen's miracle involved a baby who was stillborn being miraculously revived, and Cardinal Newman's miracle was that a woman who was hemorrhaging and beginning to actively miscarry (with a huge subchorionic bleed and partial placenta previa) ceased bleeding upon calling on the saint, her hematoma and subchorionic bleed disappeared, and her placenta reattached.
Both mothers have healthy, developmentally on target children now.
And that makes me, if I'm honest, a little...frustrated. Jealous. Angry. Bitter. Salty. Sad.
After losing seven babies, after holding my own lifeless children, after almost dying while bleeding out, after so many desperate prayers not unlike the ones prayed by these mothers, I do NOT have a miracle baby to hold. I have empty arms and four burial plots. And that's not fair.
Where were you, Fulton Sheen when my babies were dying? Where were you John Henry Newman when I was bleeding and scared? Why are these mothers more blessed than me? Why were their children allowed to live and mine weren't? Were their prayers somehow better? Are they holier than I am? Did they cry out to you louder than me? Were they just the first to ask? Does Heaven play favorites?
No. I know it doesn't. So why then do I feel so miffed.
This is where my snarky side wants to war with my faith. I know the snarky side always loses. In my darker times I have gotten mad that I have a faith deep enough to know better. Deep enough to ground me and that ultimately, I trust God and His love for me. Even when I don't want to, because I would rather stay hurting and angry and yelling at the saints.
Then along comes John Paul II. Spiritual father, sainted Pope, and his example and words regarding suffering:
And Christ, through His own salvific suffering, is very much present in every human suffering, and can act from within that suffering by the powers of His Spirit of truth, His consoling spirit.
HOW Christ acts is up to Him. Not me. Not these mothers who desperately cried to Heaven for their babies. It isn't even up to us to understand why He acts the way He does. It is simply up to us to surrender and accept it. Maybe my problem isn't really with Archbishop Sheen or Cardinal Newman. Maybe my problem is with me, and my human, but base and disordered desire to control things. To want answers. To look to human intervention. To not want to suffer. Maybe my problem is that I need to remember to Trust.
The same God who allowed these miracles to happen could have allowed my babies to live. He could have intervened in a supernatural way and I could have 11 kids running around right now. But I don't. And He didn't. Yet He is still God. And I am still His. And He loves me just as much as He loves the mothers of the miracle babies. No more, no less. He can't love ANY of us more than He already does: totally, completely, madly, wholly. And so it is up to me trust that He knows what He is doing. That is hard.
Dare I say, surrendering to suffering, surrendering and trusting God when it just doesn't make sense, that is its own sort of miracle. Finding peace in suffering, learning to maintain that peace come what may, that is its own sort of miracle. Rejoicing in suffering. Finding joy in the midst of pain. That is its own sort of miracle. The way my faith deepened in a way it never would have otherwise because of my losses and sufferings? That is its own sort of miracle. The fact that I am alive? That is a miracle. Participating in the act of creation, co-creating with God a person who will worship Him in pure happiness for all eternity...that is definitely a miracle.
So what is my take away from all this? We don't get to choose our miracles. Often they aren't going to look like what we ask for. The fact that God used two mothers and their babies to advance the causes for Sainthood for Archbishop Sheen and Cardinal Newman doesn't take away, negate, or complicate my own story. These miracles are part of the their stories, and along with these miracles comes it own unique suffering, a suffering that is theirs. Not mine. I have my own miracles. I can maintain peace with that.
Bl. Fulton Sheen, St. Newman, pray for us!