Lost But Not Alone. Who do you turn to for love, support and peace amidst life’s uncertainties? Please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to the beautiful and at times overstimulating country of India as we explore this question.
Book Excerpt. Chapter Twenty-Two: Lost But Not Alone (The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. By: Karen Sheehy)
Initiating their nightly bedtime ritual, the mother placed a weighted blanket on her restless three-year-old son, professed her love, and proceeded to read his favorite bedtime story. Next, she gently kissed him goodnight and began their usual prayers. After a full day of overstimulation and severe anxiety, the predictability of this routine seemed to lull her small child into a peaceful slumber. Overwhelmed by the endless difficulties encountered during the first two years of his life, the new mother sought help from an occupational therapist. Recommended was a “sensory diet” to regulate her son’s over sensitive nervous system. Included would be the use of a weighted blanket, predicable routine, verbal pre-warning prior to intimate contact, and active playtime in place of his aggression or self-mutilating behaviors. Receiving the first diagnosis of many to come, that of sensory regulation dysfunction and high functioning autism, the new mom did her best to implement all recommended measures. Feeling lost but not alone, she found support amidst the vibrant community of believers at her local Catholic Parish, Mary, Queen of Peace. There, she found God’s loving presence, and an unexplainable sense of peace, amidst her family’s growing uncertainties.
About five years ago, my husband and I went on a two week journey to India in search of adventure and a personal encounter with its most exotic wildlife. Ironically, I found something even more profound: the joy, comfort, and hope of Christ reflected in the community of believers at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Catholic Church. Tradition holds that, after Pentecost, St. Thomas went east and eventually reached India around 58 AD, where he spread the faith throughout India’s coastal regions. Although Christians make up less than 3% of India’s total population, this small but vibrant group can trace its lineage to St. Thomas, the Apostle. Today, several of his bodily remains are preserved within the San Thome Basilica in Chennai, Mylapore, the destination of thousands of pilgrims each year. This unexpected spiritual oasis, found amidst the amazingly wonderful but overstimulating streets of India, provides the first clue in our search for peace amidst life’s uncertainties: Gather amongst a community of believers to give praise and honor to God.
A further exploration of India’s history and culture will reveal our final three clues. In 2015, India’s economy was the seventh largest in the world. In fact, following the implementation of its 1991 economic reforms, it became one of the world’s fastest-growing economic nations. Although this rapid financial growth helped to create a large urban middle class, it failed to lessen the unyielding poverty still affecting a large percentage of its rural and urban population. It was there, amidst India’s “poorest of the poor”, that a small Albanian nun opened a school and began tending to the poor and forgotten. One year later, in 1950, this same nun, known as Mother or Saint Teresa of Calcutta, formed the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation which today has over 4,500 sisters in over 133 countries around the world.
It is in the following heartfelt words of St. Teresa, recorded in her spiritual diary, that we find our second clue to the source of inner peace amidst the overstimulation of life: join all of your suffering, uncertainty, doubt and pain to the Cross of Jesus. There, it will become redemptive and life giving for others.
“Our Lord wants me to be a free nun covered with the poverty of the cross. Today, I learned a good lesson. The poverty of the poor must be so hard for them. While looking for a home I walked and walked til my arms and legs ached. I thought how much they must ache in body and soul, looking for a home, food and health……..Of free choice, my God, and out of love for you, I desire to remain and do whatever be your Holy will in my regard,” (Mother Teresa, 1949)
So close did St. Teresa feel to both our Lord and the people of India, that she went on to write, “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.” When considering where Mother Teresa found the strength and perseverance to continually serve others, Pope John Paul II replied, “She found it in prayer and in the silent contemplation of Jesus Christ, his Holy Face, his Sacred Heart.” In these words, we find our third clue: Fall in love with Jesus. Seek His guidance and consolation in prayer and before the Most Blessed Eucharist.
Our final clue can be found within the homes of most Indian families. There, we find an extremely low divorce rate and the continued existence of a multi-generational or joint family home, where uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and grandparents live together under a single roof. In India, family is the most important institution that has survived through the ages. Like most other less industrialized, traditional, eastern societies, India continues to emphasize family integrity, loyalty, and unity. Therefore, the Indian family supports its old, widowed, never married, disabled and unemployed. It provides security, a sense of support, and togetherness for each of its members. Here, we find our fourth and final clue when searching for peace amidst the overstimulation and uncertainties of life: foster traditional family values and unity, for it there, in the company of loved ones, that we find the peace and comfort of home. It is there, within our “domestic church”, that we find the love, and mirrored image, of the Triune God.
Closing 3:00 p.m. prayer for Divine Mercy.
Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.
For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).
Jesus, I trust in You.
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