It can make people either bitter or wise.
I remember how my own father was paralyzed and on a sickbed for many months.
Despite friends coming to visit to encourage him, my father’s Christ-like joy and love always ended up comforting them instead.
Poor, pious, and sickly, today’s saint, Anne Catherine, is a bright example of how pain can make our love for God and others almost superhuman.
Despite her poor health, she received visions of the Child Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and even souls in purgatory, thinking it was a normal thing for all kids.
When she was older, Anne was determined to enter the religious life despite being turned down by multiple convents due to her poverty and poor health.
An Augustinian convent finally accepted her.
Even though she often fell ill, she enthusiastically served by carrying out the most difficult and loathsome tasks in the convent.
Though she received little respect from others, she seemed quite special to Jesus.
Anne would receive the stigmata when she was taken in as a housekeeper at the home of a priest.
God also gave her the gift of inedia, living only on the Holy Eucharist for the rest of her life.
Despite her poor health, Anne seemed to have great energy to love people.
Bedridden, she sewed clothes for poor children.
Anne continued to receive visitors with kindness despite the pain of the stigmata.
In his homily during her beatification, Pope John Paul II said, “It has been reported that Anna Katharina Emmerick gave many of her visitors religious assistance and consolation.
Her words had this power because she brought her life and suffering into the service of salvation.
In serving the work of salvation through faith and love, Anna Katharina Emmerich can be a model for us.”
As I reflect on her life, I pray that, like Christ, I may receive the grace during painful moments to shift the focus from my own suffering to Christ and to others around me.
- During life’s challenging moments, how do I change? Do I tend to become more irritable or selfish?
- How can I reframe the experience to transform it into an experience of Christ’s life-changing mercy and love?
CALL TO ACTION:
- If you’re currently going through a rough storm in your life today, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal how you can continue to be Christ to others.
- When you suffer an inconvenience, silently offer it up to God and instead focus on the person nearest you and find a way to serve him or her concretely.