Is it possible for someone to live with a physical illness? Yes, of course! Here at Our Lady of Peace alone, I knew a woman who was a great minister here. But, as it turns out, she had a tumor and just did not want to deal with it. I’ll explain. She had felt bad for the longest time and she was getting progressively weaker. Finally, she looked so weak that I spoke with her after Mass. I shared with her that I could not allow people to get hurt here, and with that in mind, I asked her to get a doctor’s evaluation. A doctor should “ok” her to continue her ministry here. She complied. The result of her medical examination was that she did have a tumor and had it for some time. She seemed to know this beforehand, and felt that God would take care of it. But she waited too long, and died about two or three weeks after her doctor’s visit.
My mother was also such a person. I had noticed that she had become sick once and did not want to see a doctor because she didn’t want to get any “bad news.” Her ongoing weakness compelled me to insist that she see a doctor. Although she was reluctant, she did see a doctor and she learned that she had cancer. This medical evaluation resulted in her hospitalization, which over time allowed doctors to notice additional health concerns. Finally, she had to go to a nursing home where, so many months later, she passed away.
Now, just as people can live with physical problems and not want to actively deal with them because of fear of receiving bad news, is it possible that this same process can happen in people’s spiritual life as well? And we find that the answer here too is yes.
Doctors have various manuals (library’s!) that list out physical maladies. Spiritually, we have a library that lists out various spiritual maladies, too. It’s called the Bible. The Bible is in effect a library, in that it is a collection of books. If we were to browse through the Bible, we might find ourselves amazed (or not) as to how many spiritual problems people seemingly choose to live with rather than confront. Largely due to the bad feelings they might have exactly because of confronting them.
Look how many people simply accept “road rage!” Excuses abound! Consider: “Everyone does it!” “We live in an angry nation now and we just have to accept that reality.” “That other driver deserved to be the recipient of my anger!” And so on. We excuse ourselves on so many levels for as many sins as we can think of. And how many people don’t want to hear about Purgatory anymore! The cause for these feelings is the same. Just as with physical illness, people live with spiritual illnesses because they just don’t want to feel bad by having to acknowledge them. So, they live with them instead.
But there is one major difference between the physical illnesses mentioned, and the spiritual ones. By not dealing with physical problems in time, they can potentially get worse. They could result even in death. Not so with the spiritual. Granted, they too could get worse by not dealing in time, but when we do – whenever we do – the result is always life! Christ does promise us the fullness of life! By dealing them finally, we will inevitably feel Peace, and perhaps even Joy. And this can happen even on ones’ deathbed. It’s been known to happen. But why wait to feel Peace and Joy only then? We can go to our Spiritual Doctor right now and get the Blessed Results just waiting for us. God bless you!!
Peace, Fr. Walter