Tuesday, February 17, 2009
CANCER JOURNAL - The Communion of Saints
Every time we recite the creed, we say that we believe in the "Communion of Saints", but what is that?
Since I suspect that most of us haven't thought much about it, I thought I'd write some of the insights I've learned recently in the midst of this battle.
Cancer inevitably makes one address death directly. I am surrounded by people I love who love me, and faced with the prospect of losing every one of them. Then the question arises, how could one be happy even in Heaven without those we love? I think the answer to that question is the Communion of Saints.
The nuns like to talk about "energy" and "empowerment" as though this were something we can reach out and grasp. We can, but it doesn't come without a price. God is the "energy", the power source, if you will. He is the transmission line. In Him, and in love, we don't lose the people we love. Love is the one thing that can survive bodily death. We first love God. Through that love of Him, we can forge eternal bonds with others, but only if we are willing to sacrifice our own will in any given situation, and seek God's will instead. The power is grace which is the same thing as love, and it is a mighty power indeed, if used for the proper purposes.
It can also be a destructive force as the occultists discover when they try to grasp it and use it for their own purposes. We can't control it, and if we try, we end up making ourselves miserable. Grasp this power in opposition to the will of God and find out there is hell to pay. Literally.
But what a power it is if we use it in conjunction with God's will. If we seek His will first in our lives, and then go on to seek His will in the lives of those we love, our sufferings can be beneficial. We can offer our disappointments, our pain, our fears of loss for the salvation of the souls we love; and not lose our eternal connection with them. We will never be in Heaven without them. Rather we will be doing what we do on earth, seeking their good in every way that presents itself. What's more, we will truly know what is for their own good and not be blinded by the seduction of the world.
What I don't yet know, and may never know until I am fortunate enough to experience it for myself, is what is our state in Purgatory. Are we bottled up inside ourselves and unable to seek the good of those we love? Or does the Communion of Saints extend there, too? Part of it does. We on earth can pray for those in Purgatory. But can they pray for us as well? That I don't know.
There is little worse for me than being bottled up inside myself. Being so overwhelmed with pain--be it emotional or physical--that I can't escape my own self-pity is awful. I want what I want when I want it, and like a two-year-old I can descend into a tantrum that has the capacity to destroy relationships. It makes me miserable in so many subtle ways. It is a darkness that I can't fully describe. In the midst of it I can't pray. I can't seek God. I think it is a small taste of hell. The only doorway out that I've seen so far is offering it up, and there have been a couple of small miracles when I've done this. The power of suffering may actually be greater than the power of prayer, though I wouldn't invite this power because for me it would be tempting fate. Despair lurks in the shadows of suffering for me. Wrong thoughts, destructive thoughts, are right there tempting me at every moment when I'm in pain. It is a constant battle with spiritual forces. One for which the outcome is ever in doubt. If this is the nature of hell or purgatory, it is something to fear.