Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Loved Sinners

One of the monks told us that he read recently about a man named Brendan Marrocco. He’s a 26-year-old veteran who lost his arms and legs in 2009 in Iraq when a roadside bomb struck the vehicle he was riding. First he was given two new prosthetic limbs. That surely was hard enough, but he got them working. Then in December 2012 he was given two new arms- not prostheses, but donated, real arms- that were transplanted onto his shoulders. Unbelievable. “I hated having no arms,” he said. “It takes so much away from you. You talk with your hands; you do everything with your hands. When I didn’t have them, I was kind of lost.” He said he could now focus on what’s ahead. Imagine his courage. After such a risky double-transplant surgery, he now faces years of grueling rehabilitation to gain full use of his two donated arms.

This monk told us, “It was so humbling, even humiliating to read about this brave young man. But I guess for us as monks, that’s not such a bad place to be. I thought of all the petty things that sometimes concern and annoy me in the monastery. God forgive me. I wanted to say, ‘Depart from me Lord, I am a sinful man.’ Well, the hardest part is that he won’t go away, even with my stubbornness and stupidity. Jesus is not going anywhere.”

When, despite our foolishness, our sinfulness, all our resistances, we dare to say yes to the Lord, we are blessed indeed. For then we come to inhabit a place where all things are possible, a place where we can even rejoice in our nothingness as Our Lady did. As always it is a matter of letting ourselves be loved and daring to believe, to trust in Another’s love and desire. Perhaps we could call it- holy allowing. Those who are in love have always known that. They know enough to trust in the foolishness of another’s fondness and partiality. How good it is to put everything else aside each morning and go to him, up to the altar of God to receive this Best Gift of his Body and Blood, which each day reminds us who we are- deeply loved sinners, from whom Jesus our Lord will never ever depart.

A rendition of the sanctuary of the Abbey church in an etching by Margaret Walters, (1924 - 1971).