Eight Years!

ChelseaDisabled, Personal, Suffering8 Comments

Today is the eighth anniversary of the accident which caused my injury. There is not a lot to be said that I haven’t said already. I share this “feast day” with the great 16th century mystic, St. John of the Cross. This writing from a spiritual Canticle of his sums up what I have learned over the course of the last eight years:

“[T]he apostle Paul said of Christ: In him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God…Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much [interior and exterior] suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there is consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross.

Saint Paul therefore urges the Ephesians not to grow weary in the midst of tribulations, but to be rooted and grounded in love, so that they may know with all the saints the breadth, the length, the height and the depth – to know what is beyond knowable, the love of Christ, so as to be filled with all the fullness of God.

This is the “narrow gate” through which we must travel in order to merit eternal life. Many avoid this gate because it is lined with fire and we inevitably get burned, but we do not travel alone. In his latest encyclical, Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict speaks of Christ the true shepherd in this way:

“The true shepherd is one who knows even the path that passes through the valley of death; one who walks with me even on the path of final solitude, where no one can accompany me, guiding me through: he himself has walked this path, he has descended into the kingdom of death, he has conquered death, and he has returned to accompany us now and to give us the certainty that, together with him, we can find a way through.”

We are not alone in our sufferings. Indeed, when we suffer we are even closer to the Redeemer through the power of the Cross.

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt. 16:24-25)
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I a weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinth 12:10)
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 1:6-7)

“To offer myself as a victim of Divine love is not to offer myself to sweetness, to consolation, but to every anquish, every bitterness; for love lives only by sacrifice, and the more the soul wills to be surrendered to love, the more must she be surrendered to suffering.” ~St. Therese of Lisuix

Suffering is the greatest treasure on earth; it purifies the soul. In suffering we learn who our true friend is.” ~St. Maria Faustina

This is not, by the way, to imply that my life with a disability is a downer, filled with sufferings. My life is quite enjoyable and I am surrounded by love and affection. But I have a greater appreciation for what it means to suffer, to deny your self, your ego and your emotions and embrace the crosses, big and small, of of daily life.

8 Comments on “Eight Years!”

  1. Hi, Chelsea,

    Thank you for your blog, and for sharing such deeply-needed thoughts! You’re making a difference, even if the readers are mostly quiet…

    Please be assured of my daily prayers for you and yours! God bless you, and blessed Feast!

    In Christ,

  2. Chelsea,
    I just bumped into your blog, what a beautiful and uplifting testimony. You are a true witness to the Catholic faith, with so much to teach me and others.
    Thank you for undertaking this task, I hope you dont mind but I forwarded your link to my Emmaus sisters we can all learn so much from you.
    Please keep on writing, God bless you and yours,
    Your Sister in Christ,

  3. Thanks so much for all kind words, for which I am truly humbled and must give credit only to the Holy Spirit on whom I rely! Please forward to your heart’s content!


  4. Chelsea,

    I’m just curious after having read several of your posts…. are you, or have you considered becoming a secular Carmelite?

    I am a secular Carmelite with a community based out of my parish at Assumption Grotto in Detroit.

    I thought I read somewhere that you were in the St. Louis area. There is a good secular community there.

    In ours, we spend time studying much of the things you discuss and I think along with the community allowing you to grow, you would have a lot to offer a Carmel.

    It’s just a thought!

  5. Chelesa, I visit your blog from time to time as it is always uplifting. I am a man 70 years old and I find joy in such a young person having such a positive outlook on life considering your injury. I don’t write often, but I do read. Keep up the good work.

  6. Chelsea,

    I just found your blog today, and what an inspiration you are! I’m coming to speak on the Theology of the Body in Jefferson City this weekend (10-03-09) at a Carmelite Monastery. Is it close to where you live?

    Peace in Christ,

  7. Chelsea,
    I just discovered your blog. I have been disabled since before I was born. The doctors did not expect me to reach my first birthday, but, God willing an the creek don’t rise, I’ll turn 40 in October. I am so pleased to find a blog by a fellow disabled person who is of like mind on the Life issues. God bless you!

  8. My Dear Chelsea: ‘what man is a man who does not make the world better?’ or who would not make the world better if he has his facaulties intact……. Even with the restriction, your mobility in every way is not restricted. You inspire me alot Chelsea…. so I dont have an excuse! Through Mary Our Mother, may your joy be full always in Christ… Happy Day!

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