my pain is my power

     I went to Mass with an ache in my heart.  Oh, it hurt like a wretched stubbing of the toe.  Ouch!
     I told Ron just before Mass began, “I am asking God what to do with this ache.  Maybe God will heal and remove it.”
     Ron said, “At the very least, I would offer it as a part of the Mass.”  That was helpful.  My pain would now intersect with the service; all too often, I set aside my real life as I pay attention in church.  But some wonderful occasions, there is a perfect intersection of my heart’s unfiltered experience and the holy sacrifice in front of me.  Today was going to be one of those days.
     Offering my pain as part of the Mass: so that means to me. . . what?  I mulled it over.  The Mass is powerful insofar as it is a celebration of the crucifixion, which was the most powerful event in human history.  The Mass is an invitation to bring all of us into that event and access the power of that event.  So my first thought was, “Oh I see.  My pain is going to become my power.”  Rather than take the pain away, God was going to fashion me according to the Cross.
     Then we sang a song: “Eye has not see, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love him; Spirit of love, give us the mind of Jesus.  Teach us the wisdom of God.”  That was it.  It is a sublime, mystical favor when God brings us into the heart of who he is.  Eye has not seen what God has ready for those who love him: it is a transcendent blessing when his loved ones are invited to see how God transforms the filth, brokenness and sadness of this world into divine goodness.  Well, I thought, this is my chance!  I am ready.
     As the gifts of bread and wine were carried to the altar, I imagined them carrying my pain.  Then I watched with great awe and gratitude as the bread and wine were made holy and were made anew.  “This is my body, which has been given up for you.”  The apostles shock at these words must have been palatable: Passover bread is NOT a person’s flesh!  But Christ invited them into faith that something miraculous and divine was happening.  Similarly, my pain is NOT something holy or divine!  It STINKS!  But I said “Yes” to God transforming my pain into the person of Christ.
     Then I was hit by an idea as to what to pray for, my intention for how my pain could be used.  If Christ’s body was crucified for change in us, so too my pain (once joined with Christ’s death) could be offered up for some change in the world.  An idea hit me that has never crossed my mind before.  It was a LOVELY thought, and wonderful idea that I have never had the courage nor insight to request in prayer until that moment.  I spent some time, meditating on that image, praying in a peaceful manner over what I could envision.
     At then end of the Mass, I could still feel the pain.  But I could accept its residence in my heart.  I knew that God’s wish was for me to carry it for the time being, just as his wish was for Christ to carry the cross and accept Calvary.  I was to carry my holy pain until the work it could accomplish is complete.  My pain is my hope, my consolation and my power.