A couple of weekends ago I had the privilege of accompanying one of the young moms we have been serving to our retreat house in Stamford, Connecticut. Tatiana is an exceptional young woman. She is 17 years old, her father has never been present to her, and she lost her mother to lupus a year and a half ago. Since then she has been living alone in the apartment that she had been sharing with her mother. Tatiana gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in November. She is still in high school and is determined to finish this year with the rest of her classmates. She drives her own car and looks after the bills. She buys her own groceries and cooks her own meals. She is a go-getter and certainly not prone to letting things shake her – either up or down. She is a ‘Steady-Eddie’ with maturity beyond her years.
In conversation Tatiana shared with us that every now and then she would go to an evangelical Christian service but it wasn’t a big part of her life. Still, she was interested in connecting more with God, so she decided to register for one of the weekend retreats at Villa Maria Guadalupe. The drive up the retreat house was a good time to prepare her a little for what might be new to someone coming into a Catholic setting from a Protestant background. She had many questions about what we believe and why we do what we do. I could hear that a lot of what I was saying was completely outside of the categories of her experience or understanding, but she listened with great interest. The climax of these retreats is a Eucharistic healing service, which I described to her with the hope that she would be able to enter into it with an understanding of the power of reaching out to Jesus in faith. I explained to her about how we can take our wounds to Jesus and that it can be helpful to prepare by praying about what needs to be healed in your heart. Well Tatiana took it seriously. When the time of the service arrived, she and I knelt next to each other on the step in front of the sanctuary. She had her three month old in one arm and with the other she pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket. When the priest brought the monstrance with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament before her, she looked intently at her paper.
Afterwards, outside the chapel doors, Tatiana came up to me, sleeping baby in arms, and I asked her how the experience was for her. She replied with a look of wonder, whispering: “It was like I was with God”. She told me that she didn’t quite make it through reading her list of wounds to Jesus but I assured her that He knew what was on her heart. Then a couple of tears rolled down her cheek. “Are you ok?” I asked. She smiled and answered: “These are happy tears”.
That night, Tatiana, who is so successfully “making it work” in her demanding life, turned in faith to the only One who could truly heal her wounds, taking them into His own heart. Her happy tears came from a heart that had finally found a place to lay its burdens down. Those of us praying and working for the cause of Life so often pray for those who are ‘vulnerable’. But who does that include? ‘Vulnera’ is Latin for wounds. We all have wounds – we are all vulnerable. Jesus longs for us to come before Him in faith, bringing those wounds to Him, bringing this vulnerability to Him, to lay everything down before Him. Whether we have a list of hurts or perhaps don’t even know how to name our sufferings, it is His joy to transform them and to bring about in us our own form of happy tears.
Lord Jesus, give us the courage to bring our wounds and our sufferings to You and to lay them at Your feet, trusting that You will heal and transform all of those parts in us that keep us from being whole and fully alive. We know that You desire for us, and promise us, abundant life. Help us to embrace the healing and transformation You offer us in so many ways. You are so good to us. Thank You.