|Infant Jesus of Prague|
This past evening I made it to St. Mary's Catholic Church in Martins Ferry, OH for the fourth Monday of their nine week novena to the Infant Jesus of Prague. It's an hour drive one way so I do two hours of driving for one hour of prayer, but it is so very worth it. Since we had been away travelling I had missed the first three Mondays, but it's better to start late than to never start at all. The church was packed tonight compared to other times I have attended. My heart was overjoyed to see so many people praying together to honor the infancy of Jesus.
I was overwhelmed emotionally as I sat there. I realized that it was actually three years ago to the very week that I had sat in the cry room of the church to honor the birth of our precious Libby when my uterus had collapsed. It's been such a long road since then. I didn't make it back to the novena that summer nor the next as I dealt with all the pain and searched for a way to try to avoid the partial hysterectomy that I finally agreed to over a year later. Then last year I returned from my seventeen day road trip intending to make the pilgrimage only to have an attack of pain that led to the diagnosis of interstitial cystitis bladder disease, an autoimmune disorder. Let me just say that when this disease "flared up" in my body that I literally felt like I had been beaten up and didn't move off the couch for three days. Thankfully the surgeon who performed my partial floor reconstruction and partial hysterectomy also specializes in this type of disease. I did eight weeks of "bladder rescues" where he poured a solution inside my bladder that helped ease the pain. There is a medication that I can take that costs over $400 a month. At this time though I have been controlling the symptoms herbally, because it's $400 for one medication! I have only had one other flare up in a year-it felt like I was trying to pass a kidney stone. The key to controlling the disease so far has been to make sure that during times of stress that I drink the herbal drink and to try to find a way to relax.
As I sat in the church I was also able to rattle off a list of a bunch of other June/July events stretching back over the past six years that had really shaken our lives at times......but I also realized how God had faithfully navigated us through each twist and turn.....and how both Jason and I had remained faithful to Him. Here I was sitting in the Church where I had received my "Job moment" literally three years later still singing God's praises. Here I was six years literally to the day when my marriage had begun it's "for worse time"-when I hadn't been sure that just two years into our marriage we could survive what we ended up surviving.....and yet we thankfully remain married through the grace of God, and our marriage is stronger than if we hadn't weathered that "for worse" storm. I sat in a Catholic Church praying for many friends and family members, but especially one who is sick and may die. And once again I was struck that this is the legacy I want to leave my children:
That when times get hard we get on our knees.....we work hard-as if everything depends on us, but we pray harder since everything depends on God. Have Jason's and my money problems improved since we started our devotion to the Infant Jesus?? Not in the worldly sense-we have many months where we aren't sure at all how we are going to pay the bills, but we have never gone hungry yet, and from month to month things have worked out even when we couldn't really explain to anyone else how it all worked out. In fact, since our country is still very much in a recession that is actually probably more of a depression, I know that we are poorer.....gas costs more, milk costs more....life just costs way more....and our pay checks are actually smaller because our taxes are more.....we're just like everyone else trying to make a living....
But I can thankfully say my faith is stronger than it was six years or even three years ago.....and my health has definitely improved even with the autoimmune disease diagnosis......and so I pray that if I were to die tomorrow that my children would cling to the Catholic faith that both Chris, Jason and I have given them. That they would remember that I always found my peace in the Church, whether it was from making an annual novena pilgrimage or my weekly adoration hour or dragging my tired self (and theirs!) to Church each Sunday whether I felt like it or not.....because honestly, I have never regretted time that I have spent praying and singing in Church.
When times get tough may my kids always look at a crucifix and realize that it contains the arms of true love. That true love dies to oneself and puts another's needs before it's own. That true love requires pain and sacrifice, and that even God himself ran to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane to get through his own dark night of the soul. That the King of all of creation humbled himself to become a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes (which were RAGS) and laid in an animal manger......that God become humble and completely dependent on Mary and Joseph to take care of all his needs....that he once had to learn how to crawl and walk and run.......and that he laughed and cried.......may they always honor the baby King that would one day give his life on a cross.
May my children remain always faithful, through good times and bad, through rich times and poor times, in sickness and in health.....May they Love God all the days of their lives.....
and May you know the Sweetness of that Faithful faith too,
Novena Prayer of Thanksgiving for Graces Received from the Infant Jesus
I prostrate myself before Your holy image, O most gracious Infant Jesus,
to offer You my most fervent thanks for the blessings You have bestowed on me.
I shall incessantly praise Your ineffable mercy and confess
that You alone are my God, my helper and my protector.
Henceforth my entire confidence shall be placed in You!
Everywhere I will proclaim aloud Your mercy and generosity,
so that Your great love and the great deeds which You
perform through this miraculous image may be acknowledged by all.
May devotion to Your holy infancy increase more and more in the hearts of all Christians,
and may all who experience Your assistance persevere with me
in showing unceasing gratitude to Your most holy infancy,
to which be praise and glory forever.