Praised be Jesus Christ! Did you happen to watch this year’s Super Bowl? I saw the first half and listened to the second half on the radio on the way to my annual retreat. It was an incredibly entertaining game, one that literally came down to the last play. Now before I sing his praises, I will give full disclosure and admit that I have never been a big Nick Foles fan (the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles). The guy played a heck of a game and genuinely deserved the MVP award that he won. However, what has been even more impressive was the humility and wisdom Foles displayed in his words during the postgame interviews. Maybe you’ve seen the following quote, as it has rightly been splashed all over social media: "I think the big thing is don't be afraid to fail. In our society today, Instagram, Twitter, it's a highlight reel. It's all the good things. When you look at it, you think, like, wow, when you have a rough day, your life's not as good as that, [you think] you're failing," Foles said. "Failure is a part of life. That's a part of building character and growing. Without failure, who would you be? I wouldn't be up here if I hadn't fallen thousands of times, made mistakes. We all are human, we all have weaknesses... and I might have just won the Super Bowl. But we still have daily struggles. I still have daily struggles. That's where my faith comes in, that's where my family comes in. I think when you look at a struggle in your life, that's just an opportunity to grow. That's really just been the message: simple. If something's going on in your life and you're struggling, embrace it, because you're growing." Good advice for all of us and a healthy reminder that athletes are just as human as any other group of people. Now the spiritual nugget in what Foles said is the reality of learning to accept suffering in our lives – and this is a challenge for all of us. So many times we’re tempted to approach suffering as an unmitigated evil that must be avoided at all costs. As Foles rightly pointed out, without suffering (in the form of failure in his case), we cannot grow and become a better person. It is not that we want to suffer, but nor are we afraid to if God permits it. We should always seek healing, but with the understanding that we may be carrying a cross that God permits so that our suffering will change us in beautiful ways. Flannery O’Connor was a remarkable Catholic author who got sick with lupus at the age of 25. Her Dad died of the same disease and so she knew from the outset what she was in for; because of her deep faith in Jesus, O’Connor accepted her suffering without fanfare or complaint. Do you struggle with suffering? Or maybe it’s not the suffering but the nagging sense that God is asking too much of you and others unfairly have it much easier. Next Friday, March 2nd Our Lady of Peace will again be hosting a Healing Mass and you’re invited to attend. Confessions begin at 4:00 p.m. (we’ll have at least three priests), and the Mass is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Father Bob Thorn from Wausau will be leading us, as he has beautiful gifts of healing and compassion. The healing prayers begin after Mass and you’ll be impressed with how frequently they admonish the devil and call on God’s protection from evil. Finally, you will have the chance to be prayed over by priests with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament guiding the whole enterprise. True healing takes place at these Masses, though it’s not always apparent because it’s not always physical. Some of the deepest healing happens in our hearts and souls, where there may be fear, resentment, unforgiveness, or despair. If you’ve never attended a healing Mass, here is your chance. As Nick Foles admitted after the Super Bowl, it was his faith in God that got him through the failures of life. Faith grows when we trust in the Lord – attend the Healing Mass and you’ll see.
May our hearts be open to the healing touch of Jesus in the Eucharist and in Confession!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin