A year ago today, I attended a funeral Mass for a woman I barely knew, yet someone to whom I felt intensely connected. Bea was the first person I ever met who had lupus. Her heart just gave out in her sleep, a complication related to her condition. The ironic thing is that I had always thought of Bea as older, sicker. But at her funeral I found out that she is, she was, exactly my age.
Recently my rheumatologist suggested that I consider switching to one of several "stronger" drugs for my lupus-like autoimmune condition, including the only new medication that has been introduced into the market for lupus in decades. As I pondered my hesitation to try it, it struck me that even the idea of considering this possibility means I have to acknowledge a development, a progression, in my physical condition. And that scares me into immobility.
I felt quite guilty that I spent most of the funeral Mass that day thinking about ME, relating every story that I heard about Bea and her condition to me and to my situation. But then it hit me. Bea gets it now. She sees the whole big picture of life, including me. And the reality is that now I have one more saint in heaven to join the chorus of the communion of saints who already walk this unknown journey with me. Saints who pray for me when I can’t. Saints who believe for me when I can’t. Saints who trust for me when I can’t. And saints who hope for me when I just don’t have it in me.
On this feast of All Saints, I am reminded of the words of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein:
“To believe in saints means only to sense in them God’s presence… The main thing is that we remain united in prayer and come together some day in the eternal light. The longing for this grows more intense the more we see others precede us.”
Help me, Saint Bea of Norman and Saint Edith Stein, to remember and to count on the fact that we are one in prayer, one in our suffering, and above all, one in Him who loved us into being.