During this time of uncertainty and fear, one thing I am certain of is that God is with us and will never leave or forsake us. As never before, we are being called in faith to pick up our cross and walk this lonesome valley.
The good news is that we are never alone since we have many opportunities to connect with others through online meetings, Skype, and phone. We also now have more time to be still with a God who reminds us to “be not afraid.” Even though we cannot fully see what God is doing, we can trust that He will make all things right if we live according to His holy will.
However, one of the gifts I miss dearly during this time of hardship is my 3am weekly session of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. And as we enter Holy Week, I would like to share a prayerful personal experience I had in Adoration during Holy Week three years ago.
On Wednesday of Holy Week, April 12, 2017, I traveled alone to a women’s Lenten evening of reflection titled, “Walking the Way of the Cross with Mary.” It was my first time visiting the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington Hills, Illinois, and I was not sure why I was there.
After a light meal, we made our way into the church for an inspiring talk about Mary, which piqued my interest. This particular talk included many moments to be still, listen, pray, and meditate. It invited us to be like the Blessed Mother who always exemplified great trust and pondered everything in her heart.
The evening ended with a chance for reconciliation or to spend time with Jesus in a smaller adoration chapel. The confession line was extremely long so I made my way down the hall to the chapel.
When I entered I was immediately struck by the sweet smell of a bouquet of flowers, which transported me back to the Garden of Eden. I remembered this is where Original Sin entered the hearts of our first parents, Adam and Eve. Tempted by the serpent, they yanked the fruit off a tree. It’s a tree just like the one Jesus was hung on: the one who died for my sins and the sins of the whole world.
In my prayer, I started to deeply desire the warmth of a mother’s gentle touch and the protection of a father’s love. My heart longs for these things from my human family. Yet, when we travel every Sunday to Church I sense only ritual and coldness. And my spiritual fathers, the priests, are scary, old, and mean. I wonder: Where can I find love in this type of church?
I then recalled my childhood when I was sexually abused by another, my brother. I’m scared, confused, and full of shame. I feel that my body is dirty and undeserving of love and I fell deeper into the crevasse of darkness not knowing that all along the way my heavenly mother was longing to hold me close to her breast like she did her son Jesus.
Yet, I feel that I’m following in the footsteps of our first parents down the path of Sodom and Gomorrah, further away from true love. Tempted by the sin of lust, I remember how I surrendered my body, my virginity, my purity to the Devil. And then, how my womb was filled with life and that I was being called to motherhood. But I’m young, scared, vulnerable and see myself in the Garden where it all began, where I twice gave into the sin of abortion and lost my boys in this life.
Kneeling, I wept as I experienced all this in the chapel. I feel the void inside me is vast, immense, all-consuming. But I was here to let Jesus’s mother—and mine—fill my heart with Christ. I asked Mary to give me courage as I walked with her to that tree where her son died and then to his tomb, which is also the tomb of my own heart. I prayed: Roll away the stone and fill my soul with the love that I abandoned long ago, the love and joy of motherhood!
I then remembered that I will continue to die to self in order to rise with Him to eternal glory. Thank you, Mary, my heavenly mother, for showing me the way!
Kathleen Ann, by God’s grace, has been clean and sober since June 1, 2006. She is an active member of AA, CIR, and works part-time as the Project Rachel Coordinator in the Life office at the Diocese of Rockford, where she helps gently and confidentially guide those wounded by abortion to hope and healing in Christ Jesus. On most days you can find her at daily Mass, the gym, or caring for the needs of her family, young and old alike.