James Martin: Lenten passages offer strength for those dealing with ALS
Easter has always been my favorite holiday, primarily because of the rich symbolism and tradition of Lent.
Lent, the preparation period before Easter is (as it should be) incredibly important to my faith journey. It is a time of reflection and repentance, a time of sacrifice and yearning, but most importantly a time of prayer.
As I have shared before, my ability to deal with this ALS diagnosis is possible only because of my faith. It provides me with comfort, or better said, peace. Something desperately needed by ALS patients, for it is a disease of apprehension.
It is not a fear of the unknown, but of the known. In a small way, this knowledge is as disabling as the physical disability. We fear what is next; what current ability, function, or level of independence will too soon be lost. We fear the burden will be too great, too heavy to endure. That is the heavy cross I carried into and through Lent.
But as with all worries turned over to God, that burden became lighter. Included in the Palm Sunday readings were the passages about Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane, knowing the future that awaited him. Jesus fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Mt. 26:39)
Christ, fearing his fate, found comfort that God's will would see him through his passion. This brought to mind a recent sermon I heard on what the priest called his favorite short prayer, which in total is: "Thy will be done." I find those four prayerful words immensely comforting. Thy will be done.
Clearly my fate pales in comparison to that endured by Christ. But it is what he did, what he sacrificed, and why he did it, that comforts me. He surrendered his known future over to God's will, as I too must. And in doing so, the weight of what is before me becomes bearable.
I am thankful for the blessings of my Lenten journey, yet most thankful for that which Easter represents: He is risen!