Priests Filled with Pain
by Catherine Doherty
(August 15, 1896 – December 14, 1985)
Her cause for canonization as a saint is under
consideration by the Catholic Church.
Compassion is a word I know well, or thought I did. Compassion and mercy. Always one together in my heart.
I thought of God when I thought of these words. For he is the all merciful one, the all compassionate one.
But I did not know that the human heart could hold a sea of compassion. A brook, a little river, maybe – but a Sea? No, I didn't know that the human heart could contain a sea of compassion!
I found out quite recently that it is so – strange as it may seem. One night when I was praying, I suddenly saw before me a wall of my log cabin vanish (I must have dozed off... Anyhow, it had gone) and my not overly big dwelling was suddenly crowded with priests! Priests filled with doubts. Priests filled with pain. Inner hidden pain and pains. Priests who were waiting to be laicized. Priests who were thinking of divorce. And priests who were staying where they had been appointed to stay but looking so very tired. Some of them were exhausted!
From my mind, my heart, and my soul there suddenly vanished every desire to accuse any of those priests for their lack of faith, weakness, maturity, etc.
I was suddenly filled with compassion. With love and compassion. I wanted to take them in my arms, as if I were their mother or their oldest sister. I wanted to console them. I wanted to tell them how much I loved their priesthood, which was the one priesthood of Christ. I wanted to tell them how I, and all of us, the laity, needed them. But even my needs, our needs, sort of disappeared in this love and compassion that engulfed me.
I wish I could write, speak, explain, convey somehow, to every priest in the U.S.A. and Canada who is in throes of doubts, pains, inner battles, and weariness, that they are not alone... that in the rural depths of Canada, there is one funny woman who loves the priesthood, with a love that she cannot understand herself. It transcends her understanding. But her heart is a sea of love and compassion!
I wish I could sit down and write to every priest in the U.S.A. and Canada that I share his pain, just simply share it, whatever pain it might be, because I love their priesthood. They are my brothers, and they are so lonely and so lost these days.
But I cannot write to everyone, to every priest in North America. I can simply repeat what I have said, and add that the doors of Madonna House are wide open. We have a humble, simple house for priests and we have poustinias – that is, a sort of log cabin where one can be alone with God, can rest, and can, perhaps, relearn how to pray, if this be one of his needs.
The sea of love and compassion that is in my heart is hidden. But it is there. And it is warm and relaxing.
Dearly Beloved Fathers everywhere, permit this sea of love and compassion to relax you a little. It is not really mine. It is the Lord's. How else can I lose a wall in my log cabin? How else can my heart, mind and soul (and, in fact, all of me) become a sea of compassion?
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