By Father David A. Cockson
I offer the following reflections during this season of Lent, as far as our participation in the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ. My fifteen years of experience as a psychotherapist and ten months as a newly-ordained priest are reflected herein.
At the heart of our vocation as a single person, friend, spouse, parent, grandparent, bishop, priest or deacon, is to assist ourselves and others in reaching heaven. A normal human reaction to our woundedness, or the woundedness of others, is to sometimes attempt to flee from that woundedness. However, in doing as much, our wounds will often never adequately heal and become a source of healing for self and others.
I recently attended a workshop for newly-ordained priests, in the winter of 2015, and, had a conversation with one of my fellow priests on the topic, “The Wounds of Christ/Our Wounds.” We came to understand that one way we can identify that we have at least begun in earnest to deal with our own human woundedness, is that we then become a source of healing, instead of hurt, for ourselves and others.
Grace builds upon nature. We take great delight in knowing that Jesus took upon our own human nature in order to lead us back to his Father and our Father. At Easter, we are invited to become persons of great joy because he has truly overcome the grave.
So, what are some of those human wounds? They are: engaging in superficial relationships; always being frantically busy, for the sake of busyness’ sake; addicted to the pursuits of pleasure — body image, alcohol, drugs or pornography, to name several; being primarily interested in making friends with persons who are almost carbon copies of ourselves; passive atheism, which has as its root cause spiritual indifference; and, not being able to bond with persons whom God has placed within our lives, for our own human and spiritual growth.
So what are some concrete ways that we can begin to address our own woundedness? Learning to understand what relationships really require from us; taking time for quiet and relaxation within our daily rhythm of life; understanding that God is at the center of the universe and not ourselves; reaching out to others who are unlike ourselves.
Availing ourselves of spiritual growth opportunities, which should include frequent reception of the Sacraments, as well as taking time daily for prayer, meditation and spiritual reading. Acknowledging and appreciating the persons whom God has placed at the center of our lives as being important for our own human and spiritual growth, instead of creating our own universe, which excludes others, sometimes even our own family members.
Above all, we are invited to acknowledge that God is God and we are not. Christ is the head of the Body, the church. We are his members. When one of our sisters or brothers is suffering, we the Body of Christ also suffer. As Christians, we are called to become co-sufferers with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Suffering for its own sake is futile. Finding redemption within suffering is life-giving for self and others. True holiness consists in this: We are to become the best version of ourselves. And in doing as much, we are well on our way, as well as helping others along their way in life, to prepare for eternal life on high, with Jesus Christ in heaven. Alleluia, he has risen — he has truly risen!
Father David A. Cockson is associate pastor of the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown, Ky., and St. Michael Church in Fairfield, Ky.