Saturday, January 16, 2010



I’ve recently begun helping with a new group in our parish – French-speaking Africans who have started getting together in someone’s house once a month to have a little prayer service, scripture sharing, and fellowship. The Lord is inviting me to rejoice in my own version of the gift of tongues, since I seldom get a chance to converse – and never preach -- in French. It was because of this opportunity that I began re-reading a lovely theology book I’d bought in Paris a long time ago. Here’s my translation from a chapter of Francois Varillon's Joie de croire, joie de vivre on the virtue of HOPE:

“Hope is always collective. For you never hope all alone. You may think that you’re hoping alone, or for yourself alone, but that’s an illusion. On the contrary isolation is despair. A hope that is not lived collectively degrades or atrophies. Hope is like joy: it needs to be shared. There is, strictly speaking, no such thing as individual joy. Hope is, then, bound up with solidarity. "

I mulled over that passage for some minutes and decided that it at least matches my experience especially in my life in community, and made me think of the little community of folks who are watching over my shoulder via my blog.


This morning I was reading my Bible de Jérusalem, and the beautiful French translation of Mark’s gospel suddenly made me think of the tens of thousands of Haitians, most of whom are Catholic and who pray and worship in French. Images from CNN and the newspapers began popping up as I kept reading:

That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city [of Capernaum] was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (Mark 1:32-34).

I prayed for “the whole city” of Port-au-Prince, that those suffering brothers and sisters will still be able to hold on to their faith in the face of the horrible devastation that they’re experiencing. Their suffering certainly gives a certain perspective to my back pain!


An hour or two later, in cleaning off my desk, I came across an article by Karl Rahner entitled “Proving Oneself in Time of Sickness.” In flipping through it I noticed a sentence that I had underlined when reading it the first time and which seemed pretty appropriate to my praying for our Haitian brothers and sisters. The words I’d underlined are in caps below:

“In offering these few brief considerations on the time of sickness I should like to say something about patience. The relevance and appropriateness of this to the situation of the sick will surely be apparent to all. At the same time, however, we should not be too ready to discourse about the sick and the patience they should exercise, for THIS IS NOT A SUBJECT ON WHICH THE HEALTHY SHOULD HAVE MUCH TO SAY."

There’s a lot of wisdom in this. In fact I’m going to follow his advice!

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