Articles

Finding Joy With a Serious Illness

February 2, 2020


Hey, I’m Fr. Mark Mary
and this is Ascension Presents. I gotta say,
I am loving being a priest. You know, yeah,
15 years I’ve been chasing this, I’ve been orienting my life
totally towards it, and it’s even better —
it’s even, it’s even better than I thought. I am just loving every moment
of being a priest. What a gift. If you remember back to Fitz, like
“It’s just too much, it’s just too much…” — that’s where I’m living from,
that place, right now. So, as you can imagine, after that first video came out
with Ascension, the ‘God’s Providence and Nachos,’ some of the guys around the friary started calling me
‘Brother Nacho.’ Like, “Hey Brother Nacho, go get the door,
Brother Nacho, there’s a phone call for you, hey Brother Nacho, you’re cooking tonight.” Now, I’ve got a new nickname:
Father Sister Act. “Hey bro, like,
what did you do this week?” “Oh he saw Father Sister Act,
he saw Father Sister Act,” because what happened is,
my first week of priesthood, I got out the phone book with the different convents
in the neighborhood, and I just called them up. “Hey sisters, I just got ordained.
Would you like mass?” And so, in seven days
I ended up going to six convents. Sisters of Life, Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal,
Missionaries of Charity… and I want to share one story of what happened
when I went to the Missionaries of Charity. So they have their house in the South Bronx,
right next to where our friary is. And this is actually where Mother Teresa
opened her first house in the U.S. And so I walked over to the — I walked over to the
convent, rang the doorbell, sister comes. I said “Hey sister, my name is Father Mark Mary,
I was just ordained a priest two days ago. Would you like some blessings?” So she brought me in and told all the sisters
and, like, they just kept … they just kept coming,
they just kept coming. I don’t know,
there must’ve been two dozen of the sisters. So they were coming,
I was praying with them, giving them blessing. Next one, praying with them,
giving them a blessing, and we had holy hour, we had benediction,
we had some vanilla ice cream. And at the end of my stay there —
it was probably two hours — one last sister comes out, and she introduces herself and she’s got this
big smile on her face and bright eyes. It’s like, literally, what you would
expect from a woman on her wedding day. And we start talking and she says
“Hey Father, oh congratulations, great to have you,” and she starts telling her story, “You see well,
I’m here because I have this really rare disease” and she’s smiling, bright-eyed. “And the doctors told me that usually people —
they only live with this disease for one year. And it’s really painful and it really hurts,
but I’ve been alive for three years. And the doctor says
it’s kind of a miracle that I’m still alive, and I say ‘Well doctor, you know what? It’s because God has
a lot of work still to do with me.’” Bright-eyed, big smile —
like it’s her wedding day. And I heard this witness and it rocked my world. What…what faith. This woman who knows the reality of when we accept
and we give our sufferings to the Lord. It’s like the greatest power in the world. And this is something that John Paul II —
he used to always ask, like on World Day of the Sick, when he’s visiting hospitals,
he’d remind the sick, don’t forget that the Lord has
a special mission for you in the church in your suffering. Yes, it’s a mission which requires
great faith and great patience. But it’s the … it’s a crucial mission to the church,
to receive and to give back to the Lord our suffering. And so my brothers and sisters, I know the reality is —
for many of you out there — suffering is a real thing. It’s something that is a part of your life. But I want to remind you what this Missionary of Charity,
this little nun, knew, what Pope Saint John Paul II knew: through your suffering united to the cross,
united to Jesus’ own suffering the Lord wants to bring about
a great work through you. And so my brothers and sisters who are struggling,
who are suffering with whatever it is: I thank you. I thank you for your faith.
I thank you for your courage and your strength. And I thank you for receiving
and in suffering with the Lord Jesus for it, for the salvation of souls
and for the good of the Church. We love you, we need you,
we need your prayers, we need your sacrifices. Thank you my brothers and sisters. And we go back to that, sort of, that send-off phrase
because this is the reality: “Poco a poco,” brothers and sisters,
“poco a poco” — little by little, “vamos a llegar,” ‘cause we are pilgrims
and we are going to our father’s house. We thank you so much for watching,
we thank you for your ongoing prayers. We look forward to seeing you again next week.
God bless all.

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