Wednesday, November 25, 2015

St. Maria Goretti

(Don't expect anything too profound... this is just my personal experience of her visit in Baton Rouge.)

So, the big news in Baton Rouge this month is that the major relics of St. Maria Goretti stopped here on their journey around the country.

I have to admit at the outset that I usually hold the practice of venerating relics at a respectful distance; I see a lot of things that I would describe as superstition in the way some Catholics practice such veneration  – but that’s a post for another day. But… since no church in Baton Rouge has ever hosted such a thing in my memory, I couldn’t very well let them leave without trying to get something like an understand of what makes first-class relics so special to so many people.

They were expecting ten thousand people to make a pilgrimage to be there. I don’t feel like I can fairly call our fifteen minute drive a “pilgrimage” when so many came from so much further, but it was an interruption in our regular schedule.  Since they were expecting so many, we got up extra early to make the first mass of the day, which we believed would be less crowded. This was the right call, but poor Pitter Patter was so tired all day!

At first, I went to go up and pray with the relic by myself. I’m yet uncomfortable with the “venerating” language in which it is usually discussed, but the language of praying with a relic I’m okay with.

Afterward, I brought Pitter Patter to come with me, so she could be near the relics and touch the reliquary.  (Don’t know why it seemed important to do this, but it did.) She did great, even though she didn’t appear to really understand.

There as a big banner near the front of the line that gave instructions for venerating the relic – Daniel was able to read it from the place where we were sitting across from the church. It amounted to instructions for making sure everyone gets a turn, but there was one line in it that I drew back about.

It said that relics always bring healing. The “always” was the thing that I drew back skeptically about. What a tall thing to promise for touching the remains or belongings of a person! That promise isn’t made about the Eucharist – Christ’s own body and blood, which is consumed, not just touched.

Even so, with my Hashimoto’s Diagnosis and all of the problems that had come with it, I couldn’t help hoping for something – something for that. My thoughts were, in essence, wouldn’t that be something.  Something really nice.

And I asked God to give me some kind of healing.

And, I do think I received something in the shape of a gift. Recently, in my investigations of the best ways to manage my Hashimoto’s Disease, I came to the very distressing realization that taking communion in the usual way had become problematic for managing my health. I’ll say that going to Mass had become a very emotional thing, and leave it at that.

Since her visit, I’ve been doing a lot better at Mass. I’d had teary episodes for several consecutive weeks (and not the good kind), but I haven’t had one since.  And events where there were a lot of things I couldn’t have – and nearly nothing that I could – haven’t been bothering me like they did before.

I even managed to e-mail my pastor this week to request an accommodation so that I can receive communion safely. I’d been so scared to do it for weeks that I wouldn’t be able to handle the conversation, but I think I’m good, now.

It might not have been the kind of healing miracle that canonizations are based on… but I have been feeling better about it all around. It’s like something snapped into place, emotionally, and I’ve been able to handle things without getting upset like I did in the beginning.

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