I recently sang at the funeral of a much beloved parishioner who led a full, rich, purpose-driven life. “Celebration” and “Resurrection” were true and meaningful words to the 300 or 400 people who filled the church at noon the funeral Mass. The grief and sorrow were evident but tempered. The wounds opened by his death were shallow. He was 92. His was a life well-lived. It was truly a “sending off” to God and those he loved.
I’ve sung at other funerals, including one for a teen—a senior in high school—who died stupidly as the result of drinking and driving. The Mass of the Resurrection was no more than a miniscule starting point for most of the people there. While the ritual and words were the same, all of us there felt the grief and sorrow in our toes, down to the very marrow of our bones, at a cellular level. The wounds of this death were gaping, raw, festering.
Culturally, we tend to dance around our woundedness. We handle the blood and gore of physical wounds pretty well—the rational part of the brain knows to take over and call 911 or grab the first aid kit—but the obvious steps to tending to our spiritual, emotional, and psychological wounds are not really that obvious.
This week’s six CatholicsRead titles offer direction on dealing with diverse experiences, ranging from the scrapes and bruises of daily life to gaping, open wounds that cry out for metanoia at the deepest level of our being.
Sometimes we just need a companion, something simple to get us through the trying moments or days. Soul Training with the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis (Franciscan Media) and The Ave Prayer Book for Catholic Mothers (Ave Maria Press) offer recognizable prayers like the Peace Prayer and Angelus as well as unique prayers—“A Kitchen Sink Offering”—to ease the burden.
But sometimes the burdens are heavy and the wounds deep. Every one of these books speaks to my soul, not necessarily because I’ve been there myself, but because I know how few steps it would take until I was there—feeling like I am Breathing Under Water (Franciscan Media), searching for What Was Lost (Franciscan Media), needing to Be Restored (Ave Maria Press), or just losing it and yelling Seriously, God? (Ave Maria Press).
Sometimes we need to express what we feel in the face of hardship, pain, and grief, and Seriously, God? encourages us to do that. The authors contend that those feelings offer us a chance to learn more about God. Like the writer of the Book of Psalms. Maureen O’Brien in What Was Lost turns to the Psalms to find the words to express those deep emotions without fear of being judged for the ugliness or darkness of them.
The remaining two books shine a light on healing these wounds. In Breathing Under Water, Richard Rohr shows how the Twelve Steps offer a spirituality that can help us face our dependencies head-on and in doing so find fulfillment and true joy. Be Restored offers concrete steps for healing and wholeness because we all have sexual wounds—some caused by over-sexualized culture, some by our personal choices, and some through the actions of others.
Therese Brown is the Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. She holds a master of arts degree in youth and liturgy from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She previously served as senior marketing specialist at United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishing Office. She is the author of Graced Moments: Prayer Services for the Lives of Teens (World Library Publications). She resides in the Baltimore area.