The Joy of Christ or Why I Was Such A Mess At Mass

Kauai By Night
Photo by Foraging Squirrel

On the Beach at Night Alone

by Walt Whitman
(1819-1892)


On the beach at night alone,
As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song,
As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef
of the universes and of the future.

A vast similitude interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets,
All distances of place however wide,
All distances of time, all inanimate forms,
All souls, all living bodies though they be ever so different, or in
different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,
All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe, or any globe,
All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,
This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann’d,
And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.

The most heart breaking moment I have ever experienced was watching a mother bury her daughter who had finally lost her fight to breast cancer while her other daughter, also with terminal breast cancer, stood alongside clutching her own young daughter’s hand. One of the most heart warming moments I have ever experienced was being with my friend when she got the call that her soon to be adopted daughter, whom she had waited for desperately, had been born. Death and life, sorrow and joy. As Walt Whitman explores above, “All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future, This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann’d.” We are all on the path of  life and death in various moments in various times with pain and bliss tagging alongside.

“A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me” (John 16:16)

John 16:16 speaks to me most literally of death and then eternal life but also of a  loss of happiness and a return to happiness. I had lately fallen into another depression. Episodes of depression come and go in my life usually triggered by stress. This time had me overwhelmingly sad and feeling like nothing I did mattered. So when I woke up last Sunday to a household dead set on not going to church, I had no will to fight. I went to Mass by myself sad as “poor me” can be, feeling lonely and abandoned. During the Mass I experienced an extreme sense of loss and the pain associated with it. I know to many of you who have not experienced depression this may seem unwarranted, but unfortunately depression is not that easy to thwart- at least not for me. I had been dealing with it already for weeks, managing to stay above water until now- at Mass. I was sinking. I felt an overwhelming desire to leave.  The Eucharist was beginning and all I could think was “I’ve got to get out of here.” I knew it was the depression and yet I couldn’t stop feeling so much darkness. I decided I had to stay and carry on even if I was such a mess and got in line to receive the bread and wine. “Oh Jesus, I prayed, have mercy on me!” I ate the bread and drank the wine and pondered the loss of life to regain life. I thought of the immortal words of St. Augustine: “Become what you eat!” Christ is in me, Christ is with me. The full meaning of the sacrament of the Eucharist became powerfully real, lifting my spirit and the light began to shine through the darkness with the joy tagging alongside. Thank God!

“A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me” (John 16:16)

p.s.- I am feeling much better – please no worries!

7 thoughts on “The Joy of Christ or Why I Was Such A Mess At Mass

  1. ‘so thankful you shared the struggle you have with depression. So many people can relate and sharing your trust in the Eucharist is encouraging for all!

  2. I have been there, I understand. Once, at a very low ebb, I asked for a blessing from our parish priest, I needed powerful Divine intervention. The pain and fog lifted overnight and I woke up refreshed and able to cope.
    Glad you’re feeling better.

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