May 6, 2012

By guest writer Jaclyn Chabot

Part one found here

Catherine and Pope John Paul II
Catherine spent the rest of her life living The Little Mandate.  For more on Catherine, and to learn the further trials, travels, new romance, and how she came to be settled in Combermere, Ontario, you can refer to her book “Fragments of my life”, from which I gathered my facts.  Now is the point at which I would like to start speaking about Catherine from my own personal life, and how she has so greatly affected me.

Chapel in the Woods, Madonna House, Combermere
Who then is Catherine to me in my life? Catherine to me is a very real person. She is someone who I can sympathize with and whose example I can actually follow every day, in the manner in which she always followed Christ through all and despite all the difficulties in her life.

Catherine played a big role in my life by showing me piece by piece her own prayer life. Catherine said that God chooses to work in little ways and therefore we have to work hard at serving God well in those little things in our lives.  This is a lesson that she really taught me personally in my own life.
In writing this today, I came across a reading as I was praying my (often missed) morning prayer:
Isaiah 65:1b-3a

“I said: Here I am! Here I am! To a nation that did not call upon my name. I have stretched out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in evil paths and follow their own thoughts, people who provoke me continually, to my face. “

Isn’t this reading applicable today in our lives and in our world? Doesn't it sound as if it were written by God to us right now? God is so ready to help us in our everyday little things, and it seems like we are so blind to seeing these little miracles happen around us every day. 

Catherine never knew where God would lead her but she did always know that she had to trust him.  In her personal prayers, she had a theme of constantly surrendering herself to his plans and to his will.  This is really the first step. I came across a book of her prayers, called O Jesus, at a major turning point in my life four years ago. It was as though many of her prayers were already my prayers:

"Give me understanding of what I should do and what I should run away from"


" Oh Lord, seek me for I am lost. Lost in the maze of life, passions, temptations! I seem to do nothing but fail. Have pity on me, my Lord. Help me. Forgive me. Help me. Help me."
from O Jesus.

The next few years were spent being taught one step at a time by Catherine’s words. She was teaching me how to rebuild both my self and my trust in God in all I did every day:

" With God every moment is the moment of beginning again. Every moment is hope."
From Donkey Bells.

" Prayer is not restricted to a place, since Christ said "pray always".  We should do so by offering our work, games, and joys to Him throughout the day.  Everything can be offered to Him as a love-gift if love for Him rules our hearts."
From Grace in every season.

" Trust in little things....worries of little things can stop noble desires and deaden the most ardent hearts." From O Jesus.

" By doing little things well with a great love for God, little, humble, ordinary souls like ourselves can become great. But even more importantly, we will restore the world to Christ." From The people of the towel and water.

" I often rebel at the "medicines" you send me, but the daily, I understand better that seemingly simple saying, God uses people, things, and events, to teach us and test us" from O Jesus.

How fitting this last statement was to be very soon in my life!

Catherine held my hand, and walked me through this past year of small miracles, which now as I look back, has ended up being one really big miracle.  But it really took asking for, seeing, and accepting God's help every step along the way.

Last year shortly after Christmas, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, stage 4.  My first prayers were along the lines of “Oh God, help me to accept this”.   Shortly after learning this, on January 30, 2011, I felt that we were meant to pray through Catherine's intercession for a miracle. Also during this prayer time, I clearly heard the words 'My Glory' and that was all.

I knew from hearing those two words, that I had to trust again, and at the same time there came an overwhelming sense of comfort, and I knew that no matter what happened it would be according to His plans.

I, and my entire family, began to pray, asking God that through Catherine’s intercession we might receive healing for my mother. As more friends were told, they also joined us in this prayer.

In March, my mother, still doing poorly even after having undergone radiation therapy, was found to be in a very small subset of 3-4 percent of the population with her type of lung cancer that actually had a mutation that was known and had a treatment! We couldn’t believe the awesome news.  In fact, the doctor had at first been reluctant to take a tumour sample since there was such a low chance of finding anything treatable in people with her background and cancer type. Thank God that “Something” had prompted him to change his mind. This treatment was being offered in Canada for free for a limited time since it was very new and so my mother was able to get on it right away. Otherwise, this treatment would have cost thousands per month! Not only did she not have to undergo chemotherapy anymore, but also these pills had very few side effects. We were told that it would not cure her but that at least it would keep everything at bay, but they didn't know for how long.

I continued to pray for her full healing through Catherine’s intercession.

One day while I was praying, I had an image in my mind of sitting with Catherine at a small round table drinking a cup of tea. We were praying together for my mother. It was such a comforting moment, and still remains so vivid in my mind.

We held a mass that spring with the whole family and with some of the Madonna House members in Thanksgiving for and to continue to pray for mom’s continued healing, and at one point during the mass, after Communion, I truly felt that there were angels saying, much like the angels at Christmas in Bethlehem, 'Rejoice!!!! Your prayers have been heard!!!'

Within months the progress was already very obvious. Mom went from a 40 percent lung capacity to 90 percent lung capacity! We were praising God for his miracles! It has been a year and she is still seeing decreases in the amount of cancer in her lungs! Glory to God!

The thing is, it would seem that God's favourite way to work is through us. He truly wants to work using us. He doesn't want to be some big god almighty up in the sky going POOF! - Here is what you want, POOF! - Here’s what you want. He's always trying to show us that He wants to be in a relationship with us working hand in hand with us. Yes, in our everyday tasks that may seem small and insignificant to the scientist working at the bench trying to make a dollar just to keep on living, but look at how that person makes such a huge difference to the person with lung cancer who needed that drug to be developed! The more we will allow God to work our everyday lives, the more He, through us, will be able to help the whole world. Pope John Paul II also referred to this in his writing, The Lord's Day: "The exhilarating advance of science, technology and culture.... is the historical consequence of the mission by which God entrusts to man and woman the task and responsibility of filling the earth and subduing it by means of their work, in the observance of God's law."

He wants our help. He wants to be a team. And I think He wants the world to see it this way, because then, how else would they want to join His team? If all God were to do were big flashy miracles all the time, why would He need us? If we didn’t feel needed and important on the team, why would we want to join the team? But he so wants us on his team! Each of us is such a valuable player because we have each our own unique talents. And the end result, well it's only win-win; we will never lose on His Team.

Although I know I meant to write this article mostly about Catherine, I know very well that she would like to have it done otherwise: She would like to have this article point everyone to Him.

Let's not be like those in the reading from Isaiah- a nation that does not call upon His name. Instead, let us hear and recognize that in every small aspect of our lives, in every little task, in every person we meet, He is there saying: 'Here I am! Here I am!' if we can only learn to listen, trust, and follow as Catherine did.

For more information about Madonna House Apostolate, look here:  Madonna House


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