Prescribing Good Medicine

Barnstorming

A good night sleep, or a ten minute bawl, or a pint of chocolate ice cream, or all three together, is good medicine.
~Ray Bradbury

If there is anything I’ve learned in over 40 years of practicing medicine, it’s that I still must “practice” my art every day.  As much as we physicians emphasize the science of what we do, utilizing “evidence based” decisions, there are still days when a fair amount of educated guessing and a gut feeling is based on past experience, along with my best hunch.  Many patients don’t arrive with classic cook book symptoms that fit the standardized diagnostic and treatment algorithms so the nuances of their stories require interpretation, discernment and flexibility.    I appreciate a surprise once in awhile that makes me look at a patient in a new or unexpected way and teaches me something I didn’t know before.   It keeps me coming back for…

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She burns the light of hope

{This is a repost . . .]

mary-pierced-heartHave you ever wondered why Saturday is traditionally observed as the day of Our Lady? A few years ago I was reading a book by John Saward (The Beauty of Holiness, the Holiness of Beauty), and, in a section about our Lady, he described Mary’s unfailing faith through the long, terrible day after Christ’s death when she alone kept faith in her Son.   I had never before heard of this mariological foundation for Saturday being traditionally her day:

The yes [her continued yes to the Lord that began with her Annunciation yes] of Our Lady does not end on Good Friday and [Christ’s] yielding of the spirit . . . . The faith and love of Our Lady last into Holy Saturday.  The dead body of the Son of God lies in the tomb, while His soul descends into Sheol, the Limbo of the Fathers.  Jesus goes down into the hideous kingdom of death to proclaim the power of the Cross and the coming victory of the Resurrection and to open Heaven’s gates to Adam and Eve and all the souls of the just.  The Apostles, hopeless and forlorn, know none of this.  “As yet,” St. John tells us, “they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise from the dead” (Jn 20.9).  In all Israel, is there no faith in Jesus?   On this silent Saturday, this terrible Shabbat, while the Jews’ true Messiah sleeps the sleep of death, who burns the lights of hope?  Is there no loyal remnant?  There is, and its name is Mary.  In the fortitude of faith, she keeps the Sabbath candles alight for her Son.  That is why Saturday, the sacred day of her physical brethren, is Our Lady’s weekly festival.  On the first Holy Saturday, in the person of Mary of  Nazareth, Israel now an unblemished bride, faces her hardest trial and, through the fortitude of the Holy Spirit, is triumphant.

I take great comfort in knowing that Mary always burns the light of hope for me (and you!) as well.

The night of nights

The Night of Nights

by Catherine Doherty.

This is the night of nights. This is the apex of the love story. The first part came to us as the cry of a Child. The second, as the hammering and planning of wood by a Carpenter.

The third, as a Voice—picked up by the megaphone of centuries and brought to us: Christ the preacher, in his public life. Next, the sound of whips upon human flesh and of nails entering that flesh. Then in the quiet of that night, flame, fire, and song got together, and suddenly God arose.

Christ is risen! In him is my faith, my love; in him I live.

He sang us a love song from the moment of his birth to the moment of his Ascension—which comes soon—he will leave us tokens of his love: first, himself in the celebration of the Eucharist and in the Blessed Sacrament, and in his priests. For he is so in love with us that, though he went to the Father, he remained with us. Only God can do that.

Night of nights! It must be a night of such a profound love for one another that we know, through the tremendous mystery of faith, that each one I love is the Lord. Christ meets Christ. This tremendous surge of love should so fill us that, at least one night in all the year, we might try to love him and one another as he loves us.

— From Season of Mercy, pp. 117-118, available from MH Publications.

Blessed are those who mourn

Käthe Kollwitz’s Pietà

Photography by Walter Mason

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“I have no right to withdraw from the responsibility of being an advocate. It is my duty to voice the sufferings of people, the sufferings that never end and are as big as mountains.” So wrote Käthe Kollwitz – artist, socialist, pacifist, and grieving mother – five years after her son Peter died on the battlefield in World War I. In 1937, she began working on her Pietà in his memory as war loomed again. In that second great bloodletting she would lose her grandson, also named Peter, killed in action as a draftee for Hitler, whose regime was hounding Kollwitz for her dissident activities.

In 1993, an enlarged casting of the Pietà was installed as the centerpiece of Germany’s National Memorial to the Victims of War and Tyranny on Berlin’s Unter den Linden boulevard. The sculpture is situated in the Neue Wache guardhouse, once a national­istic shrine that played a central role in the Nazis’ annual parade for war heroes.

Today, the remains of an unknown soldier and an unknown concentration camp prisoner rest beneath Kollwitz’s statue. Directly overhead, the oculus allows sunlight, rain, and snow to fall onto the agonized mother. “Blessed are those who mourn” – this place draws us into the heart of this cryptic beatitude, evoking the suffering of mothers all over the world, from Syria to the Congo.

Berlin photographer Walter Mason writes: “Kollwitz’s statue, alone in the middle of the room, commands a respect that is immediately understood by anyone who enters. The tourists come in off the street and, without exception, fall silent. The mother with her son is so wrapped up in her sorrow that she seems ­unapproachable; the visitors stand at a distance and partake in her grief.”

Originally found at Plough.com

The hem of His garment

This Holy Week: Just the Hem of His Garment

by Amy Ekeh

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This Holy Week, remember those in the Gospel who only wanted to touch the tassle of his cloak, the hem of his garment (Matt 14:36). Some days, some years are like that. You may not feel that you can keep up with Jesus on the way to Golgotha. You may not feel that you can shoulder that heavy wooden cross. You may not feel that you succeed at walking along the path with him, or listening to him, or always doing what he asks. But do you see him passing by? Can you reach out your hand, like the woman who was ill for twelve long years? Perhaps – like her – you find yourself on the ground, reaching out – grasping, believing, stretching – “If only I could touch the hem of his garment, the tassle of his cloak” (Matt 9:21).

It is faith that has you there, reaching out for Jesus. And this year, that is enough. This Holy Week, accept where you are. Jesus will pass by that place.

And just as he was aware of every person who touched him (Lk 8:46), he is aware of you. He will take your hand and speak the words you need to hear: “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace” (Lk 8:48).

This Holy Week, just the hem of his garment is enough.