I woke up with a pain in the neck this morning - literally. I must have turned my head funny, slept weird...whatever. I woke up with a gigantic muscle knot - you know the kind: where turning your head is nearly torture. I took some ibuprofen and headed off to Mass, but it hurt so much I was nearly in tears.
After Communion, I prayed to offer up my pain. "God, I don't know which one of my friends or family, my co-workers or acquaintances needs help right now, but I'm offering up this pain for that person. Please use it, in union with that of Christ on the Cross."
Elizabeth Scalia, in an article for First Things, says this: Far from being a picturesque and nonchalant “there, there” to someone
enduring either a minor inconvenience or a larger concern, “offer it up”
is powerful theological advice that comes to us directly from
scripture. As Paul writes to the Colossians: “Now I rejoice in my
sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking
of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is
the church . . .”
Pondering the crucifix, and the immensity of what Christ endured, we wonder
what could possibly be ‘lacking’ in his afflictions. But then, gazing
upon His outstretched arms, we see an invitation. If we accept that no
act in human history can begin to match the power, the healing, the
victory and the justice that was achieved in the crucified suffering of
Jesus of Nazareth, then attaching our own trials, minor or major though
they be, to that still-resonating act of generosity and self-abnegation
exposes them to all of the good contained in Christ’s sacrifice, and it
assists in the salvation of the world.
When I got home from Mass (we went in "shifts" today), Curly-Haired Daughter told me that her friend C., a fellow high school senior, had gone to the hospital in labor. C. had decided months ago to make an adoption plan for her baby, and she and the adoptive parents were at the hospital, waiting for a baby boy to make his way into the world. And I knew that my pain in the neck was assisting, in a very small way, for good.
Today is the sad anniversary of Roe v. Wade. We remember all the lives lost to abortion, all the women harmed by this desperate procedure and all the men who will never father their child. We also give great thanks to all the women like C. who made the choice to give the gift of life to their child and adoptive parents. I'll keep offering up my little pain in the neck; maybe you have something you can offer up today as well.