Drawing Near to Christ While Witnessing Your Loved One’s Agony

A few days ago, I witnessed my daughter’s skin being torn
from her body … 
the excruciating pain she endured is hard to shake …

For me, the saints’ martyrdoms that were most
disturbing were those whose agonies consisted of their skin being ripped, torn,
or cut from their bodies or those who were burnt alive…

Hearing about the sufferings of these saints left me
cringing and grimacing in sympathy at just the thought of the unimaginable violence
they endured.

This is why I wrote about the Apostle St. Bartholomew. When
I found out he was flayed alive, I knew that his horrific pain and sacrifice
needed to remembered and honored.

Likewise I had to share about the young boy saint, Jose Sanchez del Rio when I was blessed to hold onto and praying with the
relics while listening to his story: The skin of the soles of his feet were shaved off
before he was forced to walk on salt and through dirt and jagged rocks as he was forced through the town and cemetery on the way to his death. His skeletal remains show that this 13-year-old boy was hit
and punched so mercilessly that his jaw had been shattered and most of his
teeth had been knocked out. He endured all this rather than deny Jesus, shouting “Viva
Christo Rey” – “Long live Christ the King!” before he was killed by a firing squad. (It is so worth reading more about him and watching the movie, For Greater Glory, which
shares his life!)

Additionally, it was incredibly moving for me to visit the ancient
Church of St. Lawrence in Rome, and venerating the man who died so generously that
he could quip, “Turn me over, I’m done on this side” as they roasted him alive
over a fire.

Lastly, I wrote St. Polycarp, who assured his executioners
that they didn’t need to tie him to the stake as they placed him on a pyre to be
set on fire. Perhaps God spared him the pain of being burned alive as a
beautiful smell of baking bread emanated from him and the flames fanned out as
a sail around him – forcing his executioners to kill him through the sword as the
fire could not touch him.

I’ve contemplated again the sufferings of these saints in light of my daughter’s own suffering.
My daughter’s agony was a result of sunburn.

Not your typical sunburn, or even the worst sunburn you’ve
ever experienced if you’re fair skinned like me,

rather it was the flesh-killing kind…

I watched her writhe in agony as more and more blisters
formed on her body… blisters the size of tide pods, which eventually conglomerated
and joined together into a large mass of what looked like boiled skin…

A sunburn so bad that this 95 lb young woman’s feet and
ankles swelled like tree trunks.

The pain of blood rushing down into these swollen burnt areas
of flesh has made getting up to stand or walk unbearable.

So when the burn unit nurses tore off her top layer of skin
it was for her healing …

It was a miraculous intervention that we were desperately
sought as her skin became ever more leathery looking and her pain and symptoms increased
each day and the doctors we had seen had no idea of how to help her…

I reached out in desperation for prayers from those whom I
knew to be great prayer warriors… I prayed for help and guidance as I didn’t
know where to turn, because I knew that she desperately needed medical attention.

Within a few hours after these pleas went out – a series of
miracles took place – as I was given the advice to call the burn unit at a
local hospital and ask to speak to a nurse.


The nurse who picked up the phone was surprisingly easy to
reach – after waiting for hours and still hearing nothing back from doctors –
this nurse picked up the phone, listened and offered to see my daughter and
help. (I will forever be grateful for this nurse’s kindness and generous help and for those who prayed for her.)

Within the hour, this nurse had her scanned and skinned and
bandaged up with specialized anti bacterial burn dressings that would stay on
for a week.

It was a true miracle. She has a long road to recovery and
her pain is ongoing, but she will be well. 

Yet, the trauma of seeing her in pain, as the flesh underneath the skin was
exposed, still leaves me mentally cringing and raw. 

My emotions are in tatters …

At both witnessing the agony of your loved one, and the
desperation of striving to find help when no help can be found – perhaps this is all
exasperated by the recent months-long, years-long searching for medical help
for my husband….

who, likewise, endured incredible pain and suffering that no one we had seen could help; 
who, eventually, through miraculous interventions, is now on a long,
ongoing path toward healing …

There are few things more painful than having to watch
helplessly as your loved one suffers…

Particularly moving for me was going to the Stations of the
Cross last night, and meditating on the tenth station, when Jesus’ skin was
ripped from him as they stripped him of his garments right before they
crucified him.

As I stated at the beginning, this has always been
particularly moving for me, but the depth of what he endured for love of us has
never been more real…

Nor more emotionally jarring…

Again, there are few things more painful than having to
watch helplessly as your loved ones suffer… especially if it is your child who
is suffering.

Never before has the physical sorrow of Our Lady been so
real for me.

Her mental and emotional sorrow – the sorrow of her soul –

has been an indescribable gift to me for many years …

her motherly intercession and love have helped me endure
tremendous sorrow…

How much greater is my understanding of how watching Jesus’
agony must have physically traumatized Mary –

How deeply the judgment of bystanders added to her pain –

how indescribably deep was the trauma and sorrow she endured!

O Mama, for although you were perfectly conformed to the
Will of God, still you were human!

How much more deeply do I know the physical trauma and suffering
of watching your child be in torture … 

I know what we experienced was nothing in comparison – 
and that
the agony of her skin being ripped from her body was all for my daughter’s

Yet, it is a life lesson.

It has been a soul lesson that has drawn me deeper into knowing
a fraction more of the pain both Jesus and Mary endured out of love for us.

Oh, the depth of God’s love!

Oh, how wondrous and unfathomable it is!

It is my prayer, that just as my daughter has experienced a
portion of Jesus’ agony, it, likewise, gives her a greater awareness and
appreciation of the cost of her salvation and the depth of suffering Jesus
freely choose in order for her to be in union with Him both now in prayer and
forever in eternity.

She already has such a strong faith, but I pray that Jesus’
Sacrifice penetrates ever more deeply in her soul and inspires her to love him with
ever greater love in return so much so that she longs to live a life ever
closer to Him.

I pray that she may know to the core of her being that He,
alone, is the only One who can fulfill her and make her whole – being there for
her with perfect love and compassion that helps her carry her crosses, as well as
live a life of such great LOVE of God that she begins to experience ever more her heaven on earth.

I pray that she,

and all of our children,

fall desperately in love with Jesus –

with a love so deep that it carries them through all they
have to endure,

while it brings them love and joy and peace unimaginable besides

through offering themselves to God and to others –

for that alone is the secret to happiness. 
 © Janet Moore. 2019. All Rights Reserved.

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