Inter-Mission: Springtime of body and soul

by | Mar 8, 2016 | Formation, Reflections


In her latest reflection for the NCR series Global Sisters Report “Inter-Mission: Springtime of body and soul” Janet Gildea SC connects the dots between her remission from cancer and the parable of the power of the Pope’s visit to heal the suffering and violence endured by so many people fleeing for their lives.

Taste the following excerpts…

On Thursday after Ash Wednesday I received the results of my post-chemotherapy PET scan. The doctor poked her head in the exam room door and said, “I have good news for you!” She gave me a big hug, handed the report to me to review and sat herself down at the computer screen. I quickly scanned down to the bottom of the page and saw the beautiful conclusion: “No lesions to suggest malignancy.” The six courses of chemo did what I had hoped they would do. The healing process now is about the work of re-building and the season of Lent seems right on schedule.

Something else very significant occurred as Lent began this year. Pope Francis came to Mexico, to Ciudad Juarez, and to the very edge of the Rio Grande that is the border. It was an experience of springtime. I followed every step of the pope’s visit on television with a sense of wonder, fascination and hope. The fact is, for years almost no one has chosen to go to Mexico. Juarez was the “eight-murders-a-day” city until the drug war moved to other sectors. Forty-three student teachers disappeared in September of 2014 and nobody has been charged with the crime. The country has been stuck in a cold, dry winter — until Francis landed on February 12 and it seemed like the buds burst into bloom in the most unlikely places.

The power of parable: The supreme pontiff had just walked up a ramp to the very edge of the Rio Grande. It was as far as the authorities permitted him to go. He stood there in silent prayer as he had done before Our Lady of Guadalupe. There was no microphone or bullhorn provided to carry his message to the immigrants some 50 yards away. He laid a bouquet of flowers on a little altar in memory of those who died attempting to cross the border. He raised his hands in blessing. Then he walked away to celebrate the Eucharist with almost a quarter of a million people at the Juarez fairgrounds. But his “VIPs” could only vaguely make out the altar and hear the hymns. They were sidelined looking to the south from whence they had come at such great cost, once again excluded from the banquet.

I thought to myself, “He has done it again! With his actions-more-powerful-than-words Francis has shown us how to live the Gospel. Keep walking right up to the borders that divide and exclude. Open your arms so that the springtime of mercy can tumble out.”

The experience of the visit of Pope Francis to Mexico has given added value to the emergence of spring at this point my healing process. The places that have suffered such violence and pain have received an infusion of vital energy and grace. There is such reason to hope!

[Janet Gildea, SC, has been a contributor to Global Sisters Report, writing on immigration and other topics from the U.S.-Mexico border. Janet began chemotherapy for recurrent ovarian cancer on October 6, 2015, an experience that she will be sharing in GSR over the next several months. Readers are also welcome to visit her blog, “Each Day Counts” at Access her Inter-Mission columns on GSR here.]



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