by Catherine Doherty.
Christ gave us a Church by his coming. He is the Head and we are the members. That the Church is a body we find again and again in the Sacred Scriptures. Now stop for a moment. Forget Scriptures. Forget everything else. Let us look at ourselves. We have a head, and we have a body.
Your hand has a gripping motion and a holding motion. It can build a house. Your eyes make you able to see. Your heart beats and you live; it stops and you die.
Each part of your body has a job to do. And each part of your body is connected with every other.
Let’s stop for a moment and think. What the head is, the Body is. If our head is a King, we are a kingly people. What does it mean to you and me in everyday life? Here and now? A king has power. This means that you and I have the power to harm this Body or we can allow it to grow.
And this awesome, incredible power is vested, if you want to put it that way, in jerks like us! This is incredible, but our faith tells us it is true.
If a cell of that Body flourishes as saints do, the whole body flourishes. What is more, it grows. We, too, have that awesome power.
Physically man and wife together beget a child and bear it. The child is baptized; the body increases.
But even if we do not bear children physically, we bear witness to Christ by our lives. Somebody touched by the beauty of particular cells of the Mystical Body, joins it. Or maybe not officially join, but turns his or her face toward Christ the Head, and lo and behold, the Body of Christ moves one step closer towards the Parousia or Second Coming.
That is why we must preach the Glad Tidings. It is such a stupendous thing, if you just stop and think about it.
Take a mother in her kitchen, a man fixing a car; it makes no difference. Depending on the inner motivation, depending on their union with Christ in grace, they have the power to make the Body grow or to stunt it. It’s awesome, isn’t it?
I don’t know… Sometimes I wish that I had the words of an angel, a prophet, a seer, or a golden-mouthed orator to convey what it is to be a member of the Mystical Body.
To think that I, Catherine, am part of Christ, not just a follower, not just a disciple, not just someone who stands near Christ as Peter did.
No. I am one with Christ! Do you realize this? Do we realize what a tremendous power we have, that Christ has literally handed his Body, the Church, to us?
If you look at your body you see that your hand does one job, your foot another, your eyes a third. There is a diversity in unity. This is very important for that mysterious Mystical Body of which we are so visibly a part.
Some people who have never been in the missions do a great deal for the missions. St. Therese, the Little Flower, was named Patroness of Missions. She lived in a cell; she never saw a mission.
So also the secretary at her office, the man driving a bus, the mother washing diapers. If they are doing so with the proper motivation, they too are making the Mystical Body grow.
Though I don’t know it fully myself, I wish I could explain to you how members of the Mystical Body, by doing something as simple as washing dishes, increase the good in the world.
If someone washes the dishes and says to God, "Lord, I am very little. Through obedience to your will, I am washing these dishes. I am going to wash them well for love of you and for the souls in Afghanistan or wherever."
Now the dishes change, and the little member of the Mystical Body who is washing them knows that he or she is a missionary.
If I say to the Lord, "Lord, as I walk out of this door, I walk for all the tired who cannot walk. I walk for all the sick who are in bed. I walk for all those who walk on broken feet, as so many do. I walk for love’s sake, for your sake."
And lo and behold, this short little walk is lifted up by the hands of Our Lady and put in the lap of her Son, who picks it up and offers it to the Father.
And down comes the rain of graces for Africa, for the sick, the lame, the halt and the blind everywhere.
People have a tendency to equate their self-importance with the job they are doing. It is not so in the Mystical Body. The job is not important; love is what is important.
Because God so loved us, he has also called us to co-redeem the world. It is very personal, and it makes life a glorious adventure. Even washing dishes becomes exciting. I can’t explain it, but to me everything that I do is an adventure inside of myself.
I sit down to a new batch of letters that I have to answer, and I make the sign of the cross, and I say, "Now what have you brought me, Lord, that I may increase this Mystical Body? Be with me, Mary. Dictate those letters, Our Lady of Combermere."
Have you ever been at war? I was in the First World War. Nurses were exposed to a lot of danger, but so were the soldiers. We were in the first trenches, feeding them. We went into the fields to gather them.
Have you ever seen a wounded young man in the mire, still alive, in the dung of animals and men? Have you ever lifted him up, put him on a stretcher, brought him to a field hospital and tried to wash him?
For all those, I would like to wash latrines all my life. They are all over the world. There are skirmishes in the dark hills of Burma. There are wars in the Vietnam hills. Laos is alive with this! (This was written during the Vietnam War.)
Let me wash the jons for all those men.
Let me wash the jons for the bewildered young people who live in the mire of their own sexual tragedies, seeking light through a mire before which urine and feces are clean things.
Let me wash those latrines for all those who hate God and live in the diabolical mire of the devil.
Give me those latrines from morning to night, and if my strength holds out, from night to morning, and I will make out of that a love-song to God and to man!
This is the song of the Mystical Body of Christ! It is so immaterial what we do. It matters only who we are and what we are when we do it.
God is so wonderful, so marvelous. He doesn’t ask us to go on the top of a big mountain and flagellate ourselves there every day.
He says, "Take the little things of every day and make them songs of love." In theological language it is called "the duties of your state of life."
If you are a student, your duty is to study. If you are a married person, you might be a mother or a father. A child, to be a child, grow up, learn, obey, respect, etc. If you are single in the world, it means to earn your living in a certain way and spend your free time positively for God.
If you are called to religious life or lay consecrated life or the priesthood, that will be your state in life.
But whatever your vocation is, every step in it can be a song of love. It is up to you.
—Excerpted and adapted from a series of three unpublished talks, December 4 through 6, 1963.
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