Posted January 11, 2011 in MH Robin Hood's Bay, England:
It’s a Beautiful Land, But…

by Daniel Rabideau.

On arrival in our part of rural Yorkshire, a friend visiting from Canada said, "It is so beautiful it hurts my heart." It is beautiful, but after being in this "earthly paradise" for a few months, I began to feel a strong spirit of oppression.

What was this all about? Gradually, I could sense that it came from the Reformation and the two World Wars. It’s amazing how long the wounds in cultures stay with us, passed down through our ancestors. In my heart was a great sadness at becoming aware of these wounds.

In our house here, we live a very ordinary life, following our daily routine of Mass, work, prayer and recreation. The routine and our faith in God’s power to transform our ordinary lives into light sustains us.

But after a couple of years of this simple life, I came to a point of near desperation. Each morning, I struggled just to get out of bed.

I thought about a quote from the early American writer, Henry Thoreau: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

That seemed very true to me. What to do? Get up; follow that life-giving routine of prayers and work. But was it really life-giving? No. It felt more like that place of quiet desperation, which was sometimes not so quiet.

As I repeated the Jesus Prayer over and over—"Lord, have mercy on me a sinner,"—and hundreds of Hail Marys, I felt like Job.

During this time, a friend from Madonna House sent me a mounted picture of the Pieta by Michelangelo: a picture of the sculpture of Our Lady holding the crucified Christ in her arms. What tenderness and love! I looked and looked at this picture.

Then one day I said, "Jesus, can I take your place in Our Lady’s arms?" I didn’t think he would mind. So in my imagination, I took him out of Our Lady’s tender embrace and placed my wounded self there. Gradually, gradually as I pondered myself in the care of Our Lady, I began to receive strength, then hope, and finally, believe it or not, joy amidst the suffering in this life.

I felt close to Jesus. And I continue to thank him for sharing not only his cross with me, but also his joy.

This is not the end of the story. Now in new strength and understanding, I have left those tender arms and oh so beautiful heart of Our Lady, and with great hope and faith have placed England in her arms. I ask you to pray with me for this beautiful country and her people.


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