By Mary Beth Mitchell.
Helen Schreiner was my best friend, and we had lots of fun together. There are funny stories I could tell about her, but I want to tell this serious one, because it reveals something of Helen’s heart.
One day at spiritual reading, Catherine Doherty was talking about the pain of the world, and she asked us to open our hearts and really let it in.
Being somewhat impressionable, I guess I kind of imagined that pain, and it was just too much for me.
I went out and sat on the front steps of Madonna House, and another staff worker came out and sat down beside me and started pouring out her heart.
I was listening to her, and at the same time I was still pondering this other pain, and I didn’t know what to do with it all.
A couple days later, Helen and I went for a walk, and we got to talking about that spiritual reading and everything that Catherine had said about the pain of the world.
Helen said that Catherine had really spoken to her heart and that she so much wanted to be aware of the pain of the world and to carry it.
I agreed but I said I didn’t know what to do with it, and I recounted my struggle of the previous day.
Helen then said that God had given me a gift by letting me hear the cries of suffering people and then doubled it by letting that staff worker come and echo those same cries.
She said that in listening to my sister, I probably gave her some consolation and strength, which in turn went out to those people in Africa and other places.
If I had closed my heart to my sister, she added, I would have been somewhat responsible for the misery of those in Africa and elsewhere.
She said, "That’s why I want to be aware of the pain of others and to have it become a part of me. When I can suffer with them, it is better, because I have caused pain every time I’ve been selfish or closed my heart or hurt someone, and it affects others all over the world.
"What do you do then with that pain?" I asked.
Her answer was, "Forgive me if I’m being trite. I truly believe that pain is the kiss of Christ [as Catherine Doherty says]: all our pain—that of our hearts as well as that of our bodies.
"And when the one you love, Jesus, kisses you, you don’t talk about it or complain or say very much. You just feel it and experience it as a gift to you,
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