Accompanying Jesus: A Lenten Retreat sharing

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Sharing by Louisa and Anthony

Dear friends in prayer,

We would miss too much gifts if I merely consider Lent as an obligation to fast. Lent is a precious opportunity to experience the profound love of Jesus. In whatever suffering and darkness, Jesus accompanies us. As we understand how much Jesus loves us in willingly going through his most sorrowful passion, whatever happens in our life can turn into a joyful journey accompanying Jesus. Indeed, it is very sweet to accompany Jesus, and we can accompany Jesus not only during adoration or station of the cross but also in one¡¯s daily life.

A retreat we had to experience Jesus throughout the entire Lent season was in the year of Irene¡¯s birth. We have received so much love from Jesus that we had learned to love our life experiences to accompany Jesus.

Louisa was coordinating a jointed Lenten retreat for two parishes that year. The retreat did not take place although she had requested that the retreat could move forward as planned when she first regained conscious. Instead, we spent an unplanned retreat with the love and prayer support from many friends. In the mean time, many friends had prayed so intensely throughout the Lent season that they were also having their Lent retreat in their own daily life so that more souls can be touched and healed.

On the Ash Wednesday (2/13), we went to the hospital as Louisa started labor. Irene was born at 3AM the next morning, which happened to be the Eve of Chinese New Year in that year. Yet as we waited afterwards in the recovery room, the doctor came back to find that she had nonstop hemorrhage and had lost her blood clotting capability. She was rushed to the operation room else she would die right away. Yes it certainly did not sound good to have an operation while one had lost blood clotting capability. The doctor frankly told me the chance for past patients to survive was no more than one percent.

It was so sudden and fast that I worried whether Louisa could hold at least till she had the opportunity to receive the sacrament of the sick. So I prayed for this gift and asked for a Catholic priest, and this gift was granted. In addition, the priest said mass at a convent later in the morning and asked the entire convent of 80 religious to pray for her. I must say that it was quite touching because we were basically nobody in the church and yet the priest was asking a whole convent to pray for us.

I understood that I was entering into an important life experience. I asked the priest again so that I could have confession to prepare for that experience. Indeed, it was fitting to start this long retreat by first experiencing the love of Jesus through the sacrament of reconciliation.

Words had later quickly spread to many people whom had responded with plenty of prayers. A friend in the middle of preparing feast for the Chinese New Year at home had interrupted the preparation to first recite the rosary for 10 times. Another Chinese Catholic Community in the middle of a New Year party had also paused to pray.

Meanwhile, plenty of different specialists had been called to attend to Louisa. Each of them explained to me the procedure they were taking, and I must listen carefully and asked the right questions to make sure what they were doing really make good sense while trying whatever was possible within human capacity. Yet they admitted they could only do so much.

I found it difficult to know what to pray at that time. Yet I then began to experience such closeness with God in our prayers that I had never known before. I had prayed for the gift of the sacrament, and I thanked God for having granted her this gift. I knew I would be devastated on Earth without her. Yet if God wanted to take her to enter into the perfect love of God in heaven which we so much desire to enter in future, I asked God to allow me to see her at least one more time. Things had happened so sudden that we did not yet have opportunity to said goodbye. The doctor was very understandable and later gave me special permission to see her any time when the medical staff was not busy with her. I also prayed that Irene would not lose her mother, and a priest then came to visit us and offered her to our Heavenly Mother.

In the first 24 hours, Louisa continued to bleed while continuing to receive a large amount of blood transfusion. No medication could cure her blood clotting condition. She must recover on her own. Yes, Jesus continues to give us gifts, but if our soul is poisoned we will keep wasting these gifts. Jesus cannot enter into our soul when we shut our doors. We must respond to God¡¯s love.

I prayed that she could re-gain the blood clotting ability, and she managed to gradually re-gain this function afterwards. She had received a total of 114 liters, and was going to use up the blood in the hospital. Many friends and many people we did not even know had come to donate blood. We were thankful especially because the chance of survival from past experience was believed to be small even with transfusion. What if the patient couldn¡¯t survive after transfusion? The prayer was so real as if Jesus was telling me that he had willingly shed all his blood for me no matter what. So I prayed that I would not let Jesus shed his precious blood in vain for me.

The blood clotting disorder and the large amount of transfusion had triggered a long process as different parts of the body malfunction one after another. So what followed was a 10-day struggling process in the intensive care unit. The malfunctioning in each organ itself was a life-threatening condition. After one body function had managed to recover, the struggle in another body function followed. Through the process for each organ to malfunction, I prayed for gift of that organ for her, and she passed through the critical condition for each of these organs one at a time. At that time, we realized that each body function was so essential, although I seldom knew to thank the gifts of our body functions before. The malfunctioning of any one organ can lead to death. We also realize that problems in our spiritual health can be fatal too so that we need to guard each of our spiritual functions.

After that, she needed to re-learn all the basic human activities step by step, including how to breathe, how to eat, and how to move each part of the body. We were so thankful as she re-gained each of these basic functions. While recovering at home during Lent, we had to go to see each of the specialists for follow-up diagnosis and treatments. Each of them watched her with amazed eyes. Most of them had believed that even if she could survive, she would at least have permanent disorder but she didn¡¯t. Around Easter that year, she was able to walk freely so that we were able to thank our friends at the church and to witness the love of God.

My prayers during that Lent included thanking God for the gift of having Louisa as my best companion with whom we had grown in Faith together. If God allowed her to stay, I prayed that we could continue to serve God together in Earth. We thanked God that we had seen and heard many people praying intensely. We prayed that some hearts had been touched with this miracle of life, and we thanked God that some previously lukewarm souls had then prayed and had indeed rekindled their faith. We thanked God that in healing Louisa, some other souls had also been healed.

God¡¯s healing is so powerful that after she had fully recovered, we do not wish the prayers to stop. We wish prayers can continue so that other people may be healed, both physically and spiritually.

Louisa was on respirator at that time so that she could only receive the Eucharist spiritually each day. I recited to her the prayer that Jesus gave us his body and blood. It was just so real especially when she was going to bleed to death. It continued to be so real afterwards in numerous times during mass when Jesus speaks to me through the priest ¡°This is My Body which will be given up for you!,¡± and ¡°This is My Blood which will be shed for you, so that sins may be forgiven.¡±

We especially pray for you the gift to accompany Jesus and that we will not let this precious gift wasted. Thank you for coming to accompany Jesus.