Thoughts from a fellow ‘malade’

It was quite moving to read Jenny Gorman Patton’s article about her recent trip to Lourdes in the July 29 issue. I was also a “malade” (one who is sick) on that trip, and saw a little bit of what she went through at the time and knew something of her history of being a chronic sufferer. Seeing the pictures brought so much back.

I remember well Jenny talking about how she felt unworthy to go to Lourdes as a malade when she was first issued the invitation, but she ultimately went. Unlike Jenny, I don’t have a disease that is chronic; it has been short and sharp. But I really admire her strength in withstanding suffering — and it’s suffering whatever form it takes — for such a long period. She is someone to emulate.

The Order of Malta does so much good in bringing malades to Lourdes. The pilgrimage there helps us in so many ways, even unexpected ways. We don’t always get better in health, but the trip aids us in other things such as our spiritual lives. At the very least, we can meet other malades and see what they are going through, which, somewhat surprisingly, can be very strengthening. Seeing what others deal with stops us from dwelling on ourselves, no matter how sick we are. We learn a new, deeper meaning of humility.

I am so glad to hear that Jenny is doing better. She really brings home St. Bernadette’s great saying: “My work is to be sick.”

— Lori Seyer, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Montecito

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