Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Carolee Gifford

3/8/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

How a Catholic chaplain uses Jesus' encounter with the woman at Sychar to empower her patients -- and herself

"Why do you think Jesus went to her?"

Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman.

Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman.

Highlights

By Carolee Gifford

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/8/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: mental illness, depression, God's love, chaplain, psychiatric treatment


The strains of the famous  song from "Lilies of the Field" filled my ears once more,     "AAAmen! AAAmen! AAAmen! Amen! Amen!" It ended almost every one of my spirituality groups. Hands clapped and voices were raised - a bit of joy. The group was over and my patients were slowly making their way back to their rooms.

My groups were a bit different than the rest of those offered.  Mine were totally voluntary. I rejected offers from well meaning mental health aides and nurses to coerce their charges into attending. You cannot force God's love on people.  They have to want to hear it, feel it. 

We began with a simple prayer, inviting God to our group.  A prayer that our hearts be open to receive his love, some scripture, a little reflection, personal intentions, the Our Father and then that wonderful "Amen."


That formula varied little - if I had a Jewish patient we'd use the Old Testament and skip the Our Father. 


Once again I had used one of my favorite scriptures, John 4:1-42 - the story of the Woman at the Well.  Theologians offer up sophisticated explanations of the very long reading. My message could not have been more simple, some might say crude. 


"Why do you think Jesus went to her?" I asked.  My patients shook their heads, almost all of them in sad, slow motion.  Sadness that was a result of  depression, psych meds, and a life of being ostracized by a society that doesn't understand mental illness.


"He could have strolled into that town and met with the president of the Sychar PTA," I continued.                   


"But no, he went to that woman.  The woman who had been around the block one too many times, a loose woman."


"Why?" I challenged. 


"To let us know that no matter what we've done, no matter who we've slept with, no matter how broken we are, Jesus will use us to spread his news!  The news that we're loved, that he knows our sins and still loves us."


That reading has been part of my scriptural toolkit for many years. It has resonated consistently.  The beautiful faces in front of me would smile and nod.  This was truth to them.


And to me.  I am that woman.  My friends and family know I want that reading, that affirming story, read at my funeral.


Just as my patients heard in that scripture, the hope that even in their weakness they are precious, I also have heard that acclamation.  I have sought to spread God's good news, even in my brokenness.


My life is full of mistakes made, sins committed.  Telling my patients of God's love for them just as they are - broken and less than perfect - demanded a personal response from me.  I also had to look at myself differently, not through the world's eyes, but God's.  I was his daughter and he loved me.


Amen!

   
. 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Marriage & Family

Gang of teens riot inside Georgia Walmart causing thousands of dollars in damage Watch

Image of The teens pulled a man out of his wheelchair.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Wal-Mart in Georgia was ransacked by a mob led by a teenage boy, now in police custody. Identified as Kharron Green, 17, the boy was caught on video during the Sunday riot inside the Wal-Mart, along with others he refused to identify. Police are searching for Green's ... continue reading


Historically important religious discovery found while family renovates living room Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During an Israeli family's living room renovation, they discovered an ancient ritual bath under the floor. Calling the Israel Antiquities Authority, the bath was identified as a mikveh, which was used by the Jews for their ritual immersions. This suggests there were ... continue reading


4 out of 10 children in the US exposed to abuse and violence last year Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Although some types of violence against children appear to be on a decline, children remain the most victimized sector in the U.S. population, as found by a recent study. Through phone interviews, researchers determined the level of exposure children face on abuse and ... continue reading


Marriage is an Appetizer

Image of

By Bill Donaghy

I was asked not long ago to share what I thought might be the three most powerful thoughts from Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. These three things continually fill me with wonder and awe, and are becoming the tripod on which I stand to view God, life, and ... continue reading


SHOCKING: Woman confesses to killing her EIGHT newborns and hiding the corpses in her home Watch

Image of Dominique Cottrez faces life imprisonment for murdering eight newborn babies.

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Dominique Cottrez, a 51-year-old French nurse, has confessed to killing her eight newborn babies, fearing they were from her incestuous relationship with her father. During her trial, she revealed the stories of murder she vividly remembers, dubbed the worst ... continue reading


SUPREME COURT RULES GAY 'MARRIAGE' LEGAL IN ALL 50 STATES Watch

Image of

By (CNA/EWTN News)

In a wide-reaching decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has declared that same-sex "marriage" is a constitutional right and that states must recognize same-sex unions contracted as marriages in other states. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - By a vote of 5-4, the court ... continue reading


Family terrified to move into dream home after deadly threats made from 'The Watcher' Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A couple is now afraid to move into the house they bought for $1.3 million after receiving threatening letters signed by "The Watcher," three days after they closed the sale. Now, they are suing the previous homeowners for withholding information about the creepy house ... continue reading


'This is how God takes evil and turns it into something wonderful': How one woman's Charleston experience reinforced God's love Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Almost a week has passed since the Charleston church shooting and one mother decided to bring her three young sons to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Kayla Robinson Hall wanted to show her children that despite the terror and pain people ... continue reading


Obama to give eulogy at funeral service of Charleston church shooting victim Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama is confirmed to deliver a eulogy at the funeral of the late South Carolina state senator and pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church killed last week, according to the White House. Along with the president, Vice President Joe ... continue reading


'There's nothing but love': Charleston shooting victim's children have 'already forgiven' shooter Dylann Roof Watch

Image of Chris and Camryn [BBC]

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pictures of Dylann Storm Roof smirking at the cameras while in chains did not affect the victim's children left behind. During an interview with the children of Charleston shooting victim, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, the children said that although they still feel the ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 2:19-22
19 So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 117:1, 2
1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh, all nations, extol him, ... Read More

Gospel, John 20:24-29
24 Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 3rd, 2015 Image

St. Thomas
July 3: St. Thomas was a Jew, called to be one of the twelve Apostles. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter