I was eighteen years old when I decided that I was tired of living a wishy-washy faith. My faith had been fueled by one retreat after another only to fizz away after a few months. The more retreats I went on, the further I strayed after I had ridden out that “retreat high” taking the spirit of adoption I had been given to become a daughter of God, casting it aside, and choosing to live according to the flesh.
I was actually on a retreat when I made the decision to be firm in my faith. I started a routine of daily Mass and prayer journaling, and became involved in the faith life of my college campus. I found that the more I opened myself up in prayer, the more God showed me His love. He opened up all of my old wounds so that my heart physically ached, and poured in His healing love and mercy. I would spend hours sobbing in my dorm chapel or praying with friends as I let myself be healed.
It would seem that that would have been enough to keep me close to God, but that is not His way. He does not cure us to leave us to our own devices again, but He cures us so that He can penetrate even deeper. As Saint Paul says in the First Reading, “You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption.” (Romans 8:15)
As I grew in love of Him, and turned more regularly to prayer, I found myself being healed of another crippling spirit. It was a habitual sin that I knew I needed to overcome, but could not shake. I had been fighting against it and losing to my desires for the gratification it gave me for years. It was not until after Christ healed me the first time that I was able to be freed from this sin. I repeatedly went to the Sacrament of Confession with this sin on my conscience, until, finally, one day I was freed.
On that day I was like the woman who had been crippled for 18 years. It was as if Christ laid His hands on me through the person of His priest and said to me, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”(Luke 13:17)
Has my life been perfect since then? No, it has not. Has the temptation to that sin come back to plague me? Yes, it has. But I know now that I have been given the spirit of adoption and am no longer in slavery to that sin. The wonderful thing about Christ is that He did not just stop with that sin, but has found more and more to free me from. He will not stop freeing me until I am completely His.
Sisters, in what ways are you like the crippled woman? Christ wants to free you from all slavery to sin. Place yourself in His presence and ask Him to begin to heal you with His great love.
Susanna Spencer once studied theology and philosophy, but now happily cares for her three adorable little girls, toddler boy, and her dear husband in Saint Paul. She loves beautiful liturgies, cooking delicious meals, baking amazing sweets, reading good books, raising her children, casually following baseball, and talking to her philosopher husband. You can find out more about her here.