Monday, January 28, 2013

Personal Tragedy and Separation from God

Bishop Michael (Dahulich) of New York and New Jersey writes a beautiful article on how horrible tragedy cannot separate us from the love of Christ. I knew Bp. Michael when he was Fr. Michael, a teacher at St. Tikhon's seminary. He was loving and kind, the only person in the seminary to acknowledge me (a seminary wife) as a person. We still receive Christmas cards from him. I had heard his history and when during our first Pascha at the seminary we were all getting our baskets ready to be blessed I saw him alone with his small, solitary basket, I nearly burst into tears. I wondered how he did it, how he managed not to become bitter, how he continued with his priestly ministry. I never asked him, feeling it was to hard a subject to bring up.

This morning I read the article. Here is an excerpt:

I loved being in church, and I loved what I was doing in church – especially serving in the Altar and learning about the Faith. So it was only logical for me to want to become an imitation of my parish priest, Fr. Stephen Dutko of blessed memory, so that I could have, and give, that same kind of experience. I wanted to be like Father Stephen.

And so I did. I went to seminary right after college. I got married and ordained at 22 years old. I was assigned to my first parish, Saints Peter and Paul Church in Homer City, PA, and I was raring to go.

Then it all changed. After 29 days of marriage, my wife and I were in a car accident. She was killed instantly. I was in the hospital – in a coma. I came out months later, confused and bitter, guilt ridden and doubting. I was feeling all those kinds of things that a person would feel in that horrific situation. Why did God let this happen? It had to be somebody’s fault. All the confusion, all the anger, definitely made me think about not being a priest anymore.

When you lose a baby you can feel the same anger and doubt. It must be somebody's fault! Who can I be angry at? Some people choose to be angry at the medical personnel, some people choose to be angry at God, and some people choose to be angry at themselves. The truth is, no matter which way you go, you're still going to feel personal guilt and you're still going to be somewhat angry at God, and all of these separate us from God, the Person who can help us the most.

I encourage you to read Bp. Michael's article. He says at the bottom that he is "living proof" and having seen him many years after that tragedy, I can tell you I'd much rather be like Bp. Michael than a bitter old woman, still nursing her hurts.

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