Archive | November 2013

Sand and Stone

I found this beautiful writing somewhere. . .years ago and I don’t know who wrote it.  If you know the author or are the author, please let me know so I can give proper credit. . . In my opinion this is a wonderful “story” that gives a good moral, one that I know I need.

A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert.

During some point of the journey, they had an argument, and one

friend slapped the other

one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying

anything, he wrote in the sand:

Today my best friend slapped me in the face.

They kept on walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided

to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire

and started

drowning, but his friend saved him. After he recovered from the near

drowning, he wrote on a stone:

Today my best friend saved my life.

The friend, who had slapped and saved his best friend, asked

him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now, you write on

a stone, why?”

The other friend replied: “When someone hurts us, we should write it

down in sand, where the winds of forgiveness can erase it away, but

when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone

where no wind can ever erase it.

Learn to write your hurts in the sand and to carve your blessings in


(Author Unknown)

Where Do You Put Your Pain???

On December 14, 2012, 20 children and 6 adults were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut.  So much pain!  Where do the parents, siblings, family and friends put their pain?

Forty years ago, in January of 1972 my 14 yr old brother Tommy died.  The family; my mom and dad, brothers and sisters crashed and burned that day.  The pain was so very intense that I thought that I and my family could not possibly live beyond that day.  Where do we put our pain?

Tommy’s death was the event that tore our family apart.  Our parents were already on the verge of divorce, we siblings were carrying our own issues around with us.  Now we were living on this island of guilt.  Each of us spent many days and sleepless nights wondering what we missed, what we did or didn’t do to cause Tommy to hang himself.  He was having a hard time in school.  I guess he didn’t make friends well, but how could he when we kept moving all over God’s creation every year or so.  He had a father who thought he was a sissy courtesy of our mom.  He told mom how she was coddling him too much and making him a sissy.

I vaguely remember one day when Tommy came home with a puppy.  It was white with some brown or black markings on it.  Mom didn’t know he had it until one day she saw a tail wagging from under Tommy’s arm as she stood looking upstairs as Tommy walked into his bedroom.  I think she hollered up something about the dog and Tommy replied, “His name is Pickles and he’s mine!”  Well that cracked her up.  I don’t know how long he kept Pickles, but I am hoping that he gave Tommy lots of joy while he had him.

When Tommy died each of our parents blamed the other.  My mother blamed my dad for not giving him the attention he needed and my dad blamed my mom for being too easy on him.  My mother blamed herself for being too hard on him. . .

Each of, us in turn, felt we had our own reasons to feel guilty.  For my part I felt incredibly guilty because Tommy had called me earlier in the evening to ask if I would come out to play cards or something with him because he was bored.  I told him I was just really tired and didn’t feel like driving out there at night.  I told him I would see him tomorrow.  Tomorrow never came.  Where did I put that pain???

(I will say that my brother was a big fan of the rock star Alice Cooper.  He couldn’t understand how he could hang himself on stage and not get hurt. . .my belief is that he tried that trick and he paid with his young life.  I do not believe it was suicide, but  that doesn’t take away from the incredible pain and suffering the entire family endured and still endure.)

If there is anything that I would like you to take away from this litany of pain is this:  there is a place to put your pain.  When I am suffering some pain, physical or mental, I place this pain at the foot of the Cross of Christ.  I offer it to him as a way of allowing Christ to use that pain for very good things.  I ask him to use this pain to take away my sins, I ask him to use this pain for my family members who may be suffering.  I ask Christ to take that pain and use it to comfort another who I may not know, to help in a desperate situation.

I know that it sounds weird.  How is that going to help me or anyone else?  Believe me it does.  It may not take your pain away right away, but you will know in a way that we can’t describe that your pain is worthy of the Cross of Christ.  That by giving your pain to him, you are actively working with Christ to help redeem the world.  There is such a thing as redemptive suffering; that is what Christ did, you are no different.  When you do this, your pain and suffering is redeemed . . .you will know peace, you will know Christ.

Sandy Ozanich © November 16, 2013




Coping With Physical and Other Changes


Guest Author:

Fr. Timothy Fitzgerald, C.P.

(Note:  Fr. Timothy Fitzgerald, C.P. is a member of the Congregation of the Passion.  He is a Passionist Priest of great wisdom and knowledge.  Fr. Tim is also a good friend of mine.  This is his reflection of getting older and all that entails)

We know it had to happen some day.  Suddenly or gradually we no longer can do what we seemed to be doing forever.  Limitations set in, muscles and bones ache, serious health issues appear.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  As we change and lose control, we suffer.  We do find comfort in saying it could be worse.  We could lose everything in a tornado, a fire, a flood, en earthquake.  We know people who are in constant pain, who never stir from bed, who depend on others for every need.  We see what addictions do to individuals and their loved ones.  We anguish over those who lose their faith or no longer practice it.  Suffering is real, whether it is a consequence of our own behavior, or accidental, or genetic, or just getting old.

All my life as a priest I’ve preached about facing limitations and suffering.  Like a doctor who prescribes the right medicine, but is not sick himself, I blithely (yet truly) counseled others to see suffering not only as a mature human experience, but most profoundly as a following of our crucified Lord.  I encountered so many kinds of suffering: loss of a lifelong job, betrayal, severe physical pain, sudden death of a child, temptations against faith or fidelity in marriage, partial or total dependence on others, etc.

Now I find myself no longer able to do the ordinary joys of my ministry: offering mass publicly (weak heart, weaker knees), preaching, sharing spiritual direction.  I’m not in great physical pain yet, but I feel a burden to others, not contributing as I did before.  People assure me that I’m not a burden, but that is how I feel.  So I must return to the advice I so freely gave to others and listen myself.  Here are some of the time-honored ideas of our faith, the accumulated wisdom from Christ which sustain me.

1.  We own nothing to God but our thanks.  God is not the cause of our suffering, he is the reason we suffer patiently.  Suffering is not  the result of a capricious or unjust God, for God so loved the world that he sent his only Son to be our Saviour (John 3:16).  How ungrateful we would be, if for one moment we  blame God or resent him.  From God all is gift.        (cf. Romans 5:12-21).

2.  We are not excess baggage.  As Christians we firmly believe we are God’s children.  We know our dignity and worth does not depend on what we do, but on who we are.  From the moment of our baptism when we put on Christ, in every Eucharist, in every reconciliation, in every prayer, in every act of charity in his name, we are God’s children.  Not productivity, achievements, intelligence, age, health, social status, total dependency, loss of memory, even sinfulness changes that.  We are God’s beloveds in Christ.  (cf. Romans 8:31-39)

3.  Suffering in union with Christ brings growth.  Each crucial moment of life is a death to a previous security.  With Christ we ascend to light not darkness.  In Christian life the pattern of growth is in harmony with the death-life cycle of Jesus’ passion and resurrection.  Jesus did not bring the cross.  He found it already in our human limitations which he took on completely, only without sin (cf. Hebrews 4:14-16; 15: 1-4).  Thus, Jesus mind and heart shapes our minds and hearts.  We absorb this mind, this absolute trust of the Father.  We accept limitations and suffering not as an end in themselves (which would be insane), but as a way of following Christ for the good of the church and the world.  Because of Christ we see the dignity and nobility of suffering out of love.  It becomes purposeful and redemptive.  (cf. Phil. 2:1-10; Col. 1:24,  2Cor. 4:10-11)

4.  We belong to a communion of saints.  There’s a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on to follow our leader Jesus (cf. Heb. 12:1-4).  These were not confined, however, only to the canonized, or for those being purified after death, but also to the holy ones here on earth, who surround us, with compassion, patience, presence and prayers.  In turn, though hampered, we now pray for those we know and love, for all who ask our prayers, for all in need, for our church and our world.  Our faith is strong enough to believe that effectiveness in prayer and mission is not confined to the strong and healthy.  After all, a tubercular St. Therese is much a patron of the missions as the globe-trotting St. Francis Xavier.  Our faith is that breathtakingly wide that a handicapped person who  never leaves home joins hands with a St. Patrick, or a St. Francis of Assisi to spread the kingdom of God.

These are some of the ways our Catholic tradition strengthens countless people who suffer physically or are otherwise limited.  Love is ingenious and the Holy Spirit constantly conspires to educate us to new insights into our union with Christ, especially as our outer powers grow dim.  People read the Passion, go to some favorite prayers, look at the crucifix, hold Mary’s beads as they slip through tired hands, gaze intently on a sacred picture, listen to EWTN or sacred music, ask a friend to read to them or pray with them, etc.  We always turn to our crucified Lord who when he was so weak, helpless, seemingly forsaken was actually saving the world!  May the Passion of Christ be always in our hearts!

Billy Grahams Last Sermon

Billy Graham at 95  

I watched Billy Graham’s Last Sermon on the Fox News Channel last evening.  What a man!!!  At the age of 95 he has always stayed true to his message to the world.  He never deviated from his ministry.  His years have been long with many opportunities along the way that could have swayed him from what he believes God wanted of him. 

Life gives us many joyful times but we receive sorrowful times as well.  It’s easy to stay true to God when things are going well.  The test is in the way we deal with pain and sorrow, disappointment and betrayal.  How do we deal with those things?  Billy Graham said that when he was tested or in a situation, no matter what it was, he went to the Cross of Jesus for forgiveness and strength.  I like this man very much and know that when God does call him he will be embraced by his loving Jesus and welcomed home.

God Bless you Billy Graham and Happy 95th Birthday!

Sandy Ozanich © November 7, 2013

Powerful pictures should make more than headlines

Never have I seen so much Jesus in one man! I am in awe of this Pope and the message he bears. . .be Christ to one another, be his hands and feet and eyes and heart. . .this is the true message.

May you be blessed as you read this article.

CNS Blog

VATICAN CITY — It was to have hands and be able to touch and heal people that Christ became human, Pope Francis has said.

“God meddles in our miseries, he approaches our wounds and heals them with his hands; it was to have hands he became man.”

“God does not save us only by decree, with a law, he saves us with tenderness, he saves us with caresses, he saves us with his life given for us.”

Pope Francis Oct. 22 homily

This passage seemed appropriate to accompany the pictures of Pope Francis embracing and kissing a man disfigured by neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder resulting in numerous, often painful, tumors.

The gesture at yesterday’s general audience has grabbed people’s attention, as well as news headlines.

But, every time we are struck by such poignant and moving movements, we should also consider something else the pope has said.


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Some Days Or Weeks Are Worse Than Others. . .

This past week has been a jumble of pain, tiredness, feeling sick being really sick.  Mix in some depression and not really wanting to talk to or see anyone and there you have it. . . I feel like telling everyone to just bugg off!!!

For the past few weeks I have been having terrible pain in my right foot, that wonderful thing called Plantar Fasciitis.  Walking was not always successful, if you consider walking “on” your foot a plus.  For several days I was walking on the side of my foot.  Still the pain continued.

I woke up on Sunday, October 20th and tried to stand up straight when I got out of bed.  Surprise!!!  No can do!  My back went “out” as we who suffer back pain say.  So, picture this, I couldn’t stand up straight or walk on my foot. . .it was a sight to see.   So on the Friday before, I left work an hour early because I just couldn’t stand to stand anymore or walk.  Hahaha

I went to see a podiatrist about my foot and he was very nice, very helpful and put a shot into my foot that literally wanted to send me through the ceiling!!!  Oh my gosh!!!  I have had pain from many different sources, but I have got to tell you that I have never experienced anything like this.  I had a cortisone shot in my frozen shoulder years ago, not a problem.  I had cortisone shot into my knee, alrighty then!!!  Put one of those shots in my foot below my ankle bone and I was ready to run, scream and hop quickly away.  BUT, it really did help.

Fast forward to this past week.  Had a clinic visit with my transplant team for a follow up, told I need to lose weight (I already know that, geez), so I made several appointments that are way overdue, you know fun ones like a gyne appointment, a colonoscopy, a mammogram, a full body scan at the dermatologist and biopsy to rule out basal cell skin cancer (because I have had this annoying skin condition), AND another podiatrist appointment.

Now, if that isn’t bad enough, my emotions have not been at their best either.  You know how it is when you let things build up for so long and then you explode???  Ok then, you’ve got the picture.  That was my crowning event yesterday.  I let loose on my husband yesterday about things that were on my mind since before the time of Christ. . .about certain things that were rightly or wrongly attributable to him and our son, and I just let him have it.  I have since told him that my only excuse was “out of my minditis”.

So, there you have it, except for this one thing. . .I forgot once again to put my anti-depressant in my medicine container for the past week.  For those of you who know about my double lung transplant 8 years ago, you know that I have to take about 30 pills a day, one of those pills is an anti-depressant.  I cannot believe that this is the second time I have done this recently.  I finally realized that it happened after I updated my med list and used the generic name of the drugs instead of the name brands.  Might not mean much, but it really did.  By re-doing my med list the pill in question moved from the top of the list to the bottom.  I won’t make that mistake again. . .I never knew how much of a difference one week’s worth of anti-depressants could make on my mood.

Oh, and one more thing, I found out about a long lost family member I haven’t seen since he was 2 years old, he is now 43. . .much to catch up on, much to heal. . .

So, what is the point of all this rambling. . .I have no idea!!!  It just feels better getting it off my chest and maybe that is the message.  If something is bothering you so much that it is causing a change in how you behave, get it off your chest!  Talk to someone you trust, someone you love, someone. . .AND take your meds if you need em’.

Sandy Ozanich © November 4, 2013