Monday, September 9, 2019
Brother Richard DeMaria
Editor’s note: After leaving the Archdiocese of Miami, Brother Richard De Maria spent six years as a missionary in Africa. In 2016, he was diagnosed with ALS — Lou Gehrig’s disease. He has chronicled his journey of faith in accepting this disease in a monthly blog, “Journey to Death,” from which this blog is excerpted.
I had a big disappointment of late.
For many years, my family has gone to the seaside and rented a house in August. Of late I had been going only for two nights of the weeklong stay. I purchased a wheelchair specifically for that. But this year I did not go at all, because my family was concerned about my safety.
A number of options arose which would have allowed me to go for one day, but in the end, after much discussion with my spiritual directress and others, I felt like I was pushing my will too much and decided to remain home and participate in a Skype call every day at drink time.
People ask me how I retain my peacefulness in the midst of this disease. Actually, I am fine most of the time and my diminishment is not that great: I can watch television, dictate messages and keep up with the news. I am in no pain and I feel very good. In fact, my diminishment seems to have leveled off.
But there are a few times when I really get discouraged and feel sorry for myself. When I can't reach my face to scratch an itch; when I can't reach a key on the computer; when I can't turn the page of my book in the chapel.
However, I get past these slight moments by remembering the sufferings of my teacher, Jesus. Also, there is a belief in Christian piety that there is a kind of treasure chest in the community of saints, to which anyone of us can contribute and from which any of us can withdraw. So in those discouraging moments, I make a deposit in that treasury. When I pray for friends, I withdraw from that account.
Many years ago, my cousin came into unexpected money and, one day, he sat on the porch and wrote checks to family and friends to use in any way they wanted. When I pray for the 70 people on my prayer list, I feel like my cousin writing checks against the treasury of the community of saints.
Nice belief, I think, because it helps me get by those moments of discouragement and makes sense of my practice of praying for people.
I made a major contribution to this treasury last month, when I was unable to join my family at the shore.