Blessed Lydwina of Sheidam

Holland (entered heaven this day in 1433)

Dear Lydia,

I just read your essay “Why Life Ought to Be a Vacation.”  It really blew me away – into an almost uncontrollable rage, that is.  My dear niece, why are you trying to convince yourself that earth should be like heaven?  This brief span of years we are given is meant to be an opportunity to fight for Christ’s Kingdom, not to settle into the mindless bliss of epicurean mediocrity.   Earth is not heaven – get it? Earth is NOT heaven! You aren’t 15 anymore, but you have a lot to learn from Blessed Lydwina, who discovered her strange and wonderful vocation at that young age.  She was a lot like you: pert, pretty, fun. Then she got into an ice-skating accident, broke a rib, and ran into complications during her recovery. For the next thirty-eight years, she never left her sickroom.  Well, wait a minute. I have to qualify that. Her body never left the sickroom.  It starting having very odd symptoms – her flesh began to rot (which put an end to her good looks – they were marred by an ugly cleft that opened from the top of her forehead to the middle of her nose), she had agonizing headaches, constantly recurring fits of vomiting, unending fevers, maddening thirst, spasms of pain in every part of her body – it was as if her body were decaying in the grave, and she remained conscious to experience it.  At first, she felt utter repugnance at her suffering. But gradually she learned that God was asking her to suffer for the reparation of others’ sins. Her spiritual director visited her frequently, taught her to meditate on our Lord’s passion, and frequently brought her Holy Communion (her only food during her last 13 years). As she recognized and embraced her uncommon vocation, she began to add voluntary sufferings to the ones God had sent her (sleeping on boards instead of on a bed, for example).  God rewarded her by giving her powers of healing (healing others, of course), prophecy, and special vision (by which she visited the great Churches in Rome and Jerusalem, spent time with the saints and her guardian angel, and even helped our Lord himself carry his cross on his way to Calvary). For her last seven years of life, her acute pains prevented her from sleeping even a wink… I guess I let myself get carried away. The point here, my dear Lydia, is that each of us has a mission to complete during the few years of this earthly life, a mission that will definitely involve suffering and hardship of some kind or other – no escape from that.  If we don’t want to be frustrated, we have to expect it, and be glad that God gives us such opportunities to show him our love. So I suggest you entitle your next essay: “Why Christians Save Their Vacations for Heaven.”

Gotta go. Love, Uncle Eddy

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