Catholic bishop who’s seen hurting up close has thoughtful words to share

September 30, 2011

SpiritBlog

We all experience pain, loss, disasters both major and minor. It’s what we do about our hurts that matters.

Bishop Paul Zipfel of Minot, North Dakota, has had a front-row seat as flood waters have devastated not just homes and businesses but lives this year in that community in the Upper Midwest.

In preaching at a Mass for Healing for those who have had homes washed away and who otherwise have suffered from the flooding, Bishop Zipfel offered advice for coping with all that’s happened.

First, remember you’re not alone. Others are standing in solidarity with you. And so is he as their brother.

Second, trust that God is with us and loves us more than we can ever imagine. “While we may not be able to heal ourselves or one another fully,” he said, “God’s healing power is infinitely greater than any hurt and pain, no matter how deeply these are rooted in our lives.”

Third, ask God to give you peace of mind and to help remove any residual anger that must still plague you, help you to be reconciled.

The bishop quoted Victor Frankl, the World War II victim and author who wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man, except for one thing: the last of the human freedoms — the freedom to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Bishop Zipfel urged people to try to let go of their hurts and angers. “Holding on to hurts is like carrying red-hot coals inside us that can be fanned into flames at the least expected moment,” he said.

Don’t deny pain, but know that you are loved, and that will help begin the healing process, he added.

Finally, the bishop asked, “How do you know when you’re healed?”

When you are grateful for the experience.

“Not that you would ever be grateful for the devastation,” the bishop said, “but rather you are grateful for the growth, the greater capacity to love and understand and to feel with others. Forgetting is not one of the signs of being healed. You may be healed of the hurt, but still remember it. Whoever said the ‘to forgive is to forget’ was oversimplifying.”

Source: Dakota Catholic Action. Read all of Bishop Zipfel’s homily here.

 

 

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About Bob Zyskowski

Bob is the Client Products Manager for the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. A 42-year veteran of the Catholic Press, he is the former Associate Publisher of The Catholic Spirit. You can follow him on twitter or email him at zyskowskir@archspm.org.

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