Many years ago, one of my teacher colleagues touched me deeply with her story. You see, in her own words, she was a true ugly duckling. As a child, she had an extreme overbite and was very near sighted. On top of that, her ears shown prominently under her long straight hair. Her physical appearance wasn’t her only issue. She jokingly proclaimed, “As a child, I would trip over my own shadow!” During grade school, she was often bullied because of her appearance.
While her classmates made fun of her, her mom would constantly remind her that she was a child of God and that God’s work is never done! As she grew, braces fixed her overbite. A minor procedure fixed her protruding ears. Contacts replaced her glasses, and Irish step dancing classes made her actions as graceful as a gazelle.
The woman who stood before me was absolutely gorgeous. As she showed me pictures of her “ugly duckling” years, I could only marvel over the change.
I could not help to think of her story as I reflect on the transformation that we are all called to undertake. In The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church penned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we read, “The person who shares worthily in the Eucharist is enabled more and more to live the new law of love given by Christ precisely because Christ communicates himself in the sacrament of the altar. The foundation of our personal and moral transformation is the communion with himself that Christ establishes in Baptism and deepens in the Eucharist. In the celebration of the Mass, we are shown what love truly is, and we receive grace that enables us to imitate the love that Christ shows us. … The love of Christ can permeate all of our relationships with our families, our friends, and our neighbors. It can also reshape the life of our society as a whole. Our relationship with Christ is not restricted to the private sphere, it is not ourselves alone. The very solidarity or communion in Christ’s self-giving love that makes the Church and makes us a member of the Church orders us beyond the visible community of faith to all human beings, whom we are to love with that very same love that forms our communion with the Lord.”1
These are words that need to be etched into our souls. By partaking in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, receiving the Eucharist and through Adoration we are given the grace to turn our lives and our will over to God. We begin to live out the words, “Thy will be done … not mine!” It never ceases to amaze me that the two-year-old me who screamed “NO!” to my parents is alive still alive and well. Rather than proclaiming that to my parents as I did when I was two, I often proclaim that to God!
There is a great healing and peace given to those of us who recognize personal powerlessness and actively surrender our will to His. I personally have discovered how true this fact actually is! When we surrender our will to Him, even in a small way, He fills us with His peace and the grace to repent or change our hearts so that the screamed, “NO!” becomes a whispered, “I WILL!” His grace, mercy and love allow us to be transformed into our true self.
It’s a process that takes a lifetime. Why not begin now?
1 The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church – paragraphs 34-35
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness