What does one say to a couple who has just heard that their seventeen year old daughter had a rare and painful form of bone cancer? Test after test, they tried to find a way to beat it, and their hearts sank more with the results of each treatment. I have dear friends who have lost their children to disease, and even after many years the pain is just as raw. A father told me once, conveying the loss of his son, “I don’t know how non-believers live through it. The only thing that makes me get up in the morning and go on is knowing I will see my son again.” There is the sorrow of journeying with a loved one who is suffering. And oh, how very much we need examples in our society to remind us that our suffering is not in vain.
One such light is becoming well known – Chiara ‘Luce’ Badano, the seventeen year old Italian was diagnosed with a painful form of bone cancer. When she was told the news, she didn’t cry, but instead within that half hour she decided, “Se lo vuoi Tu, Gesù, lo voglio anch’io” – If you want it, Jesus, so do I! This became her motto for living each day with the growing pain, and the weakening of her body. It is said that when her hair fell out due to the chemotherapy, she held up the strands in her hands and said, “For you, Jesus.”
What was it like for her parents? Her father, Ruggero describes their experience during the beatification:
“We lived exceptional moments being with Chiara. We lived in an atmosphere that you cannot explain. These two years (of Chiara’s suffering) have been the most beautiful of our lives, the most blessed by God, because Jesus made us live in a supernatural dimension that raised us from the ground. Like when you are on a plane, and from the window you see the earth, the clouds far below you. All of our pain and those of Chiara that were even greater, we saw them there, below us, not touching us. This was the fruit of the love of many people who prayed and supported us.”
Let us pray remember to pray for those who are suffering from illness, and also to pray for their loved ones, that they may be sustained in their sorrow by our prayers. And, if the moment comes when God calls a loved one home, may the family have the strength to issue the words of Chiara, “For you, Jesus.”
Oh Father, source of all good,
We give you thanks for the admirable
testimony of Blessed Chiara Badano.
Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit
and guided by Jesus’ luminous example,
she firmly believed in your great love,
determined to respond to it with all her strength,
faithfully abandoning herself
to your paternal will.
We humbly pray: grant us too
the gift of living with you and for you,
As we dare to ask you, if it is your will,
The grace of…
for the merit of Christ,
our Lord. Amen.
To know more about this beautiful soul of Chiara ‘ Luce’ Badano, here’s the website.