February 23, 2018

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Uneasiness about surgery leads to episode showing God’s providence

Debra TomaselliI awoke, heart pounding in anticipation of my upcoming surgery. After all, I’d recently endured an appendectomy, and things hadn’t gone well.

What if I reacted to the anesthesia again? What if they’d, once again, hospitalize me unexpectedly? Worse yet, what if they released me and I wrestled with uncontrollable pain all night? What then?

Surgery was scheduled for the next day. Was it too late to cancel?

Fear prevailed. Overwhelming fear. Fear of the anesthesia. Fear of the pain meds. Fear of the pain. Fear of the disruption in my life.

I felt compelled to get to Mass, so I glanced at the clock. If I hurried, I could make it. I threw on clothes, ran a brush through my hair, and grabbed the car keys.

Slipping into the back pew, I scanned the small, weekday congregation, searching for someone to talk to after Mass. Someone who would calm my fears.

However, as the Mass began, another idea surfaced. Maybe, afterward, I’d ask Father Michael to anoint me. I hadn’t yet been anointed for this surgery.

Yes! That’s it, I thought. That would be the perfect antidote for my concerns.

Satisfied, I quit looking for someone to talk to. The anointing would be enough.

Moments later, much to my surprise, Father Michael made an announcement. He would be anointing the sick during today’s Mass. Please line up if you were in need.

My head spun. What?

Our parish administers this sacrament monthly, but I never paid attention to when.

But today … of all days?

Peace arose from deep within; gratitude filled me.

I wouldn’t even have to ask Father Michael. The gift was already being laid out for me. God knew what I needed before I even knew.

I thanked God for his incredible care. He knew my every thought, addressing my worries, dispelling my fears. I thanked God for his guidance.

My doubts dissipated. I felt confident about the surgery. I knew it would be all right, no matter what. I knew I wouldn’t be alone. I knew God was with me.

Receiving the sacrament strengthened me. It was enough, but God also went the extra mile, sending me his messenger, someone to talk to, someone to calm my fears.

She appeared in the form of the sacristan, who, knowing my health challenges, paused at my pew to encourage me.

“I’m having surgery tomorrow,” I whispered. “I awoke with such fear today, but, unknowingly, felt compelled to come to this Mass.” I waved my hand toward the altar, where the final recipients were being anointed.

She smiled, hugged me, and uttered the following verse. The message came straight from the heart of God. The words rang true that particular day, but his promise is eternal. If you are facing challenges, try believing this:

“Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Is 41:10).

P.S. My surgery went well.

(Debra Tomaselli writes from Altamonte Springs, Florida. She can be reached at dtomaselli@cfl.rr.com.)

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