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Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Living with Illness and Suffering - Nick Donnelly - The Catholic Way To Hope and Healing - CTS Devotions

Living with Illness and Suffering:
The Catholic Way To Hope and Healing
Nick Donnelly
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 
9781860826641
eISBN 9781784692940
ASIN B072143Z4S
CTS Booklet D727


This is the sixth title from the pen of Deacon Nick Donnelley that I have read. And it is an incredible read. It was so good that as soon as I finished it I started reading it and read it through a second time. I have read over 200 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society over the last several years. Several of them penned by Deacon Nick Donnelly. The description of this volume is:

“This booklet of practical advice, discernment and reflection, meditation and prayer, has been written for people coming to terms with chronic illness and other conditions – long-term sickness, disability, grief, depression, anxiety and other forms of suffering. This timely exposition of the Catholic understanding of the dignity and value of each life eloquently answers today's vocal minority who press for easy answers, including assisted suicide. Accessible and thorough, this text has been written with great compassion and insight.”

The chapters in this small volume are:

Purpose of this booklet
The impact of suffering
Things that help
Questions to place before God
Prayers during times of suffering
Meditations on the Christian meaning of suffering
Meditations on the healing wounds of Christ

I have been reading the books by Deacon Nick for three years now. And following him on social media nearly that long. His books in the ‘Finding God in …’ Series are excellent. But this book is so raw, emotional, transparent, and inspiring. I could not believe it. As I was reading I went back and confirmed it was the same Deacon Nick twice. He shares much from his own journey, from his chronic illness, from years of pain and suffering. His openness is deeply moving. And his faith that grew stronger through the trials, through this personal cross will inspire and encourage. 

This book begins with these words:

“This book of prayers, practical advice, meditations, and reflections has been written for people coping with suffering caused by chronic conditions such as long-term sickness, disability, grief, depression, anxiety, and many other afflictions.

I became ill in 1987, and was soon housebound and unable to work. It took 5 years for the doctors to diagnose a chronic, incurable sickness, plus other complications. It took another 5 years for them to get it under reasonable control. I remain in permanent poor health subject to severe pain, susceptible to infections and with a higher risk of developing cancer.

The inspiration for this book was an event that happened almost 12 years ago. I was undergoing a flare up of the disease, and was lying on the bathroom floor, unable to move due to severe abdominal pain. I must admit that I was frightened and this fear was making the pain worse.”

Some of the other passages I highlighted while reading this volume were:

“St Peter’s words, ‘through his wounds you have been healed’ (1 Peter 2:24). By this, I don’t mean that miraculously my disease had gone, but that Christ’s wounds began to transform my experience of suffering.”

“At a time when a vocal minority are pushing assisted suicide onto the sick and disabled as the only way of escaping our suffering, we must make more widely known the Catholic understanding of the dignity, value and transformational power of suffering shared with the Crucified God.”

“Suffering comes to us all, at some time in our lives, as the poet Henry Longfellow puts it, ‘Into each life some rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary.’”

“But for some suffering is like a daily, relentless deluge that soaks every part of their lives, getting everywhere. For others, it is more like a devastating hurricane that uproots everything, forever changing the landscape of their lives. For yet others they have to endure both catastrophic suffering and chronic suffering.”

“Suffering isolates Some of the hardest things to cope with in suffering any chronic condition are the long periods of isolation from normal life caused by being housebound. It feels like the world carries on, while your own life grinds to a halt. When I’m unable to work or enjoy the ordinary pleasures of life, my world often shrinks to the size of my home, sometimes just to my bedroom and bathroom.”

“Also, feeling constantly unwell and in pain quite naturally forces your attention inwards, where all kinds of resentments, fears and doubts can too easily dominate your thoughts.”

“Over the years I’ve gradually come to appreciate being an outsider. Being an outsider through learning to live with suffering and my own mortality has helped me focus on questions of ultimate concern, instead of being caught up in the rush of modern life.”

“After years of coping with a chronic health condition, I’ve learnt that the best approach is to try to live within the constraints imposed by the disease.”

“Don’t misunderstand me. When I’m in great pain or feel very sick, I often find it difficult to trust God, when all I can do is hold on to my faith by my fingertips. But I know, deep down, that such trust is the only way to cope with chronic suffering.”

“Other hard things to cope with during a chronic illness are the times when we lose our sense of personal dignity and self-esteem. For example, the disease may have embarrassing symptoms or entail embarrassing medical examinations.”

“Likewise, I have found reading the lives of the saints, particularly 20th century martyrs, has provided me with the inspiration and example to make more of my life than suffering. I have discovered, like countless Christians before me, that the saints are invaluable channels of healing grace and intercessory prayer. The CTS series of Saints biographies is highly recommended.”

This book is deeply moving. I hope those few quotes will encourage you to pick it up and give it a read. I have already recommended the book to several friends, either for their own reading or for their friends and family. It is an excellent book. It is easily accessible. Well written. And written from a place of personal experience. 

This is a book that I really needed. And I am certain it is one many will benefit from. After reading this I tracked down some of Deacon Nick’s other older works that are out of print. I look forward to reading more from his pen. Another great read from the CTS.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Nick Donnelly:
Finding God Series:

Finding God in Anger and Bitterness
Finding God in Doubt and Disbelief
Finding God in Anger and Bitterness
Finding God When Prayer Doesn't Work
Finding God When a Loved One Loses Faith

Other Books by Nick Donelly:
Living with Illness and Suffering
Loving Mary: What Pope Francis Says
Finding Forgiveness with Pope Francis
Stations of the Cross with Pope Francis
Who Is the Devil?
Hope and Healing: Living with Illness and Suffering
Prayers for Grieving Parents: Help After a Miscarriage or Still Birth
Praying the Rosary with the Martyrs
Praying The Creed In The Year Of Faith
Praying the Rosary with the Saints
Our Journey to Christmas: With Pope Francis






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