Yesterday we had a retreat day for men and women at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Minneapolis. Although we began and ended the day together for our introduction and opening and closing prayer, we split up for most of the time, with Deacon Thom Winninger leading the men and me leading the women.
I divided my time with the women into two sessions, one in which we looked at models of discipleship from among the women who encountered or walked with Jesus during his lifetime and the other in which we talked about more recent women who can inspire us.
The four women I spoke about in the first session were Martha, Veronica, Mary Magdalene, and my method was one of storytelling. As I explained at the outset, there is a reason Jesus so often used stories to illustrate truths; stories, and the truths they reveal, often touch us at a deep place. We react to them with our heart in a way that is often much deeper than if were simply told the same truth. (I gave the examples of the difference between hearing the story of the Good Samaritan and Jesus simply answering the question “who is my neighbor” by saying “everyone,” and the difference between hearing the story of the Prodigal Son and simply being told, “God is always ready to forgive you.)
Although I used material from other sources to tell the stories of three of the women, I told Veronica’s story using something I wrote several years ago. Since several of the women afterward told me how much they were affected by it, I thought I’d share it here.
So here is Veronica’s tale, a tale of a women who ignored social norms to be present to the suffering of another, who models a discipleship of compassion and presence :
We were in Jerusalem for the Passover. My husband’s family lived here and we often made the trip to spend the holy days with them. Although many of those visits meld together in my mind, this time was one I will remember all my life. I can hardly forget it. I think of it – of him – every time I notice the veil that I never wear anymore. Continue reading