A Different Way of the Cross

This morning, I was surprised by a phone call as I was beginning the Way of the Cross…”this is the University of Wisconsin, letting you know that you have been chosen to participate in Phase III trials for the COVID-19 vaccine. Um, what? Oh yes, I do remember submitting my name for that, not really thinking I would be called.

After 15 minutes of being asked more personal questions than I typically get asked in the confessional, I was told that I was definitely approved and they wanted me there – tomorrow! With a quiver in my voice, I told them that I could be there.

Hanging up the phone, I realized that God might have had a different Way of the Cross He was asking me to make. Was I there to just see this beautiful Basilica and make this devotion or did I really want to walk with Him? This thought wouldn’t leave my mind.

Unnerved, to say the least, I continued on with the Stations, recognizing at that moment that things were getting ready to change. What was I doing? Is this really something I wanted to do? Is this ethical/moral? Is this rushed? Most of those questions, I’ve had answered, yet there still remains some trepidation in dong this.

I found out that I have a 2 out of 3 chance of receiving the vaccine versus a placebo (saline). I also found out that I won’t know which one I have received. This is to ensure that the results of the double-blind study are not skewed.

What will come of this? I’m not sure. Why am I doing this? Because I know that there are hundreds of millions, if not billions of individuals who could potentially benefit from this. Someone has to, so why not me?

As my fear crept in on the way home, St. John Paul II quickly came to mind. He is my patron, my guide, my friend, even though I never met him. His name I chose as my Benedictine oblate name when I made my final oblation. He showed us how to live out our faith with heroic virtue. He showed us how to embrace sickness, suffering and death, wrapped in the arms of Christ crucified. He also took a bullet at age 61, certainly I could take a shot at 46!

After returning home, the desire to receive the Sacrament of the Sick quickly entered my mind. Thankfully, I was able to contact my pastor and he readily agreed to administer it to me.

I started off my day thinking that I would make the Way of the Cross, and I did. I received three sacraments today – Confession, Eucharist, and the Sacrament of the Sick, all in preparation to embrace the cross, which is giving oneself in love for others. It’s certainly not how I had anticipated making the Way, yet God always seems to outdo us in love.

I understand that this may be controversial to some. The only thing I have to say in response is that it shouldn’t be. Sometimes we have to step out of ourselves to help others. It’s controversial only because the world says life should only be about me, me, and me.

I’ve certainly lived that way before but apparently Christ took me at my word today when I asked Him to let me imitate Him a little. He also quickly reminded me not to get a big head because I’m not doing anything special, only what I should be doing all along – trying to love as He loves.

I was reluctant to write about this because I did not want to promote anything I was trying to do nor encourage others to do the same. This is a serious decision to make and should not be taken lightly. I write about it because it will be a big part of my life for the next 13 months – the time they want to follow me and see how I am doing.

I am also writing about it because others may want to know of someone who has gone through this and I am willing to share my experience with you, in the hope to alleviate any fear that may be associated with this.

Pray for me but pray especially for those who have been so deeply affected by this horrible pandemic.

St. John Paul II, here we go!