September 23, 2007

The Physician--The Priest

O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.
--The Sick Rose by William Blake

Blake's famous poem is usually assigned many meanings. The genius of this poem is it enables the reader to interpret a meaning based upon the readers experiences. On first glance it appears to be a very simplistic verse. Actually, it is a mysterious and complex work. I find it dark and unfathomable.

Depending upon where I am in my life, what I bring to this poem changes. I find it fascinating to revisit Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience occasionally and see how my interpretations of his work has changed from the last time I read it. How has my interpretation changed from 5 years ago? 10 years ago? etc.

Recently, I am "rose" and "worm" is venial sin.

Yesterday, I went to Confession and unloaded 3-weeks worth of venial sin. Thankfully, I did not have any mortal sins to confess this time.

It's just little stuff--those pesky venial sins. The little worms that slowly eat away at you until you wilt from the inside out. If left untreated, the worms will destroy you. They, gradually, separate you from Christ.

I can tell that I'm sick by the accumulated assault of the worm when I feel disconnected from God. I pray, but it's like I've left my body. My heart is absent. The prayer becomes rote and meaningless because I feel incapable of speaking with God in such a diseased state. I'm sick. I need help.

When we are physically ill we seek a medical doctor, a physician, for a cure.

Sometimes, we are wracked with numerous physical ailments. Seasonal allergies, backache, a sprained ankle. Seperately, each affliction may not be too bad or may be bearable, but throw them all together and your body is definitely not 100%. You feel tired and run down. You can't function at full strength. Your job suffers. Your attention span is lower. You are cranky and irritable.

Something needs to be done.

You go to your doctor for medical advice, exercises, medication-all of the above. Anything to bring you back.

Medical doctors can't heal everything that ails you. Sometimes you need The Physician. The writings of St. Augustine are full of medical imagery describing the illness of the soul and how the Lord is The Healer, the Doctor.

Jesus said in the Gospel reading for the Feast of St. Matthew just passed: "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do"--Matthew 9:12. Jesus was talking about why He ate with sinners. Everyone needs the Lord, but, especially the sinners.

Remember that Ordination Prayer Card I have? It says:

The Priest in the Confessional: He is the physician of your soul--show him its wounds


Blogger Terry Nelson said...

This is such a good post.

September 23, 2007 12:39 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Cathy,excellent post

September 24, 2007 8:21 PM  

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