Minute Meditations

Turning Pain into Praise

St. Anna Schäffer wanted to be a missionary. Falling into a boiling laundry vat took away any possibility of that happening; she was bedridden for the rest of her life. It didn’t seem right. Hadn’t God put on Anna’s heart that she had a calling as a missionary? For two years, she struggled to see the purpose in this tragedy. With time, she adjusted her thinking, and she began to see her disability as a cross to be picked up and carried daily. Anna said she had three tools with which to bring souls to the Lord: her suffering, her needle, and her penholder. With her needle, she did embroidery, sewing, and knitting for others, including churches and chapels. With her pen, she kept journals about her suffering and responded to letters and prayer requests. She also listened to the stories of those who came to visit her. Anna came to realize that she was indeed a missionary, just in a different way than she had expected. Her radical example of adjusting her God-given vocation to meet her life circumstances is an example to all of us who question why things happen that seem to take us off course. Anna shows us that where there’s a vocation, there’s a way—even if we’re bedridden.

— from Radical Saints: 21 Women for the 21st Century, by Melanie Rigney



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