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Recovery: Hope After Trauma: Week 1 Homily (6/6/2021)

What gives you hope? Perhaps more personally, who gives you hope? Take a moment … think about it.

For many of us, we’ve just come through perhaps the hardest 15 months or so of our lives and it seems as if finally, we are able to exhale, to take a breath, as the worst surely seems to be behind us … but what have we learned? … what or who got us through? … and where do we find hope?

We will look at these questions in our message series … RECOVER – HOPE AFTER TRAUMA over the next four weeks because indeed it would be a shame if we didn’t learn anything from this pandemic and more tragically, if we can’t move forward from this as people of stronger hope.

The word “trauma” may be used in different contexts.

· In the physical context, it means a physical injury inflicted on a person by some external agent, like getting bopped by a baseball in the outfield, or punched on the street.

· In a psychological context, it means an emotional response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event, like the sudden loss of a loved one, an accident, rape, or natural disaster.

· In the spiritual context, it can be associated with loss of faith, diminished participation in religious or spiritual activities, changes in belief, feelings of being abandoned or punished by God, and loss of meaning and purpose for living.

Whether physical, psychological or spiritual, traumas demand a response, and we know that a person subjected to trauma may respond in several ways.

Traumatized people may be in a state of shock, extreme grief, or denial. Trauma may also give rise to several longer-term reactions in the form of emotional lability, flashbacks, impulsiveness, and strained relationships. Trauma can also lead to physical symptoms, such as headaches, lethargy, and nausea. Some people may be affected a lot more than others. In fact, some people may be entrapped in the emotional impact of the trauma and find it difficult to move on with their lives.

Trauma is usually divided into three main types: acute, chronic, and complex.

Acute Trauma:

It mainly results from a single distressing event, such as an accident, assault, or natural disaster. The event is extreme enough to threaten the person’s emotional or physical security. The event creates a lasting impression on the person’s mind. Acute trauma generally presents in the form of excessive anxiety or panic, irritation, confusion, inability to have a restful sleep, unreasonable lack of trust inability to focus on work or studies, and even aggressive behavior.

Chronic trauma:

It happens when a person is exposed to multiple, long-term, and/or prolonged distressing, traumatic events over an extended period. Chronic trauma may result from a long-term serious illness, sexual abuse, domestic violence, bullying, and exposure to extreme situations, such as a war and even a pandemic.

The symptoms of chronic trauma often appear after a long time, even years after the event. The symptoms are deeply distressing and may manifest as labile or unpredictable emotional outbursts, anxiety, extreme anger, flashbacks, fatigue, body aches, headaches, and nausea. Individuals may have trust issues, and hence, do not have stable relationships or even jobs.

Complex trauma:

It is a result of exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events or experiences. The events are generally within the context of an interpersonal (between people) relationship. It may give the person a feeling of being trapped. Complex trauma often has a severe impact on the person’s mind. It may be seen in individuals who have been victims of childhood abuse, neglect, domestic violence, family disputes, and other repetitive situations, such as civil unrest. It affects the person’s overall health, relationships, and performance at work or school.

Whatever be the type of trauma, if a person finds it difficult to recover from the distressing experiences, one must seek timely help in all its many forms. In addition to the medical, psychological and other scientific resources available, recovery from trauma can also come from using spiritual tools and spiritual gifts.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ or Corpus Christi the greatest of the spiritual gifts. Although the actual feast was decreed by Pope Urban IV in 1264, the believe in the real presence of Jesus, under the form of bread and wine was first celebrated at the last supper, at the hands of Jesus himself.

This feast reminds us both to have reverence for and to take advantage of the most sacred gift God has given us, his son Jesus. Jesus has given us himself so that we can have life and not only here on earth but with him in heaven for all eternity.

It’s this promise of life, full life here and eternal life hereafter that gives us the energy, the nourishment to recover from the traumas of our life. A deacon I knew said that for him, the Eucharist was his “energy pill” and what helped him throughout his day, no matter how long or difficult.

We need Jesus;

We need to receive him;

and then We need to go out and share him with others, in our words and in our actions and in these days, in our hope.

Whether we receive Jesus in Holy Communion or sit in his presence in our adoration chapel or here in our church, we are changed. It may be a major change or something almost imperceptible, but we are changed.

As we recover … as we seek to find hope after trauma … the trauma of the pandemic or the traumas of our lives … let’s take some time today to receive Jesus, body, soul and divinity into our lives … for he is our true hope!

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