Dying with Joy for Mother Church

The Sullivan Family

We have all heard the Catholic joke, “I’d be a martyr if they’d kill me real quick…” In a more serious frame of mind, we have all also, during our meditations or during our daily duties, entertained the question, “Would I die for Mother Church?”

The truth is that our ecclesial family of Regnum Christi gives us the tools to die to self, and, in effect, die daily for Mother Church. I know this from a particular angle because I have a chronic rheumatic disease, which, a little over ten years ago this month of December put me at death’s door.  During the Gaudete week of Advent 2001, I was in a CCU unit in a hospital in Kentucky hanging on for dear life.  Like many who have gone close to “death’s door,” my experience deepened my faith.  Intercessory prayer abounded, and, by grace, I pulled through. Very soon after, and after a journey through six different physicians, not counting several ER doctors, including specialists of which I had never heard, our Good Shepherd called me to homeschool our children who were 2, 5 and 6.

 “Well, this is so foolish, so opposite from what the world would ask of me…. This must come from You, Lord,” I said to Jesus, smiling tiredly.

 His graces were sufficient then, and the lady with “something-like-Lupus disease,” began, in the darkness of faith, to home educate team Sullivan (with her husband as her greatest “fan”). Fast forward to the present days, and to another, less bumpy, bump in the road.  After several years of trying every natural and dietary remedy in the book, I had, this fall, a very serious flare-up of symptoms.  I was discouraged.

 Then, I took a hard look at my Regnum Christi commitments and the beautiful program of life that had come to me in quiet moments of prayer and contemplation during my last, annual weekend retreat in early spring of 2012. The heart of my program came from Luke 6: 36-38:

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful as your Father is merciful.

 A simple program came from the retreat.  It was a phrase to pray for others, that “their burdens be my delight.”  The Lord was reminding me of something I knew, but had almost forgotten.  He asks us to join Him on the Cross to offer pain and suffering, even be it small and personal, for the redemption of souls.

 Back to this fall: I was very sick.  I scraped over to my evening Encounters.  I made an appointment for Confession and received the Anointing of the Sick.  There was an ER visit and several doctor visits—with lots of bloodwork– in between the prayers and living life.  I went to Confession.  I went to my weekly Adoration.  And, again off to Confession I went. Never did I stop praying. I took two hour naps to teach my 5th grade CCD class. Like a baby, I was taking a morning and an afternoon nap daily. I told the evil spirits, who were whispering in my ear, “what did you expect Mrs. Invalid, sickly, worthless….” I told them to “get behind me in Jesus’s Holy Name.”

They fled, as they had another time when I was tempted to withdraw from my vocation to Regnum Christi. I had incorporated on Christ the King feast day in 2008 (Alleluia!). I was not prepared for the bomb that was to drop in 2009. The spiritual warfare was similar to that which has happened during my health crises, “…what a worthless, good-for-nothing work is Regnum Christi, not even really of the Church, you know, ” went the evil murmurings.  Again, the command in Jesus’s Name.  Again, persevering in the sacramental life of Mother Church and my Regnum Christi prayer commitments.  And, again, the graces to persevere in the darkness of faith.

Die to self, live in Christ. We know the truth of this joy-filled demand given to us from Mt. Calvary, in time and in eternity. Like so many of us, I asked in prayer that St. Joseph, Mary and Jesus, give me the graces to see the positive side of my crosses. Over and over, I have heard in my prayers that “His graces and powers are made perfect in weakness.”   

When I was so sick that I could not drive for two years, as the thirty-five year old mother of three children under six years of age, I prayed the Catholic warrior’s prayer against the devil, and my own weak flesh, and the success-driven world.  Often, in times of trial, those tempting voices arise that tell my heart and soul that I am an invalid, a good-for-nothing, because of my “here-to-stay” illness.

Our crosses in Regnum Christi are “here-to-stay,” yet what a gift disease can be. We are no longer cozy and comfortable with our image, just as I rarely feel comfortable in my sick and achy body. At the same time, that does not mean that we are to cast off our identity as beloved children of our Heavenly Abba, Who loves us more than ever in our trials and sufferings. We should fervently desire that the wounds of Christ belong to us –praise God that we now bear them openly. This should stir us to an interior apostolate of prayer more contemplative than before and an exterior apostolate of works evermore conquering.

My physical life is a constant facing of weakness and disability, but also of loving care and beneficial medicines. My spiritual life, thanks all be to God for His Regnum Christi – and it is His—enlarges my heart daily to love in the freedom of the children of God. We must pray for the graces to remember who we are in Christ. It is truly His Kingdom Come, not our petty pleasure-kingdom come, or our little security-kingdom come. These are but counterfeits and ruses.

May TKC, Lord Jesus, King of our hearts, and may we reach out as never before!

About Sara Sullivan

Sara Sullivan converted to Catholicism, as a young wife and mother, at age 33. She is married to Jerry over 20 years and mother to Maggie, Joybeth and Jay. She enjoys cooking with her husband, reading, vacuuming and sweeping pet hairs from the family’s six dogs and cats, writing and volunteering as a catechist at her parish. With great joy, she became a member of Regnum Christi in a small chapel in Cumming, Georgia, dedicated to our Lady on Christ the King Feast Day, 2008.
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4 Responses to Dying with Joy for Mother Church

  1. amf says:


  2. Tina G. says:


    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. So inspiring and what a beautiful reminder of who we are in Christ and why we are here. Thank you for being an example of having “joy in this journey” by your actions that speak so loud and clear. Blessings upon you and your beautiful family during this Advent Season. Merry Christmas, my friend!

  3. nhora says:

    Wow Sarita, me haz inspirado amiga!
    God Bless you for your testimony of Faith and deply Love to Our Lord.
    TKC!, Love in Christ, Nhora.

  4. Lucy Daniels says:

    Dearest Sara thank yo so much for this beautiful testimony and reminder of what the meaning of life is for each of us! You are a shining light in a world often filled with darkness, especially since you will not let the darkness overcome you! May God Bless you and your beautiful family, TKC!

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