Persons places and things: prayers for Lent


By Barb Arland-Fye

In a rush to apply eye drops before heading to the office I poked myself in the right eye with a disposable vial of eye drops. It still hurts when I think about it! “I think you need to see the eye doctor,” my husband Steve said when he saw the raised spot of blood in the white of my eye. All I could think of was the trip we were supposed to take two days later to celebrate our overdue 30th-wedding anniversary. Would we have to cancel?


Since the eye doctor’s office wasn’t open, I left for diocesan headquarters in Davenport, hoping to make it in time for the weekly Mass. Inside the chapel, four white candles lay on the altar. This was the feast day of St. Blaise. All of us at Mass were going to have our throats blessed! After the homily, we lined up to receive our blessing from Father Thom Hennen. He placed two crossed candles against our throats. Then he prayed: “Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness.” My anxiety lifted.

That afternoon, the eye doctor examined my eye and found no abrasions. He likened the injury to a bruise on the skin. I left his office praying silent prayers of thanks.


Driving back to the office I had time to reflect on the many ways I’ve felt God’s presence in my life. Just the day before, I’d been to my regular eye doctor for a checkup and learned everything looked good, except that I had dry eyes. The condition is easily fixable, in my case. Take eye drops! I said prayers of thanksgiving as I left his office, then went to the store and purchased the eye drops. Those drops, by the way, were in the vial that I poked my eye with the next morning!

A few weeks ago, I read a Facebook post from a woman recovering from breast cancer and reconstructive surgery. She vows to resume all of her physical fitness activities and everything else that resembles her normal life. It’s full speed ahead, nothing less. Meanwhile, my friend Marcia is trying to figure out her “new normal,” as she recovers from chemotherapy and surgery for non-smoker’s lung cancer. Her physical fitness activities have been curtailed. She trusts that whatever happens is God’s will, and that’s the beauty of her faith.

Thinking about these women and others dealing with serious illness gives me a deeper appreciation for the health I have today — not yesterday, and not tomorrow. Every day is a gift from God. Injuries have sidetracked my running, but I’m still able to walk, swim and bicycle. My eyes are dry and I have a minor bruise in one of them, but that’s nothing compared to the gift of my sight. My five senses are intact and so is my mind (at least I think so!).

Today, Feb. 11, is World Day of the Sick, which St. John Paul II proclaimed to coincide with the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. The Catholic Health Association website offers prayers for reflection on behalf of all who are sick and those who provide care for them. Go to:
I’ll offer my prayers, and also thank God for the opportunity to make that anniversary trip.
(Barb Arland-Fye, Editor, can be reached at

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