One of the most confounding elements of Christianity is its take on suffering. Why would an all-loving God allow us to hurt? But those who have experienced suffering, who have come out the other side, have a better understanding of what it all means. Father Damian Ference is one such person. Read on to find out what a recent surgery taught him about the Father, his father and grace.
I knew there was something wrong with my knee when it hurt to genuflect. I waited a week to see if it would get better. It didn’t. I made an appointment with a knee specialist who, in the good spirit of Flannery O’Connor, I call “the scientist.” He took one look at my x-ray and told me that I had something called osteochondritis dissecans, which means that part of my knee bone had dried up and died.
The scientist said that when I was going through puberty, I would have banged my knee really hard on something and traumatized one of the growth plates in my knee bone in such a way that it never developed properly. He said I probably wouldn’t even remember the injury. This sounded right, as I was a very active boy, playing baseball, football, basketball, riding bikes and skateboards, and doing all the things that teenage boys do—and I remember banging my knees on a variety of surfaces.
As time passed, the knee got worse. Long bike rides through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons, a full-marathon, an olympic triathalon, tennis, snowboarding, and the Insanity workout became too much for my knee to bear. It was Palm Sunday when I started replacing my genuflections at mass with profound bows...