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Lessons on joy from a disabled saint

Physical health is such a highly prized goal in modern society that when we become sick or severely disabled, it is tempting to give up on life. We can be tempted to grow in despair and lament the loss of our physical abilities.

For a similar reason, many children who are diagnosed with disabilities are sadly discarded, and viewed by many as mistakes.

Yet one saint shows us that our physical health should not dictate our spiritual health and that we can still retain joy in the midst of our suffering.

Bl. Herman “the Cripple” lived in the 11th century and was destined for failure. In an early 20th-century periodical entitled The Month, Herman’s early life is recounted.

Their son Herman was most horribly crippled and, indeed, deformed, “in the outer man,” says his friend and biographer, Berthold … For the little boy’s limbs were so hideously contorted that he could not move himself from this place to that; could scarcely sit, even, in the chair they fashioned for him; even his fingers were all but too weak and knotted to write; even his mouth, it seems, was deformed, and his lips and tongue formed words barely to be understood.

In pagan worlds the child would have been exposed upon the mountains and would have perished.

Yet, his parents did not give up on Herman, and entrusted him to a nearby monastery. It is remarkable that the monks accepted him and were extremely patient with him, teaching him the depths of religion, science and mathematics.

Read more at Aleteia

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