I begin every morning in prayer, and the day started out the same as all others.  I pour myself a cup of coffee and settle into my prayer spot.  I peer out the front window, and I see the cross in the woods across the street.  Our Lady of Guadalupe looks upon me from the wall to my left.  There's a crucifix on the wall straight in front of me.  When I looked up that morning, I noticed a thin beam of light on the wall, pointing at an angle toward the crucifix.  I see a lot of things in and around my home, but in three years, I had never seen a light like this before.  Besides, how did the light point upward?  I took a picture of it.  It was about 9:30 am and the sun shone briefly that morning.  A short time later, the sky turned gray.  


I paused to get a second cup of coffee, and while I was waiting for the water to heat up, I went on the Internet.  I saw an ad for religious pamphlets, and the headline seemed to scream out to me, "Prayer to St. Rita of Cascia... Patroness of impossible causes".  Well, it got my attention, so I clicked on the link.  There was a photo of St. Rita, and to my shocked surprise, there was a thin beam of light, pointing at an angle toward the crucifix, just like the light I saw moments earlier on my living room wall!  A chill went through me. "This has to mean something," I thought to myself.  

I did some research, and one thing I read was that as St. Rita was meditating before an image of Christ crucified, she was moved by an awareness of the pain He suffered for our salvation. "She spoke her willingness to relieve Christ's suffering by sharing even the smallest part of his pain. Rita was united with Jesus in a profound experience of spiritual intimacy, a thorn from his crown penetrating her forehead."  

I felt like this was a message for me to contemplate the meaning of the crown of thorns.  

So what did the crown of thorns mean to Jesus, and what does it represent to us, today?  I have my share of aches and pains, which I "offer up" to God on a daily basis.  Do I want a stigmata such as St. Rita had?  Frankly, no!  But ever since I learned about the power and meaning of Redemptive Suffering, I was able to comprehend a little better that our suffering can have purpose and meaning, if we let it.  

Jesus - King of the Jews

The crown of thorns placed on Christ's head was intended as a mockery.  "And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!'" (Matthew 27:29)   

The makeshift crown, a symbol of royalty and majesty, was contemptuously thrust upon Jesus' head; the sharp thorns were like daggers penetrating His skull and piercing His brain; and the blood poured out of the wounds and rolled down His face as the soldiers unwittingly uttered the prophetic words as mockery.    

Thorn in the flesh  

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me - to keep me from exalting myself!  Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.  And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)  

Though St. Paul spoke metaphorically, he may have chosen the phrase "thorn in the flesh" to unite his suffering to Christ's, whose crown of thorns, intended to demean Jesus, ultimately became a crown of glory.  We all have SOMETHING, some type of thorn in the flesh that seemingly debilitates us (physically, emotionally, spiritually), but it doesn't have to.  If we bear our hardship with dignity and patience, the power of Christ which dwells within us will shine through our weaknesses.  

Patron Saint of Mental Illness  

I was recently made aware of another saint, St. Benedict Joseph Labre.  And I discovered that he also meditated upon the crown of thorns.  He is known as the Patron Saint of the mentally ill.  

In 2014, I felt a calling to raise awareness about mental disorders.  It started with a desire to help children who are suffering with ADHD, which has been linked to the consumption of preservatives and additives in food.  The more I learn, the deeper the problem seems to be.  It affects not only a handful of children; it affects a large percentage of the entire population in numerous ways.  No one on this planet is immune to the detrimental effects of chemicals in our food supply, in all sorts of products and in our environment. And so I created a web site which I hope will educate parents of schoolchildren as well as the general public so that we can all choose to follow a healthier lifestyle by avoiding if not eradicating the harmful toxins in our environments.

There are many environmental causes being linked to disorders like ADD/ADHD, autism, autoimmune diseases, chemical imbalances and other psychological disorders.  We have to start protecting our bodies, our minds and our planet. 

Mental and neurological disorders have reached epidemic proportions. 35.5 percent of Americans on disability are collecting disability for mental disorders!  This is a staggering, mind-boggling statistic.  With these kinds of statistics, I'm certain that just about everyone knows someone suffering from some sort of disorder.  We need to be compassionate, sensitive and we must strive to help them.   

In my research on St. Benedict Joseph Labre I discovered that there is a guild in his name which offers spiritual support for all brain disorders:  

It's easy to become a member of the guild and unite your prayers with others who pray for those suffering from all forms of mental illness.  They need our prayers, for the thorns that pierce their minds are especially challenging and debilitating.   

Founder Timothy Duff, STM is a Catholic Lay Chaplain.  In his article, "Bearers of Christ's Crown of Thorns", he wrote:

"The aloneness and rejection experienced by many of them specifically identifies them with Our Lord in His agony in the garden.  Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta often said, 'mental illness is represented by Jesus' crown of thorns.'"

Jesus, who bore the painful crown of thorns deeply embedded into His brain, has a special soft spot for those who suffer disorders of the mind, for they are truly united to Christ in their Redemptive Suffering.  We must see Christ in those who are suffering; and become like Christ, by treating them with dignity.  Keep in mind that "Mental illness is not an impediment to holiness". (  

If we love Jesus, we willingly put on the crown of thorns to unite our sufferings to His, knowing that our suffering is temporary and that one day, we will exchange the crown of thorns for the crown of life.  

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)