“What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
As a young pre-medical student at Texas A&M University, I was preparing to begin the long journey towards becoming a physician. My faith deepened in college, and I had a dream of extending the healing ministry of Jesus—a dream of modeling the Divine Physician in my future practice. I wanted to see our Lord in each of my patients, and I wanted to remain faithful to Catholic teaching. I wanted to live out my faith in medicine with conviction, confidence, boldness, and love. But I knew that many forces were against me, and this would not be an easy path.
As young Catholic medical trainees, it often seems that we are up against a torrent of cultural influences and ideologies that do not agree with us. In fact, it seems that there are those who want to tear us down and strip us of our freedom of conscience. So many forces attempt to conform us to the mind of the world. It feels as if we are placed on the front lines of a raging culture war— thrown into a river with a current that is always against us. This can be discouraging. But, as G.K. Chesterton says, “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” The question is, “How am I to be fully alive as a Catholic in medicine?” “How am I to thrive?” “How am I to remain faithful when faced with such strong opposition?” These are very real concerns that so many of us face.
By the grace of God, I discovered the Catholic Medical Association. The summer before entering medical school, with great enthusiasm, I signed up for the medical student Boot Camp. My primary reason for attending was so that I could “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks me for a reason for my hope” (1 Peter 3:15). I did indeed receive excellent instruction on how to defend the principles of the Catholic faith in medicine; however, to my surprise, what was most valuable to me was the relationships I had formed. It was an incredible joy to discover that other people shared my desire to be a faithful Catholic and to be a good physician.
This joy was even more palpable when I attended my first CMA Annual Education Conference. As I observed the hundreds of Catholics in attendance, I could not help but feel inspired. I felt at home. I thought, “This is where I belong!” More importantly, I was filled with hope. I knew that I was not alone. What a unique thing we share—the desire to be a faithful Catholic in medicine! This common interest seems to have a particular power to forge special and lasting bonds. I am reminded of C.S. Lewis’ words on friendship.
“Friendship arises…when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.’”
What a consolation to know that I am not the only one! Rather, there are hundreds of other faithful Catholic healthcare providers that share the same desire and the same hope. We share the same unique treasure—a treasure that, yes, can sometimes be a burden—a cross. But praise God, we have a community to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We can “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). We can stand together in solidarity and unity. “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).
What a wonderful gift that we have each other’s support in this incredible journey. I have formed some of my greatest friendships through the CMA, and for this I am very grateful. As we hear in Sirach, “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: he that has found one has found a treasure.” I have found a treasure in the Catholic Medical Association. It is so encouraging to know that we are not alone and that we are running this race together. My prayer is that we continue to support one another and build one another up as we each strive to imitate the Divine Physician in the practice of medicine.