My thoughts and reflections on my Catholic Faith, Fulton Sheen, the problem of suffering, and books

Monday, April 25, 2011

For Dr. Brendan McGuire

In the Fall Semester of 2008, as a 19-year-old freshman, I was in Dr. McGuire’s History 101 class.  We delved deeply into the Book of Job and the Book of Ecclesiastes, and dealt with problems such as “Why do the innocent suffer?”  The rest of the class—the historical parts about Greece and Rome—are just vague memories, other than one question on a test: “Elephants are big.  True or False?”

That was the only semester I had Dr. McGuire for a class. I say ‘hi’ when I see him on campus, but that’s it.

Two months ago, one of his History 102 students told me that Dr. McGuire might have cancer.  I began praying for him, not as fervently as I could have been, because I usually go into denial when I hear bad news.  I might sound like I’m trying to be optimistic—“O, I’m sure he’ll be okay”—but I also don’t want to deal with the facts.

At the end of March, I heard he was having a biopsy on April 1, and I started praying harder.  As the days wore on after the biopsy, I thought: “There are over 400 people praying and storming heaven.  Surely God will listen to our prayers and not let him have cancer.”

Then, this past Tuesday, April 12, Dr. McGuire got up on the stage in the Commons.  I remember thinking: “Please let it be good news, please let it be good news, please let it be good news”—and Dr. McGuire told us that he had cancer.

Wednesday morning, before class, another of our professors told us the type of cancer, and how serious it was.  It was impossible to concentrate in class…

I’ve slogged through the rest of this week…tried to do homework, tried to stay focused, but I can’t concentrate. And the thing that keeps hitting me: Dr. McGuire is, maybe, six or seven years older than me.  And for someone that young to get cancer…

I’m praying for Dr. McGuire—novenas to St. Peregrine, the Infant Jesus of Prague, and the Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen—and trying not to question God.

Why does such a wonderful man, a great professor, a husband and father, someone who isn’t even ten years older than me—why does he have to get cancer?  Why—like we asked in History 101—why do the innocent suffer?

Dear Lord, hold Dr. McGuire close to Your Heart.  Help him not to have too many side-effects from the treatment.  Give him faith and hope, and strength.  Help him unite his sufferings with Yours on the Cross.  Spare his life, Lord.  Christendom needs him.  We love him.  His family needs him.  If it’s Your Will, please heal him.  If not, give him grace and strength to bear this cross.