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

Friday, February 6, 2015

Prayer Request

Almost four years ago, I asked y'all to pray for an awesome history professor:

Dr. Brendan McGuire

Thanks to your prayers, Brendan beat cancer then.

But it's back now, in his shoulder; and on Monday, he's starting agressive chemotherapy.

Brendan reading the Easter Proclamation at St. Patrick's Day 2014

In the years since I've graduated, Brendan has become a very dear friend; we're on a first-name basis now; and though I don't see him very often, we keep in touch via email.

And when I found out last week that his cancer was back, I felt like the air had been knocked out of my lungs.

"Noooo!" I shouted to God in the chapel and while wandering around campus; "he's supposed to be cured, he was in remission! He'd made it 3 1/2 years; I was counting down the months until he'd reached the 5-year-mark! This can't be happening!"

And my world was officially upside-down, on its head, again. Thankfully, my job is one I can do without thinking about what I'm doing; I can iron, and clean a house, and fix breakfast for an elderly couple, and try to smile...and all the while, my mind can be forty miles away in Front Royal and my heart can be muttering prayers.

I've wrestled with God again, like I did in 2011; I've asked Him "Why?"; I've maybe sort of kind of been a little mad at Him; and I might have told Him that this just isn't fair.

A friend told me the usual: "trust in God," "pray"; and I might have gotten a little mad, just like I did 4 years ago, at the platitudes; but then someone told me this yesterday:
It might seem that all those phrases--"trust in God," "prayer is the only thing we can do," etc.--are just words, but Our Lord is the Word, and the Word became flesh, and He is with us.
The Word on the Cross took on our suffering, and gives us His identity. And when you ask "Why?" you are joining Him as He has joined you, as He cried out that same question: "Why do the innocent suffer? Why have You abandoned Me?" and you're entering into the mystery of suffering. And suffering "reveals man to himself."
I know all that intellectually, though it's good to hear it again; but there's still the heavy feeling on my hear that there's nothing I can do for Brendan.

Which is a lie.

The only thing I can do for Brendan is to pray for him.

And prayer is the most important thing I can do for Brendan.

A wise man told me this yesterday: 
Assume for a moment that I am God...the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, all-merciful God. And you have this friend, Brendan, who's suffering. What is the most powerful thing you can do for Brendan?
Ask that all-powerful God for help
So your Christian charity, pray for Brendan, his wife Susan, and their three children! Pray for him to beat this just as he beat it in 2011, pray for strength and courage for him as he again carries this heavy cross.

Prayers to St. Peregrine.

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