28 March 2013

Thy Will Be Done

A friend e-mailed me today, and in the e-mail this friend had written: “I believe, based on what it says in the Bible, that it is His will that you be well.  I'll continue to pray for complete healing for you Russell.” Now I very much appreciate receiving e-mails from friends telling me that they are praying for me. However, after receiving quite a number of such e-mails, I am beginning to become concerned that some people do not quite have the correct intention to their prayer.

Before I explain my concern, let me say that I may have misinterpreted what this friend was saying, but similar sentiments have been expressed to me a number of times, so I’d like to explain my concern without singling anyone out.

Intercessory prayer is very important. God has many wonderful graces and displays of His love for us, but He will not give them unless we ask for them. Much of what God wants to give us, He does not give because we don’t ask for it. However, what if we ask for something that He doesn’t want to give us?

The question is not: What do we want from God? But: What does God want for us?

Consider the following words of Jesus: “Amen I say to you that whosoever shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed and be cast into the sea, and shall not stagger in his heart, but be believe that whatsoever he saith shall be done; it shall be done unto him.” Did He mean that if you have enough faith, God will do whatever you want? The answer is, of course, yes, but there is an important qualifier. If you have enough faith, you will only want God to do what He wants to do. If God wants to cast a mountain into the sea and wants you to ask Him to do it, He will do it if you have enough faith to ask. However, if you ask God to cast a mountain into the sea and He has no intention of doing so, no matter how much faith you think you might have, He will not do it.

Many try to control God with prayer. The right way to pray is to let God control your prayer. A common way to do this is pray for something you desire with the addition of the phrase, “If it’s Your Will...” This may even be implied and not explicitly expressed. The best example of this is Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane.

You can also pray for something without expressing or implying the above phrase by praying for something that is His Will without being presumptuous. When I pray for someone, this is what I pray:
I pray for the intentions of [name], that he/she be made a saint.
It is God’s Will that everyone become a saint. Unfortunately, not too many people pray for this. The best part about the above prayer is that you can pray it for a person from conception until canonization. It’s very generic and guaranteed to conform to the Will of God whatever the situation.

So what do I want people to pray for me? Physical health, in my opinion, would be a great thing, but if it’s not God’s Will, I don’t want it. What if my physical suffering will give me great spiritual consolation? What if my physical suffering will give others great spiritual consolation? However, what if my physical healing, miraculous or otherwise, will give others great spiritual consolation?

If it would give God greater glory that I die, I want to die. However, I don’t know what God’s will is on this issue, and I’d really prefer if He’d like me to live for another 60 years, “but not what I will, but what Thou wilt.”

What I really want is to be a saint, and it’s guaranteed that God wants this too. It’s also guaranteed that He want this for you.

Now I may have a few people worried right now. Don’t be. Chances are I’m going to live for a long time, even longer than what I had previously thought. Of course, with the snow storm we had last week, my life might be in more danger driving to and from the Cross Cancer Institute.

The 5 year survival rate I read when I thought I had Hodgkin lymphoma was 85%. When I found out I had Follicular lymphoma, that number dropped to 70%. Not that much, right? Well, if you subtract those numbers from 100, you’ll find that the 5 year mortality rate doubled. However, that data has to be at least 6 years old, and more likely around 10 years old. Therefore, it doesn’t reflect the outcome of the treatment I’m receiving right now because the treatment is too new.

I should also say that I found out on Tuesday that I am stage IV as there was 5% cancer in my bones when the bone biopsy was done a month ago. This will not change my treatment plan, but it will mean that I need another bone biopsy at the end of treatment to make sure I'm in remission.

It’s more than likely that I’ll live through my first relapse, maybe even a few after that, all of which should be at least 10 years, maybe even 15 years or more. When I have my first relapse, who knows how much of an improvement there will me in the treatment. I could very well be a centenarian; albeit, I’ll get really sick at least 4 or 5 times on the way.

Of course, even if the 5 year survival rate was 99%, there’s still that one in a hundred chance that I’m going to die within the next 5 years. That may seem small to you, but I don’t even like that statistic. You see, only one in a hundred people have schizophrenia. Are you aware of my mental health problems throughout my life? You should also remember that people live even when the odds are against them, otherwise the 5 year survival rate would be 0%. Survival rates really don’t mean anything compared to the Will of God.

The only reason for this life is to prepare us for the next, to be saints. Nothing else matters. This is why my main prayer is, “Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.” (I’ll let you look that one up, Luke 1:38.)

Although I’m not certain of my future health, I am certain of one thing concerning it,  it is God’s Will that I use my present poor health to promote awareness of the teachings of Blessed John Duns Scotus. And, when he is canonized, not only will more people become aware of his teachings, God will allow more graces to flow through those teachings, which will only increase when he is declared a Doctor of the Church.

I am more certain of this than I am that I’ll finish typing this sentence.

If it were not for what God inspired the Subtle Doctor to teach, through Our Lady, I would not be as content with being sick as I am. In fact, due to the other illness I mention, I likely wound't have made it this far.

Incidentally, Christ's prayer in Gethsemane happened right after the institution of the priesthood and the Eucharist, which we commemorated today. Tomorrow comes Golgotha, where Jesus invited you to take His mother into your own (ἴδια).

Please pray for me through the intercession of Blessed John Duns Scotus.


“Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.”

Mar 28 - Homily: Making His Sacrifice Real

Fr. Ignatius Lenten Mission 2013