Ever since I received my "poor prognosis," there has been much discussion about miracles. Miracles happen all of the time, but only when it is the will of the Father. As I have commented before, it is not necessarily a blessing to live for many years. The biggest blessing we can receive is to die in the state of grace and spend eternity in heaven with God. Sometimes this happens early in our lives, but a "good death" is a blessing no matter when it may occur.
In the Rosary, we ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray for us now, and at the hour of our death. If I am to die soon, should I be sad that I have had so much time to repent and grow closer to God before facing Him for my judgment? I think not!
The day after I received this difficult news from my doctor, I was in Philadelphia visiting St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and undergoing the necessary psychological evaluations for admittance to priestly formation. As I was completing the written portion of the evaluation, I received a phone call from Bishop Burbidge. He assured me of his prayers, and informed me that because he believes I have a vocation to the priesthood, he continues to support me as I pursue priestly formation and ordination.
The Bishop prays for a miracle, if it be God's Holy Will, and he gave me a beautiful reflection on Jesus' miracles in the Gospel. He pointed out that whenever there is an account of a miracle, the focus is not on the actual miracle itself, but on the faith of those seeking a miracle. I discussed this conversation with my dear friend Fr. Aidan Logan, O.C.s.o., and he pointed out an episode from the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus did not perform many miracles because of the lack of faith of the people. The people doubted Jesus' credibility and His ability to perform miracles, and the Gospel affirms: "[Jesus] did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith" (Matthew 13:58).
The Bishop's reflection led me to research Christ's miracles in the Gospel, and I was amazed. When Jesus turned water into wine as His first miracle, The Blessed Virgin Mary had faith in Him and instructed the waiters to "Do whatever he tells you" (John 2). When Jesus cured the Nobleman's son, "Jesus said to him, 'Go; your son will live!' The man believed Jesus’ words and went" (John 4). When Jesus instructed Saint Peter to "put out into the deep" to let down his nets for a catch, Saint Peter answered: "'Master, we worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I will let down the nets.' They let them down and caught such a large number of fish that the nets were about to break" (Luke 5). The miracles continued as the people showed their faith.
As Bishop Burbidge taught me, miracles require faith. From now on, my prayer is to have more faith in God's perfect plan every day.
Will God grant me a miracle in my illness? There is no way to know for sure. I certainly pray for it through the intercession of Father Thomas Frederick Price and Our Blessed Mother, but in the "big picture," it does not matter if I live one year, two years, or twenty years. God's Will is going to be done, and perhaps it is His Will that I die soon. We may not understand why, but we know that God's Will is perfect. After we depart this short life, everything will make perfect sense.
What matters most is that every day I pray to conform my will to God's Will. I quoted my friend Fr. Willis in a previous post. As he pointed out in a sermon (referring to a teaching of Saint Augustine): "Prayer is not telling God what we want and do not want, as if we are addressing Santa Claus in a department store. Prayer is a petition to God, asking Him to conform our imperfect will to His Perfect Will."
Jesus meek and humble, make my heart like unto Thine!