I had procrastinated writing a second book for a bit, but God put it in my heart to get moving. I received encouragement from others including Kathleen. I had been accumulating some random notes with ideas, but I had not gotten down to the hard work of writing in a systematic way. Then in August 2010 Kathleen and I were at Northwestern Hospital in the waiting area prior to my treatment when a man approached us. He commented on the St. Benedict Crucifix and the pin of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mary, Mother of God) I was wearing and on the fact that I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours. There is a great practical advantage of wearing outward signs of faith, as they open doors to conversations with strangers. It turned out this was Fr. Michael, a Dominican priest. After we had a pleasant conversation, I gave him my business card. He called me the next day sharing that he was moved to call. Knowing that I had previously written a book, he said that I should write a book about my experience with cancer, giving hope and fortitude to others. He had hit on exactly what I was already planning but had been dragging my feet on.
Sometimes God needs to give us a little kick to get us going with the mission to complete His plan of love for which He is counting on us. I took this as a prompting from God to get started. Fr. Michael said that he would be praying and fasting for me. It is interesting that I received a flood of inspirations for this book the next day, which I attribute to Fr. Michael’s intercession.
I am a practicing Catholic. I have written this book from a Catholic perspective, which permeates everything for me, although the intended audience is all people of good will—no, I take it back—for people currently of bad will too. After all, the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith are for the benefit of everyone. The reader should know that although I incorporate much Scripture, and comment on theological matters, I am not a formally educated theologian; as a matter of fact, I am not formally educated past high school. But I can read and I can pray, and I have been devouring books, recordings, and other material on the Catholic faith, as well as meditating on the Bible virtually daily for the last twenty years. I can still remember vividly when I first become a religious education teacher at our parish in 1992; I believe it was when I was in a training group. We were asked to bring our Bibles along. The Bible was completely foreign to me at that time. The leader asked that we open to a particular book in the Bible; I think it was to one of the gospels. Well, I looked at this thick book in front of me embarrassed that I had no idea where the passage was to be found. I looked around nervously to see where in the Bible the others were opening to so I could hopefully find my place.
Since my reversion to the Catholic faith in 1991, the Holy Spirit and many spiritual giants such as Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Servant of God Archbishop Luis Martinez, St. John of the Cross, St. Thérèse the Little Flower, St. Faustina Kowalska, Blessed John Paul II the Great, etc. have been my teachers through their writings and recordings, when they were already basking in the presence of God in heaven. How good of a pupil I have been is left to the reader’s judgment. A side point: if I can learn my faith and something about Scripture, anyone can.
The reader will notice much repetition where I write about God. True—God is infinite and a mystery beyond even our faintest understanding. Yet there is a dichotomy in this fact that this infinite God and His attributes are profoundly simple, such as love, truth, beauty, and goodness (He is the source of all that is good). Jesus is “the Truth” (John 14:6), and truth has a simplicity about it. Only lies are complicated. So the reader will read much repetition, including about the infinite mercy of God, how He is constantly at work healing us in ways we cannot count, how He loves us beyond our imagination, how He is with us every step of the way, how He is interested in and in command of every detail of our individual lives, about the mystery of how nothing can ever happen outside of His will despite His never interfering with the gift He has given us of free will, about how we are called to have hope and trust in God and to receive His peace, about the value of redemptive suffering, and about how He is bringing a tremendous good out of everything that we encounter in our lives. I cannot avoid repeating these beautiful things as they apply continuously to the themes I have been given the privilege to write about.
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