How can Divine Mercy help those with cancer face the challenges and even triumph over this life-threatening disease? This cancer doctor, who is deeply committed to The Divine Mercy... Read more
Photo: Felix Carroll
Happy Souls Are Humble Souls
EDITOR'S NOTE: Marian Press has just released Divine Mercy, Triumph Over Cancer: A Guide for Patients, Survivors, and Their Caregivers by Ronald M. Sobecks, MD, a hematologist/oncologist who has practiced at the Cleveland Clinic for 12 years. For nearly 20 years, Dr. Sobecks has sought to live The Divine Mercy message as the definitive source of hope for all in need of healing. The following is an excerpt from the book:
Fernando had been ill from a recurrence of his blood cancer, and he spent many weeks in the hospital. He spoke no English, but he was a man of faith. As I saw Fernando daily in the hospital, I often had an interpreter with me in order to communicate with him. However, his expressions of love and gratitude were manifestations of the Holy Spirit working in his life. Though this did not occur through the English language, Fernando's gentle mannerisms, sincere humility, and life of virtue were reflections of the face of Christ shining upon others.
Saint Faustina described such souls by saying, "If there is a truly happy soul upon earth, it can only be a truly humble soul. ... A humble soul does not trust itself, but places all its confidence in God. God defends the humble soul and lets Himself into its secrets, and the soul abides in unsurpassable happiness which no one can comprehend" (Diary of St. Faustina, 593).
Another aspect of humility is to clearly recognize that our knowledge, understanding, and wisdom from the world are finite. In oncology, this is evident from the fact that there are still many diseases we do not understand well. With the lack of effective treatments for such diseases, the outcomes often remain fatal. As such, there remains the need for continuing medical education and recertification board examinations for oncologists and other healthcare professionals in oncology. This process takes considerable time, effort, and resources, but it is clearly necessary to improve treatments and the level of care for those with cancer.
Spiritual healing also requires much effort on the part of each person for his or her good and that of others. This may be accomplished by first recognizing that we are all sinners. We next must sincerely repent. Then, as one proceeds in a true spirit of humility to the tribunal of the Lord's mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God's graces may be restored and poured out upon the soul. This then cleanses the soul and allows it to become receptive to grace once again.
Subsequently, various acts of reparation can be made by the penitent under the direction of the confessor to atone for the wrong he or she has done. One may then advance in holiness and humbly serve the Lord and others.
Saint Faustina felt she was a miserable wretch as she went before the Most Blessed Sacrament. She then heard the words of our Lord, "My daughter, all your miseries have been consumed in the flame of My love, like a little twig thrown into a roaring fire. By humbling yourself in this way, you draw upon yourself and upon other souls an entire sea of My mercy" (Diary, 178). Souls with cancer, with such a spirit of meekness, bear strong witness to the Gospel message as they trust in God's mercy.
In oncology, as in other areas of medicine, teamwork is of paramount importance. Such unity may be found from collaboration among physicians involved in research. Rather than working for self-glorification by pursuing one's own research alone, many investigators have made considerable strides in the understanding of diseases and in the development of new therapies by working with others for the good of humankind. Unity with the Catholic Church involves submission of the individual's will to that of the Church's authority. By the power of the Holy Spirit, such efforts have preserved the Catholic Church through many heresies, struggles, and persecutions for over 2,000 years.
Love in a spirit of humility may be difficult for those who are ill with cancer. However, one may pray for help to St. Joseph. He knew well what it meant to suffer, to toil, and to love. Although St. Joseph was the head of the Holy Family's household, he demonstrated tremendous humility by putting the needs of Jesus and Mary above his own.
Saint Faustina heard the words of our Lord during a retreat in which He told her, "I am with you. During this retreat, I will strengthen you in peace and in courage so that your strength will not fail in carrying out My designs. Therefore you will cancel out your will absolutely in this retreat and, instead, My complete will shall be accomplished in you" ... (she was to say) "From today on, my own will does not exist, ... . From today on, I do the will of God everywhere, always, and in everything. ... Be afraid of nothing; love will give you strength and make the realization of this easy (Diary, 372). As patients face illnesses such as cancer, they may be strengthened by these words of our Lord. He reassured us that He is with us, that we are not to fear, and that love will be our strength.
Saint Faustina also tells us that a soul who sincerely wants to advance in perfection must strictly observe the advice given by their spiritual director. She stated, "There is as much holiness as there is dependence" (Diary, 377). Such obedience and submission of one's will is a true sign of humility.
Saint Faustina's Mother Directress told her, "Sister, let simplicity and humility be the characteristic traits of your soul. Go through life like a little child, always trusting, always full of simplicity and humility, content with everything, happy in every circumstance. There, where others fear, you will pass calmly along, thanks to this simplicity and humility. ... as waters flow from the mountains down into the valleys, so, too, do God's graces flow only into humble souls" (Diary, 55).
When one considers the humility of our Lord Jesus, we are left speechless. Consider these words, "Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God, something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!" (Phil 2:5-11).
Jesus not only humbled Himself by taking the form of a poor infant, but even more, through His Passion, death, and Resurrection, He gives us Himself in the Most Holy Eucharist. As one ponders Christ's profound humility and His unfathomable mercy, we can only proclaim, "Jesus, I trust in You!" Our Lord's unconditional love for us inspires us to love Him in return with our whole hearts, souls, bodies, minds, and strength.
As Christ prayed to His heavenly Father before His sorrowful Passion — "... not My will but Yours be done" (Lk 22:42) — so cancer patients who embrace these words during the difficult circumstances of their own lives may be transformed into Christ among us. For some patients, this occurs by accepting the cancer diagnosis. For others, it is committing wholeheartedly to a course of treatment or surgery. For still others, it is accepting death.
As they leave the things of this world behind, such people may develop a spirit of meekness. They are no longer concerned with themselves, and their lives proclaim the words of St. Paul: "... may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ ..." (Gal 6:14). Some also recognize the great gift of our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament and thus center their lives on Him. In this emptying of oneself and spending time with our Lord, one grows in great holiness.