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: Joseph Romagnano
Dr. Ronald Sobecks, speaking at the Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy Conference in May 2011.
Time and Again, Two Types of Healing
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:
I have witnessed that many cancer patients, including those who have died, have received profound healing through our Lord's Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. Whether or not there is restoration to physical health, there is always spiritual healing from this great prayer. I find these prayerful experiences to be spiritually uplifting for me as well. Our Lord God may use the deaths of such patients as sources of profound grace and new life not only for them but for their families, friends, and many others. Almighty God is truly our Divine Physician. In His infinite wisdom, He knows how to best bring healing to all.
Richard was a man who I had the opportunity to get to know in oncology. His life had been radically transformed by The Divine Mercy message. Richard had developed a deep prayer life that was obvious to many who came to know him. He loved the Lord above all things. He also despised sin, for he knew that this wounded people's relationships with their loving God.
Richard had one deep desire that he shared with me. This desire was that all souls would be with the Lord in His kingdom for all eternity. The thought of even one person choosing to reject God in order to obtain hell forever completely horrified Richard. As he considered this further, it was overwhelming for him to think that any soul was capable of making this grave mistake. Yet as Richard came to know of The Divine Mercy message, his fear dissipated. He also understood that each of us has a responsibility to wisely use our free wills from God.
As Richard and I conversed, it became clear that he was aware of his limitations as one mere man. However, he was extremely confident in the omnipotence of Almighty God and in His unfathomable mercy. This trust in the Lord was strengthened over time as Richard further developed his prayer life. At the center of this prayer life was the Holy Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. This became a daily practice for him that allowed the life of Christ to permeate his soul. Richard helped others to understand the critical need of sharing the gifts that we have received from the Lord with others. He was clear that of greatest importance is sharing The Divine Mercy message.
As Richard pondered how he best could serve others, he prayed for guidance. As he spent private time with the Lord, he began praying The Divine Mercy Chaplet for souls. He recalled from St. Faustina the tremendous power this prayer had in invoking God's mercy. When he heard that a patient with cancer was dying, he prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the person. In some cases, he would make his way to the dying person's hospital room. If there were others in the room, Richard would sometimes just stand out in the hallway nearby. In other instances, he would slip out into a stairwell as a private place of prayer. Here, Richard would intercede for countless souls as they faced death. With time, this holy practice became more and more a part of his life.
Richard let me know he was also inspired by the Book of Tobit in the Old Testament. From this Sacred Scripture, he learned how Tobit would get up and leave his meal at the news of a person's death to provide them with a dignified burial (see Tob 2:4). Tobit was ridiculed for this, but God rewarded his integrity and virtue. The Lord sent His archangel, St. Raphael, to bring about healing for Tobit and a safe journey for his son, Tobiah, as he sought a wife. However, the archangel's identity was hidden during this time under the appearance of a man.
Cancer patients may likewise contemplate that our Lord sends special messengers into their lives to provide them with strength, guidance, and consolation. At the end of the book, Tobit told Tobiah to pay St. Raphael not only the agreed upon wage but also a bonus. Tobiah, in turn, offered his heavenly companion half of what he had for repayment. The archangel of God then revealed himself and informed the two that giving alms is of great value, for it expiates sin (see Tob 12:8-9). Even today, the alms offered by cancer patients and their families surely make reparation for sin.
While Richard constantly prayed for the dead and the dying, he, too, found himself being ridiculed at times, even by his family, who loved him. Instead of becoming discouraged, this strengthened his resolve all the more. He let me know that such persecution, no matter how small, may well be a sign that we are on the right track. For Jesus told us, "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (Jn 15:20).
Richard and I spoke further. He said that after he prayed the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy to intercede for the dying, he could often sense dramatic changes. For some, there appeared to be a resolution of anxiety or an improvement in their clinical condition. Others came to accept their death as the holy will of God. In other cases, he noticed family members more peacefully came to terms with their loved one's death.
In particular, Richard recalled praying much for one patient named Lou. This man was critically ill from his cancer, and he was cared for in the intensive care unit. Lou had many family members constantly with him. Richard experienced their grief and anxiety as he watched them face tremendous uncertainties as to whether or not Lou would survive each day. Just when they thought he was clinically improving, another problem would develop. Richard let me know that he had to do something.
He wished to intercede to Almighty God for Lou and his loved ones in the most powerful way possible. Therefore, he participated in the daily celebration of Holy Mass. As a direct extension of this perfect sacrifice, Richard would fervently pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. By invoking what Jesus suffered for souls during His sorrowful Passion and death, Richard could further partake in this perfect act of worship to Almighty God.
Whether prayed at Lou's bedside or far away, the multiple Chaplets of Divine Mercy offered by Richard were to atone for any sins that Lou had committed. Richard realized how helpless Lou had become. While on a ventilator, with a marked reduction in his level of consciousness, it was not clear whether Lou would ever be able to speak or convey his thoughts to others again. However, the Lord works in mysterious and wonderful ways in each person. Richard knew that God alone could communicate clearly with Lou. He had great trust in the power of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and with it, he interceded for Lou in order to assist in God's healing.
Of course, the Lord may certainly heal anyone of any infirmity by His mere will. Yet, in His infinite wisdom, He allows others to help accomplish His Divine purpose. Richard understood well that we are part of the Body of Christ. As such, we may be His hands, His face, and His voice to others. Through God's grace residing within our souls, we may, in turn, bring Christ to others.
Lou and his family received the Lord's mercy prior to his death. Although his loved ones were appropriately sorrowful as he passed from this life, they also seemed to have peace. Their faith was strengthened by this experience, and they could be comforted by the hope that Lou had a share in the Lord's Resurrection. Regardless of his former doubts, Richard came to know the importance of his intercessory prayer. We also should be open to assist others with this powerful prayer of Divine Mercy Jesus gave us.