His Main Girl in Heaven

He was scared. The results of his hepatitis C test had come back, and the news was bad: He had tested positive.

This was back in the early 1990s, and there was, as yet, no reliable treatment for the disease. Due to the stigma attached to his diagnosis, he was not comfortable sharing the news, even with family. He was, however, a regular visitor to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and decided that, in the absence of an earthly friend, he would turn to a heavenly one: the then-Venerable Servant of God Sr. Maria Faustina Kowalska.

At the time, few people had heard of the Secretary and Apostle of Mercy. What drew this man ("Michael" we'll call him, because he prefers to remain anonymous) to Sr. Faustina was her presence at the Shrine in the form of a first-class relic. Feeling "stressed out and worried," he began asking for Faustina's intercession while touching the reliquary.

"The relic made [Faustina's presence] more real," he said. "She's real, and she did what she said she would do."

What did she say she would do?

As we read in her Diary (183), on a winter morning six decades before the frightening diagnosis that brought Michael to his knees, Sr. Faustina heard our Lord say these words to her after Holy Communion: "I desire that you accompany Me when I go to the sick." Thereafter, Faustina "carried the light" whenever the priest brought Holy Communion to the bedside of a sick person. On these occasions, she considered herself "a knight of Jesus" and wore an iron belt, a mortification that she offered for the sick.

Sixty years later, when Michael called upon her for help, Faustina could no longer offer bodily mortifications. She could, however, offer her friendship, her compassion, and her prayers. "If I cannot show mercy by deeds or words," she had written while on earth, "I can always do so by prayer. My prayer reaches out even there where I cannot reach out physically" (Diary, 163).

Michael firmly believes that she did precisely that for him, and he found a way to compensate for the lack of her physical hand to hold as he walked the path of his illness.

At the Shrine, he bought a medal with the Divine Mercy Image on one side and Sr. Faustina's face on the other. He touched the medal to Faustina's first-class relic and asked her to stand by him throughout the ordeal ahead. She did not let him down.

He began wearing the medal and reading the Diary. He saw his hepatologist regularly, who checked and rechecked his liver for damage. His condition remained stable.

Meanwhile, Sr. Faustina became "Blessed Faustina" upon her beatification on April 18, 1993. Michael kept coming back to the Shrine, kept visiting her first-class relic, and kept asking for her intercession. In April 2000, she was canonized.

Then, in December 2002, a test detected no presence of the hepatitis C virus in Michael's body. He was checked again six months later. No virus. At this point, he was considered cured. Because he had not been treated with drugs, the cure is called a spontaneous remission, which occurs in about 10 percent of hepatitis C cases. His doctor told him that this was the only case of spontaneous remission he had ever seen.

Michael wants his story to be known. "I owe it to her to let people know she's still curing people," he says. "She's my main girl."

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Marian seminarian Br. Christopher has a special message for our Marian Helpers.

Please join the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception and the Association of Marian Helpers in praying a worldwide 54-Day Rosary Novena for the respect for life from conception to natural death.
How about a lesson on Adam and Eve and the ABCs of mercy? Class is in session with Father Chris Alar, MIC, spiritual director of Friends of Mercy.