Article from Scottish Catholic Observer
Scottish Catholic Observer October 2005 Article published in Scottish Catholic Observer.
I was taught a long time ago that the most practical thing to do when faced with any situation was first of all to pray about it. That advice has stood me in good stead when facing the trials and tribulations that life can throw at us. Allied to that and inseparable from it is the idea, which I have gradually understood and experienced better and better as life has gone by, that God is our Father, that we are his children, that He truly loves us and that He wants nothing but our good and happiness and watches over each one of us every minute of our lives. Because God loves us so much and because He is aware of everything that happens to us and wants us to be happy, it makes sense to tell Him about our problems and anxieties and to ask Him to help us to cope with them. The power of prayer should never be underestimated and our prayers are always answered though not necessarily at the time or in the way we expect. We can be quite sure, however, that they will be answered in the way that is best for us. God did not invent cancer or suffering. God is good and only good things can come from God. How then can we explain them and why does He allow them? I am no theologian and better brains than mine have wrestled with these problems. The answer seems to lie with our first parents, soon after creation, when, using the precious gift of free will given to them by God, they rebelled against Him and, as a result, the total harmony which had existed between them and God and the complete integrity that was present within their own body and soul was lost. Our human nature was damaged and death and disease and war and every kind of sin entered the world and has been with us ever since. There is nothing good about suffering and everyone affected by cancer suffers to a lesser or sometimes very great degree. God wants and expects us to do all we can to relieve that suffering. Whilst it is present, however, it is consoling to know that suffering can be turned into something of great value. If anyone doubts the potential value of suffering, just let them look at the Cross and what was achieved by the sufferings of Jesus. Our suffering has great merit if it is accepted for love of God and united to that of Christ. We can convert our suffering, both mental and physical, into a prayer which is very pleasing to our Father God and which will bring down untold blessings on ourselves and those for whom we offer it. Let us not lose these wonderful opportunities to use our sufferings, big and small, to call down God's blessing on our families, our friends and anyone else for whom we want to pray. The prayers and sufferings of the sick and those who look after them have great power with God. There is so much to pray for. We must pray for those with cancer and all who care for them, for nurses, radiographers, doctors and others in the medical and allied professions, for those who have a fear of getting cancer, for those who have been cured of cancer (and there are many of these today), for scientists trying to find new treatments and even a cure and for those in public office who have responsibility for providing adequate care and resources. We have to pray for ourselves and for those close to us. Nowadays virtually everyone is touched in one way or another by cancer. There is an urgent need to find solutions to all the problems it raises for individuals and for society as a whole. We must take every medical, social and scientific action we can to ease the distress it causes to those affected. The first thing to do, however, is to pray and to ask God to take care of those affected and to rid our community of this dreadful disease. We often hear people calling for cancer charities to work together. In fact they do so much more than is apparent to the public eye and in Liverpool, all the cancer charities on Merseyside have come together for the last seven years to unite with each other, with cancer patients and with those who care for them in an ecumenical service which we have called Pause for Hope. It is interesting that it is the spiritual dimension which has brought us all together in such a public way. The idea has clearly met a need and services are now held, or Bidding Prayers said, in parishes across the country on the second Sunday in October which we have called Pause for Hope Sunday. At one of the most moving parts of the Pause for Hope services we have the opportunity to light a candle for ourselves or for someone we know or perhaps to say thank you to God for recovery from cancer. It is also an opportunity for us to remember those we have lost to cancer. I lost my own father to cancer in Glasgow when I was eight years old. However, the main theme of the services is very positive and one of hope, since, no matter what our circumstances or the stage of our disease, we always have hope in God who is unshakable in his love for us. We must pray urgently for the day when there is no more cancer, when we can prevent cancer by getting rid of all the causes, when our scientists come to a full understanding of the ways in which cancer develops and can cure it. We can do this for some cancers already but not for all although I that day is not too far away. I firmly believe that our children will see it in their lifetimes. The more we pray, the quicker it will come. A special prayer is said at the end of the service which I would be happy to send to anyone who is interested. The answer to everything lies first in prayer. Professor Ray Donnelly FRCSE Founder and President Roy Castle Foundation email@example.com