As I’ve stated numerous times, my journey with cancer hasn’t been horrible. Yes the thought of having cancer is horrible, but the treatment hasn’t turned me into a blubbering idiot or an unbearable bastard. But something has been missing. I haven’t been sure what that something is, but I’ve known something is not right with how I am going about this crazy trip. Lately it has dawned on me what is missing, I don’t have a priest in my corner. When shit gets big, you always need a good cut man in the corner, and the right priest seems like he’d make the best cut man. The kind of priest I am talking about is the old tough guy priest. I am old enough that I met plenty of those in my day, and have read stories about them. But those priests have become a dying breed. The kind that will look you in the eye and tell you that what you are doing is going to send you to hell. Not easy to hear, but it is a message that isn’t delivered enough these days.
Priest like Father Francis Gleeson, check out his story here. A no holds barred get the job done and damn the consequences kind of priest. Growing up my family always had priests around. Literally I knew scores of them. We know the priest that would sit and have a beer with you at the bar, to the priest that might have danced a little to close to the bridesmaid at the cousin’s wedding. All good guys that took their priestly duties very seriously.
Today it seems everyone practices the prosperity gospel. The gospel of Love, Kindness, and can’t we just all get along and there is room for everyone on the team. Guess what … Love and Kindness is good and needed, and as the man I spent a good part of today stated to me, “Christianity is a bed of roses, however the roses are covered in thorns and pedals often fall off the roses.”
Friday afternoon God sent me my cut man. An old-time bad ass priest. How bad you ask? Well fist off before becoming a priest the guy was 82nd Airborne, I’d say that gives a little street cred. But that isn’t all, after leaving the Army he called the Navy and said “hey you got some room for an old paratrooper?” Quickly he become a commissioned Naval Officer and served in both the Marine and Naval Nursing Corps. So needless to say this is the type of guy who can fix a situation quickly and without remorse and after justice is delivered pray for the souls of the people on the receiving end of the justice.
Friday afternoon a Linked-In connection request hit my in box from Father Christopher Saliga, O.P., RN. a man I haven’t talked to in forever, a man I dearly liked when we were in school together at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and unbeknownst to him or me at the time the answer to my prayers. I didn’t realize during the time Chris and I drifted away he had become a priest. He had become the kind of priest I remembered growing up, and a priest whose bad ass credentials are second to none. Chris had no idea that I was recently diagnosed with Cancer, and I had no idea that not only was he a priest but had spent time as an Oncology Nurse both in the service and in private practice. Talk about hitting the jackpot. Well I quickly arranged to speak with Chris and we had maybe a 30 minute conversation catching up and arranged to get together on Sunday.
Cancer is a humbling disease. Humbling in ways you can’t imagine until you get there. We all put on our brave face and tough guy spirit to help us get through the unknown. And it is the unknown that is tortuous. My day spent with the Padre really helped bring everything into the proper perspective. I laughed, I cried, and I was driven to think for real about the possibilities of what the future may hold. As most readers of this blog know I’ve been using Facebook to funnel readers to my writings. Facebook is packed full of well wishers and the “Thoughts and Prayers” crowd. Not putting that down, but as Fr. Chris pointed out, that is the easy path, the path that might not be “real” the path that’s all roses and no thorns.
We discussed human suffering and the age old question why do we suffer? What purpose is there in suffering? How does God use us when we are suffering? Real questions, real thorny issues.
Sunday Fr. Chris gave me the opportunity to celebrate 3 of the Churches greatest sacraments. The Eucharist, Reconciliation, and the Anointing of the Sick. Armed with the graces of those 3 I should be ready to meet the week head on, and get ready to start Chemo round 2 a week from Tuesday.
As I continue on my journey, I want to thank everyone for the continued prayers, cards, and calls. They are very much appreciated. I’d like to ask the same support to the others going through this with me. The care givers in many ways have it harder than the patient. Not only are they worried and unsure about what’s happening, they have to hold it together for the rest of the crew. Please keep my wife, my kids, my mom & dad, as well as my brother and sister and their families in your prayers.