by Ken Rolheiser

Putting Christ in Cancer and continuing to love

“Dying is not ceasing to live, but rather ceasing to love." Michel Quoist, The Breath of Love.

“We are mortal flesh and we will die; as the way of all things mortal. But God did not create us just so that we can break down, break apart, and then die. God created us so that love, compassion, joy, and creativity may flourish.” (Pondering From the Pacific, June 26, 2018)

Dying is a season to love. Life does not end when cancer begins.

“God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living” (Wisdom 1:13). “For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them, and the dominion of Hades is not on earth. For righteousness is immortal” (Wisdom 1:14–15).

“For God created us for incorruption, and made us in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it” (Wisdom 2:23 – 24).

If God created the world and “it was very good” (Genesis), how do we understand evil that exists naturally and morally? In nature God would not allow “any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself” (St Augustine).

Two excellent examples of this are David being sold into Egypt by his brothers so that he could save the many from famine, and the betrayal and murder of Jesus to make salvation possible for all.

From Adam’s original fall from grace we inherited a fallen state, a part of our human nature, that is redeemed by Baptism. The life of Christ imparted by Baptism turns us back toward God and summons us to do spiritual battle for God’s Kingdom.

Christ came to bring us new life! The Church, the Sacraments, prayer, good works and love move the Kingdom of God forward.

We may say we “experience” death as our human bodies fail. But that is merely our bodies? We are spirit and soul, and when we leave this human body behind our life becomes more wonderous.

In the life of Cecille Paschner this happened before physical death. In March 2013 doctors found a 29-centimeter malignant tumor in her right breast and diagnosed her with stage-three breast cancer.

By November 2015 the now stage four cancer had entered her liver and the bones of her lower back. Paschner reconnected with God and attended daily masses and revisiting the blessed sacraments. She now decided to use her talents to help spread the word of the Lord.

Paschner published a prayer book and changed the connotation of cancer by putting Christ into CANCER - Christ, Adoration, Novena, Confession, Eucharist and Rosary.
“My daily medication was the Eucharist... Cancer is a very painful journey, but I don’t take any pain medication because I have the Rosary,” Paschner said.

On March 24, 2017, Paschner’s oncologist told her that she was cancer-free. In thanksgiving, she is giving away copies of her prayer book.

Examples of cures like Paschner’s do not give us false hope and false expectations. We will experience physical sickness, pain and death as a natural course, but we are filled with hope in the joys of the kingdom restored by our redemption in Christ.

“Fear not, I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 43:1).

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