Father Stanley Rother was a Catholic priest born in Oklahoma who gave his life because of his faith when he was murdered serving God’s people in Guatemala in 1981. He became the first martyr born in the United States when Pope Francis recognized him as a martyr on December 2, 2016. The significance of being a martyr is that he will now be recognized as Blessed Stanley Rother after his beatification this coming Saturday, September 23, 2017. If you’re like most people (including me up until a few months ago), you have no idea what any of this really means or why I’m bringing it up to you now. But more on that in a minute.
The reason most of you are reading this is to get an update on Stephanie, so here’s the latest: Her shakiness hit a peak on Saturday evening. Around 11pm, she became rigid and stiff and began shaking, and her eyes began to roll up in her head. It was one of the scariest moments of my life, because after her not talking or interacting much to then see this, I immediately feared the worst. However the nurses helped get her to her side and let what appeared to be a seizure run its course where the shaking finally stopped and she lay there still with eyes closed and let her recover from there. I stayed awake staring at her vitals (which were still good) praying that this would pass. Around 4am, she began moving her legs and arms again, and began talking (more mumbling) some. For Sunday, Monday, and today, her tremors have seemed to decrease in frequency and intensity, and she hasn’t had another serious episode. Her neuro oncologist, based on my description, thinks it may be more pressure related than seizure activity, but it’s not known for sure. She hasn’t complained of pain too often, continues to sleep a lot, and still has a fair amount of confusion. She has had a few moments the past couple of days of more alertness, opening her eyes and some talking. Some times the talking is coherent and clear, other times is clear but random, and other times it’s tough to interpret. She often seems like she wants to say something but can’t express the words, or she forgets what we were asking a second or so after being asked. Some times she’s able to answer basic questions, and other times she stares of blankly or looks like you’re speaking a foreign language. So all in all, there are moments where she seems a little better, and others where she seems to be getting worse.
She hasn’t eaten in a while, which led us to giving her a dobhoff tube for nutrients. So she now has a tube running down her nose to her small intestine to supply nutrition. They’re slowly building up the amount she’s getting, and so far (~24 hours in) her body seems to be tolerating it ok, but she doesn’t like it and in her less coherent state has often grabbed at it. Hopefully she can tolerate it better each day and it will help her feel better and give her energy. She also now has a PICC line so they don’t have to continue to poke her every day for bloodwork and change her IV every few days as they’ve been doing the last couple of weeks.
As I’ve mentioned before, the doctors have said that it will take a miracle for her to recover. And that brings us back to Father Stanley Rother. I know it’s a foreign and strange concept to many non-Catholics (and even some Catholics) to pray to someone other than God. I won’t get into a deep theological discussion, but basically praying to Mary or Archangels or Saints is a way to have someone else pray for you. Just like I ask each of you to pray for us during these difficult times, I also pray to Mary and the Saints and ask them to pray for us. (As a sidenote, someone once explained it to me saying if you wanted something from a king, wouldn’t it be helpful if you could ask his mother to ask him for it for you?) Now something I haven’t known much about is how people become Saints. It turns out there is a very involved process, and it’s summarized well here.
After Father Rother is beatified on Saturday, Blessed Stanley Rother will be one step away from being canonized as a saint. In order to become a saint, “one miracle is required. It must be proven that this event took place through the intercession of the Blessed and after the date of his or her Beatification.” In order for it to be a miracle, “It must be determined that there is no scientific explanation for the cure and that the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God [Blessed] is proven.” So in order for Father Rother to become a saint, he needs to intercede on one’s behalf to God for a miracle to occur. If you’ve followed Stephanie’s story (or even if you haven’t), God worked his ways in order to have a neuro surgeon reach out to Stephanie to operate on her brain tumor last February when all other surgeons deemed it “inoperable”. That surgeon who reached out and performed the operation works in Oklahoma City, the diocese where Father Rother was from and the city where his beatification will occur on Saturday. Additionally the miracle can’t occur until after his beatification, so after Saturday. So while we continue to ask for your prayers, we specifically ask you to pray for Stephanie to continue to fight and live through Saturday (and beyond), and then also for you to pray to Blessed Stanley Rother to intercede for a miracle for Stephanie, to cure her completely of her cancer. Again, we’re not asking you to pray to him to do it himself, but rather asking you to ask him to ask God for it, just as I’m asking all of you. It doesn’t mean that it’s God’s will to cure her or for this to be Father Rother’s miracle, but if it is His will, I certainly want to ask. And just as I ask as many people as I can to pray for us, I ask as many people as possible to ask Father Rother to pray for us as well.
For more information on Father Stanley Rother’s story, the ceremony this weekend, or the process he’s going through, please visit http://stanleyrother.org/ (Also the website where I took the above quotes and explanations from) or http://www.archokc.org/rothercause.
Blessed Stanley Rother, we pray today to ask you to join our prayer for a miracle for our beloved wife, mother, daughter, and friend Stephanie as she fights for her life with cancer. We ask you to pray that God remove every trace of cancer from her brain, neck, and spine, and cleanse her body to the full healthy state that He created her to be in His image. We pray that where all medication, treatment, and earthly ability failed, that through His love and kindness He heals Stephanie completely and gives her the ability to continue to serve Him every day for many days to come. We pray for you to intercede for us for this miracle, in turn allowing the universal church to recognize you as a saint. Blessed Stanley Rother, pray for us.