For those of you not Catholic, you may be wondering what this means. Catholics believe that there are many people already in heaven and that they form the communion of saints. Since these souls are physically very close to God himself, it makes sense that we would ask them to intercede for us with him. Of course, God hears us just fine if we approach him directly in prayer, but to have a saint already there asking him for what we need on our behalf can't hurt. It is just like asking our living friends to pray for us, except these saints have an even more direct line. We never, ever worship these saints, we just ask for their assistance from time to time and try to live as they did since we all want to become saints ourselves.
The very first day I learned of my Stage IV diagnosis I was at UCLA alone (it was the first day that week Jay did not accompany me because I insisted he stay and work since he hadn't all week). I had never considered it as a possibility and was totally shocked. Not knowing what else to do, I walked the short distance to Westfield Residence, a student residence under the care of Opus Dei. I knew there would be a tabernacle in the beautiful chapel there and it was all I could think to do.
The residents graciously let me in to pray. I sat in the oratory in front of the tabernacle and cried and prayed for about an hour before a numerary named Ann came in and silently handed me a prayer card for Bishop Don Alvaro del Portillo, who was St. Josemaria Escriva's (the founder of Opus Dei) right hand man and successor as the Father and Prelate of Opus Dei after St. Josemaria's death. I had heard of him but knew little about him. I looked at the prayer card for awhile, considered it must be a delivery from God somehow, and have recited the prayer for Don Alvaro's intercession most every day of my illness. He needs miracles to become a saint and I need a miracle to stay alive to see my kids grow up, so it seemed to be a good match to me.
I learned a few days ago that Pope Benedict named Don Alvaro "Venerable". This is amazing news! There are four stages to becoming a saint. First comes "Servent of God, then "Venerable", then "Blessed" and finally "Saint". This step takes him halfway to canonization. I seriously hope to be part of the miracles needed to push him along this path.
For those of you who are interested in learning more about him, visit opusdei.org and click on canonization causes. Also, below I am including another link (I know I have placed this in my blog before, but it's been awhile) to the very same prayer card I recite daily.
I know many of you have been praying for his intercession along with me, so thank you--I do believe he is listening.