"Pray always without becoming weary."
~ Luke 18:1
"If you get into the habit of praying unceasingly, of loving your neighbor and of weeping in prayer for the whole world then your soul will be drawn towards prayer, tears and love. And if you form the habit of almsgiving, of being obedient, of being open in confession towards your spiritual father, then you will always act in the same manner and so you will come to peace."
~Saint Silouan (1866-1938), Orthodox monk, Writings
When both my younger sister and my mom were suffering with cancer at the same time several years ago, I couldn't understand why God would allow this to happen to my family. Mary, a hardworking single mom with two school age children was living in Florida and mom and dad were in Texas, while the rest of us were in IL. Mary was in her thirties and mom was in her early 60's. I was single and busily involved in my career, working my usual 60 - 70 hours per week. I wanted to stop what I was doing and go visit them, to help and comfort them, but was not permitted to do so in the position I was working in at that time. In the meantime, I kept in touch with both of them via phone calls and letter writing.
I had always felt close to my family, but I felt the pain of the distance acutely at this time. Although I had been away from the church, I prayed daily and my prayers for them increased and continued as time went on.
That Easter, I was able to visit my parents, and when I attended the Tridiuum liturgy at their parish, I began to realize how valuable my Catholic faith was to me. That fall, I started going back to church and it was on Christmas Eve that I returned Home after a 15 year absence. Shortly afterwards, I joined my parish prayer group, the choir, and a parish renewal group. Each of these groups prayed with me for my sister and my mother's health for at least three years. Eventually, both my mother and sister were healed of their cancers. But, it had seemed like an eternity to me, waiting and waiting for the ones I loved to get better.
While waiting for them to heal, God was shaping me and forming me into becoming a better Catholic, someone who would learn to persevere in prayer, not only for my own intentions, which were the most difficult to pray for, but to become a prayer intercessor for others. He was developing within me the gift of faith - to persevere in times of trial and to learn that "all things work for good for those who love the Lord".
This painful time was a grace-filled time in my life - a period of spiritual growth in which the Lord was drawing me closer to His heart. As I learned to persist in prayer, to trust in the Lord, and to face the pain head on, He showed me the path to peace.