Blessed Solanus, pray for us to have a faith like yours and to imitate your humble holiness!
It was a silly prayer request — ridiculous really — asking for my father’s aneurysm to heal. Not because he was 92, but because I had not considered the logistics. He was two weeks away from surgery, so if it did heal, how would anyone know that until after the surgery was in process?
Due to a compressed fracture a couple months earlier and a brief hospitalization, an X-ray revealed that a previous repair of the abdominal aneurysm was leaking. My dad was sent home for several weeks while he awaited surgery. Needing a wheelchair, he was doing his best to get stronger, taking a few steps daily with a walker and lifting light weights. Five out-of-town siblings were a tag team, coming to Dearborn, Michigan, to help care for him at home and also relieving the sixth sibling, Colleen, who lives nearby and handles most of his care.
While my brother Gary was still in town from Prague, I got together with my childhood friend Joanne to visit our favorite place — the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit. Blessed Solanus was a humble Capuchin monk credited with scores of miracles in his lifetime. Many report that he is still working miracles. He died July 31, 1957 and was beatified in Detroit Nov. 18, 2017, before a crowd of over 60,000.
At the time of his death, more than 20,000 mourners came to view his body at St. Bonaventure Monastery, which adjoins the Solanus Casey Center where his body lies in a crypt. It is the miracles that have drawn so many to Blessed Solanus. At St. Bonaventure he served as a doorkeeper, just as he had done at three previous assignments in New York. He also worked in the soup kitchen and visited the sick in hospitals.
Father Solanus counseled people to accept God’s will, since not everyone received the favors they asked for — but many did. Of the 6,000 entries of prayer requests he entered in his log — only a fraction of the total requests — he recorded 700 cures and reported on many conversions and resolutions to problems. The miracle approved for his beatification was the 2012 healing of Paula Medina Zarate’s incurable skin condition. She was visiting from Panama and it happened right at the Solanus Casey Center.
An Answer to Prayer
As Joanne and I drove to the Center, we prayed a Rosary, first stating our intentions. When I asked Blessed Solanus to pray for my dad’s aneurysm leak to close, I did not consider that if it did, how would anyone know? It was not faith that propelled me through that technicality; I simply had not thought it through.
Three nights later, something else was clearly wrong. My father threw up blood and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. While trying to discover the problem, a CT scan revealed he had a bleeding ulcer (caused by a medication). The scan also revealed something else. The hole had clotted and closed up. Surgery was no longer needed!
Was it a miracle? It depends on how you define miracle. By technical standards, it has to be something that defies nature. Clotting and closing off a leak does occur at times, so it is not a technical miracle. But was it the hand of God that granted a prayer request through the intercession of Blessed Father Solanus? You won’t convince me otherwise.
Two years later, at 94 years old, my dad exercises daily and is in good spirits and relatively good health considering his age. He uses a walker and can actually walk without it, but Colleen wants him to use it to avoid risking a fall.
At the assisted living facility he is at now, my dad has many friends and lives an active life. He has started a Rosary group and finds ways to occasionally evangelize through friendly conversations — never being pushy, but always waiting on God to create opportunities.
A funny thing about this story is that at the time of my intention to Blessed Solanus, it flashed through my mind that it would be granted and that I would write about it. I have been shamefully slow to do so but returning from a visit with him that included daily Mass, watching old movies and games of chess, I realized it is was a story still waiting to be told.
It is evidence that we should never count anyone out regardless of age. Whatever one’s age and circumstances, if we are still here, God is not done with us yet.
It also shows that Blessed Solanus has struck again. Blessed Solanus, pray for us to have a faith like yours and to imitate your humble holiness!