Benjamin Wiker is Professor of Political Science, Director of Human Life Studies, and Senior Fellow of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University. His newest book is In Defense of Nature: the Catholic Unity of Environmental, Economic, and Moral Ecology. His website is www.benjaminwiker.com.
I know this might be rather bold, but I’d like to ask, say, several million people out there to pray to Mother Teresa during her canonization day, and eight days thereafter, for the conversion and complete healing of the great physicist Stephen Hawking.
Why? As simply as I can put it, his conversion and cure would be a miracle that would show to the world that Christian faith and science are not opposed, but (as St. John Paul II said) “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”
Imagine what would happen to Hawking himself if God would see fit to answer this prayer through the intercession of Mother Teresa. He would not be any less a physicist. He would still know what he had previously known, from Black Holes to Quantum Mechanics, but his universe would quite suddenly become immeasurably larger and more complex.
Hawking would then be faced with an even bigger task than coming up with a Theory of Everything because the Everything he would now have to fit into the Theory would involve mysteries beyond the ken of science, but not in ultimate contradiction to them. Faith and science couldn’t be in contradiction because they in fact co-exist in a much larger harmony. There are Black Holes and there are also Albanian nuns (or at least one) whose prayers somehow bring about the divine healing of unhealable diseases like Lou Gehrig's disease, which has for so many years afflicted Hawking.
Moreover, if these prayers were answered, Hawking would know exactly what it was like, some two millennia ago, to be healed directly by Jesus, and that would mean that the New Testament would quite suddenly be transformed from a book of fiction (as too many scientists see it) to a book of startling miraculous facts. That book would then have to be on the same shelf with his physics books.
As far as I know, Hawking never met Mother Teresa. But I have often thought, when seeing Hawking so sadly trapped in a painfully twisted body for so long, what it might have meant for him if Mother Teresa had come to him, as she had to so many like-wise broken bodies lying in the dust of Calcutta, and picked his frail body up, looked into his eyes, and spoke with him about the love of Christ.
One might say that it’s too late for such a meeting. But it just may be the perfect time, her canonization, a very busy time for saints. She could, God willing, go to him now.
I also think about this meeting for what might seem an odd reason. Stephen Hawking has lived far, far longer than anyone should who has Lou Gehrig's disease. That in itself is a mystery. Perhaps it is a mystery waiting for such a meeting.
I pray that it is, and hope again, for several million others to do likewise. Spread the word.
St. Teresa, by the Grace of God you ministered to the poorest of the poor, the sickest of the sick, the crippled, the leprous, and the dying. We beg you please, in virtue of the Graces now bestowed upon you in canonization, to pray for the complete physical healing and conversion of Stephen Hawking. Through the same Christ our Lord you so dutifully served. Amen.