[Update since writing a few days ago: Kristine’s husband, Michael, passed away Thursday morning, after I wrote this in the evening just before. Please take a moment now to pray for the repose of his soul and for God’s consolation, beyond this world’s possibility, for Kristine and for their four beautiful children.
[Update 2: To avoid any confusion: the “Contribute” button below the article title is our standard blog format for every article post, and is thus not related specifically to this post, and therefore not directly related to this family and their story. You can follow their story here. Thank you.]
What do we do in the face of impossible suffering?
Today, a Catholic wife and mother, Kristine, posted a song to her account from our CASSIA & MYRRH Instagram page, sharing that the music had been a balm and comfort in a time of difficulty and grief, leading to an influx of many new listeners and supporters of the Catholic Chapters, I-IV project. Right now her audience is highly engaged, and they trust her, and thus also implicitly this project, which has been a great gift—but they don’t trust her because of marketing skills, or advertising, or perfect “messaging.”
Instead, they trust her and hang on every word, post, and story because she is beautifully and eloquently, with saintly faithfulness and trust in the goodness of God, sharing the story of her family’s heroic navigation of the carrying of the very heaviest of crosses.
Her husband, Michael, is suffering from serious brain cancer, teetering on the edge of life every day.
The Suffering of Brain Cancer Isn’t the Full Story with a Family’s Faith
With his permission, she has shared much of their journey through the shock of his initial seizure and diagnosis; the many hospital visits, surgeries, and close calls; their home as a holy sanctuary for the sick; and the agonizing process of believing fully in Heaven and heavenly realities, and yet feeling the utter, devastating pain of possible separation in this life.
Yes: with full, unflinching faith, they have prayed for a miracle, and have asked us all to pray. We continue to, with their hearts in our hearts, carried, moment by moment.
But they have also given God their surrendered “yes,” believing that, above all, He is good, and that if He permits what they most dread—that Michael will leave her behind with four grieving young children—He will sustain them and use them to bring about the witness of love to the world and help save many souls.
There is nothing clean and easy about something like this—these dark paths of suffering so common to the human experience, yet sometimes mysteriously lit by glory and hope, are inherently beyond our worldly grasp; some things have no meaning outside of seeing with spiritual eyes.
There are the assents of the will, and then there is our disturbed, crying, aching nature, pleading with Heaven for a different answer, and trying to allow ourselves to be bent into the shape of the cross, while simultaneously being cradled like a child in the arms of God.
Brain Cancer and a Family Seeing with the Eyes of Faith
I do not have words for this family beyond what they have already graciously come to: that God is sovereign; that He loves them; that He hears them; that He is at work; that He will always be with them no matter what comes; and that He holds the salvation of their souls and of the world in His heart, closer than close.
Today, the CASSIA & MYRRH page grew dramatically, and many new people are getting to know this music, touched by its peace and goodness that is the true heart of Catholicism. These listeners are sending messages of deep peace, and I am so grateful to share this music with more people. But this little victory in the name of our Catholic musical heritage is extremely bittersweet, because it comes in direct relation to the profound suffering of a beautiful family, whose story has utterly gripped the Catholic subculture in a corner of the social media world and flowed beyond its electronic walls, pouring out graces to the world.
But maybe the best way to see it is this: there is already fruit from this lived sacrifice in love of God and neighbour, the intimate bond of wife and husband living the full depth of their vows. Their lives and their difficulties are already bearing fruit – in drawing hearts into this message of beauty and our Catholic heritage, and in witnessing profoundly to the truth of our faith, the goodness of God, and the radical reality of love in a time when so many are doubtful, despairing, or losing their faith.
May God, as He promises, give one hundred fold and beyond to a family that is laying down all.
Here is a song posted in their honour, about the Woman who suffered all for souls, the girl from Nazareth and the chosen Mother of God:
To help us get the beauty of Catholicism to the world, particularly through the Gregorian sounds of our Catholic musical heritage, please visit our Catholic Chapters, I-IV page.