I am a cradle Catholic. Every Sunday I went to mass with my family. We prayed the obligatory rosary as a family. We fasted, we confessed, we read the bible. Statues adorned our home, our entryway had a holy water font and rosaries were in a jar in the kitchen. We had the creepy Jesus picture that seemed to watch you anywhere you walked. As a family we learned to pray in times of need and promised to pray for all those suffering. This was part of who I am today. Those Catholic traditions and customs are now in my own family. But, something changed for me yesterday.
I came home from mass and felt the need to finally write that blog about Paul. Before I wrote it, I prayed to the Holy Spirit to give me the words to make everyone see how amazing him and his family are. I watched the views grow and couldn't believe how many people read it. In a matter of hours 2000 people had read that blog. I have only had on average 40 views on anything I had written. It was about Paul and people who love him. People who are praying and not giving up.
Last night I found myself looking over the Team Paul and Ann Coakley page and could not believe that over 4000 people have liked this page. I looked through the photos of people ALL AROUND THE WORLD who stopped for a few moments of their day to post a photo of solidarity. I knew that each person had taken the time to pray for Paul. No one was giving up. For a few moments I allowed myself to believe that a miracle could still happen. It's not impossible.
So I hit my knees and I prayed. I prayed really hard. I prayed a prayer for peace. If it was God's will, a peaceful passing for Paul. Peace for the many people who loved him and will be left behind. Peace for his sweet wife as she endures the hardest fight of her life. Peace for his children now and throughout their lives. Most of all I prayed that God would give a miracle to Paul and his family. I prayed that Paul would not give up. The world still needs that beautiful smile.
Today I received the update that Paul is still actively fighting for every moment of his life. The doctors are shocked by his strength and the way he is not giving up. He is far from out of the woods, but the hospital and his family are allowing him to fight. I am so proud of Paul and Ann because fighting takes true courage. Facing down your greatest fears with an attitude of defiance is something that is absolutely inspirational. As I watched those numbers climb with people ALL OVER THE WORLD following our friends and praying with all of their hearts for peace, was unbelievable. No one has stopped believing in the power of prayer or miracles. Least of all Paul.
I was thinking of all of this as I went to grab some groceries. As I went to pay for my purchases I found a copy of the most recent People Magazine.
After I saw the cover, I offered up a prayer of Thanksgiving that Paul had not given up and that he continues still to believe in the power of prayer. He desires and asks for a miracle through the intercession of Margaret Costello. I offered a prayer of Thanksgiving for his wife, who is allowing him the right to fight even though, I can only imagine how that must be ripping her apart. His family who are standing by Paul and encouraging him even though the prognosis leaves much to be desired. I thanked God for using Paul as inspiration to get 4000 humans praying for hope.
I then prayed a prayer for Brittany and so many like her who fear the possibility of pain and question the power of prayer. I prayed for her husband who lost hope in miracles and assisted his wife in ending her life. I prayed for all of the people who stand in solidarity with Brittany and mourn that they have never experienced a fighter like Paul. I was really sad that they gave up and waved a white flag in surrender. Life is precious and we should fight every day, just like Paul, to live it fiercely and never give up.
I know Paul may not make it. But, that doesn't mean a miracle is not, even as we speak, taking place. People are praying. Hearts are changing. Prayer changes everything. It gives hope to the hopeless. Offers faith to those who don't believe in things unseen. It encourages those who are experiencing spiritual drought. So as we lift up Paul in prayer, so too are we lifting ourselves. His story is becoming ours and changing our outlook on life everyday. We are watching the suffering of a beautiful soul who refuses to give up and continues to fight for every breath of the body God loaned him. We are thanking God that he is still here fighting and we are praying still... ever hopeful for a miracle and ever faithful to God's will.
You see, today prayer changed for me. Prayer became a thing that is alive and powerful. To pray is to truly believe in what you are asking and with humility, accepting the answer God has for you. Praying is about NOT giving up and putting all your worries at the foot of the cross. Praying as a collective, raising your voice in community, begging God to bring healing and peace... this is powerful stuff. This is miraculous. Prayers can be answered in unexpected ways, and you may find that as you pray for someone else, you are helping to change yourself. As Paul begins his next round of Chemo, pray like crazy. Know that we are lifting up Pual but we are also being lifted up by Paul. We are all fighting for Paul and he is fighting for his life. And most, of all, WE ARE NOT GIVING UP!