Amanda Woodiel allows her teenage son to take over her space this month to discuss how prayer is helping him face a difficult diagnosis.
[Author's Note: In my previous articles at Catholic Mom, "Jesus, You Take Care of It" and "I Am Saving his Life," I described the earliest moments after learning my teenage son Jack had a rare form of cancer.
Recently Jack wrote an essay. I thought it was inspiring and that readers might like to hear from the man himself. -Amanda]
Prayer Is the Starting Point
Many young people have friends and family that have turned away from the Church. It is very unfortunate for people to give up truth once they have it, and it is one’s duty as a Catholic to call them back to the truth. But how could one do that? What are the ways of evangelization? These are a few.
You can be an active Catholic within the Church. This is perhaps the most effective sign of the love of Jesus through his Church. Many people are influenced when they see someone doing good works and being holy. Evangelization begins with good actions.
Another way of evangelization is listening to people’s questions and being prepared to answer them. Be knowledgeable about your faith. There are many good resources for evangelization and apologetics. If people can give reasoned defenses for the Catholic faith, then it is much easier to accept their teachings as true. Additionally, do not be afraid to talk about religion with your friends. If you can mention something about your religion, or the location of your church, or the name of your Catholic school, they will almost invariably ask a question. This is a perfect time to unload your knowledge. I have been able to use my knowledge about the Church to answer questions numerous times.
There are other methods of evangelization that are perhaps not so apparent: prayer, sacrifices, and redemptive suffering. How do these things come into play?
Prayer is the starting point for all things spiritual. Do not be afraid to come to God with your supplications. As our Father, God will heed our intentions. One needs to come to him with total trust, and he will take care of it. Pray for those who have fallen away from the Church. If one comes to God with complete surrender, he can do great things.
The next spiritual weapon is sacrifices. Sacrifices of all degrees are pleasing to Our Lord, and they are great ways to offer up our prayers for others. You can sacrifice your time in good works, going to Mass on weekdays, and more. You can also sacrifice your favorite foods or meat on Fridays or fast. Use every ounce of grace this gives you as a prayer for someone else who has fallen away.
The last example of an evangelization tool is redemptive suffering. While no one wants to suffer more than he has to, we can use those experiences as prayers for others. In fact, I experienced much suffering this past year.
On June 17, I went in for a normal physical exam for Boy Scouts. As the nurse practitioner checked me over, she discovered I had a golf ball-sized tumor near my right testicle. We rushed to the hospital and had an ultrasound. We met with a local urologist, who sent us to a pediatric urologist at a large children’s hospital, saying he didn’t know what it was. When we met with the second urologist, he was also unsure of what the tumor was. I had a surgery to remove the tumor, and 11 days later found out it was a rare form of cancer. I then had another surgery a month later to remove enlarged lymph nodes and to check if those had cancer.
Through all of this, however, I stayed as positive as I could. I prayed (and still pray) that through all this, through my prayers and suffering, at least one person comes into the fullness of faith.
And things are looking better. The lymph nodes miraculously (or surprisingly, as the doctors say) came back clear. As of this writing, I will have my only round of chemotherapy in three weeks.
This is our mission as Catholics: to live the faith of Jesus in word, deed, and in prayers, sacrifices, and powerful redemptive suffering. God will do the rest.
Ad majorem dei gloriam.
Copyright 2022 Amanda Woodiel
About the Author
Amanda Woodiel is a Catholic convert, a mother to five children ages 14 to 6, a slipshod housekeeper, an enamored wife, and a “good enough” homeschooler who believes that the circumstances of life—both good and bad—are pregnant with grace. Her oldest son was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2022, which is providing plenty of opportunities to test that hypothesis.