The other day we were speaking with a friend in Boca Raton who is a devout Servite and was recently diagnosed, at a relatively young age (please pray for him), of cancer. He has it in the liver and brain. We all know what kind of prognosis that often means. He related how the news was introduced to him: how he knew he had cancer when the doctor who entered to discuss his tests announced himself as an oncologist.

At that moment, said our friend -- whose name is Bob McCormack (and who is a very talented musician, as well as someone who used to pray over people in South Florida) -- he knew he had two choices. There were two "doors" available to him.

He could choose a door of darkness, of despair, of hopelessness, of depression; or the one that leads to light and hope (and thus to joy).

That door was the door of surrender to God and it was the one Bob chose immediately.

And right then, he says, a peace, a serenity, a light came over him that has not left. What left was the fear.

God never leaves us alone.

When you speak to Bob, you feel like you are on sacred ground.

No self-pity there!

Just a slice of eternity. What a bright path he has! He entered the right door.

And so it is that all of us have the choice of those two doors not only with turns in life as monumental as that, but in everything, in all of life's turns. Life is a test, and we are always asked to choose between discouragement and self-involvement and despair and simple attentiveness to God.

When we choose that door to the right, that door that leads to the living waters, of focus on the eternal (as opposed to earthly life), we choose a happiness that will exceed any diagnosis. It is the door of grace. Open it and you will receive that grace.

There is nothing that God cannot heal and if He does not heal it is because He wants us home.

We will have completed our mission.

We must surrender into His arms. There is nothing to fear. Death is vastly less daunting than we think -- in fact, scary only if we are unprepared spiritually (which we all have time to prevent).

How beautiful this all is: Whether we face a loss of a job, or family problems, or even something such as divorce, we have those two doors through which we can traverse. We know who wants us to come through the dark one! We see the doors when we have problems with friends. We see two doors when confronted by a crisis with neighbors. We see two doors when the bank calls with a foreclosure. There is always a choice.

A similar thing occurred a while back to yet another friend, Tom Rutkoski, of Gospa Missions in Pennsylvania (we ask prayers for his intentions also). When informed by a doctor that he is "terminal," Tom exclaimed -- to a startled doctor -- "Praise be to God!"

That doctor asked how he could be so happy with such a bleak prognosis and Tom explained that Heaven was his true home and that he loved God.

The latter is the important point: we must love God. Nothing can overcome us if we do that. There is no despair. Perfect love casts away all fear and love of God casts away all despair. He will even take away the pain of death. We will not feel the passage. It will be like walking from the living room to the dining room -- if we are in union.

Oh, we all suffer through life, we all face daunting obstacles, we all have our crises, our crosses (especially in Lent). But God can heal the body no matter what shape it is in and will surprise us if He is taking us home at how pleasant He will make that.

There is thus never any reason for despair.

Through the dark door is the dreariness of a blind eye and through the other a path that leads to fulfillment of the secret petitions of our hearts.

We all have our secret petitions. We have things we have never mentioned. We yearn for things we may not even be able to articulate.

God will fulfill that if we love Him and love others and strive to be of service and at each turn choose the correct door. Everything that happens to us in life has the potential for good.

This Lent, pray that the right choice is always made. Clear out that within you that blocks you -- or diverts you to darkness. It is the time of year to prune, to clear debris, to clean house. Sweep from your spirit the branches that are not fruitful and clear away what is dead.

Correct your motivation.

Make this a special Lenten plea: that in everything you do or say, there is the right motivation.

Pure love is serving God and others without having self-centered motives.

That is what will bring you the peace -- the answers -- you seek.

That is what will help you make the right decision.

That is what will lead you to the right door.

There is the door of love and the door of hate. There is the door of forgiveness and the door of anger. There is the door of right-thinking and the door of gossip. Anxiety dissolves with surrender.

Don't concentrate on what is dark or you will get caught in the "tunnel" and the Light above you will go unnoticed. All it takes for the light to come is thinking of it.

We live forever. No doubt about that. One woman, Angie Fenimore, who "died" and came back said a lesson she learned was that self-involvement drags us into darkness. "I was taught to transform despair into hope and truth and light," she said. "This, not the absence of pain, is true joy."

Worry is foolish because it builds undesirable images and acts like a prayer for things you don't want to happen. Despair not even over failures. Just learn from them.

A total focus on God will take away the terror of anything (including the sting of death).

With enough prayer, we do not feel the passage from here to eternity, because we are already close to the Lord.

God is love. Love is light. Light is life. God is the light of life that loves and when we love we are embraced by Him in a way that makes despair impossible.

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