“Faced with the real prospect of dying, all I can do is thank God from my heart.”
Sergio Rodríguez is 41 years old, married to a beautiful woman named María, and the father of five children: Isabel, Pablo, Inés, Ana, and Miguel. The family lives out their faith as members of the Third Neocatechumenal Community of San Juan de Mirasierra Catholic Church in Madrid, Spain.
Sergio recently received the results of a biopsy that confirmed he is facing an angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma relapse. His current condition is such that he can no longer receive additional chemotherapy treatment and there are very few alternatives his body can withstand at this stage. Doctors have encouraged him to look for clinical trials that might be administered in other hospitals despite the complicated state of his bone marrow.
What has led to an immense prayer chain on his behalf is not solely this critical condition and illness, but the way in which Sergio, through a letter, describes how he feels:
“This situation is so delicate, my wife and I are living through it quite calmly. We have a peace that can only come from God. We’re living a very difficult time, humanly speaking, in great suffering – but with a peace given to us through the communion of the saints because there is an innumerable number of people who are praying for me. Peace does not take away one’s suffering, but we know that God is involved in our personal history and that it is He who leads and directs our lives. So we can only trust His will, which will always entail what is best for us and our children.
“I know it will sound strange and it might be difficult for many people to understand this, but faced with this prospect of dying, all I can do is thank God from my heart. When I think about the real possibility of dying, I feel sad at the thought of being separated from my family, especially my five children and my wife, but deep in my heart I have a huge gratitude to God for all the things I share below …
1. For having known Him. I don’t mean knowing about Him by hearsay, but having personally experienced His presence and His love in my life. When you see God at work in your life, you just want to see Him, and He has worked hard to ensure that I do see Him. Therefore, I have always said: I feel that I am a spoiled and favorite son of God.
2. The life that He has given me so far. The mere fact of having lived is reason enough to thank Him: the happy childhood I had, the great experiences I enjoyed during my youth and as I grew into maturity, and to have lived a very intense life in which I have always given myself one hundred percent – the very reason I have had two broken knees playing soccer was that I was gored by a bull in the neck. I thank God for giving me a heart open to others and, almost at all times, innocent enough to not see malice in others. I am convinced that my life, including my illnesses, is an enviable life that many people would like to have lived. It’s a life in which I have done many things, in which I have loved much, and I have felt very loved by all those who have surrounded me.
3. The marriage that I have and the woman to whom I am married. We have had our arguments just like everyone else, but we have always agreed on what is important, we have shared the same faith, and we are crazy in love with each other – she is the love of my life. As a friend told us: “Many people would gladly trade half their life to experience five minutes of the love that you and your wife have for one another.”
4. The children God has given us. I don’t say this because I am their father, but because they truly are good children, who each has a good heart, and are very close to God. Like any child, they can be rowdy at times, but the children are quite sensitive to the suffering of others, help others, and have a special sensitivity to all things that pertain to God. To give you an idea, recently one of them told María not to worry because God would not give us anything that was not good for us.
5. My parents and the two brothers I have. Thanks to them, I have known God and, to a large extent, I am the person that I am now. They are people that I did not choose, but that God put in my life, and through whom I have felt loved.
6. The rest of the family that He has given me, along with the friends and acquaintances who have been part of my life. It’s rare and does not happen to most people, but I’m in contact with all the people I have met in my life, from my childhood school friends, to neighbors from my places of residence, to friends from university, my first job, my current job, the parishes where I have lived my faith, etc. Many pray for me and everyone is supporting and helping me. Few people have felt so loved.
7. Everything that has happened to me in life, including those things that can be seen and experienced as bad and painful. But thanks to them, I have come closer to God. It is in these very experiences where I have felt most loved by Him and where we have encountered one another. It’s a mystery that is difficult to explain and only the person who lives it knows it well – and I have been so blessed.
8. The great number of people who pray for me all over the world. In my own prayers I intercede for them, that God will repay them a hundredfold for all they do.
“We don’t know how this situation will end,” Sergio adds. “Obviously, I’m going to fight hard to be healed and I will try by all means to receive whatever medication can at least contain the disease as much as possible in order to live as long as I can. But if God wants to call me home and take me to Heaven that too will be cause for rejoicing – for two reasons. The first is this: Heaven is our ultimate goal. The second reason is this: you will all have an intercessor. I’m the type of person who doesn’t stop until I get what I want. In my parents’ words, I’m like a constant drip that eventually drills a hole, for as the saying goes, ‘Constant dripping of water wears away the stone.’ So, you will only need to ask for my intercession and I’ll get to work right away on your behalf!” he concludes.
If you have not already done so, please join the prayer chain for Sergio Rodríguez. And if you have a moment, today is a perfect day to write your own thank you letter to God for the gift of your life.