About a week ago I asked for your prayers for a seminarian named Joel who had a heart transplant. I thought I would share with you, as a wonderful sequel to yesterday’s post on the Italian priest, a prayerful reflection Joel posted on his Facebook after the surgery.
I want this man as my pastor one day. If, God willing, he is ordained his heart will indeed be uniquely fit to receive the Sacrament of the Heart of Christ.
Hey everybody! Sorry its taken me so long to post a firsthand update, but I’ve been a little busy recovering from my very successful open heart surgery! Doctors told me Sunday evening that they had a donor and that surgery was a go. They rolled me into the o.r. around 5:15 Monday morning and finished surgery around 10 a.m. They brought me out of sedation around 8 or so that night and took the intubation tube out around 11. By the next evening I was doing well enough for them to move me out of icu and to a step down transplant support unit. The doctors have been very pleased with how well the surgery went and how quick and smooth my recovery is coming along.
Its amazing to think that just days after such a major surgery I’m able to be up and about like I am. I still have a few tubes in me that are hindering me and keeping me mostly in bed or sitting in a chair, but those should be coming in the next couple of days. Their going to do a heart biopsy test on Tuesday and if all looks good then I might get released from the hospital on Wednesday or Thursday. I’ll return to Notre Dame Seminary, which is just about 3 miles away from here, to continue recovery from there and slowly get back to “normal” seminary life over the coming weeks.
I am truly very blessed with this great gift and treasure of a new heart. I thank God for His providential care, the donor for his generosity, and all of you for your many prayers and loving support. While the transplant may rightly be seen as a miracle and wonder of grace and medicine, the manifestation of such love, support, and faith is truly the greater miracle of grace and the far more beautiful wonder to behold. God always knows how to take the sufferings and tragedies of our lives and use them to bring about greater goods. To make the best lemonade out of the most rotten lemons, as the proverbial saying goes. The only real tragedy comes when we miss out on, and fail to take advantage of, the blessed opportunity that suffering avails us of because we don’t understand its redemptive value/potential when united with the sufferings of Christ or can’t see beyond the pain and hardship, which is, admittedly, often hard to do. What a beautiful and loving gift it is that He gives us the opportunity to share in His Cross, to suffer and bleed with Christ for the love of God and one another. This, ultimately, is the essence of love, to empty ones’ self entirely as a gift of loving service to another and for their true good. It is the very reason for which God created us in the first place, and the only path to being truly, fully alive!
As I recover, I continue to pray for the sweet repose of the donor of my new heart and the consolation, sanctity, joy, and peace of his family. I continue to remember you all and your intentions in prayer. I also pray that we might all continue to undergo a spiritual change of heart – a much more difficult heart transplant – that we all stand constantly in need of; that Christ, the divine physician, might change our old hearts of stone to new hearts of flesh, that we might have hearts of greater charity and care for one another, for the poor and suffering, for the lowly, outcast, and marginalized, for the orphaned and widowed, for victims of poverty, war, abuse, and exploitation in any way – and even for those annoying people in our regular lives that work our last nerve and we just don’t get along with – that we might grow in our love for the sanctity and dignity of all human life and persons, and finally that the peace of the Sacred Heart of Christ and the Immaculate Heart of Mary may reign eternally in our lives, marriages, families, homes, and communities. Blessed be God!