FRIDAYS WITH FRED: MY TRIBUTE TO A MAN WHO CHANGED MY LIFE

My dear, dear Father B:

I slept a very rare 8 uninterrupted hours through the night this week. Praise God. I think of you through the watches of the night because you have been my help, assuring me God’s love is better than life (Psalm 63).

My first thought as I arose this morning was of you, my beloved mentor, spiritual father, forever friend. Where would I be mentally and spiritually without the hard work you and I did through your spiritual directorship?

Of all the theology I have studied, no one came closer to bringing the Bible into a life manual that makes our Christian faith alive, dynamic, and functional than St. Ignatius of Loyola. You introduced me to this great friend of yours who has become a spiritual guru and friend. This study has brought me contentment, joy, peace, purpose, passion.

When we met, your first question was, how do I pray. Within a few days, it became clear I did not pray well. This awakened my mind to learn how to pray. I came to Jesus the same way Peter, Andrew, John, and others when they said: “Jesus, teach us to pray.”

Jesus’ textbook prayer answer was in only 70 words, what we call The Lord’s Prayer. I estimate that these past 11 years, I have repeated these 70 words at least ten times a day. Therefore, 10 x 365 days = 3650 x 11 years = 40,150 Our- Father-in-Heaven prayers. I have found nothing that helps me fight cancer better than prayer, nothing.

The next 60 days are significant in my cancer war. I began the UCLA medical trial on April 15th. For eight weeks, I will take an oral drug (a HOPE pill) that fights cancer with limited side effects. This brings a very tiny light at the end of the 11-year, 250 oncology appointments.

No matter the outcome, it is all good! Again I say to you, Father B, you and I have done the hard work. We are so blessed to be hungry and thirsty for the presence of our Lord to be real in our lives. Yes, He showed up when you nearly died at a Tacoma hospital, as well as the day I cried my eyes out in your office as I worked through the pain. I also remember those great, long lunches at Clinkerdaggers’ and Anthony’s or haircuts at Weldon’s.

This is one of those communications where there is so much more to say. However, I close by saying that I love you forever. I long for you to be proud of yourself. You were Gonzaga U’s best professor. A fellow professor told of my two miracles: “Susie was my best student, and Jennifer was my smartest student” in his 25 years at GU. Both Susie and Jennifer call you the best teacher of their lives.

Thanks be to our Good Shepherd that surely goodness and mercy will follow us through our lives’ journeys. Then we will dwell in our Father’s house forever. Again, I love you forever!

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