The Cancer Game©

Capuchins Palermo

Have you ever played The Cancer Game© ? I have played it many times now, and I must say I found it very beneficial.

The cancer game is played in this way: take time for yourself, and find a crowded spot in the place where you live. Then imagine that you have just been told by the doctor that you have an incurable cancer, and just a few months to live, perhaps five or six before having to enter a hospital.

Repeat this to yourself, many times, and let it sink in. Get in that state of mind.

And then observe the world around you.

You will see around you a world of beauty and wonderment. The great grace that is Life appears to you in all its splendour. The people walking around seem, in a way, all beautiful, but unaware themselves of their great beauty. The traffic, the honking cars, the noisy buses hit your senses like a beautiful movie, now sadly about to end but so intensely graceful. The sky above is so beautiful as it never was. The smells in the air so sweet of the sweetness of life, sprinkled everywhere by a good God of Whom most of those people you are observing are, actually, perfectly oblivious. Still, Grace is everywhere: in the face of the people, in the clouds above, in the restless movement that you see around you. It is as you had pierced the veil of your constant concerns and worries and planning and stopped to see the beauty of creation for what it is, now in the middle of it but also as a spectator about to take leave from the show. Again, you notice that Grace is what appears to shine everywhere and fill everything.

The Cancer Game© is, at its root, not new at all. Countless wise people have practiced it since the dawn of Christianity in one form or another. You can visit, in Palermo, a Capuchin monastery with thousands of skeletons in plain view along its rooms and corridors. The good friars have walked along those corridors for many centuries, and have been constantly reminded of their final destination. Wise good men, they were; unafraid of death, and healthily vigilant about their souls. Their game and mine are just variations of a simple thought: memento mori, probably best translated with “remember death”, though “mori” is obviously a verb (therefore, more like “remember the dying”).

We need to prepare ourselves for our death. We need to have death as a constantly present possibility in our life. Not only will this help us to develop a healthy fear of the Lord, but it will make the real news easier to digest if that is the kind of news we will, one day, receive. We will also (at least I certainly did) develop a keener appreciation for the gift of a healthy life, and for the beauty of life in general, for as long as it will please God to make both lasts.

No, you will not develop a cancer for playing The Cancer Game©.   You will develop a cancer if the Lord has decreed, out of all eternity, that you should get one. And that, my friend, has already been decided for you even as you read this.

I suggest you play The Cancer Game ©, every now and then, when you have time and inclination. When the shivers down the spine cease it is a good sign that you are making progress. We are on this show for a short time only, and we might be told every day that our time is up.







Posted on October 14, 2018, in Traditional Catholicism. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Wonderful, crucial advice.

    I have lived much of my life, for whatever reason, (a grace) well aware of my future demise. I see all the current moments passing away in time; here today, enjoyed, and then gone. Ultimately, the only moment that matters …. the last one, when we enter into the Eternal Now.

    As we lie there at the abyss in our final bed (bleeding out on the street etc), we will be contemplating our “body of work”. What do we bring with us to the judgement seat of God? Fine meals and tasty wines, vacations and fast cars, fancy houses and fast bank accounts: God will care about none of it. “What did *you do* with the gifts and time I granted you?”, I imagine Him asking. “What did you do in the dark, the secret, the anonymous, when no one was there to applaud?”. “How did you take care of my little ones; my destitute; my little needy children?”.

    As the years pile up and the remaining pile of years grows smaller, I am struck very much by the necessity of making every moment count in compiling a “body of work” that will be pleasing to my Master.

  2. I would most certainly leave my job & spend every minute with my sweet little grands (9) and their parents, or at Mass or with the Blessed Sacrament. I don’t have to think about it very long…

  3. Hi ,
    sad to hear, but really: a great grace.
    I do not have to give you any different advice than any good priest would, I think, give you.
    Spend as much time as you can in prayer. Take absolute care that you go to confession often and have provided for the Last Rites (God Forbid, relatives think to keep him away from you in order to let you believe things are not so advanced!). Put every suffering at the head of the Cross. But what I would like to do, is to pray as much as I can before and after caring that I am not in mortal sin. Rosary, litanies, other traditional devotions, I think everything will do, but the Rosary first. Today’s rosary is for you.
    What, I think, you can *also* do is to arrange for a Gregorian Mass to be celebrated, for you after your death. Contact a good priest, or write to the SSPX. You can also have a Gregorian Mass said from Aid to the Church in Need. I believe you can do it yourself, otherwise ask a person of your trust to do it for you (you leave him the money of course).
    Again: sad to hear, but a great grace. I wish some of the people I loved most had been given the same privilege. I for myself would consider myself lucky and would see in it a great sign of predestination.

  4. Christine Lynch

    Very sorry to hear your news. A saint when brushing the street was asked “what would you do if you knew you only had one hour to live” said in reply “carry on brushing the street”. To die doing Gods holy will is the only thing that is important.
    My sister was diagnosed in a May with stage IV cancer. She thank God is in the faith and wears around her neck continuously a piece of the bible that Our Lady kissed at Garabandal. Our Lady promised that anyone carrying a piece of that bible would suffer their purgatory on earth. May we all have strength to endure our own personal crucifixions.
    God bless you Mundabor. You are in my prayers.

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