How To Cope Practically, Emotionally, and Spiritually When a Loved One Has a Serious Illness

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Immaculeé Ilibagiza: Learning To Trust God in Everything (Part 3 of 3)

Imagine being a young woman during the 1994 Rwanda genocide and emerging from a bathroom where you had hidden for months, only to discover that your entire family had been slaughtered, and your home and everything in it had been destroyed. You owned nothing except the clothes on your back. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a wealthy married man seeks you out.

He says: “I heard what happened. I will give you a car, a house, a driver, a sari, and people to work for you.” Left unsaid is what you must do for him in return.

Immaculeé Ilibagiza, author of the bestselling book “Left to Tell,” and host of EWTN’s new series, “I Forgive With Immaculee Ilibagiza,” ( faced just that situation. She was at a crossroads. She says: “Would I choose to trust God or the devil?” Her “friends” told her she would be foolish not to take what the man offered. She decided otherwise!

“What helped me was faith: Jesus will take care of me! [If I had made a different decision], I wouldn’t have the family, the children I have today. I would not be in this beautiful country, helping people. All of that wouldn’t have happened [if I had said yes to that married man]. If you decide with faith and not as a human, that faith will save you. Don’t be too smart. Just be simple with God.”

Immaculeé says she goes to God every day with her problems and challenges and things work out.

“I’m not going to sweat because the plane is not leaving on time,” Immaculeé said. “Maybe God will work through [the people involved in this] too. I won’t waste my time. I’m going to pray. If I have done that, the rest is none of my business.”

Immaculee admits she can still get worried, but she says the people around her think she takes things “really easy.” She says: “I just say the Rosary – Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious. That is what Our Lady said. If I have done those, I have done my part. If I know I’m not sinning or doing something evil, I’m going to try not to worry.”

She says she is often asked to do things, like raise millions of dollars for a church to erect another building on their property. She says she simply prays with people and, if God wants the prayer answered, someone frequently steps up to the plate and “miraculously” supplies the needed funds.

“Just don’t interfere with Him,” she said. “That’s what we do with our sins. And don’t help Him. If I try to do what is good, [He does the rest.] He also comes through our desires. If our desires are good, don’t worry about what is lacking.”

We asked Immaculeé to share the reaction her countrymen have had to her testimony in which she recounts not only how she survived the genocide by praying the Rosary in that tiny bathroom, but how she got through the grisly aftermath.

She said that culturally, the Rwandan people don’t typically express themselves. But many have told her they are able to handle what they went through because of her story.

One man added, “It’s not just your story. You are also smiling. You are happy. You are grateful. You are a friend of all the tribes.” Because of her witness, that same man told Immaculee he wanted to be the person she was and to do what she did. “I decided to get baptized,” he said. “I want to follow your God.”

He later sent Immaculeé photos of his child receiving Communion and Confirmation. He said: “If I had not turned my life around and I had not followed the God you follow, I would not be the man I am. I would not be married. I would have been in a lot of trouble. It’s not just that I want to smile like you, but I want to do [things the way] you did. Give me strength Lord.”

After the head of the Rwandan military read “Left to Tell,” he told Immaculee he obliged all his officers to read the book. “I want to show all the men who are becoming officers what happens when we don’t do our job well. Either we do good or we do bad. If we do our job well, we can protect our people from this.”

Here in America, two different women told Immaculeé they decided not to commit suicide after hearing her testimony.

The first woman said that her son was going through something so terrible that she wanted to take her own life. Immaculeé shakes her head when she thinks about someone taking such an action at a time when her family needed her most. Fortunately, she heard Immaculee’s testimony.

The woman told her: “I heard how you prayed during the worst situation. I decided to pray the Rosary from morning to night. I took time off work. I prayed from morning till night. I decided to ask Our Lady and Jesus to take care of this.”

The woman began to find some peace after two weeks of reading the Bible and saying all the mysteries of the Rosary over and over. Then, one day while praying in front of a statue at church, she told Immaculee the statue and the flowers around the statue disappeared and in their place she saw Our Lady from the neck down. She said even though she didn’t see her face, her hands and even her neck were so beautiful. She was encouraged by “the woman” to keep going; not in words, but she understood Our Lady wanted her to continue to pray the Rosary.

The woman said to Immaculeé: “I felt this woman had gold and diamonds and all the answers in the world; God entrusted her with every answer.”

Immaculeé says this woman “was doing everything good she needed to do. All she needed to do was realize how small she was; what a sinner. She was crying. She said, ‘I need to tell you this.’ She realized how her prayers were helping her son, her husband, her other children. [The woman said] the darkness that had come over her family lifted. She found herself back in the same church. She had peace. She said she knew everything would go away.

She told Immaculeé that only a few days later, answer by answer, her problems were resolved.

Immaculeé is humbled when she hears testimonies like this: “What did I share that made this happen?” she said. “It makes you feel small. Honestly, in truth, the help is not mine. My job is to just be an honest witness. God doesn’t need my help.”

In the second instance, a woman at one of Immaculeé’s retreats said she was encouraged by her husband to give her own testimony to Immaculee. She said she had been going through a lot of pain. She had been hurt and abused and she couldn’t forgive. Someone gave her a copy of “Left to Tell,” but she put it aside because she felt she couldn’t handle any more pain or depression in her life. Then one day, she decided she’d had enough. Through tears, she penned a goodbye letter saying: “I am done.” But then, she caught a glimpse of the book she had put aside on a shelf. She decided she might as well read it because she was going to die anyway.

Said Immaculeé: “She read the whole story; how the Lord helped; how praying the Rosary helped. She read until morning. She forgot to kill herself. She said, ‘The God who was there for his woman [Immaculee], I’m going to follow Him and see if He helps me forgive the people who have hurt me too.’ The next morning, she decided to look for a church. She completely converted. Her pain was healed. Her husband was crying. He said: ‘Thank you for giving a good example to my wife. I would not have had her to go to retreats [with], to pray [with].’ They were so happy.”

After telling that story, Immaculeé said she always prays to Our Lord saying: “God, please help me not to interfere with you. What you have done is beyond me. Good comes out of this [testimony]. I will continue to share.”

“INSIDE EWTN” PRAYER: Dear God, after all You have done for me, why am I not filled with complete trust in Your Love? Please help me to love and trust You as You deserve; to know from the bottom of my heart that You want the best for me. Help me not to interfere with Your works by my sins or to try to do more than You give me the grace to do. Help me to know that my prayers and good intentions are enough, and to always remember that You Lord, supply “all our needs according to [Your] riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) Amen.

Note: In addition to leading retreats and filming shows on EWTN, Immaculeé says she now takes people on pilgrimages to places like Kibeho, Medjugorje, Lourdes, and Fatima. Her invitation: “Come with me and pray and enjoy it.”

Select episodes of EWTN’s show, “I Forgive with Immaculeé Ilibagiza,” are available On Demand at, and at the time of this writing is airing on EWTN at 11:30 p.m. Sundays, and 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays.

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Immaculée On Why and How to Pray the Rosary – Part 2 of 3

If you like what Immaculee says here, don’t miss EWTN’s neweseries, “I Forgive With Immaculee Ilibagiza,” which airs at 11:30 p.m. ET, Sundays, with encores at 6:30 p.m. ET, Tuesdays.

Before the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which her entire family was murdered, Immaculée Ilibagiza, bestselling author of “Left To Tell” and host of EWTN’s new series “I Forgive with Immaculée Ilibagiza,” says that while she always held a rosary in her hands, she didn’t always pray it. However, during the months she spent stuffed in a small bathroom with many other women hiding from those who wanted to kill her, Immaculée said she prayed 27 rosaries a day, and never felt like she was repeating herself!

How can that be?

“I really spend time with the mysteries,” she says. “The Scourging at the Pillar. What happened exactly? How can these people do this? [Jesus] was innocent. The people who beat Him have their own free will. What were they thinking? The genocide especially took me there. The end result of every meditation [was]: He did this willingly for me. He left paradise for me. He could have changed everything [bad] that was happening to Him [but He didn’t]!”

As she prayed in that bathroom, Immaculée said the devil would put in her mind that maybe she was supposed to die. But she would tell herself that she didn’t know what sin she had committed to deserve this. Then, the devil would suggest that maybe it was her parents who had committed the sin.

But as she meditated on Jesus in his Passion as the Sorrowful Mysteries have us do, she came to understand: “He suffered. He died. [Yet] He was God. He was innocent. So I’m not bad! [She said to Jesus:] ‘When the world wanted to kill me, when the world was telling me I was not good enough, You died for me. I matter to You that much!’ Look at what Job went through. Being rejected can be a sign of love of God, giving humans an occasion of earning many graces.”

Immaculee says her time with the rosary is her time to talk to God about many things, including the pain of other people, which she links to the suffering of Jesus. For example, in praying the Sorrowful Mysteries, she might remember someone who is sick so she meditates again on the suffering of Jesus and says: “You were suffering so much. Please give us strength. Please remember that person.”

Meditating on the rosary helped Immaculée let go of her anger long before she was released from her bathroom prison. After praying the rosary like this, she says she always felt so good, even when nothing had changed on the outside.

“Even now, it’s easy to look at the world, to listen to TV, and to start to feel you are nothing. [But] you are a child of God, created by God. Don’t let another person to put you down. You’re supposed to love. If you’re convinced you are not good enough, how can you help another person?”

And if we can’t help others, we can’t fulfil our purpose as Immaculee explained so eloquently in Part 1 of this series, (Note: If you like what Immaculee says here, don’t miss EWTN’s newest series, “I Forgive With Immaculee Ilibagiza,” which airs at 11:30 p.m. ET, Sundays, with encores at 6:30 p.m. ET, Tuesdays.)

But the rosary is not just a meditation about the pain of the Sorrowful Mysteries; it’s also a meditation on the Joyful and Glorious Mysteries. Immaculee says she goes before Our Lady and then says to her Son: “’You were born in Our Lady’s womb to care for me. Please take care of my heart, my family. Help me share your joy. Thank You for being here.’ Sometimes I’m on one mystery for 30 minutes. I say: ‘I can’t believe what You did for my life, how you saved me. You gave me family, children, friends, EWTN. You make everything happen. I have so much to be grateful about.’”

While praying the rosary helped Immaculee let go of her anger, she admits it was a process. She had been best friends with people from the other Rwandan tribe, the people who were now trying to kill her and her people. But praying the rosary helped her realize that not everyone on the other side was evil.

“When you hate another group, you are hating children who are not even born yet,” she said. She came to see: “It’s a small number who are killing. Pray and forgive. Then, I was ashamed of my anger. [You pray the rosary], to gain the wisdom to know how to behave when you are forgiving. The person is still wrong. They have to work their journey too.”

She was still in hiding when she made the decision to forgive, but the rosary helped her to look upon the killers simply as “mad people.”

“I prayed for them, for this anger, this sin, this evil to go away. I prayed for them to acknowledge the pain they caused. I prayed for the people who would be their victims, for their protection. Pray for your enemies. When you do that, you are weakening the power of the devil over their life. In the end, maybe they will seek God.”

Immaculee notes that when someone repents of the evil they have done, it is “not a fun day.” She says: “If I remember I have said something unkind about somebody, I don’t sleep. If I can’t sleep about that, imagine someone who has taken someone’s life. I go to confession and then I feel better.”

The rosary also taught Immaculee to really trust God, something she needed when the genocide ended and she was left with nothing – no parents, no money, and no clothes but the ones on her back. The devil would tempt her. But thanks to the rosary, she would triumph. But that – and much more – is a story for Part 3 of this “Inside EWTN” series.

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Immaculée Ilibagiza: On Finding Your Purpose (Part 1 of 3)

I was honored to interview Rwardan genocide survivor and bestselling author Immaculée Ilibagiza for this week’s “Inside EWTN.” Immaculée’s entire family was slaughtered during the 1994 genocide, and Immaculée famously found the secret to forgiving their murderers. I was going to say I will be sharing her wisdom in a series of short articles, but I invite you to think about what follows as a meditation rather than an article. Today, you are invited to take to prayer what Immaculée says about finding your purpose. (Note: If you like what you read, don’t miss EWTN’s newest series, “I Forgive With Immaculée Ilibagiza,” which airs 11:30 p.m. ET, Sundays, beginning Oct. 1, 2024 with encores at 6:30 p.m. ET, Tuesdays.)

“We find our purpose just by being,” says Immaculée, “by not holding on to yesterday, but in the moment to love, to use your strength. Love is doing the job you are called to do with strength, with love, with willingness.

“If you are a student, be the best student today. You don’t know what tomorrow [will bring.] My brother had JUST finished his master’s and was recruited to be a professor in a seminary, and then his life came to an end! His purpose was to [be a good student]. God will judge your intentions and the love you have that day. First love, love every day. Be honest. Practice your faith. Pray. Do your best to care for another person around you.”

Immaculée says she recently happened to watch a video on how the food you eat can strengthen or weaken your immune system. The next day she encountered someone who was sick and suffering. She was glad to be able to share what she had learned the previous day.

“I discover my purpose daily,” she said. “Because I watched the video yesterday, I was able to give good advice the next day. Who knows what will happen [in this case]? I have to follow up. Our purpose is to love, to be awake. Tell young people: ‘Don’t take drugs! Don’t let you brain be in a place [where] you are not aware of your surroundings. Be aware of where God is calling you. When you are taking drugs, you are sleeping, you are not there. In the time [you spent taking drugs] you could have made a decision that changes your whole life or another person’s life. Be present in the present moment, but make sure you are with God.’”

Immaculée said one day she watched about five minutes of a television show until she quickly realized those were five minutes she could never have back! How would she have used that time and how does she suggest we use the time we might be tempted to waste scrolling mindlessly through social media?

“Reading a book that inspires me; calling a friend who needs me; caring for others; saying an Act of Contrition,” she said. “We can spend hours watching nothing and laughing. We say, ‘Oh, I am just relaxing.’ But you can relax with things that are holy. The things of God are very relaxing!”

Immaculée said when she reads books about saints, like Saint Augustine, she feels like she can carry the whole world on her shoulders. She compares spending the time we might spend watching people who are fighting or doing things we know are wrong with eating bad food. She says it may be tasty in the moment, but afterwards a diet of this kind of entertainment gives you a headache and then you crash.

To help her stay “awake” to her surroundings, Immaculée says she goes to confession every two weeks. She said it helps us to be aware of our actions; i.e., when we say an unkind thing or when we pass by someone who needs our help because we are rushing.

Being awake and loving helps us see God’s purpose for our lives not only in that moment, but in that day, and eventually in our entire life.

“INSIDE EWTN” PRAYER: Dear God, help me to find your purpose for my life today just by being awake and aware of the people and events you place in my life. Help me to be aware of the needs of others in my life. Help me to look upon them with love – your love. Help me to do whatever task is in front of me to the best of my ability and with love in my heart. Help me to examine my intentions – the reason I am doing what I am doing or about to do – and to keep them pure. Help me to be honest, to be generous in sharing what you have given me materially and spiritually, and to be wise in using the time you have given me today. Amen.

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How Do You Ask God a Question in Faith? ‘Prayers of Desperation,’ Bishop Baker’s New Book, Has the Answer

He has counseled a man in a local jail who had been on suicide watch twice because he believed he had no future.

Listened to the tears of a grandmother who needed reassurance as she struggled to help her drug-addicted grandson.

Consoled a family whose child died from an overdose.

As a priest and the founder of the Birmingham area Cenacolo Community for those with addictions, retired Birmingham Bishop Robert Baker has “been there” for thousands of people for more than 20 years. And because he himself has had to face the death from cancer of not one, but two of his brothers, he well understands why many of those he has counseled ask the question: “Why Lord?”

That was the impetus behind his new book, “Prayers of Desperation: A Questioner’s Prayer for Answers in our Darkest Moments,”

“The Bible tells you that you can take that dilemma and that struggle to God,” he says. “’How will I come out of this situation? Where are You when I need You?’ When all is said and done, that may be the best prayer I can ever utter. Psychologists make a lot of money, but Jesus wants us to bring those problems to him too. We want to allow Him, in faith, to answer.”

What does that last sentence mean? How do we allow God to answer us in faith?

The Bible itself is full of questions that people asked Jesus. The Bishop points out that the prophet Zachariah and the Blessed Mother asked the Archangel Gabriel the exact same question, but only one asked in faith. As you may recall, when Gabriel appeared to the elderly Zachariah and told him that his elderly wife would conceive a child, he asked “How can that be?” Bishop Baker says Zachariah asked this question because he was doubting that the Lord could make this happen. That’s not asking in faith. However, when Gabriel told Mary she would conceive and bear the Son of God, her “how can it be?” question was directed at understanding how she, a woman who had been vowed to virginity, could become pregnant. What was the Lord asking her to do?

The Bishop says Mary essentially said, as we all need to say: “I believe in you Lord. I don’t know how this is going to be answered, but I bring this to you.”

All the Lord asks of us, even in the darkest of nights, is that we bring Him our questions, trusting that He will answer them in His time and in His perfect way. Bishop Baker’s book was written to show us how to turn our questions into prayers. He tackles six questions: Why, Lord?; How, Lord?; When, Lord?; What, Lord?; Where, Lord; and Who, Lord?

To those who feel they can’t ask the Lord such questions the Bishop writes this:

“To some people, questioning God suggests a lack of faith; when they have questions for God, no matter what the problem or dilemma causing the question, they wonder if that means that they don’t believe in God anymore. These reflections attempt to point out just the contrary: it’s failing to ask God a question when one is dealing with a difficulty in life that may reflect a lack of faith. Jesus makes it clear that ‘for everyone who asks, receives, and everyone who searches, finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Luke 11:10).

If you’re one of those people who worries about asking such a question or who would like some examples of how to do this in faith, pick up a copy of Bishop Baker’s “Prayers of Desperation,” available now from EWTN Religious Catalogue,

As Bishop Baker tells us in the preface of his book: “[I]t is my intention to help you give voice to the questions you have for God in prayer – from a perspective of faith.”


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The Message of Lourdes Premieres This Week on EWTN

You may think you know all there is to know about Our Lady’s famous appearances to a peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France in 1858. But unless you’re a scholar who has gone back to the earliest sources concerning the 18 apparitions, as Writer/Director/Producer Stefano Mazzeo did to craft this EWTN original docudrama, you are going to be surprised, inspired, and completely riveted by this compelling account of one of the greatest Marian apparitions in the history of the world.

This two-hour EWTN original docudrama, filmed on location in France and England, airs 3:30 p.m. ET, Thursday, Dec. 8.

Before he began his research into the story that would become “The Message of Lourdes,” Mazzeo said he felt he knew a fair amount about the apparitions. After all, he had visited Lourdes, read various accounts of the apparitions, been surprised by some of the strange online theories about what “really” happened at Lourdes, and watched many excellent films on the apparitions. Those films included the big budget Hollywood film of the 1940s, known to audiences worldwide as “The Song of Bernadette.” While the latter was a very well-done and interesting film, Mazzeo said the filmmakers “took a few liberties with the truth,” implying a romantic relationship between Bernadette and another character, “which never happened.” Mazzeo’s challenge was to take all the information he uncovered and still make it entertaining.

The result is nothing short of stupendous! In addition to all of the superb acting in this film, Mazzeo was able to tuck in a lot of information by having the actor who portrays Father Dominque Peyramale – the Catholic priest who was in Lourdes at the time Bernadette Soubirous received her apparitions and who was extremely skeptical in the beginning of the apparitions – make short comments on the story as it unfolds.

“He tells the story in the past tense, but you can see his character development,” Mazzeo said. “He was cruel to Bernadette when the message first came out. He was angry with her for involving him. The Church had just gone through the French Revolution 50 years before. The persecution was finished, and he didn’t want something that couldn’t be verified making the skeptics turn on the Church again. He thought she was making it up. The public prosecutor, the police commissioner, the mayor, her priest, and even her parents were against her. Modern France was industrializing. They didn’t want Lourdes to be seen as a parochial medieval place. But because Bernadette was so pure, so innocent, so truthful, she won everyone over.”

As viewers will see, Mazzeo was also able to include short but important comments from the most important people in Lourdes at the time this was filmed. The lineup includes the Bishop of Lourdes, the Rector of the Shrine at Lourdes, the doctor who verified the miracles, and the promoter general of the rosary for the Dominican order since the rosary is such an integral part of the apparitions. The result, coupled with superb acting, especially by the lead actress, and stunning cinematography, is a cinematic tour de force that should not be missed.

What most surprised Mazzeo?

“What I didn’t know was that there were demonic attacks during the apparitions,” Mazzeo said. “No one has mentioned this. Our Lady silenced the demons with just one look. She hardly moved her head and it all stopped. She frightened them all away.”

Mazzeo also discovered that the 18 apparitions line up with the Rosary’s Joyful Mysteries (Apparitions 1-7), Sorrowful Mysteries (Apparitions 8-11), and Glorious Mysteries (Apparitions 12-18). While Bernadette had mystical conversations with Our Lady that no one could hear most of the time, occasionally they could.

“Only 10 sentences are recorded,” Mazzeo said. “Our Lady doesn’t actually say all that much, but what she says is so fundamentally important that it’s really stunning.”

Mazzeo hopes all who view the film will be inspired.

“I think it’s important to listen to poor and lowly people like Bernadette,” he said. “She was very faith-filled, very devout, and very orthodox. That’s why Our Lady appeared to Bernadette. Although she was un-catechized, she had an instinctive orthodoxy. She knew what the faith was all about. She often said if Our Lady could have found a more ignorant person than she, she would have appeared to her. Yet Bernadette was not ignorant. She was intelligent, yet she had a poor mind for memorization, for study. Our Lady knew Bernadette’s innocence, natural orthodoxy, inner beauty, and purity made her the right one to convey the message.”

If you want to know what really happened at Lourdes, if you want to immerse yourself in the messages Our Lady conveyed during her 18 apparitions, you will definitely want to tune in or record the world premiere of “The Message of Lourdes” at 3:30 p.m. ET, Thursday, Dec. 8.

Fun Side Note: While all of the music in this film is original, don’t miss the song that plays during the ending credits. Mazzeo wrote the lyrics, in which he tried to sum up the whole message of Lourdes. He says viewers will hear only two of the four verses. However, he has partnered with a composer, who did a stunning job on all of the music in the film, and he is hoping to put out a music video of this final song complete with all four verses.

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The Way of the Cross for Caregivers: A Feature From the National Catholic Register’s Patti Maguire Armstrong

BOOK PICK: ‘Walking the Way of the Cross for Caregivers: How to Cope Practically, Emotionally and Spiritually When a Loved One Has a Serious Illness’

Walking the Way of the Cross for Caregivers

How to Cope Practically, Emotionally and Spiritually When a Loved One Has a Serious Illness

By Michelle Laque Johnson

Maria Teresa Publishers, 2022

237 pages, $15.95

To order: or (800) 854-6316 (Item: 91400)

Life is easy when the news is good — but oh, when storms arise, our faith in God needs to hold us up. Aside from the usual human ups and downs, there is our health and that of our loved ones. When all is well, we tend to deflect this topic — don’t bring me down, at least not yet, while it’s not something to worry about.

I get it. But I also get the beauty of Walking the Way of the Cross for Caregivers by Michelle Laque Johnson. I only wish I could add a neon sign above the title to shout, “This is for you now, not later!”

Why now? Because it’s a good read — and a spiritual one, with practical advice, resources and prayers for an intimate walk with Jesus. Certainly, this can be a lifesaver and a comfort for caregivers.

But the personal story of Johnson’s care of her husband, Stu, who fought cancer for eight years, is an engaging and dramatic love story, with glimpses inside EWTN, where Johnson began working in the middle of the journey.

Johnson, director of communications for EWTN, has already navigated the course of a caretaker, so her advice is strong and calming. In every chapter she opens with a Scripture verse, shares part of her journey and offers a “Lesson Learned,” such as,

“Make the decision to walk with God throughout this illness. When you lose your peace, renew that commitment. You will never be sorry.”

Each chapter ends with a prayer and some reflection questions to make things personal. In between chapters is one of the Stations of the Cross, with deep meaning for someone carrying the cross of a loved one.

Throughout the book, Johnson is a sister in Christ, holding readers’ hands. “Let me state this unequivocally: DO NOT LET ANYONE TAKE AWAY YOUR HOPE,” she directs firmly — and often doubles down on it.

She cites the example of doctors who treated Stu’s death as imminent when the couple still had eight more years of life together. “Doctors are not God,” says Johnson. She gives reasons for hope, regardless of the situation, and points out all the good that comes through having hope, such as exploring different courses of treatment, making better choices, enjoying a better quality of life, finding a greater purpose in life and being more fun to be around.

Understanding what it’s like to shoulder so much, Johnson warns of trying to go it alone without reaching out for help — especially by seeking support from others and turning to faith and prayer.

Johnson also reveals how to go about getting second and third opinions and how to distinguish a good hospital from a bad one, as well as how to handle well-meaning family and friends who inadvertently can add to your burden or take on too much of it. Sharing her own experience, she encourages caregivers to carefully evaluate each situation and speak up when necessary, while also being gracious so as not to hurt feelings or lose the support that can still help.

One unique aspect of being a caregiver is nurturing yourself spiritually, Johnson explains. It’s easy to tell someone to deepen their faith, but she shows readers what that can look like. In the chapter on “How to Put on the Armor of God,” Johnson suggests befriending one’s guardian angel, praying a Morning Offering, praying novenas and spiritual warfare prayers to keep up spiritual strength, journaling, frequenting the sacraments, using sacramentals and making time for good spiritual reading.

In the chapter on “Making the Best of Hard Times,” Johnson writes, “Working together to defeat a common enemy — your loved one’s illness — can forge an even stronger bond with your loved one. That’s just one more potential blessing in the hard times.”

Practical advice is included on things that might seem mundane, like paperwork and coordinating medicine, and a primer on preparing for the funeral and the final moments of life is surely a Godsend for those facing life without a loved one on this side of the veil.

Movingly, Johnson also shares her last moments with her husband. “How am I supposed to do this? How am I supposed to watch my husband die?” she cried out to Our Lord.

When she surrendered her husband to God and asked for Stu’s heart to turn completely to him, “so that he can receive the highest degree of glory possible,” Johnson witnessed the grace pour out upon him as he prepared for a Mass that would be offered in his room.

An epilogue and appendix, “Thirteen Saints to Walk With in Hard Times,” and a final list of resources finishes Johnson’s lived experience of support.

This book took Johnson eight years to write, giving her time to reflect and organize so as to share what she learned and walk closely alongside those traveling the same path.

And now, as life goes on, Johnson shares how the experience has increased her awareness of the needs of others.

“And you will, too,” she encourages. “It’s not knowledge we would ever have sought but it is a gift that you and I were given as a result of our loved one’s illness and/or death.”

She closes by expressing her firm Christian hope of meeting the book’s readers and her dear husband on the other side, where God “will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes, and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore” (Revelation 21:4).

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The Transgender Movement: What Catholics NEED to Know


You’ve seen the headlines: Girls from teens to a 5-year-old, assaulted in a school bathroom by a boy who identifies as female. Female inmates, who were forced to share a cell with a man identifying as female, now pregnant. Young female athletes denied scholarships and their chance for Olympic glory because they were “bested” by a man identifying as female.

“When I go around and speak…people…say: ‘What happened? How did this happen so fast?’ …[H]ow [did] we move from [a so-called transgender] moment to [transgender] movement?’”

The speaker is Mary Rice Hasson, JD, host of EWTN’s important new mini-series: “The Transgender Movement: What Catholics Need to Know,” which premieres 5:30 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, Oct. 24-28, with an encore at 2:30 a.m. the following day. A lot of networks say they air  must-see TV. If you want to understand not only how this happened but what you can do about it, you absolutely MUST SEE this series – and share the information with everyone you know, both in person and on social media.

Hasson knows whereof she speaks! She is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and one of three co-founders of the Center’s important Person and Identity Project. She realized what was happening almost 10 years ago. Clearly not one to stand on the sidelines, Hasson immediately began working with the Vatican to sponsor a symposium, provide resources, and credential experts “who would have a firm grip on what was happening and how to communicate the truth of the Church’s teaching” on gender issues. Watch EWTN’s series to get an understanding of all that is happening, and then go to for a plethora of incredible resources. This website, which supplies medical, public policy, and legal resources, links to networks you can join, and a lot more. The resource is for parents (, schools (, churches (, the medical community (, and other interested persons who want to understand what is happening and, most importantly, how to deal with it.

Episode 1 provides a cultural overview of the Transgender Movement and it is an eye opener. Hasson’s guest is Dr. Ryan Anderson, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and the author of “When Harry Became Sally.” He had a front row seat to what was happening as he dealt with LGBT organizations and their fight for “marriage equality.”

“The ‘T’ was always like the silent partner,” he said. “For 20 years, we had a debate about what they called marriage equality. When they got [Supreme Court Justice] Anthony Kennedy first to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, then to strike down state marriage laws in 2015… those organizations didn’t declare victory and shut down.”

That’s because it wasn’t just about getting a piece of paper from the government, Anderson said. It was about “cultural normalization and acceptance of same-sex marriage.” So that’s when you began hearing about Catholic Adoption Agencies forced to shut down if they wouldn’t allow same sex couples to adopt; the evangelical baker who forced to shut down because he wouldn’t bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, etc.

In fact, it was back in 2016 when the Obama Administration started imposing many of the transgender mandates, and the word “sex” in Title IX was formally redefined to mean ‘gender identity’ in May, 2016.

And now? Now you hear, “Catholic President Biden saying, ‘Transgender rights are the human rights issue of our generation,” Anderson says. “This is not a grassroots phenomenon. This is very much grass tops; not even grass tops, this is very much like the activist organizations imposing this top down.”

If you’re confused about the meaning of gender identity, Anderson says it’s “the concept that the body does not determine one’s identity, and that your identity with respect to gender is somehow determined by something else.” The definition of that “something else” has evolved. Anderson says “the…contemporary version is that gender is a spectrum; you could identify as gender fluid, gender ambidextrous, so it’s not longer just transgender, which suggests we’re retaining the binary…[so] you identify as the other sex. Now we’re doing away with the…entire concept of male and female.”

All of this is only a sample of what is presented in Episode 1 – which also talks about how the young are being targeted – and there are four more episodes to follow. Interestingly, it’s not just Catholics and other Christians who are concerned about this.

Says Hasson: “This issue has fractured the typical right/left divisions, and instead you’re having people come together around reality.”

In 2018, Anderson said he invited the first lesbian reinstated to the U.S. military after ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was lifted to speak at the Heritage Foundation. Her opening line was something like: “’I can’t believe I’m about to say this but thank you to the Heritage Foundation for providing me with what no center-left group would, which is a platform.’ And she made the point that her being a lesbian never harmed another person, never interfered with the normal biological development of a minor, never took away privacy rights or equality rights or safety of any other person. But what’s going on with the transgender phenomenon, when you let a man into a women’s private facility, when you block the puberty of a child, when you let a man compete against actual women?”

Said Hasson: “I’m tremendously grateful to EWTN for making this possible because this information is so needed; people are hungry for guidance on where they can go and how to help their families.”

Find out what you NEED to know and help others do the same when EWTN premieres: The Transgender Movement: What Catholics Need to Know,” beginning 5:30 p.m. ET, Monday, Oct. 24.

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As War Rages in Ukraine, Take Comfort in Heaven’s Miracles

Cathedral in Pompeii, Italy, one of many sites visited in “Explore With the Miracle Hunter: Pompeii.”

Much like the Ukrainian people of our own time, where cities and towns are facing a Russian invasion, the people in the little town of Pontmain, France faced an advancing army as the Franco-Prussian war of 1871 raged. They were terrified. But suddenly, the Virgin Mary, while simultaneously making herself visible to a group of children in Pontmain, appeared in the sky adorned in a robe filled with glowing stars. The Prussian Army made the decision not to advance – they said a woman in the sky was blocking the way! – and the war soon ended.

“Next to the Battle of Lepanto, this is one of the most famous cases of the Virgin Mary miraculously interceding in war,” says “Miracle Hunter” Michael O’Neill, who is the executive producer and host of EWTN’s new series “Explore with the Miracle Hunter.” This popular show, which chronicles miracles around the world with impressive dramatizations, has now been made into a weekly EWTN series with new episodes and a regular time slot. The story of Our Lady’s appearance in Pontmain, France is just one of the many “Explore” episodes viewers can look forward to seeing at 6 p.m. ET, Saturdays, with an encore at 6:30 a.m. ET, Wednesdays.

Find out about the Eurcharistic miracle that took place in Lanciano, Italy, (above) when EWTN airs  “Explore With the Miracle Hunter: Lanciano.”

“When we think about miracles, we all imagine how they may have happened, what that would have looked like,” O’Neill said. “These episodes bring those moments to life with some spectacular recreations, paired with some beautiful cinematic footage of these locations. Because of everything going on in the world right now, this is a great way for people to see the world without leaving their homes — and it will hopefully encourage people to travel to these sites in the near future.”

This coming week, tune in to see the astounding miracle at Lanciano, Italy, in which an unbelieving monk had his doubts turned around during the consecration of the Mass, when the Eucharist transformed into real flesh and the wine into real blood. This will be followed the next week by an episode on the famed visions of Jesus Christ at Paray-Le-Monial, where Catholics were blessed with the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and “Explore Naples,” which is one of O’Neill’s favorite episodes.

An image from “Explore with the Miracle Hunter: Assisi,” where St Francis has a vision and receives the stigmata.

Travel with O’Neill to the Neapolitan basilica which houses the blood of St. Januarius in a special container known as an ampoule. Most years, the dried blood liquefies on the saint’s feast day. But in the rare years when the blood does not liquefy, disastrous things have happened: Mt. Vesuvius erupts, earthquakes happen, the economy collapses, or, most recently, the city faces a worldwide pandemic.

“Every year on Sept. 19, they have a special feast day Mass with the bishop and they bring out this relic,” O’Neill said, who traveled to the site and filmed the event in 2019. “The basilica and the streets are packed with people. The bishop will hold up the ampoule and, if the blood liquefies, the cheer is so loud it’s like a winning touchdown at a football game! It’s a portent of a good year for Naples.”

See the story of the origins of the Miraculous Medal come to life in “Explore with the Miracle Hunter: Paris.”

O’Neill is also partial to “Explore: Rome,” in which he tells the story of Alphonse Ratisbonne, a wealthy French businessman who was challenged by friends during a visit to Rome to wear a Miraculous Medal and say the Memorare for seven days. This Jewish atheist not only ended up experiencing a vision of the Virgin Mary but also instantaneously converted to Catholicism and was infused with knowledge of the Catholic faith, later becoming a priest and founding the  Order of Our Lady of Sion devoted to the conversion of Jews. And that’s not the half of it!

Other “Explore with the Miracle Hunter” episodes will include visits to Beauraing, in which the Virgin with the Golden Heart appeared numerous times, urging the people of Belgium to pray; Pompeii, in which Our Lady of the Rosary won the heart of Blessed Bartolo Longo, who at that time was a satanic priest; and Trefontane, site of the beheading of St. Paul and the apparition of Our Lady of Revelation, which O’Neill says may be the most interesting of all!

“Explore with the Miracle Hunter” Host Michael O’Neill.

As the war rages in Ukraine, viewers can take comfort in these miraculous stories, particularly the story of the Vatican-recognized apparitions at Pontmain, France. So tune in this Saturday at 6 p.m. ET on EWTN. And meantime, consider asking Our Lady of Pontmain to intercede for the people of Ukraine – and the world.

Our Lady of Pontmain, pray for us!


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EWTN’s New Movie Chronicles True Stories Of Ukrainian Persecution

Viewers who want to know what life is really like after a Communist invasion need look no further than EWTN’s brand new film, “To Believe,” which was produced by EWTN Ukraine in Kyiv, a city which is now under assault after Thursday’s invasion by Russia. Written by Ukrainians and filmed in Ukraine, the film is subtitled, but the acting is so good viewers barely need the subtitles to understand the plot. The movie premieres 10 p.m. ET, Saturday, Feb. 26, with encores at 10 p.m. ET, Sunday, Feb. 27, and 3 a.m. ET, Tuesday, March 1.

(Find trailer here:; find EWTN here: The film can also be viewed for free anytime at EWTN’s On Demand site:

This outstanding hour-long film presents the true story of Father Sebastian Sabudzinski and the families in his small Catholic parish during the Communist persecution. As the film opens, viewers see a round-up of priests marching through a forest where they are given one last chance to renounce their faith. When there are no takers, all are shot to death by a firing squad. But the story really begins in 1953 when a man, who had been taken from his family as a young boy and interned in a concentration camp for 30 years, returns home to his family. The film then flashes back to 1921 and the events that led to the man’s internment.

“This film is based on actual events and the stories of real people,” we read in the opening credits. “It is dedicated to all those who have preserved their faith during the long night of Communism.”

The film will bring many viewers to tears as they experience the emotional turmoil of those who were traumatized by the Soviets during the persecution. This should come as no surprise because many Ukrainians were either alive during Soviet persecution or are descendants of the persecuted.

Viewers will hear Communist propaganda just as those who lived it heard it. There was propaganda before the repression, where people were assured that the Communists would bring in a new world where no one would be rich or poor; all would be fair. And there was propaganda at the concentration camp, where songs about the glory of the Soviet Union were blasted out over a loud speaker even as the inmates were told they no longer had a name, but a number; they no longer had a voice, but had to obey every command quickly and silently.

Viewers will also experience the repression of people sent to Siberia for attending a prayer service, wearing a medal, or owning a Bible – and the agony of those who did not know if their loved one was alive or dead, or where they had been taken. Ukrainian Catholics risked their lives to save religious objects from their churches and to hide religious objects, even as their oppressors dug up the ground around their homes to ensure no such objects were present.

All of this takes place even before the story of Father Sebastian Sabudzinski is introduced.

How did the Ukrainian people survive? Viewers will see that even as those holding a prayer service at a cemetery are either killed or sent to Siberia, “faith and love for God were stronger than fear.”

Don’t miss this incredible film, which was set to premiere in June, but moved up to February due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As the faithful say in the film, and today:

“Praised be Jesus Christ.”

“Now and forever!”

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