Arif's 26th birthday is fast approaching (it's June 7). It would be great if we could have you all come to celebrate with us. We so appreciate your support and concern. Most of you are so far away, however, it would not be practical.
Each year, we pray in a special way for his healing during the nine days leading up to his birthday (beginning on May 30).
You are welcome to join with us in this novena. Pray in whatever way you are comfortable. Your prayers will be much appreciated.
Just so that you know, we have some special prayers that we pray, to keep our focus.
When Arif was 13, he went with the youth group to Rome and Assisi. While they were there, the bishop arranged for the group to meet with Pope John Paul II on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica. As you can imagine, the young people were thrilled.
The pope greeted the group warmly, as expected. He then proceeded to shake hands with each member of the group. However, when he greeted Arif, he reached up and patted Arif on the cheek. The Vatican photographer captured the moment, and Arif managed to snag some of the photos. You can see one, if you look back through the archives in this blog.
We used to tease Arif that the late pope recognized his Polish heritage. It was only much later that we realized that, quite possibly, the holy man knew that Arif would need special attention later in his life.
With that in mind, we find ourselves asking for Pope John Paul II's intercession on Arif's behalf.
Regardless of religious affiliation, many people admire the influence the late pope had particularly on the spiritual lives of young people. His heroic battle with Parkinson's was a testament to the fortitude of the human spirit.
We believe that the late Pope is enjoying the beatific vision and is close to God for all of eternity. His soul is not dead, but very much alive and, as when he walked among us, he has a great concern for those of us who must continue to struggle through life on earth. so we feel that he will stand beside us in spirit, as we present our petitions to God.
The Church has published an official prayer for the intercession of Pope John Paul II:
O Blessed Trinity We thank You for having graced the Church with Pope John Paul II
and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him. Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you.
Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints.
And here is a prayer I made up for Arif soon after the late pope died:
Pope John Paul II, you told us “Be not afraid”.
So, laying aside our fear and doubts,
we ask you to open wide the door of heaven
and we ask that the rays of Divine Mercy shine from the heart of Jesus upon the earth to bring about the conversion of poor sinners. Please ask Our Lord to grace us with complete healing for Arif Marshall that he may fulfill the mission he was given in the presence of St Peter. We pray this in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.