He maintains his priestly service in the Roman parish of Saint Josemaria Escriva.

He maintains his priestly service in the Roman parish of Saint Josemaria Escriva.

Priest with Lateral Sclerosis: “As a Sick Priest, I Hope to Give Meaning to Others’ Disease”

“It’s a very harsh disease, but it has enabled me to mature and, especially, to understand what things are really important in life,” said Father Álvaro Granados

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(ZENIT News / Rome, 11.06.2024).- Father Álvaro has been suffering with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) for six years. He maintains his priestly service in the Roman parish of Saint Josemaria Escriva.

He left teaching at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross due to his disease and now attends the faithful in the above mentioned church. He concelebrates Mass from Monday to Friday, gives spiritual direction to priests and faithful, and hears the Confession of friends and faithful every day; for an hour and a half every morning and every afternoon.

He was born in Madrid in 1964 and obtained a degree in Law from La Laguna University in Tenerife in 1988 and studied Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. He earned a Doctorate in Philosophy in 1996, specializing in Philosophical Anthropology. He was ordained a priest in 1994 and, between 1995 and 2006, he worked as a formator in the “Sedes Sapientiae” International Ecclesiastical College. He held the Rectorship of the Tiber Priestly College and completed his Doctorate in Pastoral Theology in 2009 at the Lateran University. ALS interrupted his work as Professor.

“At first, I realized that I no longer had feeling in the right foot. Then, after some medical visits, I was diagnosed with the disease. First I lost the movement of my lower extremities and then of my upper extremities. I have been immobilized for a year. I can only move my head, jaw and mouth.”

However, he continued his priestly ministry. “It’s a very harsh disease, but it has enabled me to mature and, especially, to understand what things are really important in life. In addition to the value of the Christian faith, in these years of illness, I have discovered and rediscovered the great value of human relations, of that for which it is worthwhile fighting for in this world. Those who have many relations with people are rich, those that don’t have them are poor.”

Visits from friends and family members enrich him. “They are very happy to see me, but I’m the one who benefits most from these meetings, as well as the closeness of my family and of priests. I think one can only live well with any  disease if one is surrounded by people who don’t make you feel like a burden, who show you their love.”

He esteems a lot the health workers that look after him daily. “I have a relationship with them that goes beyond the professional. They are extraordinary, we spend nine hours a day together. I can say we have fun. Thanks to God and to all these people, I’m living with much serenity,” he says.

The videos he has published for a year on YouTube arose from the treatment of those he lives with. They are Gospel comments for the sick. “These videos are above all the result of the obstinacy of a dear Doctor friend of mine, who insists on doing them. I alone would have given up right away. Instead, thanks to his encouragement, I went forward. I hope they can be useful to those who, like me, suffer. And I hope to give meaning to the disease of other people, including as a sick priest.”

Father Alvaro draws strength from the Gospel. He identifies a lot with the passage of the widow in the temple, as she enthused Christ, God, with two cents. “I think that by offering Him little things of my disease, the ailments, a sudden pain, a moment of discomfort, is as if I got closer to the widow’s behaviour. I’m not giving anything concrete, but for God it’s a lot, it’s all. He fills it with love. When offering the small and big difficulties I go through, I can fill God’s heart with joy. This excites me and helps me to give meaning to my disease.”

He recalls the teachings of Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer. “He used to say that the most important people of the Church are the sick. They have accompanied the history of Christianity. There have always been people that offer their sickness to God with love and faith, becoming the foundation of the ecclesial community. Only when we are in the next life will we understand how important the sick have been in sustaining the Church and humanity with their own silent sacrifice, accepting sickness as an offering to God in Christ.”

Father Alvaro keeps in mind those who are suffering as he is. “I would like to say to the sick that we play a very important role in a society that is becoming increasingly individualistic. We help all to be respectful of persons as such. This is particularly important today, because the generalized tendency exists to evaluate people only for their usefulness, for what they earn, for how beautiful they are, for what they do in a business. But no. The human being has an infinite value just because of the fact he is a human being. We, the sick, remind the whole society of this fundamental principle: of the infinite dignity of the person, as the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith teaches in its recent Document Dignitas Infinita.

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Rafael Llanes

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