Opening the Door to Miracles
Considered too slow to be anything but a monastery porter, Solanus Casey used his job to work wonders.
BY: Bert Ghezzi
William had long contemplated suicide. Solanus's notes do not give a reason for William's despondency, but after much suffering, he concocted a careful plan for taking his life. He would book passage on a boat traveling from Detroit to Cleveland and, as unobtrusively as possible, throw himself overboard along the way. His two sisters, who somehow got wind of his decision, kept him under close watch. Although riddled with fear for their brother, they didn't know what to do.
During this critical time, William's father died, magnifying his distress and therefore his danger. At the funeral, however, one of his sisters happened to find a pamphlet that mentioned the work of Solanus Casey. That very day she visited the priest and asked for his intercession on behalf of her troubled brother. Just four days later, the sister returned to tell Solanus that William had miraculously changed. Not only had he been suddenly released from his despair, she reported, but he was "praying, and full of hope," and making plans to go back to work.
Immediately the sisters sought the priest's prayer for another brother, who had tuberculosis. Six months later, Solanus recorded in his ledger of miracles that the man had entirely recovered from the disease.
Raymond was an eight-month-old infant afflicted in both ears with a serious infection called mastoiditis. Before the days of sophisticated antibiotics, this disease was life threatening. One evening, when the baby's fever skyrocketed, he was hospitalized. The doctor planned to perform a dangerous surgery the next morning to save his life. He would drill holes in the bone behind each ear for drainage, the prescribed treatment for mastoiditis at the time.
The infant's mother was crazed with fear, and when the hospital personnel were preoccupied, she smuggled Raymond from the building. Outside, she slipped into a waiting car, which her brother was driving, and they headed for home. Later, she told Solanus that she scarcely knew what she was doing at the time.
As they drove along the road, Raymond's mother suddenly recalled something about a priest at St. Bonaventure's who could heal people. Why had she not thought of it before? "Drive to the monastery," she told her brother.
When they arrived, she carried Raymond straight to Solanus, who sat alone in his office near the door. The priest stood and extended his arms to receive the infant while Raymond's mother told Solanus all that had happened-the disease, the planned surgery, the frantic escape. "O Father, help him," she sobbed.
Solanus handed Raymond back to his mother. He asked her to tell him the child's name and then entered it for intercessory prayer by the Seraphic Mass Association. Solanus then urged the mother to trust God and promised that he would not fail her. After that, he prayed over the infant.
"He will be better by morning," said Solanus, and at the door he assured her, almost casually, "And don't worry. He won't need an operation."
At home she placed Raymond in his crib near her own bed. She touched his little face and could feel the raging fever; then, exhausted, she fell asleep for several hours. When she awakened, she picked up the baby and pressed him to her breast. Raymond was cold and motionless. For a moment she feared that he had died. But then she felt him breathing and realized that he was in a deep sleep. Raymond seemed to be out of danger.
She and her husband whispered a prayer of thanks and then headed to tell Solanus the good news of Raymond's sudden recovery. The priest showed no surprise. When the couple tried to thank him, he told them to express their gratitude to God. The next day, the doctors examined Raymond and declared that no operation was necessary, inasmuch as he had returned to normal health.
You may wonder why Solanus has no "St." before his name. That is because the Roman Catholic Church has yet to complete the process of formally recognizing him as a saint. But he is well on his way to receiving that recognition.