Father Stuart Long was a diocesan priest from Helena, Montana who was diagnosed with a terminal illness (ALS) before his ordination. Father Stu became a beloved priest, confessor and friend to countless people. His physical suffering sanctified him. Accepting the pain and weakness of each day he gave thanks to God always.
Father Stu’s witness brought dozens (if not hundreds) of Montanans to Christ. His fascinating life story (before his conversion to his deathbed decree) will be portrayed in a major motion picture set for release later this year, starring Catholic actors Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson.
Father Stu’s life story, which appeared in California Catholic as “Boxer, actor, priest” upon his death in 2014, was an inspiration for the film.
The following is part three in a three-part correspondence between Fr. Stu and his parishioners during a pilgrimage to Lourdes and the acceptance of his fate as a dying priest.
Your letter from Lourdes touched me. It seems clear that Christ has allowed this because He is testing your faith. This is a great gift He has given you.
Your mission is now clear. You will (and must) endure hardship for the remainder of your earthly life. Take comfort however, and know that this represents only a small amount of time in the context of eternity.
Be at peace in the knowledge that God will save many souls through your suffering. Souls who will be revealed to you on Judgment Day.
In a sense you are becoming a true man, a true priest. I remember you once told me that every man is called to be a Christ-like man. One who sacrifices all that he has to lay down his life for those he loves. This is a living martyrdom. You also once told me you wanted to die for Christ in the spirit of St Francis. It seems that Our Heavenly Father has not only heard your prayer but is granting your request (we truly do have to be careful for what we pray for).
Accept this tremendous grace with a humble heart. Don’t be puffed up and proud lest Satan sift you like wheat. Continue to allow God’s graces to work through you and touch others, but don’t act as if you are a saint. Be constantly humble and self-sacrificing. When you are ordained, your soul will be infused with these priestly graces.
Time is short. We don’t have much of it left. We are in the middle of some serious spiritual warfare. The Lord is working powerfully through you as He wants souls to go to heaven – period!
God knows that you love Him. That’s what is most important anyway. In order to be a true priest, a true servant, you must be a witness of the true faith, like the apostles. Only then can people even begin to love God as you do. You will be their role model.
You are in the process of being perfected through suffering (be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect). Let God be the judge of your heart, mind and soul. The Blessed Mother is with you. Joan of Arc is with you. St. Francis is with you as are many other saints. Your trip to Lourdes solidified that.
Now that you have an army in heaven looking out and interceding for you, be confirmed in your mission. God will let you know when He is ready to take you from this world. When He does, accept it in the love of the Holy Spirit. In the meantime continue praying for your ordination. Our fellow brothers in the seminary, friends and family will be there to support you. Please throw a few prayers our way too. I’ll bring you up an entire list when I see you.
Your brother in Christ
Click here to read part one – “Father Stu’s story will be told in movie starring Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson”
Click here to read part two – “Joan of Arc speaks to Father Stu”