Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

MCGRAIL: Searching for God in Adversity


When I was six years old, I was over the moon when my parents surprised me with a trip to Disney World. However, this trip to Disney marked the beginning of my wavering faith in God.

I was raised in a Catholic household. My mother forced me to go to Mass every Sunday and attend Catholic Sunday school. By the time I was six years old, I did not question the existence of God or His love for me. I lived a comfortable suburban life with an incredible family and a lot of love.

When I was six years old, my mother was diagnosed with late-stage cancer and told she had three months to live. My mother, an oncologist, decided to refuse treatment, knowing it would extend her life for about a week, because she did not want my little brother and I to remember her in a sickly state. Instead, she wanted to embrace her fleeting vivacity by taking us to Disney World. At the time, I did not know that it was a goodbye trip.

Even though I did not know it at the time, the experience I was about to embark on would help me understand one of Georgetown’s nine tenets, ad majorem Dei gloriam, and would make me realize God’s place in life’s worst moments.

After we got back from Disney, my family stopped going to Mass and rarely talked about faith or God. I think it was so that we could savor our time together, but I also believe it is because my family lost their faith. How could He watch my mother first give up her life for the Army, then for her children, and now take it away before her work was finished?

When my mother was rushed to the hospital with unbearable abdominal pain and had to receive emergency surgery. I thought the day would come when He would take her away from us. During the surgery, her spleen burst and had to be removed. I remember praying to God while I was packing my bag for the hospital. I prayed to Him to grant her health and strength.

Maybe it was because of my prayers that she made it through the surgery, but I believe that we experienced a true miracle. When the doctors scanned her for cancer after the surgery, they could not find anything. Her physician claims he thought there were tumors on her spleen, but they ended up being mere cysts. I was elated: God had heard my prayers.

For years after this ordeal, I wrestled with my faith in God. Even though He ultimately answered my prayers, why would he make my mother so sick in the first place? I do not believe my mother or my family deserved it. Once I got to Georgetown, I looked back on these events through the lens of the nine Jesuit values, and one in particular spoke to me: ad majorem Dei gloriam.

Ad majorem Dei gloriam translates to “For the greater glory of God.” Through this tenet, I began to understand my mother’s sickness in a new context.

My mother’s illness led us to develop a much stronger bond. Knowing that every day with her is a privilege makes me exponentially more appreciative of her and our time together. I remember her telling me as a child that God is love, and that she sees God every time she looks into my eyes. Now, I see God whenever I look into her eyes. My mother’s illness, in solidifying our bond, was for the greater glory of love, or in other words, the greater glory of God.

Today, I feel more confident in my faith and I understand that everything happens according to God’s plan. I search for the good in all bad things because I now understand that everything happens for the greater glory of God. In finding the good in every ordeal, I realize God’s role in my life and I persist for His glory.

Lily McGrail is a sophomore in the College. Into the Feminine Genius appears online every other Monday.

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    AuraMay 18, 2021 at 6:35 pm

    Loved this blog Lily, all you have shared is worthy, Thanks for sharing.
    In a state of wandering, a prayer will help you see the direct path towards God. Prayer will make you see God better. All you have to do is trust the direction you are being led to, as God will make your path less bumpy and more straight. Check my blog Powerful Steps to Finding God Hope this will help.