|The Littleton Familly|
No pain, no
adage aptly describes the life philosophy of one man who
has seen more of life’s crosses, and, consequently, blessings (as
he would say) than most people in a lifetime.
James Littleton, husband and father
of nineteen children (five in Heaven), cancer survivor, and a
businessman who has experienced both loss and success, has many
stories to tell. Along with his wife, Kathleen,
they have been sharing those stories with faith-filled and experiential
wisdom. The two authored a book published in
2007, Better by the Dozen, Plus Two: Anecdotes and a
Philosophy of Life from a Family of Sixteen (Lulu
Publications, 2007.) Those who enjoyed this offering can
soon obtain the next installment -- Kathleen is writing a
sequel expected to be available in about six months. (Stay tuned to the RC website for future details…)
The newest book from
the Littleton library is Jim’s Healed Through Cancer and
other Adversities. In the book, he shares the
details of his recent bout with and subsequent healing from
stage 4 chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Click here
to see a YouTube video about the book. (For the
RC website story about Jim’s battle, click here.)
Following is an interview with
the author, which he answered mostly with excerpts from his
You talk a
little in your prologue about the “kick” God gave you
to finally start writing the book. Can you
tell us that story?
(Excerpted from Healed Through Cancer and other Adversities)
I co-authored with my wife,
Kathleen, a previous book, published in 2007, Better by the
Dozen, Plus Two: Anecdotes and a Philosophy of Life from
a Family of Sixteen, when I was, or thought I
was, in good health—though I suspect this disease may have
been with me for years prior to diagnosis. We wrote
about the cross, but little did we know that a
new cross was in store for us in a few
I had procrastinated
writing a second book for a bit, but God put
it in my heart to get moving. I received encouragement
from others including Kathleen. I had been accumulating some random
notes with ideas, but I had not gotten down to
the hard work of writing in a systematic way. Then
in August 2010 Kathleen and I were at Northwestern Hospital
in the waiting area prior to my treatment when a
man approached us. He commented on the St. Benedict Crucifix
and the pin of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mary, Mother
of God) I was wearing and on the fact that
I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours. There is
a great practical advantage of wearing outward signs of faith,
as they open doors to conversations with strangers. It turned
out this was Fr. Michael, a Dominican priest. After we
had a pleasant conversation, I gave him my business card.
He called me the next day sharing that he was
moved to call. Knowing that I had previously written a
book, he said that I should write a book about
my experience with cancer, giving hope and fortitude to others.
He had hit on exactly what I was already planning
but had been dragging my feet on.
Sometimes God needs to give us
a little kick to get us going with the mission
to complete His plan of love for which He is
counting on us. I took this as a prompting from
God to get started. Fr. Michael said that he would
be praying and fasting for me. It is interesting that
I received a flood of inspirations for this book the
next day, which I attribute to Fr. Michael’s intercession.
Please give us an update
on your current health as of today.
(Excerpted from the Epilogue of Healed Through
Cancer and other Adversities.)
Thanks be to God as of July 2, 1012 my
health is exceptional. I am cancer free and living full
and joyfully without any physical restrictions. As a matter of
fact I walked and jogged a 5K race with my
family just two days ago. After learning my place in
the race I was consoled by Jesus’s words, “Thus the
last will be first, and the first, last.” (Matthew 20:16,
JB) But what a joy to just participate!
Diary excerpt – Nov. 1, 2011
- If I remain cancer free at the three year
mark following the bone marrow transplant date I will be
considered cured completely.
I was also told that 98% of the cells
in the bone marrow are now from the donor, which
is as good as it gets.
I do want to profoundly thank and credit
Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen as the primary intercessor in
heaven through the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary
to Jesus for my healing, as I and many others
prayed to him for my healing from the beginning of
my illness. He is at work in heaven helping us,
even more so than when he lived his remarkably fruitful
life on earth.
have heard you quote the first letter of Peter “By
His Wounds, We are Healed.” (1Peter: 2:24) describing your battle
against cancer. Can you give us a little overview of
the ways your struggle has “healed” you?
In more ways than
I can count, but I address about 25 different ways
in detail as indicated by the Chapter titles, as follows:
Healing through God, But
Does He Exist?
Healing through Poverty
Soul and Spirit
Healing through Trust
As Regards Family and Friends
Healing As Regards Others
Healing through Accepting God’s Ways
Healing in the Gift of Life
Healing through Humility
Healing through Mercy and Forgiveness
Healing in Accepting Myself
Healing in Accepting Others
Healing from Oppression and Fear
Healing through the Breath of
Healing through a
the Bread of Life
Healing through Death
through Redemption and Resurrection
Healing through Pouring
through a Sense of Humor
Healing through Our Mother, Mary, Leading to the Word
Healing Scripture Passages
strongly about the value of “crosses” in life.
Healed Through Cancer and other Adversities.)
Why the cross? Why suffering? Why pain? Certainly
there is some mystery involved. But we can be sure
that the cross is purifying and redemptive both for us
and others. The old adage applies: No pain, no gain.
It is best to
embrace God’s will, which is perfect and always working toward
our good. What we can be certain about in reference
to His will is that the moment we have before
us now is beyond doubt encompassed in His will. We
must use each moment well, live life to the full
joyfully, have mercy on others and on ourselves, love and
serve others at every opportunity. God help me to live
do you hope your new book will help others?
(Excerpted from Healed through Cancer
and other Adversities.)
good and helpful in this book is from the Holy
Spirit. Anything poorly done or prideful is from me, and
I am sure there is much. I have tried to
write what I believe God wanted me to write. I
hope the reader comes away with some helpful insights, encouragement,
increased hope, faith, and fortitude, as well as some useful
resolutions. I am sure the Holy Spirit has something singular
and profound to say to each individual reader.
Click here to read
some endorsements about the book:
We celebrated Father’s Day last month. It
would appear that Fatherhood is not valued in our culture
as in the past, but you take your responsibility in
this area very seriously, it seems. Why?
(Excerpted from Healed Through Cancer
and other Adversities.)
father of a family is indispensable. He leads and serves.
He is the head of the family, but in the
sense that he is the head to the degree that
he serves and sacrifices. He is the living, active image
of Christ on the cross to his wife and children.
“Husbands should love their wives just as Christ loved the
Church and sacrificed himself for her to make her holy.”
(Ephesians 5:25–26, JB)
a special word for men, since I am one of
you. Our wives and children need us. We are irreplaceable.
Let’s be the noble knights God wants us to be
and stick with our wives no matter what, and that
means no exceptions. God made us inherently warriors of a
sort. Just watch young boys playing, how they will quite
naturally turn sticks into pretend guns or swords. We should
channel the fight that is in us to love, sacrifice
for, and protect our wives through thick and thin. It
is God to whom we made a vow when we
became united in matrimony with our wives. “So then, what
God has united, man must not divide.” (Mark 10:9–10, JB)
Children need their fathers
on numerous levels. For one, he has the God-appointed mission
of being the spiritual and moral leader of his family.
“Happy are all who fear the LORD,/ who walk in
the ways of God./ What your hands provide you will
enjoy;/ you will be happy and prosper:/ Like a fruitful
vine/ your wife within your home,/ Like olive plants/ your
children around your table./ Just so will they be blessed/
who fear the LORD.” (Psalm 128:1–4)
There are many sacrifices a good father offers
for his family, such as working hard to provide for
them, giving of his time to be with them, doing
yard work, you name it. There is something more that
must be done, however. He can offer all of his
sacrifices—and in the case of having cancer he can offer
that up to God—through prayer to be made one with
the sacrifice, suffering, and death of Jesus for the spiritual
and corporal good of his family. This is a noble
Wives are called
to be the heart of their families and to never
give up. When a heart stops beating the body dies.
When the wife/mom is not present, loving, and serving the
family, the body of the family becomes decimated.
(Jim offers his list of the
“four greatest gifts parents can give to their children:”)
First of the greatest gifts
is to pass on the gift of faith in God,
leading by example, including the unswerving practice of one’s faith
and religion. The second greatest gift is a secure, enduring,
happy marriage between father and mother. The third greatest gift
is something children ask for often. The gift is unique,
and can never be repeated, but a similar gift can
be added approximately every year. Yes, the profound gift is
that of another child. The fourth greatest gift is that
of the parents, to the best of their ability, and
at the cost of sacrificing many things, being present to
and loving their children. No money, gifts, sports, or activities
will ever be able to substitute for our loving presence
with our children.
seems to be a virtue you have strongly cultivated in
your life, through God’s grace. Would you say
that is true, and why is that virtue so important?
(Excerpted from Healed Through
Cancer and other Adversities.)
To borrow a quip from Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen:
"If I were to tell you that I had reached
St Bernard’s ´twelfth step of humility´ then I am sure
I would be very proud of myself."
“The greatest among you must be your
servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles
himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11–12) Here we see again
that God’s ways are not naturally our ways. We are
called to be servants or slaves to others.
Humility is truth, the truth
of who we are, including the good and bad. The
truth is that we are beloved children of God, each
of us, no one excluded. This is assured. The truth
is also that God is God, and we are not.
He is our creator and savior, and He is all
In constant battle
with the virtue of humility is the ego or self.
We have a tendency of being self-centered. I have found
through experience that the best means of achieving humility is
through humiliations and the cross, especially those that God arranges
for us, which tend to cut the deepest into the
hidden regions of our being where the ego hides. Humility
is a key virtue. Other virtues are difficult if not
impossible to acquire without a meaningful measure of humility.
If our cup is full
of our ego and pride, then there is no room
for God to fill it. If, with God’s help, we
empty our cup of self, then there is room for
God to fill our cup with Himself and His virtues
of faith, hope, love/charity, prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. “And
from pride preserve your servant, never let it dominate me.”