My Angel Malachi.
The Lord Who Sees You.
The Cup Of The Water Of Paradise.
The Hidden Presence.
The Lord is Your Guardian.
The Shore of Heaven.
At the Crossroads.
The Lord's' Vagabond.
Your Eye is on the Sparrow.
Words of Wisdom from Heaven.
As it was in the Days of Noah…therefore, Stay Awake.
God the Savior of Those in Distress.
"Lo! How a Rose E'er Blooming".
Therefore, If Anyone Is In Christ, He Is A New Creation;
The Old Has Gone, The New Has Come!
Things Never Happen the Same Way Twice.
Jesus, Master, Have Pity On Us!
The Gate of Heaven.
Blessed be God in His Angels and Saints.
Jesus, I trust in You.
You Satisfy the Hungry Heart.
One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.
The Butterfly Coat.
Saint Patrick’s Breast-Plate.
The Good Shepherd.
His Rod and His Staff They Comfort Me.
The All Knowing and Ever Present God.
The Still Small Voice.
Sing a New Song Unto The Lord.
The Servant of God.
Until Death Do Us Part.
I Will Answer Them.
Lost and Found.
The Household of Faith.
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Sing a New Song Unto The Lord.
It has been many months since I wrote an account in this Blog/Website. It was at Christmas-time. Now we are already approaching Holy Week and Easter, 2012! So much has occurred since then in my walk with Jesus that I have not been able to write even one story for you. Yet, today I feel that Jesus would like me to share what we have been doing together over these last few months!
The Lord Jesus surprised me immensely! In January, He gave me a wonderful gift – the GIFT of SONG. Perhaps you have been reading some of the song lyrics that I have posted in this Blog/Website? In time I would like to share with you the beautiful music that accompanies all these lyrics. I am learning how to write them on music score paper. I have finished nearly 20! It has been a labor of love! I hope that soon I may also be able to post some videos of the songs on this Blog. All the music and lyrics have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. This surely has been one of the riches experiences in my life. It is as if the floodgates of heaven were opened and the lyrics and music poured down into my heart from Jesus’ Sacred Heart.
Sing to the Lord a new song
Sing to the Lord all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Announce His salvation day after day. (Psalm 96: 1-2)
Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy (Psalm 33:3)
Since January when I unexpectedly received this “gift of song” from the Lord, the Holy Spirit has enlightened my understanding to see His hand at work over the years in order to prepare me to receive this marvelous gift. In December a lady from my church, Victoria, who I was just beginning to get to know, received a locution while adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament at the hour of mercy, 3 pm on Friday 16th, 2011. She called me to tell me that she had received a specific message for me from Jesus and Mary. The message was very detailed. I was truly amazed as she shared it with me, as I had never received a message like this from anyone before. Amongst the many topics mentioned in this “personal prophesy” were these words, which she told me were spoken by Jesus to me: “Remember, I have given you a gift.” Victoria asked me what gift Jesus might be referring to. I told her that I did not know.
I wondered what Jesus meant by those words. Of course, I know that everything in life is a gift from God. We are all blessed from the moment of conception with an infinite number of gifts from our Lord: life itself, and all material and spiritual blessings. But it seemed that He was referring to something in particular. And at that moment, I did not know what He meant. Since then, however, the Lord clarified the mystery of His words by revealing to me that this gift of song had been put into my heart from the moment God had created my soul and it was now that He was drawing it out for His own glory and to share this joy with me!
This is why He said it in these words: “Remember, I have given you a gift”. When I was still in my teenage years, I loved music, studied the piano and played the works of the great classical composers. I sang in three different choirs, and taught myself to play the guitar, joined a high school rock band, formed my own little pop band called “Keys”, and tried to write some songs with a best friend who had a knack for lyrics. I loved music then and it filled me with happiness. In those early years of my life I was far from God and had no personal relationship with Jesus Christ. At that time, I did not appreciate that music comes from God – that the Lord is the Author of music. The seven perfect notes ( or the” octave” which includes the first of the next repeating seven notes) are like numbers. They originate in God and are infinite, and they are a creation and expression of His wisdom, knowledge, power, glory, majesty and beauty.
In those youthful days I enjoyed music but I gave no thought or praise to the One from who it comes. I went off to college at New York University and continued to be involved in music. I managed a local rock band in Manhattan for a year, endeavoring to make them known by booking them into local clubs in the city and seeking a recording opportunity for them. I took a course at NYU called “Music Business and Technology”. I spent all my college summers in London going to clubs and concerts and hanging out with musicians and English rock bands and people in the music industry there. I was immersed in this secular music world and had dreams of entering into the business of music. I never gave a thought to God during those years and like so many others I was living a sinful and self-centered life.
For reasons I cannot fully explain, during my last year of the university in New York , the entire direction of my life changed, and I drifted from the world of music and found myself pursuing another career direction. I went to London and began a study of international business, earning my MBA. I came home to America and found a job which put me on a course towards a career in international banking. My earlier dream of pursuing a future in music faded into history.
Three decades went by! During all those years I never played the piano, even though I had one in my house. When I moved with my family at age 48 from the USA to Israel in 2008 I simply gave away my old piano and all the books of music that had been stuffed away in cupboards for so many years. I assumed that I would never play again as I hadn’t touched the instrument since the late 1970’s! Even further from my thoughts was the idea that I would ever compose a new song! I had written a few simple songs in high school, but that was so long ago – it was, as they say, “in another life!”
During my time in Israel when I was going through some very hard trials, the Lord sent across my path a man who loved music. We became friends and shared our Catholic faith, the faith the Lord called me into in 2004. This fine gentleman, Edgar, also shared his immense joy of classical music with me. He told me stories, played his favorite CD’s for me, gave me private “recitals” in his home and invited me to some performances of the Israel Philharmonic and professional piano recitals in Haifa. Through my new friend’s passion for music the Lord moved in my heart to re-ignite the flame of the long dormant love of music in me. I began to listen to the great masters’ classical works on the radio and on CD’s. Jesus made use of music at that time to console my heart and give me bursts of joy which sustained me through some very difficult times I was undergoing in those first couple of years of living in Israel.
One day I was walking along the Mediterranean Sea in prayer. My heart was overflowing with gratitude to the Lord for the gift of music to the world which I had been recently enjoying thanks to Jesus bringing Edgar into my life in those otherwise dark days. In a moment of profound thanksgiving, I stooped down to the sand and picked up a shell. I began to write in the sand the names of all the composers I could think of whom the Lord had given the great gift of music and to which they each had responded by receiving the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and giving their entire lives to create and compose the music which God put into their hearts. Name after name was marked into the sand and I worshipped the Lord for His creating these human-beings, Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Handel, Chopin, the Beatles, and all the others throughout the centuries who through their music and songs became a blessing to mankind as they cooperated with the Spirit of God to make the music we enjoy.
About a year later, our family moved back to America. I bought a new piano. My daughter and I began to take lessons. I practiced all the classic masters’ works and regained my piano -playing “fluency” over a 6 month’s period. I also enjoyed hearing all the show tunes and contemporary songs my teenage daughter was playing. In January I was speaking to my piano instructor and mentioned that as a teenager I had a passion for music and even wrote a simple song or two but that somewhere along the way I had drifted into other things. I had lost my way from music at that time. However, years later I found my way back to God.
I mentioned to my teacher quite casually that I would love to write a song. He replied, “You need inspiration to write music.” I heard what he said but at that moment I did not fully grasp the truth of this statement. A few days later, the Lord “mysteriously and secretly” flooded my heart with inspiration and song after song began pouring out. This has been continuing for three months and my joy cannot be described. I am so grateful to Jesus. All the songs are from His Sacred heart to mine. He is the Author and He is the subject.
Lyrics to the “Eternal Song”
(written by Ann from Jesus’ Sacred Heart!)
Angels lift up their praise to the Throne of God
Singing through endless days the Eternal Song
Angels with one voice sing to the Lord Most High
Saints bow down and bend their knee to join the heavenly throng.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Glory be to God.
There stands the Lamb of God, at the Father’s side.
Lord of all heaven and earth, Savior of Mankind.
Near Him the Virgin waits , her heart with love aflame.
To take His graces forth to children of His Name.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Glory be to God.
Sing too you holy souls, in fires pure as gold.
Your love is growing strong, soon Him you will be hold.
Come now O Spirit of God and fill our hearts with love.
That we who are still on earth may praise as those above.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Glory be to God.
The Servant of God.
Recently the Church celebrated Good Shepherd Sunday. During Holy Mass Our Lord reminded me of an experience we shared in Jerusalem a few years ago. I’d like to tell it to you.
I was undergoing some hard trials in my life at that time. I had recently moved from my homeland to Israel and was still feeling very isolated, not yet having found a community in which to belong. I was suffering from a serious marriage crisis which caught me by surprise and precipitated our sudden move abroad. I had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and also had to handle many months of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. My two pre-teen daughters were distressed by all of these unexpected and traumatic life events taking place in our family and were depressed and anxious. I was dealing with their fears, working to repair our marriage through forgiveness and trying to find my place in a foreign country.
Jesus was with me through all of these challenges. His grace sustained me and upheld me.
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
(2 Corinthians 12:9)
One particular day, my heart was heavy and my spirit was drooping, and the Holy Spirit urged me to go up to Jerusalem to seek Jesus’ consolation. I drove the hour and a half to Jerusalem from the coastal town where I was living. I entered through the Damascus Gate into the Old City. The words from Psalm 122, “Our feet are standing within thy gates, O Jerusalem” came to my mind and my heart rose for a moment. I began walking the Via Dolorosa towards the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. I thought that I could find a priest at the church with whom I could talk. Passing through the Christian Quarter I turned a corner and an unknown man approached me. My heart that day had felt as heavy as lead. The man smiled at me and invited me to step into his store.
My first thought was that he was going to try to pressure me to buy something as do most of the shopkeepers in the Old City when tourists pass by their stores. However, his kind smile and gentle manner disarmed me and without thinking any further I followed him inside. He led me to the very back of the store and invited me to sit down on a comfortable couch. I sat and looked around. The man’s shop was filled with fine oriental rugs and beautiful antiques, old copper coffee pots, brass tables and wooden chairs and other lovely items. This was not some tacky souvenir shop, or one of the typical stores aimed at Christian tourists filled with the usual wooden carvings, ceramic plates, or religious trinkets like so many that are situated in that Quarter.
He sat down next to me. He didn’t say a word about his merchandise. I felt very relaxed in his presence. He began to speak with me as if we were old and dear friends. With sincerity he asked me about how I was feeling. When I shared with him my sadness he had compassion and began to encourage me. As he was talking to me I felt cared for and my soul felt peace.
After a little while he politely excused himself and asked me to wait for him there. He left the store. Not once did I think of leaving. I trusted him. I felt so at home. A short while later, he returned carrying a tray with a cup of tea and a sandwich and invited me to eat and drink. I was hungry so I ate what he had generously presented. Never once did he ask me to look at his merchandise. Never once did he try to sell me anything. His words were gracious and he expressed deep empathy.
After I had finished eating, he excused himself a second time and I sat there alone enjoying the hot tea. When he returned he was carrying something large that was wrapped up. He told me to close my eyes. I obeyed. As he laid the heavy item on my lap he told me that this was his most valuable possession. Then, he told me to open my eyes. I looked down and lying on my lap was a very old illustrated Bible! The pages were yellow and the leather binding was decaying. I was afraid for him to open it as it looked so fragile. He looked at me and to my amazement he said: “Now, I am going to bless you.” He opened the Bible to a page in the middle of the book and then instructed me to place my hand on top of the illustration. The beautiful illustration was of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. In this image He was holding two lambs, one on each arm. The kind man then proceeded to bless me.
This man did not know that this particular image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, holding not one, but, rather, two lambs in His arms was a special personal “sign” for me of Jesus’ presence. Jesus had given this to me during my journey of breast cancer. In my story, “The Good Shepherd,” which you can read in this website, I relate the amazing account of that other experience with Jesus.
After the man blessed me, he asked me whether I would like to know his name. I said I did. Then he told me. “My name is Obad (Obadiah) which means, “The Servant of God.” This was the second amazing encounter I had in Israel with a man named “Obad (Obadiah) ” or “Servant of God” through whom the Holy Spirit was working in a mysterious yet most evident way. (Please read my other account in this website: “The Cup of the Water of Paradise” about the other Obadiah I encountered in 2006. He put the question –answer to me in the exact same manner.)
Obad then lifted up the Bible from my lap and handed it to me and told me to take it home! Impossible! He was telling me to take his most treasured possession and just walk away with it. Joy had been steadily filling my being the entire time I was with this man. Now my heart was overflowing with joy. He bound up the beautiful Bible and handed it to me. Then he embraced me, and told me, “I love you, keep smiling.”
I left his store bewildered but filled with an exceeding joy. I clutched the precious book to my chest. My smile felt on my face as big and radiant as the full bow of the rainbow after the storm when the sun comes out in its full strength. Skipping all the way back through the Old City streets to the Damascus Gate my intense joy must have been as evident to the people I was passing as that of King David’s as he danced with abandon, full of the Holy Spirit, before the Ark of the Covenant as the Israelites were carrying it up to Jerusalem.
Two weeks later, I returned to Jerusalem and found my way back to the store to give Obad back his magnificent treasure. He was not there, so I left it safely with his brother. I was still smiling!
Until Death Do Us Part.
The other day I was folding the huge pile of my family's laundry. I offered this mundane ordinary household task to our Lord for shear love of Him when I asked Jesus, "What would You desire for me to me write in order to witness another of Your many precious blessings to all those who may not know of Your merciful and boundless love?" I added lightheartedly, "Well, let's think on this together!'" And then I turned around to pick up another piece of clothing from the floor to fold when my eye caught sight of the bedroom wall where a large framed portrait of me in my wedding dress at the age of twenty-five was hanging. I beamed broadly as the Holy Spirit gave me an immediate understanding upon glancing at the portrait what Jesus would have me next share with you.
My husband and I celebrated our twenty-seventh wedding anniversary on June 8, 2012. We met in 1982 as foreign students living in London. I had come from America to do my graduate studies. My future husband, a Palestinian from a poor Muslim family from an Arab town in central Israel had come to London the year before me. He had come to London from Jerusalem where he had been working since leaving his village to what he hoped would be a new life full of many opportunities. We were both about 22 years old. I found a small studio near Marble Arch and moved into it the weekend before classes began.
That particular Sunday morning I spontaneously decided to walk across nearby Hyde Park and go alone to a museum on the other side of the park. (On Sundays I did not go to church. Although I had been baptized as a toddler in my mother’s Norwegian Lutheran church and sent to Sunday school until the time of my confirmation at age 13, I had never formed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As a teen-ager and later as a college student and then a graduate student I lived a very worldly life far from God.) As I walked back across Hyde Park I arrived at Speaker’s Corner and there I saw a large group of people gathered around one man who was standing on a soap box speaking to the crowd about foreign affairs. In particular he was discussing the Israeli – Lebanese – Palestinian war which had broken out during that summer of 1982 and a terrible massacre of men, women and children in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon that had occurred. I stopped and listened for a while to a conversation he was having with one young American student about this subject.
Although I had left the Lord years ago by my life choices, He had not abandoned me! As compassion moved within my heart - all love and goodness has its origin in God - I felt the suffering of all these peoples caught up in a brutal war – their struggle, their pain, their yearning for justice, for acceptance, for dignity, for security, for peace, for hope, for life.
I could not hold back any longer. I felt compelled to lift my hand to indicate to the speaker that I too had something to share with those gathered there. I spoke words arising and flowing from God’s love and mercy even though I did not realize this as His presence at that time. In the back of that crowd was a young man who approached me from behind when the session had come to an end and the crowd was dispersing. He was “attracted” to me because of the words of understanding and compassion that I had spoken. The young man wanted to get to know me. Yet, in truth, it is the Lord he really heard – the Spirit of love and goodness – the One all our hearts innately desire to know.
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through Him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is brought to perfection in us.
This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us, that He has given us of His Spirit...
God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him… We love because He first loved us… for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1st John 4)
And so began the journey of our lives together. We fell in love and thinking that was valid enough reason, we moved into my little studio at Marble Arch “knowing” each other but not “knowing” God. At that time we were spiritually ignorant of the truth that every human being is called to live a life of godliness in reflection of the glorious image of their Holy Creator.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."
2 Peter 1:4
By which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the Divine Nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Both of us having long before turned from the spiritual truths taught to us in our youth and following the ways of the world our consciences became dim over the years. We came to believe that it was acceptable to have sexual relations before marriage and to cohabitate. Our minds had been re-fashioned according to the pervading ungodly modern secular world view and we had lost the sense of sin.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…( Ephesians 2:1-22)
At Easter-time 1983 during the University break we decided to make a romantic trip to Rome. Neither of us had ever visited the Eternal City before.
One night we went out dancing and drank way too much wine. We woke up the next day close to dinner time, completely disoriented to the time and place. We regretted our foolish behavior, but not out of shame that our actions offended our holy and loving Heavenly Father, but rather because we both had headaches and felt sick.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
One afternoon we went to the Trevi Fountain where we threw three coins into the waters vowing to each other that we would get married and one day return back to Rome to throw three coins in the fountain again after having been married. Even though we were far from God at that time, in His long-suffering and merciful love He would never forsake us. He would continue to call us patiently and perseveringly to eventually draw us back to Himself.
One afternoon we went to St Peter's, not out of any religious motivation, but as tourists. The exact time we happened to walk into St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II was processing across the courtyard. What a "coincidence” that we had arrived at that exact moment to see the Holy Father at very close proximity completely in the open. We took an entire roll of film.
We were excited to see, not the Vicar of Christ, nor the visible Head of Christ's Universal Church, nor the Supreme Pontiff of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church or the beloved Holy Father to more than a billion Christians, but for both of us at that time, simply a "famous personality" for whom we had no particular sentiment. But one day, many, many years later after having being pursued in long-suffering, passionate, merciful love by the Heavenly Bridegroom, I would turn my whole being back to the Jesus of my childhood to receive His total forgiveness for my multitude of sins and so enter into the joyful intimacy of “knowing” Him – who is the Divine Lover of my soul. I can clearly see the tender Hand of the steadfast God gently holding and guiding my (and my husband’s life) throughout all these years and I understand that there is no such thing as "coincidence.”
We completed our studies in London and together moved to America. In 1985 after cohabiting for three years, we were married in the protestant church of my childhood for sake of “tradition.” I still recall the good efforts of the dedicated pastor who tried so hard to share the truth of the Gospel with us, but we still did not have "ears to hear."
Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God…
And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: "A sower went out to sow His seed. And as He sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold." When He had said these things He cried, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!..."
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved…. (Luke 8)
Nonetheless, the good pastor performed the rite of "holy matrimony" before the living God and Lord of Heaven whom we did not yet know or recognize at that time of our lives. Yet, we entered into our marriage with full knowledge of our actions and complete sincerity towards each other intending our solemn vow to be binding "until death do us part."
Like most married couples, we experienced times of joy and passion, times of hardships and dryness, times of closeness and alienation and lack of communication, times of triumphs and grave moral failures towards each other. Careers began, children were born, illness struck, vows were broken and forgiveness was offered… Over three decades we had experienced nearly everything possible – good and bad - in a marriage. Without the grace of God, we could not have made it.
About 15 years into our marriage I began to follow Christ after He sought me, a lost sheep, and found me, carrying me as His little lamb and gently leading me into His Holy Catholic Church. The years after my conversion were extremely challenging years with my husband who remained an avowed atheist. The hard words of Jesus were fulfilled in our case:
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.
For I have come to set a man 'against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be those of his household.'” Matthew 10:35-36
After coming into the Catholic Church I began to pray for a miracle. I prayed alone secretly to Jesus that by our 25th wedding anniversary which would take place in June of 2010, the Lord would bring about a change of heart in my husband, and would bless me by giving us the extraordinary gift of a renewal of our 25th wedding vows in the Catholic Church. While I prayed for this dream to come true, in all honesty I could never imagine it as a reality, even with all the faith I had. How little faith we really have! How little we trust our all- powerful Lord! I hoped for it, but I did not believe it would come to pass. It would be an unimaginable miracle!
One morning my husband woke having had a powerful dream. He dreamed that we were renewing our wedding vows. I was astounded and began to wonder what Jesus may be doing. My husband until that moment did not know about my secret prayer that I had been praying since coming into the Catholic Church in 2004. Only the Lord knew this! After his dream, I told him of my secret prayer of all these years.
the suffering in our marriage and the work of forgiveness, his heart had been softened and he was able to receive this!! He told me he would be willing to renew our marriage vows in Church! This was the first part of my prayer being answered by our Lord Jesus – that He brought about a softening and change of my husband’s heart through our sufferings and through the mercy and forgiveness that only God (Jesus) makes possible.
The Lord used our suffering to move us to Israel a few months later. After my husband’s mysterious dream and my revealing my secret prayer to him - as I could now share spiritual things with him in conversations for the first time - I could openly begin to try to make an arrangement to renew our 25th wedding vows in the Catholic Church. So I wrote a letter to a close friend in Rome asking him for his help to set up something thing special for us for this occasion. At one point he contacted me and told me that he was working on something extraordinary! He was trying to set things up so that we could come to Rome and join a small group to receive a papal blessing from Pope Benedict XVI our marriage. How exciting!
The months passed and the summer of 2009 approached. I received a call from Claudio, my Roman friend a few days before heading home to America to visit my parents that summer. He told me very sadly that he had tried everything to set up this blessed event during the entire year, but that his “inside” contact, had just been moved from their official post and all his hard efforts to “make it happen” had come to naught. He had come to a “dead end.” He expressed how terribly sorry he was to disappoint me. Oh well, I guess it not supposed to happen, I thought.
I left for the USA and arrived in New Jersey. The very next day I went to the local Catholic Church in my parents’ town for a daily mass. A short, stocky Italian-American monsignor had celebrated Mass that day. I did not know him. He must have recognized that I was a visitor and not one of his regular daily mass attendees. He came over to me and greeted me warmly. We spoke a few minutes, and he mentioned Rome and Italy. I responded casually that I had been planning to make a trip next year with my husband after 28 years since our first and only trip together of 1982 as young students. I shared with him that we would make a type of pilgrimage back to the Trevi Fountain to throw three coins in it to fulfill the vow we made before we married. I shared about our fateful “coincidental” encounter with Pope John Paul II in front of St Peter’s during that long-ago trip years and years before I would return to the Jesus of my childhood or could ever imagine He would bring me into His Church.
I told him nothing of my recently dashed hopes concerning Claudio’s failure to set up a renewal of our 25th wedding vows in Rome nor the secret prayer I had made for years after coming into the Catholic faith for that purpose, nor all the suffering in my marriage, nor the conversions of hearts that the Lord worked which brought things to this point. Suddenly, the Monsignor said to me, I can make arrangements for you and your husband to celebrate your 25th renewal of wedding vows at St Peter’s with a private mass. I was astounded! I couldn’t believe this was happening! My joy was uncontainable! I then shared with the Monsignor the entire sequence of events. Now, I would wait to see if he would indeed follow up with his offer. He did. He sent me emails throughout the year apprising me of all his efforts. He identified a priest in Rome who would be the one to say the private mass for us and who renew our vows at St Peter’s Basilica. The priest began communications with me from Rome to Israel. We had at first made plans to have the mass exactly on our wedding anniversary date of June 8.
As June 8, 2010 approached, we realized that travelling to Rome during that week would be difficult as our two daughters would still be in school. So we agreed with the priest to set the mass up during Easter week when they would be out of school for the Easter holiday. We travelled to Rome during Easter week 2010. Early one morning we met the priest at St Peter’s Basilica. The sun was just coming up over the horizon behind the great Basilica. I entered the sacred space with immense joy in my heart as I reflected on all that the good Lord did to bring us to this place and this point in our lives. What gratitude and adoration I felt. He had accomplished the seemingly impossible. He had brought us together through His Spirit, given us two beautiful daughters as the fruit of our love, guided us and protected us all through the years, waited for us, called us, sustained us in our trials, sufferings, agonies, transformed us, blessed us…….and here we were at His doing. Praise you Lord for your unfathomable love!
The priest vested for the mass. He led us to one of the altars inside the great Basilica that had been assigned to him that morning for our private mass. We approached the niche which was the altar of St Thomas. Above the altar was a massive oil painting of St Thomas putting his fingers into the side of the Risen Christ after His Resurrection. I thought to myself in that instance, “how appropriate ” as my husband ( although now with a new heart towards me and respectful of my life of faith) did not yet outwardly believe or profess faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord, God and Savior.
A moment before the priest would begin the private mass for my family of four, an unknown woman approached me and leaning towards my ear, she whispered, “Do you doubt?” I was surprised that she should come up to us in the way she did, being that this was a private mass, and further, I was taken aback by her question. My first reaction was to think she was speaking about my husband’s unbelief. And so I responded to her quietly and quickly, “No, I do not have any doubts, but my husband does.” She then said to me, “May I join you in this mass? I will pray for your marriage and family.” Of course, I gladly accepted that she join us.
The priest celebrated a beautiful mass during which my husband and I renewed our wedding vows and received a special blessing on our marriage and love in the presence of the Lord and our children and the mysterious woman. At the end of the mass, the woman said, “Let us sing a song to the Lord in thanksgiving!” She began to sing a hymn, one of my favorites, of which I knew all the words, “How Great Thou Art,” and I joined her in loud voice expressing all my love and gratitude to our great God who does all things well!
In these past two years I have pondered often on this extraordinary “intruder” to our private mass, and this remarkable stranger’s words to me, “Do you doubt?” I do not yet fully comprehend this mysterious encounter. I have come to believe that it is much deeper than I at first understood. I believe that the questioned posed to me is less about my husband than myself. Do I believe all that Lord has done? Do I truly believe he will bring my husband to a good confession of Faith? Do I trust the Lord fully on my own faith journey?
So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord."
But he (Thomas) said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you."
Then He said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see My hands, and bring your hand and put it into My side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."
Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in His name.
John 20: 25-31
Two months after the private mass at St Peter’s in Rome during Easter, and few days before our actual 25th anniversary date of June 8, 2010, my dear friend Marianne and a priest friend Father Avitus from Tanzania who was visiting us in Israel were all together at En Kerem, the place of Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth. As we were walking up the hill towards the shrine church, from a distance we saw four other priests dressed in black at the top of the hill where the Magnificat plaques in all languages were hanging in the courtyard outside of the Church of the Visitation. One of the priests called down to me and inquired as to whether I spoke Spanish. I told him I did. We approached the four priests and we introduced ourselves briefly. Father Barry who had asked if I spoke Spanish never followed up on why he had asked me that. In other words, I did not translate anything for him. There was no evident need to ask for any help in Spanish as the Magnifact plaques were written in every language including English which the priests were all speaking together. Still to this day, I think back on the absurdity of his question! However, it served to bring us into conversation with them. Father Barry, a total stranger, then asked an extraordinary question to me. He asked, “When is your wedding anniversary.” I told him it was coming up on the next Tuesday, June 8, 2010, which was three days from that day. Bewildered, I asked him why he asked me this question. He responded, “I knew to ask.” He then told me that on that Tuesday coming up, June 8, the date of our 25th wedding anniversary, he would be in Rome and he would lift up my me and husband and our marriage to the Lord at the great Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI. Incredible!
It seems to me that this miraculous encounter with Father Barry was purposed by the Lord so that he could perfectly complete the good work that He had begun… from the first moment when his Spirit inspired my husband towards me in 1982, through all the years of our marriage, through inspiring my secret prayer for the renewal of our marriage vows in the Catholic Church, not only as it had been carried out in St Peter’s at the private Mass celebrated for this purpose during Easter, but to correct our alteration of the date to the exact day of our 25th wedding anniversary, June 8, 2010. Thus, in my heart I believe that Our Lord mystically con-validated our marriage in Rome on June 8, 2010 in this extraordinary way! Do I doubt? When I recall all this, how can I doubt? Jesus I trust in you!
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are His judgments and how unsearchable His ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been His counselor?" …. For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)
I Will Answer Them.
I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! (Psalm 55:22 NLT)
During these past five years, I have been dealing with many serious issues in my family: a mother with late stage cancer, a father who suffers from extreme anxiety, a daughter who suffers from depression and anxiety, an alcoholic sister, and my own experience of battling breast cancer, to name just some of the many trials I have had to face and intense worries for those I love. Jesus has stayed close with me and helped me gradually accept each of these challenges and struggles bringing me into His peace and giving me His calm assurance of His loving presence in the midst of these heavy storms of life.
This past August I took a trip to visit my dear friend, Marianne in her home country of Holland. One evening we paid a visit to one of her Dutch friends and shared a meal together. As the three of us are Christians we shared our faith in prayer and through exchanging some of our personal issues with each other and testifying to the goodness of the Lord in each of our lives. At one point during our conversation, AnnaLies said to me, “The Lord is working quietly behind the scenes.” She was reassuring me, with regard to my cares over the seemingly un-surmountable problems of my family that Our Lord was indeed at work concerning them. She encouraged me to “cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you…”(Psalm 55:22) and that I should trust Jesus even more and have stronger faith as "…with people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)
About a week after I returned home from Holland I attended a prayer group on a Thursday morning with a group of devout Catholic women, the majority of whom I had never met before. Towards the end of the prayer time two of the ladies went around to each woman and laid hands on each of the ladies present and prayed over us in the Holy Spirit. They came to me and prayed over me. They moved on to the woman seated next to me on my right and prayed over her and then on to the woman to her right and so forth. As soon as the woman to my right had been prayed over she turned to me and spoke to me privately, saying, “The Lord has something He would like for me to tell you. He said: He is working in a hidden way.” Upon hearing this word I was overjoyed. I had never met this woman before and she did not know me at all! I knew for certain, however, that through these words, the Holy Spirit was truly speaking to me to encourage my faith and trust in Him just as AnnaLies had exhorted me to do! Our Lord had communicated to me the same message that He was working mysteriously behind the scenes. We rejoiced together when I shared with her the previous word I had been given from the Holy Spirit through AnnaLies in Holland just a short while before!
I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! (Psalm 55:22 NLT)
After this experience I knew which should be the next account that Jesus would have me share with you. In 2006 I used to go to a particular Catholic gift shop in the town where I used to live at that time. I had come to be friendly with one of the sales assistants there. She was a grandmother. She knew that I was soon to leave on a trip to the Holy Land that summer and she requested of me that during my trip I would pray for her grandson who suffered from a serious degenerative illness. (I can’t recall which disease she said it was. I think it was spinal muscular atrophy.) She wrote the name of her grandson on a small piece of paper and gave it to me and asked that I place it in one of the holy shrines for her while I was in the Holy Land. I folded the little piece of paper with her grandson’s name on it and put it in my wallet assuring her I would pray to Jesus for her grandson’s healing and that I would leave the written prayer request in a special place in the Holy Land. I told her I would let the Holy Spirit guide me as to in which shrine I should leave her written prayer intention.
I left shortly thereafter for my trip to the Holy Land with my family. We visited our own extended family there and as was our custom during every trip we went around to all the holy places. During these travels, somehow I lost the little piece of paper with the grandmother’s prayer intention written on it. When I discovered I had lost the paper, I felt very sad. I felt so badly in my heart knowing how important this was for the grandmother, not only that I would pray for her grandson’s healing to Jesus at one of the most holy places which He had sanctified by His holy Presence there, but also that I should leave the prayer intention physically at one of the holy sites where Christ in His flesh had been while He walked on this Earth.
One day my husband and I drove to Mount Tabor, the place of the Transfiguration of Christ. While on the Mount I prayed to Jesus for my own husband’s conversion – that one day he would come to faith in Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. My husband at that time was a professing atheist. While we travelled together to all these holy Christian sites, he did so for purely for my benefit, (and may the Lord bless him for his expression of love to me in this wonderful way!) As we were descending the steep mountain by car down the winding road, a sudden and strong desire came into my heart. Many times we had been to Mount Tabor during past visits to Israel. Once down from the mountain back onto the flat land the highway passes a small village called NAIN. We had passed in our car by this village many, many times and had never entered into the village. At the entrance to the village of Nain is a brown tourist sign that marks the place as a biblical spot. As we were driving near to the village, the desire to enter it arose strongly in my heart. But I did not ask my husband to go in this time as during all the other visits to Israel when I had requested this to my husband he always gave some excuse not to enter. My heart was lifted high to the Lord with the strong desire to go into the village as we approached it along the highway. It was almost as if my heart was burning. To my utter astonishment, my husband slowed the car and said to me without my asking him, “Do you want to go in to see?” I couldn’t believe it! This was remarkable! In that moment, I knew full well in my heart it was the complete working of the Holy Spirit to move him to this action. But I had no idea why or what was in store for us.
We wound our way through the narrow small streets looking for a sign that would show us the way to the holy site somewhere hidden in the village. The village is no longer a Jewish or Christian village since the Islamic period. It is today a Muslim village. We searched the skyline and saw a high stone structure in the middle of the village. We headed for it. When we arrived at the building, we saw that it was an ancient church. The sign indicated it was part of the Franciscan Custody of Christian sites in the Holy Land. It was not being used for daily worship as the village has no Christians living there. We approached the historic church and rattled the big wooden door. It was locked. There was a small Arab house next to the church. A Muslim woman came out and my husband began to speak with her in Arabic. She explained that the church was closed. It was only opened for pilgrim groups by pre-arrangement through tour guides. She went into her modest home and returned carrying a large ancient key – the sort you might see in a movie depicting the middle ages. I was delighted. She was going to let us in to see this ancient shrine church which had been built to commemorate the miracle that Jesus performed in this little dusty village about 2000 years ago – the raising of the widow’s son.
Soon afterward He journeyed to a city called Nain, and His disciples and a large crowd accompanied Him. As He drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He was moved with pity for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and He said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst,” and “God has visited his people.” This report about Him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region. (Luke 7: 11-17)
The Muslim woman put the huge key into the keyhole and opened the door. My husband remained outside. He did not want to enter the church. I stepped through the huge wooden doorframe into the ancient solid stone church. Inside it was nearly bare. It had an altar with candles on it and a solitary kneeler for prayer positioned in front of the altar. It was cold and damp and austere. I kneeled on the kneeler and began my prayers recalling this tremendous miracle that Our Lord had performed out of his compassionate love and mercy and great power to raise the boy back to life and restore him to his grieving mother. I thought of the grandmother’s agonizing heart for her very sick grandson and recalled her prayer petition. I prayed for the boy’s healing and consolation for his grandmother’s suffering heart.
This sacred site was indeed most perfect to lift up in prayer the intention of the grandmother for her young chronically ill grandson. The Holy Spirit had led us to this special place by first inspiring my spirit with His burning fire to desire and lift a silent prayer in my heart while we drove toward the village of Nain, and simultaneously moving my husband’s heart to offer (against all his previous objections) to go into the little town and find the holy site. The Holy Spirit also moved the Muslim woman’s heart to go and get the key and open the door to us. When I found myself alone inside, it was only then that I thought to pray for the grandmother’s sick grandson because of the specific miracle that Christ did there of the raising of the boy to give back to his mother. All this was the work of the Holy Spirit because Our Lord loves us so much and cares for us and knows our heart’s desires and needs, even before we call on Him.
I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! (Psalm 55:22 NLT) Having finished my prayers alone in the old church I walked toward the big door to exit. Above the door hung a huge old oil painting of Jesus raising the widow’s son at Nain. Before I passed out of the doorway of the church the Muslim woman came in and smiling she grabbed my elbow and began to lead me back towards the altar. She did not speak to me assuming I would not understand Arabic. Instead she motioned with her hand in the action of one writing a note. And she pulled out a pen and piece of paper and indicated to me through sign language to write a prayer intention on it. And she then led me to the backside of the altar table where a smaller table was hidden where she pointed at all the written prayer intentions that had been left by pilgrims there! I was astounded. This kind Muslim lady could not know what I had just prayed about, nor that I had been given the charge to pray for a miracle healing for the grandmother’s very ill grandson, nor that I had previously lost her own hand-written prayer intention! I beamed a huge smile at the woman, knowing this was the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit. I hugged her and thanked her for the paper and pen which I had not asked for, nor hinted at in anyway, nor would I have ever known without her leading me of the hidden table full of such petitions on the back side of the altar. I joyfully proceeded to write out the prayer petition for the boy and place it on the altar table, it being the most perfect holy site in the Holy Land to place it! The Lord who knows all the secrets of our hearts wished to help me keep my promise to the grandmother, and to reveal his love and care for each one of us!
When I returned to America I shared this entire remarkable and miraculous account with the grandmother to encourage her in her faith in our merciful and powerful Lord who both heals and saves. I gave her a wooden cross carved from of olive wood of the Holy Land to give to her grandson and to tell him that the Lord sees him, loves him and cares for him. I have no doubt that our awesome Lord is caring for the boy perfectly!