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 Lords 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 Patricks 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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DREAMS & VISIONS
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The Good Shepherd.
Seven years ago at the time when I was about to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, I was leaving the little chapel which is inside the huge parish church. There, I had been adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. As I was departing the Adoration Chapel a tiny elderly woman approached me and bid me come with her into one of the back rooms of this large church and so I obediently followed her. She scurried toward a closet and opened the door and stepped inside and came out holding a holy card in her hand which she presented to me. On the holy card was an image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and as she handed it to me she said something like this:
“Jesus is your Good Shepherd who will carry you in His arm as His little lamb and lead you through the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ of this world into His Eternal life. Follow Him.”
The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures You let me graze; to safe waters You lead me;
You restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of Your name.
Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for You are at my side; Your rod and staff give me courage.
You set a table before me as my enemies watch;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life;
I will dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come
I did not know this elderly pious lady at that time and thus, what she said and did took me by surprise. At the moment she handed me the holy card and exhorted me to follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd, I was aware that I did not yet know Jesus in this way. As my Savior and Redeemer, as the Lover of my soul, as my good and great God, yes, in these ways I had come to know and love Him since my conversion just four years before; but not as a Good Shepherd. What does this truly mean, I wondered? At that precise moment I did not realize that the aged holy lady’s words to me were prophetic. It was not long afterwards that I began to encounter Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
But whoever enters through the gate is the Shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for Him, and the sheep hear His Voice, as He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.
When He has driven out all His own, He walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow Him, because they recognize His voice.
I am the Good Shepherd. A good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep…
I am the Good Shepherd, and I know Mine and Mine know Me…
and they will hear My voice, and there will be one flock, one Shepherd..
My sheep hear My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of My hand.
I entered into a period of hard trials one of which was being diagnosed with breast cancer. This diagnosis followed a series of mysterious events. Earlier that year, I was praying in my garden outside my home when the Holy Spirit brought to my mind that scene from the gospels where Our Lord multiplied the fishes and the loaves as the thousands were gathered before Him on the slope of the hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee. I saw “in spirit” the Lord break and bless the five loaves and the two fish and give them to His apostles in wicker baskets who then distributed them to the multitude who were heartily fed.
…Jesus …. withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by Himself. The crowds heard of this and followed Him on foot from their towns. When He disembarked and saw the vast crowd, His heart was moved with pity for them, and He cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples approached Him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves”. Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” But they said to Him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then He said, “Bring them here to Me,” and He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children. (Matthew 14: 13-21).
During my prayer the Holy Spirit gave me to understand that my Lord was asking me to do the same in this present age as His disciples did 2000 years ago – to receive Jesus, who is the Bread of Life, and bring Him to the hungry, sick, hurting, despairing, suffering, lonely peopleof the world and to feed them with Christ, who is the Living Bread that comes down from heaven. He was inviting me to take these souls into my heart and carry them in my “bosom baskets”. As Christ is living in me, as I receive Jesus, the Living Breadin the Holy Eucharist – in Holy Communion – thus, we, being One, it would be Jesus Himself who would carry these, His little lambs,in His strong arms upon His own bosom and lead these souls into eternal life with Him.
Go up onto a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings;
Cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God!
Here comes with power the Lord GOD, who rules by His strong arm;
Here is His reward with Him,His recompense before Him.
Like a Shepherd He feeds His flock; in His arms He gathers the lambs, carrying them in His bosom, and leading the ewes with care. (Isaiah 40: 8-11)
From that “light”of the Holy Spirit I began to place souls into the “bosom baskets” of my heart, gathering in family, friends and strangers to the Lord and praying for them daily. Months passed and the “baskets” became filled to over- flowing.
On the 13th of October I went to the a Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in New Jersey to join with thousands who had gathered there for the celebration of the “Miracle of the Sun”of Fatima of 1917. After the beautiful events of that day: the Holy Mass, the Rosary Procession, Confessions, I went to the Adoration Chapel and kneeling before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, moved deeply by the Holy Spirit, I touched my hands to my breast and stretched them outwards offering to Him all the souls that had been gathered into the“bosom baskets”of my heart. As I lifted them up to Him, the Holy Spirit moved me to offer myself to share in Jesus’ Passion for these souls.
“The Shepherd has gone before us into the valley of death and returned to lead His flock home”.
(From the Magnificat evening prayer for 8/31/11)
I recall the final words of my solemn prayer of that day:
Lord, if You accept this offering, I will not be afraid as I know You will be with me.
Jesus, Guardian of Your flock,
Be Yourself our constant Rock,
Make us strong by Your powerful Hand,
Strong as Zion’s mountain stand.
(from a Hymn)
I left the chapel and returned home with my soul filled with a deep joy and my heart was strengthened.
A month later I received a card in the mail from the local imaging center which reminded me that I should schedule my annual mammogram. I called and made an appointment on the first available date which happened to be December 8th. That day came and I realized that December 8th was a great feast day of the Church - the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and I attended Holy Mass. Afterwards I went to the imaging center for my scheduled mammogram. A few days later I received a call that I needed to have an ultrasound as something suspicious was seen on the images. Something abnormal was appearing on the image of the left breast over my heart. Was it a cyst? After a futile attempt to remove liquid from the “lump”, it was determined to be a hard mass. Was it cancer? A biopsy was ordered and remarkably the date for the procedure wasscheduled for my birthday on January 4. The nurse who was assisting the doctor noticed on the chart that on that particular it was my birthday and she said to me, “What a birthday present!” It was then, that the Holy Spirit gave me “light” to see that indeed, this was a precious gift from Jesus, the gift to share in His Passion for the salvation of souls. My offering prayer at the Shrine on October 13thwhich had been inspired by the Holy Spirit, to unite myself to the sufferings of Our Lord for the salvation of the souls which had been collected and carried in those “bosom baskets” of my heart – in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus –was being effected. I was flooded with a wondrous joy as I pondered this.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His body…( Colossians 1: 24)
The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us (Romans 8: 16-18).
The biopsy confirmed that I had invasive cancer, and this new journey of uniting my own physical and mental sufferings with our Lord Passion had begun. Less than three weeks later I had surgery. Afterwards, I met with my oncologist recommended that I have only radiation therapy as the pathology of the tumor lump and lymph nodesperformed during the surgery did not reveal any metastasis. Thus, he felt there would be no need for chemotherapy. In the oncology waiting roomwhich was filled with cancer patients of all ages and races I noticed a younger woman seated across from me. I felt drawn to her and so I asked her if she too had breast cancer. She told me that she did. I asked her name, and she told me “Donna” and to my astonishment she shared that her cancer unlike mine which had been detected very early in stage one, that her cancer was discovered very late. It had already spread and was classified as Stage 4 cancer, the most grave condition.My heart was overwhelmed with sadness as I considered how young she was, being only in her mid –thirties. She had shared with me that she was the mother of a very young son. Before Donna and I could converse any further a nurse called me to the doctor’s examining room. There, while waiting for the doctor to enter, I prayed fervently for Donna, begging our Lord to have mercy on her and heal her so that she could raise her son with faith in the merciful God who heals and saves us. Donna’s deepest agony concerning her illness was the thought of her young son being left without his mother should she die soon, which the doctors told her was probable due to the late stage of her cancer. They consider stage four cancer incurable and terminal. I had time to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for her as the doctor was delayed. In a deep impulse prompted by the Holy Spirit, I offered Jesus right there in that room to do anything that He willed concerning Donna – to unite any and all of the sufferings that I might experience during my upcoming cancer treatments with the Passion of Our Lord for Donna’s healing. I also vowed to help her in whatever way I could.
To You, O Lord, I call, my Rock, hear me.
If You do not heed I shall become like those in the grave.
Hear the voice of my pleading as I call for help,
as I lift up my hands in prayer to Your holy place….
Blessed be the Lord for He has heard my cry and appeal.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts.
I was helped, my heart rejoices and I praise Him with my song.
The Lord is the strength of His people, a fortress where His anointed find salvation.
Save your people; bless Israel Your heritage.
Be their Shepherd and carry them forever.
I didn’t know if I would see Donna again so I said to Jesus, “Lord, if it is Your will, you will bring us together.” When my time with the doctor was over, I went looking for Donna in the waiting room but could not find her. I was at the door ready to leave the oncology office when a nurse called out to me and told me that I should come back inside to have my insurance information processed by the secretary. I entered the inner office and approached the desk. Just then, Donna turned around. When I saw her, in my joy, believing that Jesus had just revealed His will to me in this situation, I blurted out to Donna my empathetic feelings for her and offered to help her in whatever way she might need. I gave her a holy card ( I believe it was Jesus, the Good Shepherd!). I wrote my name and telephone number on it and encouraged Donna to call me for anything as I wanted to help her to fulfill my promise to Jesus. After we parted I went immediately to the nearest Catholic Church in the vicinity of the hospital and prayed with many tears and pleadings to our Lord hidden in the Tabernacle that in His great kindness and mercy He would heal Donna and grant her heart’s desire to raise her son to adulthood. The doctors’ had told Donna and her husband that her life expectancy according to medical statistics was 6 months to 2 years for someone with stage four breast cancer. During this time of prayer the Holy Spirit however, showed me two sequential scenes from the Gospel of Mark.
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him, and He stayed close to the sea.
One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing Him he fell at His feet
and pleaded earnestly with Him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay Your hands on her that she may get well and live.”
He went off with him, and a large crowd followed Him and pressed upon Him.
There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak.
She said, “If I but touch His clothes, I shall be cured.”
Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from Him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched My clothes?”
But His disciples said to Him, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon You, and yet You ask, ‘Who touched Me?’”
And He looked around to see who had done it.
The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told Him the whole truth.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”
While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher any longer?”
Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
He did not allow anyone to accompany Him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, He caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.
So He went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.”
And they ridiculed Him. Then He put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with Him and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded.
(Mark 5: 21-42)
This prayer experience is still a mystery to me. I do not yet fully understand all that the Holy Spirit was revealing to me. I believe it is a message of hope for Donnathat in putting her faith in Jesus she too can be healed just as the woman with the issue of blood was healed as she clung to Jesus in faith. In the raising of Jairus’ daughter, while naturally it is impossible for the dead to come to life, with God all things are possible! Thus, we must continue to pray for Donna’s healing and for all those who are physically ill and also for those who are spiritually sick – dead in their sins and unbelief that they be healed and raised to new life in Christ!
I waited anxiously for six days, but Donna did not call me. On the seventh day, I had a follow up appointment with my oncologist as he had called me during the week to ask me to come back to his office to discuss beginning immediately a program of chemotherapy. Further test results on my tumor specimen had shown a high probability for my cancer to return and thus, the doctors were now recommending adjuvant treatment to prevent such a recurrence. This would mean that I would begin a twelve week period of chemotherapy after all. On that Friday, I went to the oncology office and to my great surprise the time of my appointment was the exact time of Donna’s weekly treatment. She was sitting in a chemo chair having her infusion as I walked by. We greeted each other and I told her that I was there for a chemotherapy consultation as I would be starting treatment immediately. She said, in reply, “I didn’t think you needed chemotherapy, just radiation?” I responded to her by pointing my finger towards the ceiling, and said something like this: “The Lord has a different plan. He seems to will that I share your experience.” A few days later Donna finally phoned me. She confided to me that she had said to God before seeing me again on that Friday in the doctor’s s office, “If I don’t see her again, I won’t call her!” The Lord had arranged that we see each other again and thus, Donna’s and my journey of faith together as “bosom buddies” carried in the arms of Jesus our Good Shepherd had begun.
As Donna and I got to know each other I learned from her that her last chemotherapy (which differs from her present weekly infusions) took place on October 13, 2006 – the same day of my offering prayer at the Shrine! A year later on October 2007, after I had completed all my chemotherapy and radiation, offering it to the Lord for Donna and all the other souls of the “bosom baskets”, we learned to our amazement that the Breast Cancer Resource Center had declared October 13 Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day! Even more amazing was that I received an invitation from the American Cancer Society inviting me to their “Celebration of Life” on October 13, 2007!
Coincidences? With God there are no coincidences. Donna and I view these as marvelous signs from our Lord of His love and care for us.
As the months and years passed many people joined with me in praying for a miracle of healing for Donna just like those the Holy Spirit showed me from the Gospel of Mark during my prayer for Donna. Whether the Lord will cleanse Donna from all cancer remains a mystery of God’s will. What is known is that Donna has long outlived the doctors’ pessimistic prognosis and through the grace of our Lord is still raising her son with faith and courage. She is entering her sixth year as a survivor as of this writing and I am entering my fifth.
You saw how the Lord your God carried you, as man carries his child, all along your journey until you arrived at this place (Deuteronomy 1:31).
And yet even more Jesus did to reveal His Presence with us and to encourage us to keep trusting in His endless love and healing power. One day in 2008 during a daily mass after having received Christ, the Living Bread, in Holy Communion, Jesus appeared to me in spirit as the Good Shepherd holding two lambs, one in each arm. This precious and tender vision of Jesus as my Good Shepherd caused my heart to fill with immense joy. Immediately afterwards, a man read out from the back of the chapel the communion antiphon of that day which I had not read in advance. My heart rejoiced as I heard him proclaim: “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.”
Sometime after that I was in another church and praying alone before Jesus in the Tabernacle. Normally, I entered through the big front doors. But because at that time in the later afternoon after Holy Mass had long ended, the front doors were locked, I went through the back doors where the nuns office was located. Sister let me in and told me that when I exited I should go out the front doors as they would lock automatically behind me. I went into the sanctuary of the very large church and knelt before Jesus in the Tabernacle. I was alone with Jesus there. When I was ready to leave, I bid Jesus farewell and not wanting to turn my back on Him in the Tabernacle as I walked towards the front doors, I walked backwards while facing the Tabernacle and kept telling Him of my love for Him. At the end of the aisle I said to Him while still facing the Tabernacle “Lord, I know you are here! Even though I can’t see you I love you and trust in you!”
Although you have not seen Him you love Him; even though you do not see Him now yet you believe in Him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8)
And when I turned around toward the big front doors to go out of the church, I was astounded. There before me was a huge image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, holding two little lambs, one in each arm on His bosom. This painting must have been recently hung there since my last visit to the church! I went out into the street “rejoicing with an indescribable and glorious joy.”
I have shared these mysterious and mystical experiences of Jesus my Good Shepherd with Donna, while she has shared her own with me, and together we reassure each other that Jesus, the Good Shepherd is always with us leading us to eternal life, carrying us, His little lambs in His arms on His bosom within His Most Sacred Heart.
His Rod and His Staff They Comfort Me.
The Lord is the best of Fathers. He cares for us, His children, with a Fatherly Love. He is the Good Shepherd shepherding His children to Eternal Life.
He doesn’t want us to fall into sin from the weakness of our flesh and be led astray by the Deceiver of humanity.
Yes, there is an Enemy of our souls who wants to destroy us and if it were possible to snatch us away from the Hands of Our Heavenly Father and take us down with him. Our Good Father calls on us to listen to His voice and obey His commands so that He may us lead safely through this earthly valley of the shadow of death into His Heavenly Kingdom of light.
Cast all your worries upon (the Lord) because He cares for you.
Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. ( 1st Peter 5: 7-9)
My sheep hear My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of My Hand.
My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s Hand.
The Father and I are one. ( John 10: 27-30)
In the Spring of 2006, I began to realize through the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit on my conscience that I had developed a bad habit. It had happened gradually without my awareness at first. I was enjoying an alcoholic drink (usually a glass of wine) daily. As the afternoon progressed I found myself thinking and looking forward to having this pleasurable beverage in the early evening. I liked the taste and the relaxation it produced in mind and body after a “long day.” Research seems to indicate that a glass of red wine daily is beneficial to our health. That’s fine in general. But in my case, I felt more and more convicted in my spirit by the gentle whispers of the Holy Spirit that my attitude of looking forward to having that one glass was no longer “detached” – no longer neutral – meaning, that it didn’t matter whether I had it or didn’t have it. I was aware that I had a “desire” and this “desire” was gaining a hold on me. Where did this desire come from? Where did the recurrent daily thought of wanting to have this glass of wine originate from? I learned later that it was temptation from the Devil. The Evil One had found a crack in which to slip in to attempt to draw me into his power. No doubt he desired to entice me into addiction in order to destroy me. He had been successful to do this to my own sister. I had opened this crack by not practicing diligently the virtue of temperance. I had indulged those early desires and did not resist them through the practice of self –denial or mortification and so a “habit” had formed. The Enemy of our souls saw this opportunity and intensified his attack with strong temptations. My flesh, now being pummeled by the Tempter, and my spirit, which was being wooed by the Holy Spirit, were warring.
On June 21rd, 2006 I poured a glass of red wine and went upstairs to my bedroom to relax, pray and read a book for an hour before dinner. It was about 6 o’clock in the evening. I set the glass down on the bedside table not yet having taken a sip. I lifted my heart to Jesus and began to pray silently and offer my love to Him. After some time in adoring Jesus in this way, I was stunned when in the midst of my praise, I heard clearly a strong and commanding Voice say to me interiorly, “Stop drinking!”
Is that You, Lord saying this to me? I asked. No, it is not really You, I said to myself, and I tried to dismiss the “Word” that had been spoken to me. My flesh didn’t want to hear that! I tried to ignore the “Command”, and so I opened my book to the page where I had last left off reading. I had been reading a book called, “The Miracle of the Illumination of all Consciences” by Thomas W. Petrisko. I had finished reading chapter 13 and so I opened to page 115, and began reading Chapter 14 so as to take my mind off that “Order” that I had just heard.
The Chapter began with a verse of Scripture:
“Your commandment we have not heeded or observed, nor have we done as You ordered as for our good. Therefore, all You have brought upon us, all You have done for us, You have done by a proper judgment.” ( Daniel 3:30-31).
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read those verses! I knew the Lord was speaking to me! Still, I hesitated to heed and obey Him immediately. He was calling me in His love and mercy to change my ways for my own good. Oh how my flesh was so stubborn. How I could be so rebellious to the One who loves me so tenderly and infinitely? – the Father who cares for the total well-being of His little child, the Good Shepherd who desires to safeguard His little lamb from the lion who would devour her, and the Holy Spirit who gently yet persistently shines his Light into the dark recesses of His little one’s conscience to guide her “into all Truth” – the truth about her own self and the evil schemes of the Enemy who hates her and wants to destroy her because she is a child of God.
So I continued reading chapter 14 in the book. This chapter contained the testimony of Dr. Frank Novasack, Jr.
The doctor had a dream on December 31, 1999 which was recorded in chapter 14. Here is what he wrote and what I read immediately after hearing the Lord speak to me, commanding me to “Stop drinking” which I wanted to rationalize to myself that I did not hear, and therefore, I would not have to obey.
“In my dream I felt as though I was close to death and a coming judgment and I sensed I was traveling to the place of judgment. There were others with me …I sensed I was going to Purgatory or to Hell and I feared that it was possibly Hell. I found myself getting on an elevator….The elevator descended many levels and suddenly I realized that I was possibly getting close to Hell. I became very frightened about where I was going…Finally I arrived in this big underground conference auditorium that had a large audience of people in it…On a stage like platform, like a judge’s bench…as I watched I realized that it appeared that a judgment of some kind was occurring, and that there was a great level of suffering being experienced by the people in the audience. I noticed the people were suffering mentally upon the realization of the sins they had committed, more than anything else. I also understood that they were being shown how they had offended God and how this hurt God.
I then noticed a young lady…being lectured to about her sin. Once again, I felt a keen, almost painful awareness of sin and mental grief which outweighed any physical suffering over the offense toward God. The speaker addressed this lady about her alcoholism and how it had led her into further sin. But she was in denial and yelled back to the speaker that it wasn’t that bad and that she didn’t feel like she’s done anything wrong. “I didn’t do anything so bad….I didn’t do anything so bad,” I heard her say…
As the “judgment” continued, I continued to watch. I eventually woke up in a panic quite shocked by the dream. I was shaken for days after this and still remember it very clearly. From it all, I was left with a deep understanding of how our smallest sins offend God and how intense the psychological and emotional component of our “judgment” will perhaps be. I also felt I was made aware of how this all is related to the “act of contrition” that we say during confession.
When I finished reading the account of the doctor’s dream, I jumped from my bed, carried the un-drunk glass of wine downstairs to the kitchen and poured it into the sink thanking the Lord for His love and care for me to show me the truth of my weaknesses and carelessness which the Enemy would use to my destruction, if I did not heed the Lord’s merciful rebuke.
The LORD is my shepherd.
….to safe waters You lead me;
…You guide me along the right path for the sake of Your name
Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for You are at my side;
Your rod and staff give me courage…
Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. ( Psalm 23).
From that very day, I abstained from all wine and alcoholic drink for many months in obedient love and gratitude to my Savior for rescuing me from the snares of the Devil. I fervently desired to heed Jesus’ warning and with His grace to break any attachment that had developed by my negligence of the virtue of temperance and which had resulted in this bad habit. The Enemy had hoped by seizing upon this bad habit he would have a strong foothold to tempt me still further and ultimately entrap me in the tight bonds of addiction as he does to so many of his unwary prey.
But we know this truth, for those who turn to the Lord and obey Him:
You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them , for the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1st John 4:4)
Five years passed. As of this writing I am once again mortifying my passions out of grateful love to my Savior. We can so easily slip back if we are careless in our pursuit of holiness. The Holy Spirit began to prick my conscience again. He was warning me that I was letting my guard down and being careless by once more making a habitual practice of indulgence in an evening drink. How easily and willingly we try to excuse or delude ourselves that “all is just fine”…. The echo of the words which the woman in the doctor’s extraordinary dream came to my mind…. “I didn’t do anything so bad.” I could hear the Spirit of Truth’s admonitions to me within my spirit, “don’t give the Enemy any room to maneuver”.
As the Holy Spirit was continuing to gently yet insistently counsel me in the necessity and profit of denying the urges of the flesh, mortifying the passions, and practicing the virtue of self-denial….. last week following the Mass I attended a devotion to St Rita that the church offered to the parishioners. The devotional program was led by an elderly lady. The relics of St Rita were placed on the communion rail and we were invited to venerate them and pray to our Lord for our needs with the intercession of St Rita. Then, each one waited in turn to approach the elderly lady to be anointed with holy oil and receive a blessing invoking Our Lord through St Rita. I was last in the line. Everyone had left and I approached the elderly lady for the blessing. I am new to this church and the woman knew nothing about me or my life. I stood before her and she anointed me with oil while I asked her to pray for me and my family. And then she looked deeply at me and said, “the Scriptures say, some kinds come out only by prayer and fasting.”
She was referring to the verse in the Gospel of Mark relating to the disciples’ question to Jesus as to why they were unable to cast out a particular evil spirit.
He told them, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.” ( Mark 9:29)
And then she added, “Perhaps the Lord is asking you to give up something specific as a sacrifice? You don’t have to tell me what it is.”
I was utterly astonished and I knew that this was a Word from Jesus being spoken to me through this pious lady. She knew nothing in and of herself of my present inner struggle against the Tempter and Destroyer of souls. Yet, the Lord used her as His instrument to speak this specific Word of exhortation to me against intemperance and to invite me to practice self-denial for love of Him. My loving Heavenly Father desired to protect me from the harm the Enemy was once again plotting against me.
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left (Jesus) until an opportune time.
I “confessed” to the lady right there in the church everything about the “warfare” between my flesh, the devil and my spirit and told her that I was clearly hearing Our Lord speaking through her to me. I said I would obey Jesus immediately and cooperate with His grace. The next day, our Blessed Mother gave me to understand that I should abstain from all alcoholic drink for a month and bring this offering to Our Lord on the great feast day of Our Lady of Fatima on October 13. So I am now in this period of self-denial and mortification believing for special graces at the day of the great feast of the Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima. How wonderful is our Lord who guards His children and delivers us from evil, and patiently and lovingly guiding us through this valley of the shadow of death into His glorious Light.
“His rod and his staff they comfort me!”
No one can take them out of My Hand.
The All Knowing and Ever Present God.
Recently I went to the hospital for a first time colonoscopy to have the health of my colon checked and to screen for any cancer. Almost five years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I have written something of my journey with Jesus through breast cancer in another of my accounts in this Blog/Website: “The Good Shepherd.”
There is something more that dear Jesus desires for me to share with you about our journey together through cancer and sufferings. This morning as I was laying in the hospital bed being prepped by the good nurse for the colonoscopy procedure He reminded me of the time in January 2007 when I was in another hospital bed being prepared for surgery on my left breast to remove a cancerous lump and some lymph nodes to determine if the cancer had yet spread. At that time I was full of the joy of the Holy Spirit because I understood that this cancer was an invitation from Our Lord to me to share in His Passion for the salvation of souls.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body…(Colossians 1:14)
During the trial of cancer, the Holy Spirit taught me to pray, “Passion of Christ strengthen me!” As Jesus and I were united together on His Cross in this experience and mission, in His grace, I suffered no anxiety or fear whatsoever when I was told the diagnosis: invasive cancer. Nor was I worried or afraid through the surgery or during the many months of chemotherapy or radiation treatment as I knew the Lord was with me. On the contrary, I was filled with an incredible joy. In that state I entered the hospital on the 23rdof January, 2007 and shared the love of Jesus with the doctors, nurses and staff in the various departments through which I passed on my way to the operating room. Before being taken for a pre-operative mammogram and ultrasound and to have the ink injected to mark the tumor for surgery, I was sent to meet with the nurse in the Cancer Care department of St. Luke’s Hospital. As I shared with her my testimony she wept tears of joy as I witnessed how the Lord upheld me in His joy and peace through the hard diagnosis of breast cancer right until the day of the surgery. Jesus continued to fill me with His joy through the full course of my seven months of treatment: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation so that I would witness His powerful Presence in me to all who crossed my path so they could know that in their sicknesses and sufferings the Lord Jesus is near to them too. He is walking with us through it all, at times carrying us just as the famous “Footprints” story relates. If we open our self to His Presence Jesus will fill us with His peace and strength, no matter how hard our trial or tribulation may be.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4: 4-7)
The day before my surgery I attended Mass. I made my Confession and received the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick in order to prepare my soul to meet the Lord Jesus in the event that I might die during the surgery or not wake up from the anesthesia. The priest gave me as my penance the instruction to meditate on Psalm 139. That night I opened my Bible and prayerfully read the magnificent psalm:
LORD, you have probed me, You know me:
You know when I sit and stand;
You understand my thoughts from afar.
My travels and my rest You mark;
with all my ways You are familiar.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
Lord, You know it all.
Behind and before You encircle me
And rest your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is beyond me,
far too lofty for me to reach.
Where can I go from Your spirit?
From Your presence, where can I flee?
If I ascend to the heavens, You are there;
if I lie down in Sheol, You are there too..
If I fly with the wings of dawn
and dwell beyond the sea,
Even there Your hand will guide me,
Your right hand hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely darkness shall hide me,
and night shall be my light” -
Darkness is not dark for You,
and night shines as the day.
Darkness and light are but one.
You formed my inmost being;
You knit me in my mother’s womb.
I praise You, so wonderfully you made me;
wonderful are Your works!
My very self You knew.
My bones were not hidden from You,
When I was being made in secret,
Fashioned as in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes foresaw my actions;
In Your book all are written down;
My days were shaped, before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are Your designs, O God;
How vast the sum of them!
Were I to count, they would outnumber the sands;
To finish, I would need eternity…
(Psalm 139: 1-18)
When I read this beautiful psalm inspired in David by the Holy Spirit, I felt a profound peace in knowing that my Lord is always with me and that He promises He will never leave me and that He knows me through and through. The Lord knows my past, present and future. He already knows the days when I will walk with Him in joy and the days when we will walk together in sorrows, sufferings and trials. Christ desires to give His peace and strength to us all the days of our lives which are already known to Him before one of them ever comes to pass.
I laid down in peace and sleep came at once for in faith I knew, “You alone O Lord, make me dwell in safety”.
The anesthesiologist had arrived and began the process to sedate me for surgery. I was rolled into the operating room and the operating nurse stood by me. Looking into her kind face as I was drifting into unconsciousness I knew she was lifting up a silent prayer for me as she had promised she would do. We had shared our faith earlier in the pre-op and she had delighted in my witness of Christ’s joyful presence with me during the trial of breast cancer together.
I could imagine her praying something like this: “O Lord, keep her safe through the darkness and helplessness of this chemically induced unconsciousness, that she may awake again filled with joy for your service.”
I drifted away into the darkness. The surgery began. It lasted about an hour and a half. As I was waking I was filled with an indescribable joy. In my joy I blurted out to the doctors and nurses present, “ I had the most sublime dream. I was on a strange beach. I was all alone but I was not alone!”
Surely, they did not understand what I was saying. In the depths of unconsciousness I had an extraordinary dream. I was standing on a particular beach with a distinctive shoreline that I had never seen before. I had never been to that place before. I could see the sand in front of me spreading out to the distance and on my left hand side a high craggy cliff with unusual plants and vegetation spouting out from the crevices. The sun was high and brilliant in the clear blue sky and I was standing on this unique and unfamiliar beach. There standing on the sand looking down the beach in front of me I could see no one else anywhere. I seemed to be all alone there. Yet, I could feel, I could sense, that I was not alone. Then, I knew that my Lord was there with me, standing beside me and His Spirit was all around me supporting me.
No-one responded to my outburst. I was taken away to a recovery room where my husband and the priest who had administered the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and taken my Confession came to see how I was doing. Then the doctor came to examine me, at which time he said, “You’re doing better than we are! You should go home!” He was correct. I was doing very well. I had no pain or grogginess from the effects of the anesthesia. In fact, I felt fantastic and I agreed that I should not spend the night in the hospital as had been previously scheduled but I would go home to my own bed. Just then the Holy Spirit gave me a wonderful light. He showed me that in this dream the Lord was revealing to me His truth as written in Psalm 139 which the priest (“en persona Christi”) had instructed me to ponder the night before my surgery for my penance. The Lord was showing me in the extraordinary vision of the mysterious seashore during my surgery that He is with me everywhere – even in the dark depths of anesthesia. There is nowhere we can go where He is not there with us, caring for us, protecting us, upholding us in His Love. While I already knew this by pure faith because of this mysterious experience I now understood this truth even more deeply. But what I did not yet know was that this dream-vision would later be revealed to be prophetic! In a time yet to come the all- knowing Lord would test my faith and trust in Him with a trial more difficult than cancer and would show me that He was still with me and would never leave me
“even if I settle on the far side of the sea”!
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your Presence?
If I go up to the Heavens You are there.
If I make my bed in the depths, You are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there Your Hand will guide me,
Your right Hand will hold me fast.
(Psalm 139 NIV)
Following the surgery in January I began my chemotherapy program which was followed by radiation treatment and then I set out on along course of cancer medications. I offered all this suffering for the salvation of souls, especially that of my own husband who did not have faith in the Lord Jesus nor trust in His saving power and love. Towards the end of 2007 when all the cancer treatments of chemotherapy and radiation were complete and I thought I would enter into a period of rest, Jesus began to prepare me to embrace His Cross yet another time and to share more deeply in His passion. This time, however, it would be a profound suffering of the heart, not the body. At this point of my writings for Jesus I am not at liberty to share more specifically with you what this suffering entailed. However, as a result of it, the Lord moved me and my family to Israel in mid- year 2008. The move developed suddenly and the Lord, arranging all circumstances lifted us “on the wings of the dawn” and settled us on “the far side of the sea.” We began our new life in my husband’s Arab –Muslim village in Israel. After seven challenging months, with our two daughters suffering from anxiety and depression from the sudden culture shock, and after the forth break-in by armed robbers to our second floor flat, we moved to the Israeli town where our daughters’ American International school was located. This Jewish town was located in close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea which could be seen from the school grounds.
I was suffering very much in those days, with a broken heart, children full of anxiety and depression, and a sense of profound alienation from the life I once knew in America: no longer having the Sacraments available to me as before, lacking fellowship with other Christians, having to leave the ministry works I had been doing, separation from my parents and close friends. It was an immense change of life – full of hard challenges and harsh trials. We lived very far from a Catholic Church and faith community. I could no longer go to daily Mass. To attend church on Sundays was a veritable pilgrimage.
There on the roof top of the flat in the Arab village and in the little back garden of the twin house in the Israeli town, I clung to the Lord in the Scriptures reading His word throughout the long lonely days, talking long walks alone with Him in the farm fields, olive groves and wooded areas nearby. I spent hours in prayer calling on Him and holding onto His Word. I served Him with all my heart in my vocation as a wife and mother towards my family. I tried to be a good neighbor, first, in the Arab village to my Muslim neighbors and then, in the Israeli town to the Jews who lived nearby, struggling to speak the little Arabic and Hebrew I was learning and share Christ with them in a few words and many, many smiles.
Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. (Mark 10:29-30)
As time passed, I made my way to Jerusalem to meet with a holy priest to whom I had been referred by someone I had met by the Lord’s Providence while visiting the historical site of Masada. I had gone there with my family to sight-see when we first moved to Israel in the summer of 2008. There, I met a young man who was struggling with his faith. I tried to encourage him right then and there and through an exchange of emails for a period of time after he returned to Minnesota. In one of Ken’s correspondences he suggested I go up to Jerusalem to meet a very wise priest who had left a strong impression on him. I followed his recommendation and met with the good father who became my spiritual director for the three years I lived in Israel. In one of our first meetings hearing of my feelings of loneliness and isolation and knowing that my house was a long way from a Church, he told me, “go to the beach and walk with the Lord there.” Because of the difficulties we experienced in the Arab village we had just moved into the Israeli town where the girls’ school was located only a few miles from a beautiful stretch of sandy white beaches in the area of Natanya – referred to as the Golden Coast. I told Father Michael that our new home was very close to a beach and I would do as he instructed: meet my Best Friend and Companion in “Nature’s Cathedral” where we would walk and talk and pass intimate time together, keeping each other company and sharing our hearts.
I drove west towards the Sea and along the coastal road I looked for the entrance to the beach area where I could park my car. There were many entrances to different beaches along the shoreline so I randomly chose one entrance. It was about noontime and the sun was high and shining brightly in the clear blue sky and I began walking in the southern direction towards Tel Aviv. I lifted my heart in prayer to my dear Love, Jesus and began to tell Him all my feelings of loneliness and isolation, in words somewhat like this: “ Lord, I feel so lonely here in this place, far from my homeland and family and friends, with no Church near to me where I can receive You in sweet Holy Communion like I used to do daily back in America ….everything is so different here and I feel so alone like I am in a desert wilderness…” As I lifted my head up, which had been drooping down forlornly as I was looking at the sand at my feet while speaking to the Lord of my sadness, I gazed out at the long stretch of beach before me. In that instant, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see! I then recognized the beach and the high cliff to the left of me with the unusual vegetation sprouting out from crags as the one that I had seen under anesthesia more than two years before. The Spirit had taken me there and revealed the future which He already knew! In 2007, I could never have imagined what trials and sufferings would come to me in the couple years to follow and that as a result I would move to Israel and walk with Jesus on this same beach seeking His comfort in my sorrows and loneliness and that He would reveal Himself ever Present to me in faithful love and care there where He had brought me,
… (to) settle on the far side of the sea,
even there Your Hand will guide me,
Your right Hand will hold me fast.
The Still Small Voice.
This past Sunday – the Forth Sunday of Advent – the Holy Spirit impressed deeply on my heart the wonderfully wise words spoken in the homily during the Mass. The priest exhorted us to quiet our souls within and our lives without in order to listen at all times to the “still small Voice” of the Lord as He desires to speak intimately to His children. During Advent the Church calls us into deep contemplation of the coming of Our Lord Jesus at Christmas as Emmanuel – “God with us” – the long-awaited Savior of Humanity – who appeared in the flesh in Bethlehem to save us from our sins and to keep watch with lively expectation for Christ’s promised Second Advent – when He will come in all His glory as King and Judge. So often we are distracted by the all the buzz in and around us, and especially at the Christmas Season, that we miss hearing our Savior’s sweet utterance!
1 Kings 19:11-12
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
In his sermon, the priest shared his own experience of a time recently when Hurricane Irene was battering the East Coast of America and he was outside attending to damaged tree branches as the storm was passing by. In the midst of the wind and rain he heard the still small Voice of the Lord speak to him to go to the bedside of a sick woman. Because his soul was in a continual state of quiet, even in the midst of the storm swirling around him, he could hear Jesus speaking to his heart. With childlike simplicity he obeyed and rushed to the home of the seriously ill woman who shortly after his arrival passed from this world into the next. In trust he administered the Last Rites and prayed to Jesus for her soul. I imagined the inexpressible groaning of the Holy Spirit deep in the priest’s heart as he lifted an unspoken prayer for the passage of this “little child of God” to the Celestial Home of the Father and the Son:
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.
O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight!
O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
O come, O come, Thou Lord of Might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud, and majesty, and awe.
While listening intently to the holy priest’s account the Holy Spirit recalled to my mind a sublime experience when during my night prayer as I quieted my soul I heard the Lord’s still small Voice beckoning me to serve Him by ministering to one of His precious children whom He was also calling to Himself.
When I think of You on my bed, through the night watches,
I recall that You are my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I shout for joy,
My soul clings fast to You,
Your right hand upholds me.
(Psalm 63: 6-9)
In the fall of 2001 my beloved grandmother, whom we called Nana, then 96 years old, fell ill and entered the hospital. On Christmas Eve, my father received a call from her doctor urging him to come quickly to the hospital as Nana had deteriorated and become “unresponsive.” Dad shared with our family that he was anxious about seeing her in such a condition and feared that he may not have another opportunity to speak with her and tell her how much he loved her. Dad prayed for Nana and for himself that the merciful Lord would strengthen him to face this painful experience. When he arrived and walked into Nana’s hospital room he was amazed! Nana awoke and was fully conscious, looking at him and recognizing her son. Jesus has answered the cry of my father’s heart and had blessed him to look into his mother’s open eyes and receive her loving gaze back upon him. He spoke what would become his final words of love to her while he was still certain that she could hear and understand him. She could not speak back to him as she was on breathing support but the love in her eyes for her precious son spoke all that was necessary to console his agonized heart.
On the night of Wednesday, December 26, the day after Christmas while I was reposed on my bed…
Lord my heart is not proud, my eyes are not haughty,
I do not busy myself with important matters,
With things too sublime for me.
Rather I have stilled and quieted my soul,
Hushed it like a weaned child.
Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap,
So is my soul within me… (Psalm 131)
…I heard the Lord speak to me telling me to go straight away in the morning to Nana. My dear Jesus made me sense that this would be the last time I would see my grandmother and speak to her while she was still on this earth. That night the caring and wise Master instructed me as to His Word that He desired for me to share with her. I telephoned my father and told him that I must go to see Nana first thing in the morning as the Lord was compelling me to do so. It was urgent! I must go to be at Nana’s side the next morning to share with her the Word of God that our Lord revealed to me for her. Dad told me that he was very, very tired and he had just been with Nana on Christmas Eve. He also explained that he already had plans to join his only brother, who was flying east from the West Coast to visit their mother together in the hospital on Friday. Could I not join them on Friday, he asked me, and thus he would have a day of needed rest on Thursday from the long drive from his town to the hospital. I answered him passionately, “No, I must go. I cannot delay even one day! If you are not able to meet me there, I must go alone.” My father graciously agreed to make the nearly two hour drive again the next morning and meet me at the hospital so that we would be together to see Nana. In reflecting back, I believe our Lord must have desired that my father witness the events which would take place at the hospital that day.
On Thursday morning I began a two hour drive from my own town to the hospital where my grandmother lay. While driving I sang praises to the Lord as glorious Christmas music rang out in my car. I prayed to Jesus imploring His help to me to perceive His will concerning Nana as I felt in my deepest heart that this was a solemn mission I had been called to do. As I was driving through a town called “Moselem Springs” I heard Jesus say to me: “Baptize her.” I was surprised and immediately I asked Him, “How do I do that?” I did not receive an answer from Him then. My mind began to turn over many thoughts as I pondered His mysterious command. I wondered how I could do it, and when I could do such a thing in a busy hospital, and what water should I use? Many other such questions arose in my mind and perplexed me. I also considered that I might not be bold enough to obey His command. Yet, Jesus had spoken this word to me, of this I was sure. My heart’s desire was to obey my Savior’s instructions without questioning, even though my mind was filled with wonderings about it.
I assumed that my grandmother had been properly baptized as an infant in a Protestant church. She had been a member most of her adult life of the Church of Christ in the town where she lived after her marriage. My father mentioned once she had given generously to the church. When I had gone to grandmother’s house as a child and teen-ager she had often taken me to church on Sundays. I even recall some hymns she told me she liked: Silent Night and Rock of Ages. But surely there was a reason the Lord wanted me to “baptize her” at that time*.
Nana had grown old and had become housebound. She had not been able to attend church for years. It appeared that her church had forgotten about her. She did not receive their visits or calls during her old age or illness. And as she was brought up in the Protestant tradition, there was no Sacrament of Holy Communion to bring to her. They did not come to administer healing prayers or Last Rites while she lay many weeks in the hospital.
About eight months before Nana fell ill, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit I arranged for the good pastor of the Pentecostal church which I had been attending (as I was not yet a Catholic Christian), to come with me to pray for Nana and encourage her in faith and trust of Jesus.
Pastor Ed was gracious to drive the long distance to my grandmother’s house to minister to her spiritual needs in the absence of her own church. On the way he surprised me as he stopped at a Catholic store and purchased a Catholic Communion “kit”. This was a box which contained some communion wafers (hosts) prepared according to the canon law requirements of the Catholic Church to be used by priests in cases of emergencies when they may need to administer Last Rites (Viaticum : “Bread for the journey”) to a dying person. As the Lord’s ordained priests they have Christ’s Authority to consecrate the hosts and thereby bring the Risen Lord Jesus in the holy sacrament to the dying person —the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist – the Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ – to enable their souls to enter into eternal life in Holy Communion with Our Lord.
Pastor Ed capably and lovingly ministered to my grandmother according to his Christian tradition, blessing her, praying for her and exhorting her in her faith and we shared the un-consecrated communion wafers as spiritual communion with Our Lord.
Jesus was going before us preparing Nana to bring her to Himself.
When I arrived at the hospital my father was already there and Nana’s elder-care aide, Lizette, was also present in the room. Nana was lying in the bed with closed eyes and she was unresponsive. The doctors told us that she had slipped into this unresponsive condition after Dad’s visit on Christmas Eve and had remained in that state ever since.
I approached my grandmother’s bedside and clasped her right hand and began to speak my words of love and affection into her right ear. The Holy Spirit then moved me to begin to speak for Him from His holy Word. Still holding her right hand, I opened my Bible to the Gospel of John and guided by the Spirit I began to read verses of scripture to her as He revealed them to me. As I turned a page I heard Him say: “Ask her.”
Looking down I saw this verse of holy Scripture:
Jesus, told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in Me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
In awe I began to read the holy words out loud to Nana. And in obedience to the Lord I asked her on His behalf, “Do you believe this, Nana?”
To my amazement she made a responsive sound through her breathing tube, and her still hand which I was holding, having been limp the entire time I was speaking to her until up until that very moment suddenly moved and I felt my hand being gently pressed by hers. Nana was hearing Our Lord and with this weak but undeniable squeeze of her hand she was answering Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe You are the resurrection and the Life. Yes, Jesus, my Savior, I know who You are. Yes, Jesus, my Hope of Eternal Life, I love you. My Jesus I trust in You!”
Just then, the Lord made me understand that He wanted me at that moment to fulfill His command to “baptize her.” With a sudden burst of joy, and not a second of hesitation, I looked up and saw in the room on the ledge by the window a white plastic cup which was filled with water and ice. I quickly went over to pick it up and poured the icy cold water out of it and filled it again with lukewarm water from the bathroom tap and returned to Nana’s side. I held her right hand again and speaking into her right ear I asked her, “Nana, do you want to be baptized?” Once again I felt a gentle squeeze of her hand against mine and understood that this she was responding “yes”. Immediately I poured the water over her head in a small gentle trickle as the Holy Spirit gave me these words to speak: “Nana, I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, for the forgiveness of your sins and for eternal life”.
With a heart full of gratitude and love for My God at what He had just accomplished and with immense joy and deep peace in my spirit I left my grandmother sensing that I would not see her again until we would meet one day in Heaven.
The next day, Friday, December 28, 2001, I went with my family to New York City to see the Radio City Christmas Show which began at 3 pm. During the final fifteen minutes of the two hour performance there was a live Nativity Scene. Above the living scene of the Manger of Bethlehem was a large screen with the words of the famous Christian poem “One Solitary Life” which scrolled down electronically for everyone to read and ponder.
While sitting in the audience with my youngest daughter on my lap, I began praying from the depths of my heart to Jesus that He would send His Spirit to enlighten the thousands of people watching this wondrous scene with the splendor of His Truth:
The angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and the glory of the Lord shown around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them: “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For today in the City of David, a Savior has been born for you who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find and Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
(Luke 2: 9-12)
At five o’clock the show ended and also my private worship. My husband and I put our two daughters in their stroller and exited the auditorium into the streets of New York City. We walked about one block when my new cell phone rang. No one had been given my telephone number yet. I had brought in case we needed to make some calls. I answered the ring but no one spoke. My husband then said, “Maybe it is your dad calling to tell you that Nana has died”. I responded, “Dad doesn’t have my number.”
Deep inside I heard the still small Voice of the Lord speaking to my heart telling me He had taken Nana to be with Him.
We returned to Pennsylvania about 10 pm that night, and as we were entering our house, our telephone was ringing. I answered. It was my father who was calling. He told me that Nana had passed away quietly with a peaceful expression on her face a short time after five o’clock that afternoon with both her sons – my father and uncle – at her bedside. Dad had not tried to contact me in New York City not wanting to disturb my family’s joy during our Christmas outing.
I am sure that it had been Heaven calling to tell us of Nana’s safe passage into Eternal Life in the glorious Kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
*Author’s Note: After entering into the Catholic faith in 2004 I reflected back on this mysterious command I received from our Lord to “baptize” my grandmother. While I cannot say that I know for certain why the Lord asked me to do this, since becoming a Catholic Christian I have learned the divine teachings of our holy Church. We Catholics make regular renewals of our Baptismal Vows as we enter the church when we dip our fingers into the holy water and make the Sign of the Cross over ourselves. At other times we make acts of faith as we are sprinkled with holy water during the Mass. In those times of our “renewal of baptismal” vows we denounce Satan and all his deceptions and empty promises and profess our belief and trust in Our Lord Jesus Christ anew and reaffirm our faith in His Holy Word and divine teaching of His Holy Church. Perhaps this is what the Lord effected for my grandmother to fully prepare her to bring Nana to Himself.