In Albuquerque, New Mexico, there was a 24-year-old mother of two who was suffering from depression. She had been reduced to prolonged periods of just sitting in front of the T.V. To help control her condition, she was provided medication.
Her husband had been physically and emotionally abusive and was in recovery for alcoholism. Her father was someone she had never met, until after a search for him proved successful. He was not, however, able to answer her need for love. She says that the experience only resulted in her having to “say good-bye to all of my childhood dreams of ‘Daddy.’“
Then one day, she went to Mass and something happened. She says: “I had known the Lord since I was a teenager, yet, I had never experienced such love and peace as in this Mass. I wept through the readings, and as the Host was consecrated, I felt all of my pain and frustration lost into my Lord before me. When I received Communion I felt healed and I knew within me that Christ, my Master, had intervened and divinely healed me. That night, I had a choice, to believe in blind faith, that I had truly experienced the Lord, or if it was just a dream. I knew what I received was real indeed.”
The next day, this woman called her psychologist and said she would no longer need any medication.
Not having experienced it ourselves, we may believe this woman did simply have a dream. We may also believe that, our Lord, coming into that Church at the time of consecration, took pity on His crying child and gave her what she needed most, a true Love for her.
This woman is not unlike people in many other stories reported on this site, who also doubted whether an experience was real. But like the others, she could not deny there was something truly different about the episode from the other times in her life. If anything, the doubt shows a balanced and healthy consideration of the event. The continually growing number of them suggests they cannot all be dreams.
This Lent, let us know that Our Lord has such a love for us that, if we only knew it, all our problems would fade. This Lent, let us be grateful, as this woman is, for the Love He has for us.
(Adapted slightly from an account in My Daily Eucharist by Joan Carter McHugh, and an excerpt contained there from Walking in the Light, by Ann Ross Fitch and Fr. Robert DeGrandis, SSJ.)
Yesterday’s story concerned a man connected with the Revolutionary War. Today’s story shares that characteristic.
General Ethan Allen is renowned for his capture of Fort Ticonderoga and is one of the more memorable American figures from his era. His views on religion, however, were decidedly independent, to put it kindly. In 1784, he published Reason, the Only Oracle of Man. Espousing his own form of deism and a religion based on natural law, he strongly questioned the reliability of the Bible and openly attacked Christianity. In particular, he took a rather negative view of the Catholic Church. Its respect for revelation and awe in relation to miracles were scored as superstition. Priests were referred to as “holy cheats” and equated with practitioners of witchcraft, save in one respect. The difference was that the latter had been discredited in the eyes of the public, while the same could not yet be said sufficiently as to the former.
It is not General Allen himself who is the focus of this narrative, but rather his daughter, Fanny. Into a household populated by the views of her father was she born, in the year 1784. When she was in her early twenties, in 1807, she desired to satisfy a curiosity and visit a convent in Montreal. She had no intention of becoming a nun herself, but wanted to go and see how they lived.
After several weeks, the Reverend Mother had already decided to send her back home. Fanny openly mocked the rites of the sisters and it was feared she would disrupt the community. One nun, however, pleaded with the Reverend Mother and several more weeks were secured for Fanny to stay.
When her last day had almost arrived, Fanny was asked to take a vase of flowers to the chapel and place it on the altar. She was also reminded to adore the Lord present there, but Fanny just laughed at the suggestion.
She arrived at the chapel and opened the gate of the sanctuary, but then, strangely, found that she could go no further. She tried to move her feet, but could not. She tried a third time, with no more success.
Then, finding herself somehow compelled to do so, she fell to her knees and began to pray. The prayer that came to her mind was an Act of Faith, which avows belief in the Holy Trinity, in the death of Christ for our sins and in all the teachings of the Catholic Church.
She knelt for some time, close to the Real Presence. Finally, she rose and, with no difficulty, approached the altar and placed the flowers there.
Not able to dismiss what had happened to her, Fanny discarded her past, converted to Catholicism and became the first New England Catholic nun. Her family was not at all pleased, but her mother did accept her decision.
This Lent, let us be open to whichever way God may choose to speak to us.
(Adapted from an account in Moments Divine Before the Blessed Sacrament by Rev. Frederick A. Reuter, K.C.B.S.)
William Markoe was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1820. He came from a prominent American family. His grandfather, Abraham Markoe, was the founder and captain of the Philadelphia Light Horse, a contingent of cavalry organized in 1774 to prepare for possible war with England. He designed a flag of thirteen stripes for it, considered by many to have been the precursor of the first flag used for the Thirteen Colonies.
William thought himself called to a religious life. He attended an Episcopalian seminary and became a minister of that church. In 1855, married and then a father of two, he and his family entered the Catholic Church. He attributed the change to a gift he had received years before, prior even to his entry into the seminary, when he received something symbolic of, but not actually, the Real Presence.
He states that: “One morning, after receiving Communion – it was no sacrament, but God’s mercy, I solemnly believe, sent a special grace with it – a light like a flash from Heaven, burst upon my poor soul. It was like the sun suddenly beaming through a rift in the dark storm cloud. It was no miracle, but it was a distinctive grace. It could have been nothing else. Instantly, the whole doctrine of the Incarnation in all its offices and functions bearing upon a man’s fall and his redemption and sanctification opened to my perception. The absolute necessity, in the scheme of salvation, for the literal interpretation of our Lord’s words in the sixth chapter of St. John (regarding Christ as the “living bread”) seemed irrefutable to me, and justified beyond cavil the doctrine of the Catholic Church as to transubstantiation.
… Catholic doctrine ranged itself before me as one coherent, perfect, glorious whole. It always appeared to my mental vision like a picture. There was the bright central sun, the Incarnation. The beautiful beams of light which, without separation from the main body, continuously, naturally and necessarily streamed from it, were the seven Sacraments and the whole round of Catholic doctrines. I seemed, without any adequate study, to have almost mastered, at least in its general features, the sum and substance of Catholic theology.”
As is often the case with such a grace, it was not easy for Markoe to accept it fully enough. For nine more years, he remained an Episcopalian. He clung to his beliefs as to the Incarnation while in seminary but found few who shared his views. He hoped for change in the Episcopalian faith, but finally gave way to the realization that his home was with the doctrine he once felt interiorly, in an instant, through a special grace given to him from above.
We may again ask whether we can believe him. His encounter, while in some ways more dramatic, shares some similarities with original accounts given by others on this website. Such accounts of time spent with the Real Presence include an interior understanding, in a flash, of the timelessness of His Passion and a perceived assistance in the composition of poems.
They all speak to the same thing: His Real Presence in the Eucharist. This Lent, let us trust in that Presence here among us, let us know that graces abound for all of us, whether they be in ways we can immediately notice or ways in which we cannot, and let us all give thanks to the One who so yearns for us to come closer.
(Quotes taken from Roads to Rome, edited by John A. O’Brien (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1954), p. 217-218.)
Sister Briege McKenna talks about “a teaching that came to me one day as I sat before the Lord.” She says that she did not have much to say that day. She told Him that. The she says, she “felt as though the Lord said to me, ‘Well, don’t you know that you don’t have to say anything to me? Just be with me. Come into my presence. It’s not what you do for me, it’s what I want to do for you.’”
Then she describes an image that came into her head. It was of a person who left his house and sat in the sun. As he sat there, he did not do a thing, but he started to change color. People who saw him knew he had been in the sun because his skin showed it. The man knew it too, because he felt the effects of the sun: the warmth and the light.
Then she heard the Lord saying, “So it is when you come into my presence. You will experience the effects of your time spent with me. People will see it in your actions.”
And so it must be. For how can a person spend time with the Lord Himself and not have it render some effect. This Lent, let us remember the warmth and the light. Let us spend time before it if we can or be open to it when we receive the Eucharist. Let it change us for others to see.
(Taken from an entry in My Daily Eucharist by Joan Carter McHugh, containing an excerpt from Miracles Do Happen by Sister Briege McKenna, OSC.)
At the mention of the word Guadalupe, many faithful think instantly of Mexico and the place where Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego in 1531. The story for today, however, takes place more than a hundred years later, in faraway Guadalupe, Spain. It was not known afterwards for many more years, as will be explained later.
The Prior of Guadalupe was a priest named Peter, now known as Venerable Peter. He had doubts about the Real Presence in the Eucharist and had been feeling torment over them. One Saturday, he bowed down after the consecration, as he normally did. As he raised his eyes back up, he saw a cloud that enveloped the altar and hid the Blessed Sacrament from him.
This startled him so that he stopped himself in celebrating the Mass. He prayed for forgiveness. Hardly had he begun doing so than the cloud was removed.
He returned himself to his duties in performing the Mass, but now encountered a new obstacle. He noticed that the Sacred Host was no longer lying where it had been, on the corporal. He looked at the chalice and saw that it too was different. It was empty. There was no longer any of the Consecrated Wine within it.
Again, he prayed. The Mass had been offered in honor of Mary. Now, needing help, he asked that She intercede for him in beseeching God. His fervent hope was that the Lord would look past his unworthiness to celebrate the His Son’s Mass. Raising his eyes again, he saw a paten, suspended in the air, brilliant and shining, with rays of lights emanating from it. It illuminated the whole church. The paten slowly descended. As it did, he could see that the Sacred Host had returned, lying upon it. It came to stop over the chalice, in an upright position. Drops of blood fell from it until the chalice was again filled to the same level it had been before. The Host then continued its descent until it came to rest on the corporal.
Once more, he could not continue the Mass and paused, reflecting on what had just occurred. Then he heard a low voice say, “Continue the Mass, and keep as a profound secret that which you have seen, for it was for you alone that God granted this vision, that you may no longer doubt the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ under each of the appearances of bread and wine.”
That secret he kept, until the day he died. He recorded this memorable event in an authenticated document from which this story is drawn.
Obviously, this was something that moved him deeply. It was different from other Masses and other times in his life. It occurred as a surprise and stopped him several times from what he had been doing. It no doubt relieved his torments.
This Lent, let us not have any torments either. Let us not doubt. Let us believe as fully as if this had happened to us, as Venerable Peter wished.
(Adapted from an account in Moments Divine Before the Blessed Sacrament by Rev. Frederick A. Reuter, K.C.B.S.)
The following poem was composed by Letty Medina during adoration:
Mother Mary, Queen of Life,
Blessed by God, the Spirit’s wife,
Full of love and full of joy,
Brought to us the blessed boy,
Christ, the lamb, the sacrifice.
Mother Mary, Queen of Faith,
Called by God, a woman chaste,
Humble Mary, for us pray,
Tis your Son who leads the way,
To the Kingdom, we make haste.
Mother Mary, Queen of Hope,
Helping all the faithful cope,
Through these days so dark and dreary,
When our hearts grow sad and weary,
You lead us to our blessed Pope.
Mother Mary, Queen of Love,
Sent to us from God above,
Mediatrix, full of grace,
Show to us His blessed face,
Implore the Spirit as a dove.
Mother Mary, Queen of Peace,
Prayers for us never cease,
Gentle woman, morning dove,
Filling all our hearts with love,
For your Son, the King of Peace.
Mother Mary, Queen of All,
Begging us to heed His call,
Gently teaching us to pray,
So that we might find our way,
To the babe born in the stall.
It is 1831. A grand procession through the streets of Breslau, Germany is being made, with the Holy Eucharist as its focus. Faithful are prostrating themselves on the ground before it.
Nearby, a number of others are slinging taunts and ridicule at the specter of people worshipping a small piece of dry bread. That night, a number of these people gather in a dining hall. They eat and drink heavily and confirm with one another a plan. They will procure one of these pieces of bread and make sport of it. They try to coax the sexton of the church to assist them, but he refuses, at first. Goaded by his wife, and persuaded by thirty pieces of gold, he relents. The sexton went to the church and returned, placing a Sacred Host on the table before them. They struck at it with clenched fists and more. The frenzy grew.
Then it stopped. A new clamor arose. Those present looked at the table, which was now covered in blood, so much blood, that pieces of the Host were floating on it. So great was this new tumult that police heard it and came to investigate. The news of what happened spread quickly throughout the town that very night.
The next morning, a priest arrived. Amid a solemn procession with prayers and hymns, the table was carried to the church.
Some of the unbelievers converted to the Catholic faith as a result of this episode. The sexton and his wife both hung themselves.
The mayor of the city was named John Meyer. He attested to the events stated above. A record of them is preserved in the archives of the city hall.
As the story given above is read, one might be inclined to doubt the incidents reported. Yet, when the part is reached where both the sexton and his wife hung themselves, pause must assuredly be felt. People do not hang themselves over things that have not happened.
This Lent, let us not doubt. Let us believe. Let us rejoice.
(Adapted from an account in Moments Divine Before the Blessed Sacrament by Rev. Frederick A. Reuter, K.C.B.S.)
Father Mateo Crawley- Boevey was ill. He had received permission to travel from Valparaiso, Chile to Rome. He wanted to see the Pope and then travel to Paray –le-Monial in France, to prepare for an early death. He was 32 years old.
After seeing the Pope, he did indeed travel to Paray-le-Monial, and prayed in the Chapel of the Visitation, where St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had received the apparitions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He knelt in prayer, with the Lord present in the tabernacle, on the night of August 24, 1907. He states that: “Suddenly, I felt within myself a strange shock. I was struck by a blow of grace, at the same time very strong, yet infinitely gentle. When I arose, I was completely cured.”
This Lent, let us remember the very strong, yet infinitely gentle Love that resides in the Eucharist.
(Adapted from an entry in My Daily Eucharist by Joan Carter McHugh, containing an excerpt from Eucharistic Heart Anthology by Fr. Albert Kretschmer.)
The following story was submitted by Letty:
I want to share a beautiful story about how two individuals in Marytown’s adoration program (Letty Medina & Mary Beth Rogers, Sat. 5 am) were brought together by the Holy Spirit. For many months we had both been going to daily mass. Sometime in July, 2008, I (Letty) noticed Mary Beth at the noon mass at Marytown and a strong thought ran through my head that I needed to meet her because she was going to be my friend. I reflected that my thought was a bit odd because I didn’t know who she was or why I noticed her out of all of the other people at mass but I felt a pull towards her. For about 6 weeks I continued to see her frequently at noon mass and the thought would always return that someday I needed to introduce myself to her. One Sunday evening I saw her at a local grocery store and again I felt an incredible pull towards her and I felt urged to meet her but I was afraid that she would think the meeting strange, so I didn’t. However, I was convinced from that point on that we were supposed to meet and that I would try to introduce myself to her that week at mass.
On Monday I saw her but she sat on the other side of church and she left before I did so we missed each other. On my drive back to work however, I noticed that the woman in the car in front of me looked like her and I knew instantly that she probably worked at the same company I worked at. Sure enough we drove back to work and she even parked in the same large parking lot where I park, although she was quite a walking distance from my parking space. I was amazed and knew that I had to meet her now.
On Tuesday, I went to mass full of anticipation about meeting her but when I looked for her going up to receive the Eucharist, I didn’t see her. I was very disappointed but I felt that I would have to be patient. After mass I stayed and prayed for a few minutes and when I was leaving the church, suddenly she was face to face with me and we walked out of the church at the same time! I finally had the courage to say hello and I said, “Hi, I’ve been wanting to introduce myself to you for quite some time since I see you going to daily mass and I have had a very strong feeling that we are supposed to meet”. I explained the odd chain of events leading up to that moment and how I had noticed that we worked at the same company. Then I said, “Do you mind my asking why you go to daily mass since it’s rather unusual to see other young people going to daily mass these days?” She hesitated only slightly and said, “It’s because of Medjugorje”. Well, I was able to tell her that I too had started going to daily mass after my trip to Medjugorje the previous year. Then she smiled and with tears in her eyes she said, “You’re probably not going to believe me, but I’ve been praying very specifically for the Lord to bring a friend into my life who has a love for Medjugorje – someone I can share my faith with”. Well, we were both deeply touched (goose bumps even) and were immediately aware of God’s hand in our meeting and knew that the Holy Spirit had been prompting me, an extrovert, to introduce myself to her, an introvert, for many weeks.
We immediately began to drive to noon mass together whenever we could and we took a trip to Medjugorje together within six months of meeting each other. We have become the closest of friends, and consider ourselves sisters in Christ. We’ve also started a weekly cenacle prayer group which focuses on praying the rosary from the heart and specifically praying for those who are in despair and hopelessness. We just celebrated 15 years of being weekly adorers at Marytown and have experienced more miracles and graces than we could have ever dreamed of because of God’s great love and generosity! It’s so amazing how God works in each of our lives when we let Him! Thank you Lord for answering Mary Beth’s prayer!
Sister Agnes Sasagawa was born on May 28, 1931. At age 19, she was paralyzed during an appendectomy, when an administration of spinal anesthesia was made improperly. After ten years of going to various hospitals, she was put under the care of a Catholic nurse. He restoration to health led her to become Catholic herself, and then to become a Catholic nun.
Then, another suffering befell her. Sounds started to become muffled in both her ears and, within three months, she was totally deaf.
On May 12, 1973, Sister Agnes arrived at a convent located in a hilltop suburb of Akita, Japan. It had been recently founded by an order called the Handmaids of the Eucharist, who were devoted, in particular, to Eucharistic Adoration.
On June 12, 1973, Sister Agnes entered the chapel in the convent for Eucharistic Adoration. As she opened the door of the tabernacle, a brilliant light shone forth, much whiter and brighter than the sun. She immediately fell to the floor and prayed. After this was over and she left the chapel, she doubted the experience and wondered if she had been hallucinating. The experience with the dazzling white light, however, occurred again on June 13, June 14 and June 28.
On October 2, 1973, she was at Mass. At the moment of consecration, a dazzling light again shone forth. At that same moment, she saw an outline of eight angels, kneeling around the altar, in prayer before the shining Host. Not believing her eyes, she closed them, opened them and rubbed them, but the image remained. The angels stayed before her, paying homage to the Lord, present in the Holy Eucharist.
As Sister Agnes doubted these sights herself, it is normal for us to ask whether they should be believed as well. Should we wish to look deeper, there are other circumstances to aid our inquiry. Sister Agnes received the stigmata in her left hand, a wooden statue of Mary in the chapel bled from the right hand and shed tears and sweat on many occasions over more than six and a half years, Sister Agnes was told in advance of when the pain and bleeding in her left hand would stop, Sister Agnes was cured of her deafness, and she was told in advance of when that would occur.
Some of these occurrences were also subjected to scientific scrutiny. Sister Agnes had been examined at a Red Cross hospital when she was deaf and her condition was pronounced incurable. After she recovered her hearing, she was examined again at the hospital and her cure was confirmed. The blood, sweat and tears from the wooden statue of Mary were analyzed by a non-Christian forensic specialist. He was not told anything about their origin. The test results showed them to be of human substance.
Events such as those above are certainly wondrous, but to what purpose? They may inspire some sense of awe, but this Lent, let them also inspire some sense of the great Love that is behind the Eucharist, the Love that is the reason for the sacrifice of His human body and the same Love that is the reason why He offers His Physical Presence to us still today.
(Based on an account in My Daily Eucharist by Joan Carter McHugh, containing an excerpt from Akita, The Tears and Message of Mary by John M. Haffert, on Those Who Saw Her, by Catherine M. Odell, and on information found at http://www.catholicrevelations.org/PR/akita.htm.)