On EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), there is a program hosted by Marcus Grodi entitled The Journey Home. In 2006, he did a show about Joseph and Patricia McKeown.
Mr. and Mrs. McKeown live in Southern Ireland. They have four children and have known their share of difficulties in life. Joe’s father was shot and killed when Joe was 12. His mother turned to alcohol in the aftermath. Joe and Patricia’s first child had kidney problems and they made many visits to the doctor and hospital as a result of that. Joe and Patricia were born Catholic, but Joe fell away from the Church. He used to think that when you die, the “lights go out and that’s it.” He would go to church on Christmas and Easter, but no more than that.
In 1990, they became pregnant with their fourth and last child, Connor. He was born three months early. From the beginning, they knew he had bladder problems and learning difficulties. It was not until he was 3 years old until he could first say “momma” and “dada.” In 1998, when he was 7, they learned something else. Tests revealed that he was blind in one eye. The doctor told Patricia that there was no hope for a cure. The eye was detached at the rear and could not be repaired.
Before Connor was born, Patricia had been saying a daily rosary, participating in a prayer group and going to Eucharistic Adoration. After he was born, Joe began doing the rosary with her. Some 2-3 weeks after they received the news on Connor, Patricia was asked to go on a retreat. She did not want to go at first, but decided to anyway, and Connor went with her.
Patricia was able to go to Adoration, but this time, when she went, she knew something like she had not known it before. She knew that Jesus was “alive” in the Eucharist. She felt it so strongly that, when she went outside, she approached people and asked them whether they knew He was “alive,” despite the funny looks she got.
Then Patricia and Connor heard a talk by a man who evidently had some experience with miraculous healings. Patricia succeeded in getting some private time with him. The three of them joined hands and he said a very simple prayer: “The lame may walk and the blind may see, I ask a miracle for this young man.”
The man told them that, in his mind’s eye, he saw a picture of rain falling against a windshield, the windshield wipers passing back and forth and two lights in the distance, one bright and one dim. He instructed them to stay for Mass. Patricia began to protest. The Mass was three hours later and Connor could not sit that long. Nonetheless, they stayed.
At the Mass, when the Host was elevated, she again knew that He was “alive.” Right then, tears began flowing from Connor’s bad eye. Connor told Patricia, “Mommy, my eyes are all squiggly but I can see God Mommy.” At that moment, Connor regained vision in his bad eye.
Patricia then felt an understanding with regard to the vision of the rain in the car. The rain represented the tears, the two lights were Connor’s eyes and the dim one stood for the light that was being brought by God.
This Lent, let this story help us to remember that He is indeed “alive,” here among us, in our day. He is alive in His gift to us, the Blessed Eucharist. If we open our hearts to Him when He is elevated before us, we too can receive a peace that will wipe away tears.