Before the Blessed Sacrament, From 1000s of Miles
The following story was provided by Rudy:
In August of 2002, I went on a cruise with a good friend, he had won the tickets through work so it was a free trip and we planned to have a “wild time” with drinking, dancing and meeting beautiful women. Well, that is exactly what happened initially and God was the furthest thing from my mind. We had a lot of fun partying and we did meet some beautiful women. In fact, we met women from France, Switzerland and Colombia.
Throughout the trip, little things kept happening that drew my mind to spirituality. For example, when we landed at one port, we walked through an old historic Catholic church and I saw the name of Padre Pio on the floor. He was a stigmatist priest that I knew my mother loved and I thought it was interesting that I saw his name in this church. Then we traveled to Pompeii and when I looked at the ruins of a merchant shop, I began to think about how this rich merchant was no longer here and what did his riches mean now – absolutely nothing. When we saw the outline of bodies in the hardened lava rock, it also made me consider whether these people were ready for death or not.
When we stopped in Rome, everyone warned us not to expect to see the Pope because he was too old, sick or the crowds were too large. We went to the Vatican anyways and as soon as we arrived, a bell rang and announced the arrival of the Pope! Suddenly, there he was in his Pope-mobile and he was driven to within 5 feet of us. It was the Blessing of the Brides Day and as he blessed the young brides, he also turned and blessed us! It was a very special experience and we were amazed that we had seen him so closely.
Well, on the very last day, I was on a bus on the island of Malta and I was very tired from my many days of partying and I was quite tense and just thinking that I was ready to return to my home in Texas. I decided to try and relax by closing my eyes, resting my head against the back seat and saying the Our Father prayer. Suddenly, I can’t exactly explain how this happened; I felt an incredible power come over me and into me. It seemed to fill every fiber of my being and I was no longer in control of my own body. It was the most intense experience of my life and I could actually feel all of my muscles fasciculating. Tears were streaming down my face but I wasn’t crying. I could even hear my ears vibrating. I don’t know how long this lasted, but when this power left me, it took with it all of my tension, anger, fear and tiredness. I actually felt the best that I’d felt in a long time and I knew that the experience had been an experience of God!
I felt so good that when the bus arrived back at the ship, I ran and jumped into the ocean! I went to my cabin to lie down and nap and think about what had just happened to me – it was too intense to share it with my friend. As I drifted off to sleep, I had a vision where I saw a priest laying his hands on me in prayer and I also saw my mother and another woman, Mary, that I had met during my 2001 pilgrimage to Medjugorje, both praying for me in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I knew that this gift was in answer to prayers and the blessing of my pilgrimage.
Since that time, I feel like I understand the Bible more easily – a spiritual knowledge was one of the gifts I received. I also began to feel impulses to read certain passages that clarified things for me. I felt a desire to attend the Sunday mass regularly and set a good example for my sons on the importance of staying close to God. I even felt like I understood my ex-wife and could see that she needed prayers too. This spiritual awakening was a gift from the Father to me, that even though I wasn’t really asking for it, since I turned to him during a time of exhaustion, he graced me with this gift to reveal his love for me. I thank God for this great gift and I thank my mother and Mary for praying for me in front of the Blessed Sacrament! Prayer is powerful!