December 23, 2017

How a Pagan Prays

Fr. Richard Heilman is a priest in the Madison, Wisconsin area. He was ordained in 1988, after receiving degrees in divinity and theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake, in Mundelein, Illinois. He maintains a website called RomanCatholicMan (, on which a friend of his, Mark “Doc” Kimble related a story.

It seems Mr. Kimble was a self-described “pagan.” Sometimes, when out in nature, he would put himself into a meditative state, open his heart, and ask the elements, “what are you trying to tell me.” That was what he understood as prayer.

Living in Atlanta, he had been renting a room from his boss and his wife. They were into “Catholic stuff.” One day, Carmella said to him that she needed a ride to Christ the King Cathedral on Peachtree Street. She needed to cover a Holy Hour for someone who was sick. Mark had no idea what that was, but said he would take her.

He determined to pray there with her, thinking sarcastically to himself, “I’ll show these Catholics how a pagan prays. When they arrived, he proceeded to pray as he typically did out in nature. He noticed that Carmella was looking at something at the front of the chapel. He had no idea what It was. To him, in the monstrance, It had some appearance of a tree.

Then he heard, interiorly, “This is the Tree of Life.” Following this, he experienced some private revelations concerning a time in Yosemite National Park when he was lost. Symbols and signs from that time were now made apparent to him. He was given a message, “I saved you through the agency of an angel then, and I am here now.

He says that, at the end of that hour, he walked out of the chapel as a “Catholic by desire.” He had previously regarded the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the mere “inventions of men.” After this hour, he says, “it all began to make sense.”

Though less dramatic, this story shares some similarities with that of Andre Frossard recounted on this website in the past. A firm unbeliever changes completely after a short period of time in the company of the Real Presence.



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