How do I put into words what happened to me yesterday? It was a unique experience for me, for sure. One that, may have happened before in some inferior form of what happened yesterday, but it was a dramatic response to an intercessory prayer request to Sister Lucia, who I had decided to pray in order to try to offer my proof that she was in heaven.
It was right before noon yesterday, when my phone alarm went off to remind me that daytime prayer was due in fifteen minutes. I consciously said that I better go pray right at 11:45 am or I will get busy and forget. I walked into the church, picture to be inserted later today, and wondered in my head how to pray for the intercession of Sister Lucia, since she has not been beautified by the church yet. Her brother and sister have been, but not her yet. Anyway, I sat down to pray and found myself singing and praising God as I have done by myself in the church plenty of times before, wondering if someone will walk in and ask, “What is that noise?” I was trying to stay on key, as much as possible, and getting lost in the prayer, and surrender my will to the Word of God that I was proclaiming through the liturgy of the hours.
I got to the spot in the prayer where we take a moment to be silent. I remember now that I had stopped the audio because the podcast was not playing without glitching, so I thought I should pray it on my own. When I got to the spot the call for Sacred Silence, I remember thinking that there was no bell to remind me to take a few moments to be silent. I decided to just be silent on my own, and I thought that I would listen for a bell to indicate when the silence should end. It was going through my mind as I sat in silence, that sitting there waiting for a bell to ring was quite ridiculous. I remember thinking that maybe the Lutheran church bell would ring at noon, which should be in only a minute or two. I also remember thinking that I should take one of the creaks in the roof that I heard as a bell, but decided that I was being too emotional about the bell and finally gave up on it. I was thinking that I would wait a few more moments until I could feel the Holy Spirit move me back to finish the prayer.
And then it happened, I heard the bell. It was my phone alarm from a Twitter post that had just posted. I had an immediate reaction to the chime, and got very emotional, happy and startled at the same time. I started to laugh at myself for the emotional reaction I was having to a chime from my phone. I decided to look at my phone and see what the tweet was all about to figure out if my reaction was warranted or not. I am still laughing out loud at this point and I realized that as I was laughing, I had started to cry and as I noticed that the tweet was about Pope Francis’ message from the Santa Marta yesterday, I completely lost control of my emotions and was sobbing uncontrollably and laughing at the same time.
Looking back at the Pope’s message later, I couldn’t see how his message or the end of the daytime prayer was causing this reaction, so I know not that it was a special grace from God and I am thankful for it.
So, I finished the prayer and read the Pope’s message, which was quite beautiful about Jesus being the fulfillment of the law and how our relationship with him should be drawing us in to his commandments, but we should not look to the law as the fulfillment in and of itself, because that is what the Pharisees were doing when they justified killing the Messiah by following the law and because they loved the law more than God himself.
Anyway, I went to walk behind the altar. I was going back there to grab a ladder to reach the temporary sign that Father had put up on the entrance wall outside the church. I figured that I would get back to work and ignore what just happened, because I was getting the overwhelming feeling that God was revealing something to me about the message of Our Lady of Fatima and to deliver it, I was going to have to give up my will completely and know that I would become a disgrace to my family and probably a laughing-stock to most people who would find the message too hard to hear. As I stood there looking at the utility ladders, I realized Jesus was calling me back to finish what he started. I peaked around the corner to look at Jesus in the tabernacle and realized that he was drawing me in. As soon as my knees hit the floor, I started sobbing uncontrollably again and still was quite joy-filled during this fit of severe weeping. There was intermittent laughing in the midst of the sobbing, and I found myself prostrate on the floor with my head and hands out in front of my body, in a position of complete submission to Our Lord. I continued crying and laughing for a few minutes without giving much thought to the fact that anyone could walk into the church at any moment. I was thinking about the fact that what was being asked of me is not comfortable to my flesh, and it was not supposed to be comfortable. I felt like there is no way I could ever say no to God. I could feel how much he loved me, and I wanted to return that love by being submissive to whatever he was asking of me. When I got up from my knees, I went to wash my face and pull myself back together. I went back to get the ladder and finish the job that I had went behind the altar to start after my prayer.
I was working on setting up the ladder, as someone drove up asking another parishioner that was leaving the office, if she could just drop some donated food in front of the church. I leaned out around the tree, and told her that I would let her in to the church. I noticed that she was quite proud of herself for bringing her surplus food, including some free coffee packets from hotels she had stayed at, and wanted to make sure that I knew how smart she was for thinking to give them and not throw them away. After I got the new sign installed on the front wall of the church, I started to think about what was being asked of me. Now, when I think back to that encounter with that woman, who I can’t remember her name, I realize that she is like most of us. She was living out her faith in a way that was convenient for her, and quite proud of the fact that she had figured out a need in our community and was, in her own way, filling that need. Isn’t that true about most of us and our faith?
When was the last time that I stood up for the undernourished in our community? Both spiritually and physically undernourished people are being fed here, including myself and my family, but who is fighting for us and making sure that we have enough. Anyway, I talked to Father Jaspers about what had happened to me in the church, except that last part that I just came up with from the encounter with that woman. He gave me a hug and told me that is what he gets paid the big bucks for, to hear our crazy stories and respond with reverence and compassion for our craziness.
We both decided that the main purpose of the message that God is asking me to deliver is…Jesus is coming…Yesterday was the 97th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun or 6th apparition of Our Lady to the Children of Fatima, on October 13th, 1917. The Seventh Anniversary of Sister Lucia’s death will be February 13th of next year, and she was 97 years old when she died. I don’t know what it means, but before Father had come into my office and heard my testimony of what I just experienced in the church, I had started this post with the title…Here he comes! I told Father that I remember that the Apostles and disciples of Jesus were constantly talking about Jesus’ return as if it was eminent, as in it would happen during their lifetime, and the reason is that God knows our human nature and if we think his return is not coming for a while, we will get lazy about spreading the good news about his mercy. We would be thinking that we have plenty of time to answer the call to tell people that God sent Jesus to earth to forgive our sins and his love is available to them now on earth in the form of his mercy. No matter what we have done in the past, he stands ready to forgive us through the power of his Son, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. The urgent message for me and for the whole world hasn’t changed in over 2000 years…Repent, and believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death…Amen!