At our Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, our presider, a priest I had never seen before and whose name I did not know, told us the following personal stories about the Blessed Mother of Jesus. She interceded in his life on three separate occasions and they were all rather incredible. Certainly, I was moved by them and greatly encouraged as a Catholic woman.
He prefaced his stories with some quick background. He was not Catholic when he was younger. In fact, he said he “liked his liquor and his women.” But he DID have at least a couple of Catholic friends. These Catholic friends visited him out here in California a long time ago. And he told us that, every time they got in his car to go sightseeing, they prayed the rosary. He didn’t know what it was or what the prayers were about. “Hail Mary, full of grace?” What the heck did that mean? He thought they were “stupid” prayers, to use his word. And that they prayed the same prayer 53 times “or whatever” seemed futile to him. He simply did not understand.
But, later, as an Air Force pilot, in “the east,” while fighting against a deadly opponent, he recalled the prayer to Mary, the meaning of which he did not comprehend . But hearing it 53 times each time he got in his car, he could recall it vividly. And so he would pray as he took off to engage the enemy. And this now old priest said he promised Mary that if she’d see him through safely, he would become Catholic. But he didn’t. In fact, he said he forgot about the promise within a couple of weeks. But the Blessed Mother of Jesus did not forget him.
Later, while stationed at another air base in New Mexico, he was shaving one morning, early on a Sunday before his two fellow non-Catholic roommates had awakened. And as he stood at the sink that morning, he heard the voice of Mary say to him, “When will you stop torturing my Son and piercing my heart?” This unknown (to me) priest said her voice was as clear as his was to us in that church. So, he hurried to finish shaving, jumped in his car and went to a Catholic church that he’d see as he drove along the roads near his home. He ran inside, but there was no one there. Not knowing the Mass schedule, he did not have any idea before he arrived. But he had been told that there was a “gold box” behind the altar (we call it the tabernacle), and he had been told by Catholic friends that Jesus was in there.
So he approached the tabernacle and knelt on the cold, hard floor for he said an hour and a half to two hours. And when he arose he knew he would become a Catholic. Not only that; unbeknownst to him at the time, he would become a priest. And there he stood before us on this Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, January 1st.
He also told us about his pilgrimage to Lourdes where an apparition of our Lady appeared several times to St. Bernadette. He was cured of double pneumonia there.
He went to Medjugorie, another Marian apparition site. At that time Mary said, “Priests need to know the Bible better than anyone; pray your Bible,” the children related to the priests in the room that day. “That’s it?” was the response of one of the other men of the cloth after that brief message was shared with them. Our celebrant at Mass said it was more than enough. He also said that, even though he was in the last row, up against a wall that was filled with people, he was provided a chair to stand on so he could see the children who saw/heard Mary. And he told us that, though the room was very dim with only one low watt bulb over the heads of everyone, there was a bright light that shone on the children’s faces in a dark room during the time that they could see Mary. It seemed to emanate from the wall they were facing. A wall that appeared bare to everyone else present.
When he’d finished his accounts of encounters with the Blessed Mary, the priest invited us to sit silently with eyes closed, feet on the ground for 5 minutes and to talk to Mary, to meditate on the truth of her existence and role in our salvation as the Theotokos, the God bearer. And he sat and did the same. It was, for me, and I am sure for many, an extremely profound and peaceful time. I found myself crying and I didn’t even know it. Tears had brimmed up in my eyes and I had been unaware. It was a beautiful, really indescribable moment for me.
Then, after Communion, when the altar had been cleared, he instructed us again to do the same, to close our eyes and this time bring our thoughts and prayers to Jesus.
I was moved by all of it in ways I have not been before at Mass. I have moments of profound peace at Mass, moments of gratitude, and this was both of those, and much more. I am writing about my experience because I don’t want to forget it. And because Father ‘Anonymous’ (to me) told us before the final blessing that he must have been moved to share his experiences with that particular assembly of people that morning, because we were meant to hear them. But now I feel that I am meant to share it with you. He also encouraged us to pray the Rosary more often. Every day. Untold graces and power there. I knew that was meant for me because I always intend to pray the rosary more often, but then I don’t. I’m starting to now. Call it my New Year’s resolution. But not for my benefit; it’s meant for others.
If you don’t know how to pray the Rosary but want to, if you want to join the Blessed Mother in praying to her Son, to receive the graces she shares because she is “full of grace,” here’s a link. I found it on line. If it’s not one you like, there are others. Many others. If you are not Catholic, be assured that the Blessed Mother of Jesus is our mother, too. God bless you this day as He has blessed me with the profound knowledge of the goodness and the love of Mary for each of us, of her desire to bring us all closer to her Son, our Lord and Savior, hers, too.
And, because it’s me, here’s a song about Jesus, the Son of Mary. It’s from an old album entitled “Emmanuel” that I’ve loved since I first heard it in 1996. Listen prayerfully. Ask the Holy Spirit to really help you hear.