Chemo time today, on this election day, and I’m back asking for more prayers! I hope you don’t mind, but they have such a strong and positive impact on my life. Thank you.
In Medjugorie, Ivan is one of several people to whom the Virgin Mary has appeared, every day, for over 31 years. There is much more to this story, of course, but that is the basic idea. He was in Massachusetts and speaking at a church nearby, which I felt was an answer to my prayers.
My friend Hilary joined me, arriving first. Hilary visited Medjugorie a few years ago, so she has first-hand experience with all this. She also has a strength of will and character that can move mountains. I feel stronger just being in her presence.
I sat down next to Hilary and noticed AnnMarie, my dental hygienist, sitting two pews in front of us. I see her every four months in the dentist office, where we exchange lots of life stories so I knew this was her parish – how fun to actually see her here!
The program began at 6 p.m. with a Rosary service along with the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. At a specific time during all this, Ivan knelt for his vision of the Blessed Virgin and the rest of us were quiet and prayerful.
During this time, while Mary was appearing to Ivan and in our presence, we were to pray for whatever we wanted. Though I want healing for me and countless others that I know personally (plus anyone in the whole world who is dealing with difficulties), other wishes kept creeping into my mind and heart. One had to do with the faith of my children. Though I believe that each person can make their own choice with respect to faith and spirituality, I would love for my children to be exposed to all this in order to make the choice.
Like many families we know, my husband and I are of different faiths. Instead of attending Sunday morning Mass with me, my kids prefer to stay at home with him and watch TV. In fact, whether it is Mass, religious ed, or even church dinners, they express a strong preference to opt out. While this is occasionally fine, I noticed that this has become the norm.
Outside the church, prayer is not a regular occurrence in our household. Grace before meals is the exception, not the rule. I personally don’t pray out loud, unless it is something like, “Please help me, God,” which the boys hear not as a prayer but as a warning that I am about to scream. So, among other things, I prayed for a way to help them to learn to pray and build their spiritual life.
Following this time with Mary, Mass was held and the priest gave a fabulous homily. The packed congregation actually gave a standing ovation, which I’ve never seen before in any church. After Mass, Artie Boyle spoke (father of Brian Boyle, the hockey player), talking of the miracle he experienced as a result of his trip to Medjugorie. And Ivan spoke about his encounters with the Virgin Mary.
Afterwards, there was a Benediction and then we were done.
It was after 10 p.m. and I was tired, but Hilary suggested that I talk with Ivan. We made our way to him, then she hung back to give me more time with him. He really wasn’t so interested in speaking with me, but then picked her out of the crowd and said hello. I assume that he remembered her from Medjugorie; who knows.
Like all of us, I’m sure she has a million things that she could be praying for. But in that moment, she so generously asked him to pray for me. I still can’t get over how huge that was.
He then turned to me, asked what I was dealing with, and said that he would mention me to Mary when he saw her on Sunday night.
On that particular Sunday night, I decided that I would pray at the same time that Ivan would be seeing Mary. So I went to an empty room in our house. Soon after, my six-year-old son entered and asked what I was doing. When I told him, he quietly said, “Can you teach me how to pray, too?”
And so we began. An answer to my prayer, a start to his, and, while I thought that attending that event was the logistical conclusion to answer to a prayer I had over a week ago, I suspect it is actually just the beginning.
Thank you for helping me to get here, for helping me to always have new beginnings and faith that there is always more.