From Fatima To N.Y., Readers Continue To Report The Aid Of Mysterious Strangers
By Michael H. Brown
Yes, they go on: angel stories. We have collected a sheaf of them. And the similarities remain dramatic. We'll be sharing them from time to time. The essential message is that in times of emergency, God and His messengers are watching.
There can be no doubt that something very unusual occurs in the way of mysterious strangers who help those in need, and there can be no doubt that they are especially with us in times of distress. Sometimes we actually encounter them!
Take it from Fergal O'Neill, in County Kildare, Ireland. "Let me share an angel story with you that occurred at the Shrine of our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima," he writes. "I was on the final day of my seven-day pilgrimage to Fatima and at this point had not attended Confession. I was determined to do so in the time remaining. I had about an hour to sort it out before our bus left for Lisbon.
"We were due to leave Fatima at 10 a.m. I went to breakfast and told my friends I had one last important job to do before I left and it entailed visiting the Sanctuary. One of my friends was delighted to learn that I was going down to the site of the apparitions one last time as she had forgotten to leave down some petitions she received from friends back in Ireland. I took them and shoved them in my back pocket. I sorted out my luggage, left it in the departure area of the hotel, and off I went.
"I arrived at the Chapel of Apparitions to ask Our Blessed Mother to help me make a good Confession and then left to visit the Chapel of Reconciliation. When I got there I was delighted to see that there were only two people in the Chapel and I knew it would be possible to make an unhurried prayerful Confession.
"I searched along the long line of Confessionals to discover that no English-speaking priests were present to hear Confession. My heart sank. Nearly all confessionals read 'Portuguese' or 'Italiana.' I went out to the foyer to see the list of languages available that morning and English was not listed.
"Imagine my horror when I realized that I had left it for far too late. It was now twenty minutes to departure time and I just had no time left. I turned to return to my hotel and had taken about ten steps when I remembered that I had a list of petitions to deliver to Our Blessed Mother. I just had to return and at least fulfill that promise to my friend. I did so in haste running across the Sanctuary and slowing down as I approached the capelinha.
"As I was running I remember trying to make excuses as to why I left it so late to go to Confession. I also remember saying as I was running, 'Lord, You know I just don't want Confession, I desire it with all my heart.' These words must have reverberated in Heaven. I left the list of petitions to the guard on duty and I was turning to leave the little Chapel when I heard the words 'Try the Chapel of Reconciliation again.' I looked at the clock; it was a little after 9.45 a.m.; we were leaving at 10 a.m.!
"No way would I have time, but again in my heart I heard, 'Try the Chapel of Reconciliation again.' My heart realized that God had planned something so I ran.
"When I entered the Chapel of Reconciliation there was no one there except for one priest in white (I now believe it was an angel) sitting facing the door looking out at me. Anyone who knows this Chapel will know that usually people sit with their backs to the door. I stopped and looked at him and without delay he smiled and said 'English?' I said 'yes,' and again he smiled and beckoned me into the confessional with him. I was so delighted and amazed that God had arranged this!
"I knelt down to begin with the sign of the Cross and then the usual 'Bless me Father'....when he stopped me and said, please don't rush I want to pray with you....I want to pray for you... let's pray together...(of course inside my head I was aware of the impending deadline of 10 a.m. which must have been so close now). He seemed to be aware that I had gone through physical suffering and wanted to pray for that... He seemed to know I was married and prayed for that and my children... Then after a little more prayer, he said, 'Now please continue with your Confession.'
"On saying this he closed his eyes and sat up so erect in his chair as if he was lifting his mind to the heavens. Usually, face-to-face Confession involves a lot of eye contact, but this was different. I confessed, realizing all the time that this was something special. The blessing he gave at the end was like nothing I had received before...so slow....so majestic... and so, so peaceful. 'Go in peace,' he told me and I thanked him.
"We left the Confessional together and I thanked him again, turned to bow to the Cross, and when I turned back to smile at him there was no sign of him anywhere.
"I got such a shock that I walked briskly out into the foyer to see if I could see him leaving but nothing... nowhere. Now a very strange realization began to grow in my heart that it was all staged on God's terms. I knelt and said my penance and once again I was made aware of the time and the bus and the folks at the hotel waiting impatiently for me.
"I left the Chapel in such a hurry and turned to the clock and to my utter amazement it was only 9:50 a.m.
"I cannot account for the time. Under normal circumstances it should have been after 10 a.m. I knew that God had made the time simply because of my desire. I was able to walk back to the bus and as I arrived they were saying their goodbyes, bus filled and all were just ready to leave. The two hour journey to Lisbon was one of silence for me -- silence from realizing what had just occurred and of course silence in my heart as an answer to the question just who was my confessor?"
Then there is Jane Spurrier of New Jersey. As she recounts: "In the summer of 1992 I was with my boyfriend and we had just finished having dinner at a restaurant. I was exhausted after a long week at work and looked forward to going home to begin a relaxing weekend. When we got to the parking lot there were two elderly women who had locked their key in their car and needed help. My boyfriend liked to help people and spontaneously went over to the women to offer his assistance. However, no one was able to get the keys out.
"I said a silent prayer 'God, will you please send someone to help us. I'm afraid we'll be here all night.' No sooner did I utter a prayer when a tow truck came down the street and swung into the parking lot as though it knew where to go. No one had called for a tow truck. The driver got out, went over, and was able to get the keys out in a jiffy. He received no compensation. He then took off in his truck that had "Heaven's Towing" emblazoned on the side (I am not kidding!) No one called him. He didn't say anything and we never saw him again. When I got home I told my boyfriend about the prayer. I opened the yellow pages to "towing," expecting to see the company listed.
"Nothing at all. My boyfriend, as good as he was, was a lapsed Catholic. He said I 'scared him' with my prayers that were answered. But eventually he came back to the Church after being away for about 30 years."
In New York, Barbara Flood relates the account of Divine intervention during a recent snowstorm, as she was driving down a winding mountain road towards Route 145 in Cobleskill. "My husband followed in his truck as we tried to keep our vehicles from colliding with other cars that had spun out of control, facing different directions, on the thick ice," she says. "I was able to reach the main road but my car too was sliding out of control. I prayed out loud for God to send help to keep us all safe.
"Just then, I noticed a very odd looking blue car that was stuck in a ditch, surrounded by a few people trying to get it out. As I sat helpless, a stunning, golden-haired young man, with intense, sky blue eyes, and the most innocent expression on his face, climbed away from the ditch, towards my stranded car. He had no gloves on in the piercing cold, and he carried several handfuls of sand and scattered it around the base of the tires on my car. I was able to get enough traction to drive uphill to the car repair shop. My husband, who was following arrived shortly afterwards. He witnessed the whole thing, and said it was a miracle that nobody collided or was injured.
"We returned a few minutes later, but there was no sign of the blue car or the kind, quiet young man."
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