Spirit Daily

From The Mail: In The Depths Of Prison Despair, Mary Came With Lesson Of Faith

By Michael H. Brown

The times we live in are fascinating, although they share much with periods in the past. As always, there is that great divide between the spiritual and the "worldly." The world continues to ignore signs from God (manifestations of His love) while concentrating on politics, economics, technology, and carnality (which in the current era goes by the name of Hollywood). It's one reason we present what seem like examples of such manifestations (few others do), while warning that these accounts must be individually discerned. Exaggeration? It certainly can occur. There may even be outright fabrications. Is it really a manifestation of Mary on a window -- or just a coincidence of dew, or paint, or defective glass?

We take the stand of believing before disbelieving, and our viewers are always sending us intriguing accounts, all of which we read. To report your own, click here, especially accounts of encouragement.

Let's start with a writer from Ireland.

"In 1981, when I was 26 years old, I was captured by the British Army and thrown into Crumlin Road Jail, Belfast, in the North of Ireland," writes viewer Paradigm Caughey. "At the time I was extremely bitter and full of hate, not believing in God at all and very angry at the Catholic Church, which I considered to be pro-British."

"The years of rage and violence during the ‘troubles’ had taken their toll on me and I was increasingly suicidal. The only thing that stopped me from killing myself at once was the knowledge that it would bring great pain to my family.

"One night as I entered my cell I found a newspaper photo of Padre Pio bearing his stigmata lying on the floor. I don’t know how it got there, as neither myself or my cellmate were believers.

Anyway as I looked at the marks of the Passion on Padre Pio’s hands I thought, ‘The old man did it with a screwdriver!’ But I wondered how he had never gotten blood poisoning and had not been caught cheating over such a long life.

"That night as I was going to sleep I said in despair, 'Padre Pio, go to God, ask Him to prove to me He really exists in the space of one Hail Mary, for if He doesn’t I will know for certain that He does not exist and I can go ahead and kill myself.' As soon as I said ‘Hail Mary,’ my eyes flooded with rivers of tears, for there standing at the end of the bed in great glory was the Mother of God herself. Extraordinary holiness, and beauty, and majesty, and motherliness and love and kindness; indescribable!!

"She said, ‘Now you believe.' I could only nod and say, ‘Yes, I believe.’ Then she said, ‘Faith without love is vain. You must forgive; do you forgive?

"Then I saw before me picture forms of all who I had hated, while Mary’s voice gently kept asking me, ‘Do you forgive, do you forgive, do you forgive, ...’ as each one passed before me.
She then said, ‘Now is there anyone, anyone at all, to whom you bear hatred?’

"There was no one; I forgave them all; it was as though the weight of the universe was lifted from my soul.

"For the first time Mary smiled, 'Now you have faith and now you have loved; now you must pray, for prayer is the food of faith. Pray, pray the Rosary,' and she held a set of beads towards me.

"But I was embarrassed and said, ‘I am sorry I have forgotten how to say them.' Then Mary said with great firmness, ‘I myself will teach you!' And she was gone.

"Well, anyway, I cannot tell you the joy I felt. It was as though I had been reborn. I found it hard to say the Rosary at first, but then I came to love it. Eventually I ended up saying it all the time. The way Mary taught it was not at all as we prayed it as a child. It was slow and thoughtful.

"When I left prison I entered a Cistercian Monastery for three and a half years. I will never forget that night in prison."

What words: faith without love is vain. Prayer is the food of faith. The more we pray, the more faith we develop -- and the more protection we see, in whatever circumstances. Many are the accounts of Heaven sending signs amid disasters. In Punta Gorda, Florida, there was the tabernacle with lit candle that somehow survived Hurricane Charley, and from Italy we hear this:

"On the 28 May a sudden landslide destroyed the sanctuary of the Madonna of the Grotto in Bombile D’Ardore (Reggio Calabria). The church, a place of pilgrimage, was entirely dug out of the rock. Less than an hour before the collapse, the rector of the sanctuary, Don Alfredo Valenti, had celebrated a Mass attended by pupils of the local school and students arrived from Malta on a project. Avvenire reported the following day: 'About 7 p.m. a fireman managed to make a hole through the fallen rubble and check with a probe whether there were any signs of life. He then succeeded in looking into the sanctuary: at the far end of the central nave the altar was still standing and the sixteenth-century white marble statue of Our Lady was intact, the fall of earth had stopped just at its feet. The happy news rapidly made the rounds of the parish church where the community of Bombile had gathered to pray.'"

The food of more faith!

Aug 2004

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