Spirit Daily

From Famous Actor To Hospice Nurses, Insights Have Been Gained Into Afterlife

By Michael H. Brown

Actor Mel Gibson, much in the news these days because of his upcoming new movie on Christ's Crucifixion, appears to be among those whose lives were greatly affected by what are known as near-death experiences.

Actually, let's call his case more a "brush with death": last year, while promoting another movie called Signs, Gibson told reporters that in his youth he'd had a life-and-death experience that carried intimations of something greater.

"I remember driving really fast across [Australia], from Adelaide to Sydney," the actor told Sci Fi Wire. "I was like 21 years old. I was probably doing about 95 all the way across the Hay Plain. I finally hit the Blue Mountains before you get into Sydney, and I got caught behind this truck, and he was doing probably 35, going around these really windy roads, up and up and up. I wanted to get out from behind this truck, but there was never a straight place to overtake him. There had been a bit of drizzle and soft edges, and it was the kind of road that was up on a mountain that was carved out of a wall. I took off out from behind the truck and jammed on the gas and just went flying past the guy. And I looked up -- and there was a truck coming in the other direction. The last thing I remember before I simply just covered up in a crouch position, let go of the steering wheel and put it in the hands of the Almighty was a massive gum tree coming right at me, just before it went down over the cliff. And I felt this bang, boom, bang. I took my hands off, and the car was okay, and the big gum tree was pressed against one side of the car door, and it had dented it in. And the other side of the car was a sapling. I had been caught between the two trees, and the front wheels were hanging over the abyss. Somebody had his hand on me that day."

We hear from many who had had such experiences. Actually, we hear from many whose experiences went way beyond that -- to death itself -- and more often than not, such events are life-changing.

They are also comforting, for as it turns out, death is not to be feared. It is something for which we must prepare. This is confirmed by two hospice nurses who wrote a book called Final Gifts. After many years of working with dying people and after hundreds of experiences with their special type of communication, the nurses, Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley, note: "The experience of dying frequently includes glimpses of another world and those waiting in it. Although they offer few details, dying people speak with awe and wonder of the peace and beauty they see in this other place. They tell of talking with, or sensing the presence of, people whom we cannot see -- perhaps people they have known and loved. They know, often without being told, that they are dying, and may even tell us when their deaths will occur."

This we have heard frequently: that loved ones are there to greet us. And there are also the saints. We get this all the time in our mailbag.

"Dear Friends at Spirit Daily," writes one man who is ready to enter the seminary. "I firmly believe that there are no coincidences in the spiritual life. My father and I used to talk about the coming chastisement and the apparitions of Our Lady of LaSalette [in France]. Dad was the most gentle and patient man I have ever known. However, he believed as do I that our society is heading for disaster. This man, whom I prayed the Rosary with daily, died on September 19, 2000. The date should ring a bell [anniversary of the LaSalette apparition!]."

Continues this letter writer: "As he was dying, dad's eyes were fixed forward in a stare as his system shut down. However, at one point, I felt Our Lady's presence as well as the presence of dad's biological mother. I felt that Jesus was also present, but somehow in a different way. When I asked my dad if he could see Our Lady, his head shot up and his eyes enlarged. The look on his face was one of awe. I then asked him, 'Isn't she beautiful dad?' At that, a tear ran down his cheek and he expired.

"One more thing. As I already mentioned, my dad prayed the Rosary every day to Our Lady of Fatima. Only one week before he died, a priest was transferred from Our Lady of Fatima parish in Worcester, Massachusetts, to St. Vincent's Hospital also in Worcester. That priest, who gave my father Holy Communion and the Anointing of the sick, was his cousin whom he had not seen in years."

God and His coincidences! And then there was this from Ann Marie Campion of Pottsville, Pennsylania:

"Since 1974 we have been praying the Rosary and Miraculous Medal Novena in our Church. It will soon be thirty years, thank God.  When I would pray the novena prayer, instead of saying I dedicate and consecrate 'myself' under the title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, I always substituted 'my family.' 

"In 1994 my husband was dying. I had a Brown Scapular around his neck and I pinned a Miraculous Medal to it. One day when I was making his bed I looked at the medal and was remembering Our Lady's promises to those who wear it, and those who pray her Rosary. I mentally said to her, 'If I ever needed you, I need you now.'

'A few days later I was making dinner and had the intercom on so I could hear if my husband needed anything. Suddenly I heard him call 'Mary.'  I ran up to his room and asked him, Mary who?' -- thinking that he wanted to speak to someone. 

"He looked into the corner of our room and said, 'Mary conceived without sin.' 

"I thought he was praying and I finished the prayer. The instant I finished the prayer I knew there was a presence in our room. I asked him if he had seen Our Blessed Mother, and he nodded yes, then turned over and went to sleep. Shortly after that, he died. 

"When our priest came, I told him the story and that I was pondering why he should refer to Our Lady that way. We always refer to her as the Blessed Mother, or Our Lady; never 'Mary conceived without sin.' The priest shrugged his shoulders, but the thought kept nagging me all through the following week. After the funeral I returned to our Rosary and Novena and was still pondering this thought. As we were praying the novena prayer, it ended with 'obtain for us, your children the grace of a happy death, so that in union with you, we may enjoy the bliss of heaven forever.' 

"An explosion went off in my head. After 20 years of praying this prayer, I was given to see the fruits of it. I knew instantly and without any doubt that my husband had seen Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in our room. I believe that the entire medal appeared to him and that is why he said the prayer, 'Oh Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.' To this day I become overwhelmed with a feeling of unworthiness and thankfulness when I think of it. Our Lord and Our Lady's promises are true."

This the great comedian Bob Hope just found out. We're sure of it. Hope, who devoted much of his life lifting spirits, entertaining troops, and visiting with the wounded (often at risk to his own safety), had what his daughter described as "the most peaceful, beautiful death" on Monday at the age of 100.

We believe that peace came because Mass was celebrated in his room just before he expired -- and because those he had helped, both visible and invisible, here and in the hereafter, were now there to help him.

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