19 June 2012

Visits and Voices from Heaven

The point for me in beginning to tell about my healing is that the Lord Jesus Christ showed mercy to a sinner like me and healed my body.  The Lord also made it clear on two occasions that He healed me through the intercession of the saints and blesseds.  He wants you to know that He wants to do this and He does it when it is within His wonderful plan for us all that we usually call the Divine Will.

After my stroke in 1999 I had a very hard road back to being able to say Mass and function as a priest in the Anglican Communion.  But I worked very hard with various therapists, and in the end very few would be able to tell from speaking with me of the great trauma that had visited my brain.

I could leave the story there, but it would not give full honour to God.  When I entered the Episcopal Hospital, it was thought that I had a pituitary tumour.  Some tests on my eyesight seemed to conclusively prove this to be the case.  After I began to experience my left leg dragging, the doctors insisted I go into hospital through the Emergency Room.

At this point stroke was far from my mind.  In fact I was certain that I had not had a stroke at that point.  The scan of the pituitary showed no tumour though it did reveal some problems.  Later Dr. Rosa Tang would point at the optic chiasm and show me the damaged evidence of one of several strokes.  Unfortunately, after the first scans no other scans were taken during my time in hospital.  Dr. Tang found this outrageous.

While on a hospital floor I experienced what my family and I knew was a stroke.  Afterward I had trouble speaking, and I could not move well.  With my mother present I experienced the room around me dissolve.  Above me standing perhaps 9 or 12 feet tall was St. Raphael the Archangel.  At my feet was St. Catherine of Sienna (I had founded an Episcopalian congregation named for her).  All around me were various saints, and I saw Mother Mary embracing my mother during all of this.

The Archangel had his wings of light extended over my body and a golden substance was falling down upon me.  I felt life ebbing away and I did not want to fight it.  St. Catherine was not happy with my unwillingness to fight for life.  It was then I noticed many people not like the saints around me.  They were in shadow with their eyes closed compared to the saints who were in light with their eyes open.  I was made to understand that these were the living praying for me at that very moment.  The realisation comforted and calmed me.

Unexpectedly, Mother Teresa of Calcutta moved from the back of the saints to come up to my body on the hospital bed.  She took her hand and struck my chest.  "Listen, Vincent, Jesus is alive in your heart!  You must hold on for Him!"  Her words penetrated my awareness like a lightning bolt, and I felt the Lord alive within me.  I had to hold onto Him and hold onto life.  This was what He required of me.

I will not tell everything just now, so let's move on.  The heavenly vision ended.  I was convinced afterward that because of it a fatal stroke had been averted.  But after the heavenly vision passes, you have to get on with the business of living.  As a stroke survivor this can be very painful and difficult, and I found it nearly impossible.

There is much more to tell about these very human things that transpired at this point.  But the only other important thing to say right now is that, whilst in a stroke recovery and rehabilitation room, I began to lose heart again.  I was slipping into deep depression not understanding why this was happening to a young man like myself.  I wanted out of my body.  At this very moment my Nigerian Catholic nurse Barbara burst into my room and announced in her beautiful accent "Mister Vincent God is having a party!"  Barbara is a Saint of God but no one knows it yet... in my humble opinion, of course!

I had no idea what she meant but she went and opened the wall of curtains to reveal the windows outside.  Beyond the glass I saw a sight I have never again seen.  It was lightning strike after lightning strike.   It would turn out to have been the most lightning strikes on record in a city in North America.  

I looked at the lightning show.  I felt deep within that if God was merciful one of these lightning bolts would come into the hospital room and hit me and take  me out of my misery.  I began to weep.

Suddenly my room was filled with a tremendous voice.  I had grown up with the roar of the ocean coming into my boyhood bedroom, and this voice was much like the sound of the crashing of those waters.  The voice said to me beautifully, majestically, and distinctly "All this power and more is available for your healing."

I was a hurricane of emotions inside at this point.  I trembled and asked, "Who are you?"  And this most powerful and magnificent voice said to me very gently, "I am Jesus of Nazareth."  

There was no more verbal communication, but He communicated many things to me.  I would regain full use of my body so as to take care of myself, but His healing help would need my most serious effort to recover.

So the next few years were filled with hard, hard work.  Finally, I was able to celebrate the Holy Eucharist.  I was able to be a part of a parish's life even though I had no responsibilities.  Then I was able to take services for clergy who were unavailable.  I was ready for more, but the Diocese did not want me.  I was damaged goods.  I was too much of a risk because of my brain.

I was very disappointed.  Adding to my disappointment this branch of the Anglican Communion in the USA was coming apart at the seems, taking ill advised decisions, promoting divorced individuals to the Episcopate... it really was too much for me to bear.

One day I sat in my living room.  I had watched a broadcast of Mother Angelica on television.  It wasn't very edifying, but it was amusing.  I turned off the television, and I entered into my prayers.

After the Office I finished my rosary, and I sat in the comfortable chair I had been given by my sister's father-in-law.  I rocked gently and said in my heart to the Lord.  'I don't think I'm washed up, Lord.  I still have more to give.  What should I do?'

Very swiftly the Blessed Mother Mary and St. Joseph seemed to walk through a corner wall into my living room.  I also became aware of an angel standing to my left and an angel standing to my right.

I wish I knew how to tell you of the eyes of Mother Mary and St. Joseph.  The love and compassion in them would melt the stoniest of hearts.  The first thing she said to me is this: "We have been searching all of the temples looking for you.  But you weren't in any of our temples.  You are in what has become an alien temple for us and for you.  Please, my son, come home with us."

Yes, there was more said, but those were the words that stunned all sense right out of me.  Physically I had become somewhat weakened in the weeks coming up to this, and I wondered how I would do what God the Father wanted of me.  But the next day after the visitation I had more than enough strength and a sense of well-being inside.  My parents who were watching over me were very amazed to see such a change in me physically and emotionally.  I drove into Houston, visited with a saint of a priest, and began walking the road to being reconciled with the once dreaded Church of Rome.

I found I could not speak of the heavenly visit save to the priest.  I struggled to explain to my family.  I did a very bad job of it.  I alienated some I had wanted to bring with me.  I thought my sister might come with me because she had had a powerful dream of the Blessed Mother standing and knocking at the door of the Chapel of the Holy Family in our childhood parish with the Mother Mary telling her with tears. 'I knock and knock, but no one will let me in.'  But my sister discerned a different path that kept her and her family in the Episcopal Church.  They attend a splendid Episcopalian parish named interestingly enough for St. Peter.  It is most definitely not an alien temple for the Holy Family.  

Along those lines I later learned that while it was very difficult to find an Episcopal Church that was not an "alien temple"  it could be just as difficult in some places to find a Catholic parish that was not an "alien temple".   These problems beset all of the Christian world.  ... Lack of passionate love for Jesus and a no commitment to Him as the unique Way back to Heaven seemed to be the heart of the matter.

Eventually, my parents were convinced that they too should enter the Catholic Church, and the three of us were welcomed into the Church at the Anglican Use parish of Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church in Houston, Texas on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter.  It was such a happy day to receive the Blessed Sacrament and to know that I had come home with the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph.

The Holy Spouses had told me it would be a horribly difficult road for me, but I carefully tucked that bit of information out of my mind.  I tried not to remember that they had said that it would be a very long time before I could say Mass again... if I ever would be able to say Mass again.  Funny how you try to hear the good stuff and put aside what is really hard and challenging.  Perhaps we all are more prone to hold on to what is positive than to recall any admonition or something negative. 

I found that there was a lot of work for me to do among the wonderful lay faithful at Our Lady of Walsingham Parish and Shrine, and I was welcomed with open arms into the work of casting the nets and bringing in the catch.  Like any person I did some things very well, and other things were not successes at all.   I was able to develop and start RADIO WALSINGHAM ONLINE to broadcast the beautiful music of Christendom from what is sometimes called the Great Tradition.  There is never enough money to turn it into what I had a vision for it to be, but I continued as programmer and chief bottle washer throughout the very long illness that would come later.  

From this period after my stroke, one of the things most clear to me remains how I had experienced such a healing after the visit of the Holy Spouses.  It energised my body and healed many wounds to my heart.  It put strength into the left side of my body which was still quite weak.  I am telling this story now because the Lord wants me to do so, and because I hope that in sharing my story some would choose Christ and come into the Church encouraged by the good news of my testimony. When I taught after coming into the Church, I would share how the Lord had given me the healing strength to work and teach among them.  Some of those who heard me who were not members of the Church came into Christ's Church.

Some people long for heavenly visions and apparitions from the saints, but from my experience no one is prepared for them in the least.  The vision or visit comes and the visit or vision ends.  Then we must go on living for Jesus just like everyone else.  We may ache inside even more because we know we were once on the mountaintop and now we are on the long road down to Jerusalem.

Some day I will write more about this.  Perhaps there are people who will be blessed by hearing of these things.  You should all remember that you need to use your own discernment.  I am not asking anyone to believe me.  I want you to believe God and to believe in Jesus and that work requires you to collaborate intimately with the Holy Spirit... not place your faith in people around you or that you hear about.  

I have started to tell my story because the Lord told me it was time.  The Church is in some turmoil as is the world.  It will get very much worse.  Some of us will live to see great cities wiped off of the map.  Some may even live to see the Church have to leave Rome.  I pray that such things that I was shown do not come to pass unless they are truly the Divine Will.  

What really matters is coming to Jesus.  Be baptised and believe in Christ.  Make every effort to go to Mass daily or to spiritually commune by watching Mass on television.  You can easily do this watching EWTN, Salt & Light, and the other Catholic broadcasts. You can even watch and participate on the internet. 

And finally, and this is far more important than Catholics know, spend time with Jesus at Adoration or simply pay Him a visit whilst He dwells in the Tabernacle.  I say this with confidence -- though you must use your discernment -- the Lord wants His Tabernacle under His cross and directly behind the Altar.  Every time you look at the Altar that Tabernacle is to remind you that Christ is our Great High Priest and He is the Celebrant of our Holy Masses.

The Lord expects those who have the time to spend an hour with Him each day in some fashion, and for most of us prayer at Adoration is the best choice possible.  He expects it whether we are happy or sad.  Whether we get what we want or not, whether we are home or on vacation, whether we are working or at the beach ... how can we deny Him one hour a day?

There are other important things to share, and I will do so for a little while on this blog.  Then I must move on to other things the Lord wants from me.  I hope you are encouraged by reading this.  Seek the Lord, and you will find Him.  You may never have a vision of him, but you will always be able to encounter Him at the Eucharist and in helping the poor, those in need, the widows, the orphans, and those in prison.  Those who do such things encounter the Lord over and over and over again, and they receive the Lord's love in most wonderful and special ways.

Time to get back to my prayers.  The Lord bless and keep you.  Until next time,


+Gloria in excelsis Deo.