THE WEIGHT OF THE HOLY MASS
(From the Catholic Society of Evangelists Newsletter, August, 1999)
The following TRUE STORY was related to Sr. M. Veronica Murphy by an elderly nun who heard it from the lips of the late Reverend Father Stanislaus SS.CC
One day many years ago, in a little town in Luxembourg , a Captain of the Forest Guards was in deep conversation with the butcher when an elderly woman entered the shop. The butcher broke off the conversation to ask the old woman what she wanted. She had come to beg for a little meat but had no money.
The Captain was amused at the woman and the butcher. 'Only a little meat, but how much are you going to give her?', he wondered.
'I am sorry I have no money but I'll hear Mass for you, ' the woman told the butcher. Both the butcher and the Captain were indifferent about religion, so they at once began to scoff at the old woman's idea.
'All right then,' said the butcher. 'You go and hear Mass for me and when you come back I'll give you as much as the Mass is worth'.
The woman left the shop and returned later. She approached the counter and the butcher said. 'All right then we'll see.'
He took a slip of paper and wrote on it 'I heard a Mass for you.'
He placed the paper on the scales and a tiny bone on the other side, but nothing happened.
Next he placed a piece of meat instead of the bone, but still the paper proved heavier.
Both men were beginning to feel ashamed of their mockery but continued their game. A large piece of meat was placed on the balance, but still the paper held its own. The butcher, exasperated, examined the scales but found they were alright.
'What do you want my good woman? Must I give you a whole leg of mutton?'
At this he placed the leg of mutton on the balance, but the paper outweighed the meat. A larger piece of meat was put on, but again the weight remained on the side of the paper. This so impressed the butcher that he was converted and promised to give the woman her daily ration of meat.
As for the Captain, he left the shop a changed man and became an ardent lover of daily Mass. Two of his sons became priests, one a Jesuit & the other a Father of the Sacred Heart.
Father Stanislaus finished the story by saying, 'I am from the Religious of the Sacred Heart & the Captain was my father.
'From this incident the Captain became a daily Mass attendant & his children were trained to follow his example.
Later, when his sons became priests, he advised them to say Mass well every day and never miss the Sacrifice of the Mass through any fault of their own.
If you like the story, share it with someone.
Remember too that 'a Holy Mass a day keeps the Devil away'.
Story of the Prisoner and his cellmates
The True Account
of Prisoner Claude Newman (1944)
by John Vennari, from the March 2001 issue of “Catholic Family News.” Story Source
The following true story of Claude Newman took place in Mississippi in 1944. The account was told by Father O'Leary, a priest from Mississippi, who was directly involved with the events. He has left for posterity an audio recording it.
Claude Newman was a negro man who worked the fields for a landowner. He had married when he was 17 years old to a woman of the same age. One day, two years later, he was out ploughing the fields. Another worker ran to tell Claude that his wife was screaming from the house. Immediately Claude ran into his house and found a man attacking his wife. Claude saw red, grabbed an axe and split the man's head open. When they rolled the man over, they discovered that it was the favorite employee of the landowner for whom Claude worked. Claude was arrested. He was later sentenced for murder and condemned to die in the electric chair.
While he was in jail awaiting execution, he shared a cell-block of some sort with four other prisoners. One night, the five men were sitting around talking and they ran out of conversation. Claude noticed a medal on a string around another prisoner's neck. He asked what it was, and the Catholic boy told him that it was a medal. Claude said, "What is a medal?" The Catholic boy could not explain what a medal was or what its purpose was. At that point, and in anger, the Catholic boy snatched the medal from his own neck and threw it on the floor at Claude's feet with a curse and a cuss, telling him to take the thing.
Claude picked up the medal, and with permission from the prison attendants, placed it on a string around his own neck. To him it was simply a trinket, but he wanted to wear it.
During the night, sleeping on top of his cot, he was awakened with a touch on his wrist. And there stood, as Claude told the priest later, the most beautiful woman that God ever created. At first he was very frightened. The Lady calmed down Claude, and then said to him, "If you would like Me to be your Mother, and you would like to be My child, send for a priest of the Catholic Church." With that She disappeared.
Claude immediately became terrified, and started to scream, "a ghost, a ghost", and fled to the cell of one of the other prisoners. He then started screaming that he wanted a Catholic priest.
Father O'Leary , the priest who tells the story, was called first thing the next morning. He arrived and found Claude who told him of what had happened the night before. Then Claude, along with the other four men in his cell-block, asked for religious instruction, for catechism.
Initially, Father O'Leary had difficulty believing the story .The other prisoners told the priest that everything in the story was true; but of course, they neither saw nor heard the vision of the Lady.
Father O'Leary promised to teach them catechism, as they had requested. He went back to his parish, told the rector what had happened, and returned to the prison the next day to give instruction.
It was then that the priest learned that Claude Newman could neither read nor write at all. The only way he could tell if a book was right-side-up was if the book contained a picture. Claude had never been to school. And his ignorance of religion was even more profound. He knew nothing at all about religion. He did not know who Jesus was. He did not know anything except that there was a God.
Claude began receiving instructions, and the other prisoners helped him with his studies. After a few days, two of the religious Sisters from Father O'Leary's parish-school obtained permission from the warden to come to the prison. They wanted to meet Claude, and they also wanted to visit the women in the prison. On another floor of the prison, the Sisters then started to teach some of the women-prisoners catechism as well.
Several weeks passed, and it came time when Father O'Leary was going to give instructions about the Sacrament of Confession. The Sisters too sat in on the class. The priest said to the prisoners, "Okay, boys, today I'm going to teach you about the Sacrament of Confession."
Claude said, "Oh, I know about that!"
"The Lady told me," said Claude, "that when we go to confession we are kneeling down not before a priest, but we're kneeling down by the Cross of Her Son. And that when we are truly sorry for our sins, and we confess our sins, the Blood He shed flows down over us and washes us free from all sins."
Father O'Leary and the Sisters sat stunned with their mouths wide open. Claude thought they were angry and said, "Oh don't be angry, don't be angry, I didn't mean to blurt it out."
The priest said, "We're not angry. We're just amazed. You have seen Her again?"
Claude said, "Come around the cell-block away from the others."
When they were alone, Claude said to the priest, "She told me that if you doubted me or showed hesitancy, I was to remind you that lying in a ditch in Holland, in 1940, you made a vow to Her which She's still waiting for you to keep." And, Father O'Leary recalls, "Claude told me exactly what the vow was."
This convinced Father O'Leary that Claude was telling the truth about his visions of Our Lady.
They then returned to the catechism class on Confession. And Claude kept telling the other prisoners, "You should not be afraid to go to confession. You're really telling God your sins, not this priest, or any priest. We're telling God our sins." Then Claude said, "You know, the Lady said [that Confession is] something like a telephone. We talk through the priest to God and God talks back to us through the priest."
About a week later, Father O'Leary was preparing to teach the class about the Blessed Sacrament. The Sisters were present for this too. Claude indicated that the Lady had also taught him about Holy Communion, and he asked if he could tell the priest what She said. The priest agreed immediately. Claude related, "The Lady told me that in Communion, I will only see what looks like a piece of bread. But She told me that THAT is really and truly Her Son. And that He will be with me just for a few moments as He was with Her before He was born in Bethlehem. And that I should spend my time like She did, in all Her time with Him, in loving Him, adoring Him, thanking Him, praising Him and asking Him for blessings. I shouldn't be bothered by anybody else or anything else. But I should spend those few minutes with Him."
Eventually they finished the instructions, Claude was received into the Catholic Church, and the time came for Claude to be executed. He was to be executed at five minutes after twelve, midnight.
The sheriff asked him, "Claude, you have the privilege of a last request. What do you want?"
"Well," said Claude, "you're all shook up. The jailer is all shook up. But you don't understand. I'm not going to die. Just this body. I'm going to be with Her. So, can I have a party?"
"What do you mean?", asked the sheriff.
"A Party!" said Claude. "Will you give Father permission to bring in some cakes and ice cream and will you allow the prisoners on the second floor to be turned loose in the main room so that we can all be together and have a party?"
"Somebody might attack Father," cautioned the warden.
Claude turned to the men who were standing by and said, "Oh no, they won't. Will you fellas?"
So, the priest visited a wealthy patron of the parish, and she supplied the ice cream and cake. They had their party.
Afterwards, because Claude had requested it, they made a Holy Hour. The priest had brought prayer books from the Church and they all said together the Stations of the Cross, and a had a Holy Hour, without the Blessed Sacrament.
Afterwards, the men were put back in their cells. The priest went to the chapel to get the Blessed Sacrament so that he could give Claude Holy Communion.
Father O'Leary returned to Claude's cell. Claude knelt on one side of the bars, the priest knelt on the other, and they prayer together as the clock ticked toward Claude's execution.
Fifteen minutes before the execution, the sheriff came running up the stairs shouting, "Reprieve, Reprieve, the Governor has given a two-week reprieve!" Claude had not been aware that the sheriff and the District Attorney were trying to get a stay of execution for Claude to save his life. When Claude found out, he started to cry. The priest and the sheriff thought it was a reaction of joy because he was not going to be executed. But Claude said, "Oh you men don't know. And Father, you don't know. If you ever looked into Her face, and looked into Her eyes, you wouldn't want to live another day."
Claude then said, "What have I done wrong these past weeks that God would refuse me my going home?" And the priest said that Claude sobbed as one who was broken hearted.
The sheriff left the room. The priest remained and gave Claude Holy Communion. Claude eventually quieted down. Then Claude said, "Why? Why must I still remain here for two weeks?"
The priest had a sudden idea.
He reminded Claude about a prisoner in the jail who hated Claude intensely. This prisoner had led a horribly immoral life, and he too was sent to be executed.
The priest said, "Maybe Our Blessed Mother wants you to offer this denial of being with Her for his conversion." The priest continued, "Why don't you offer to God every moment you are separated from Her for this prisoner so that he will not be separated from God for all eternity."
Claude agreed, and asked the priest to teach him the words to make the offering. The priest complied. At the time, the only two people who knew about this offering were Claude and Father O'Leary.
The next day, Claude said to the priest, "That prisoner hated me before, but Oh! Father, how he hates me now!" The priest said, "Well, that's a good sign."
Two weeks later, Claude was executed.
Father O'Leary remarked, "I've never seen anyone go to his death as joyfully and happily. Even the official witnesses and the newspaper reporters were amazed. They said they couldn't understand how anyone could go and sit in the electric chair actually beaming with happiness."
His last words to Father O'Leary were, "Father, I will remember you. And whenever you have a request, ask me, and I will ask Her."
Two months later, the white man, who had hated Claude, was to be executed. Father O'Leary said, "This man was the filthiest, most immoral person I had ever come across." His hatred for God, for everything spiritual," said the priest, "defied description."
Just before his execution, the county doctor pleaded with this man to at least kneel down and say the Our Father before the sheriff would come for him.
The prisoner spat in the doctor's face.
When he was strapped into the electric chair, the sheriff said to him, "If you have something to say, say it now."
The condemned man started to blaspheme.
All of a sudden the condemned man stopped, and his eyes became fixed on the corner of the room, and his face turned to one of absolute horror.
Turning to the sheriff, he then said, "Sheriff, get me a priest!"
Now, Father O'Leary had been in the room because the law required a clergyman to be present at executions. The priest, however, had hidden himself behind some reporters because the condemned man had threatened to curse God if he saw a clergyman at all.
Father O'Leary immediately went to the condemned man. The room was cleared of everyone else, and the priest heard the man's confession. The man said he had been a Catholic, but turned away from his religion when he was 18 because of his immoral life.
When everyone returned to the room, the sheriff asked the priest, "What made him change his mind?"
"I don't know " said Father O'Leary, "I didn't ask him."
The sheriff said, "Well, I'll never sleep if I don't."
The Sheriff turned to the condemned man and asked, "Son, what changed your mind?"
The prisoner responded, "Remember that black man Claude - who I hated so much? Well he's standing there [he pointed], over in that corner. And behind him with one hand on each shoulder is the Blessed Mother. And Claude said to me, 'I offered my death in union with Christ on the Cross for your salvation. She has obtained for you this gift, to see your place in Hell if you do not repent.' I was shown my place in Hell, and that's when I screamed."
This, then, is the power of Our Lady.
We see many parallels between these facts of Claude Newman story and the Message of Fatima in 1917. There is the emphasis on:
· Sacramental Confession,
· Holy Communion,
· Making sacrifices for Sinners,
· the vision of Hell.
"Many souls go to Hell" said Our Lady of Fatima, "because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them."
Original work and arrangements © 2002 CDIA
3 Hail Mary’s and the monkey under the bed
In the city of Naples in the early fifteenth century, a certain distinguished gentleman began to entertain the modern notions of the day critical of the Catholic Church. Soon he had abandoned the practice of the Faith and was causing great scandal among the faithful for his open ridicule of those who frequented the Sacraments and practiced popular pious devotions.
It was the talk of the city, and many the ladies who pleaded with their husbands to accept the invitations to a feast put on by the avowed agnostic so that they might witness the marvelous sight! Before too long, the gossip about the strange steward reached the ears of a parish priest renowned for his holiness and virtue. But instead of dismissing the talk or issuing warning about attending the parties of one so opposed to the Holy Church, the priest asked to receive an invitation to the next gala event to see for himself the truth of this talk.
The host at first desisted – none of those foolish, sour-faced clerics would set foot on his premises! But in the end, his spirit of pride conquered: he wanted to flaunt the feats and antics of his devoted little four-footed servant to the credulous priest. The invitation was issued. The evening arrived, and the priest rang at the bronze gates of the palace some time after the festivities had begun.
“A priest begging leave to enter my hall,” his jovial host remarked at his entrance. “Will wonders never cease! But, indeed, this is a house of wonders.”
“Yes, so I have heard,” the priest calmly replied. “And truly I must say I am interested to see this amazing sight of a monkey who serves a man.”
The host immediately rang his special silver bell that called his peculiar steward to his presence. But the monkey, who only moments before had been charming a group of ladies with his antics, did not appear. The baffled host shook his head in amazement. This was the first time it had failed to respond to his call. The priest insisted: he had come expressly to see this strange sight and would not be deprived of the pleasure. The host called again. No reply. The monkey seemed to have disappeared. A search of the house was made, and finally the creature was discovered, shaking in his velvet suit under the bed of the host. It was dragged out from under the bed, the little creature trembling and struggling to escape the presence of the priest.
“Now,” the priest demanded, “I command you in the name of the Almighty God, Three in One, to tell your master who you are and what is your purpose in this house.” Forced to obey, the furious, still trembling monkey spat out these words to his shocked master: “I am no ordinary beast. I am a demon from hell who has taken on the form of a monkey who attends to your every bid and call. And so I do, but I await under your bed every night for the first night that you might leave off that abominable custom taught to you by your mother of saying three Hail Marys before you retire. For then, and only then, do I have permission to strangle you in your sleep and drag your soul to the eternal fires.”
With these words spoken, the writhing monkey disappeared. The arrogance and mocking manner of the host faded with the wretched creature. Ashen faced and shaken, he turned to the priest. “Ah, my fortunate man,” the holy man said. “For fortunate indeed you have been to have retained this small devotion to the Mother of Mercies, who never abandons even the most wretched who have recourse to her.” He heard the confession of the man, who became a model of faith in the city and was especially renowned for his tender devotion to the Virgin Mary.
How many of us in our journey through life have felt the presence of a monkey under our beds? And how many of us have experienced the goodness and mercy of Mary, who until the end of the world will never cease relieving the miseries of man and flying to their aid to return them to the path of truth, the Holy Catholic Church? The Mother of Mercy, she stays the hand of justice of her divine Son for all who invoke her, even for three Hail Marys.
This story is proof of the words of St. Bernardine de Bustis: “This great Lady is more desirous to grant us graces than we are desirous to receive them.”
It Happened in Dublin many Years Ago
(From The Irish Catholic Marist Messenger and March '59, Our Lady's Digest)
A winter's night had already thrown its black pall over the quays of Dublin when an urgent ringing of the presbytery door bell of one of the city parishes brought its aging pastor quickly to his feet.
It was so dark that he could scarcely distinguish the form of a woman on the doorstep. She spoke rapidly, as if anxious to be gone.
"A poor man," she said, "was dying very far down, beyond the great jetty of the North Wall. A priest was needed. There was no time to lose." And, having delivered her message, she sped away into the night.
"I will go myself," murmured the old priest, peering after the retreating figure.
There were no buses in those days, and the tram cars did not go along the quays, so he set out on foot.
It was very dark and he seemed to be walking a long time but he was heedless of fatigue as he clasped the Blessed Sacrament to his heart with one hand and carried the Holy Oils in the other.
His sole guide was the lighthouse flashing every two seconds across the bay.
The tide rose high on either side of the jetty on which he walked, and it was the sound of the waves rather than anything he could see which led him at last to a group of fishermen's cottages.
Instinctively, he stopped at one of them and pushed open the little door. There was no light and no sound broke the silence.
He entered but could see no one.
"Who will lead me to the sick man?" he asked himself anxiously.
He paused to listen. All was quiet.
Then his eyes, grown accustomed to the gloom, perceived a little staircase.
As he placed his foot on the first rickety step, a feeble voice fell upon his ear. But what was he saying so plaintively?
Holy Mary . . . Mother of God . . . pray for us . . . poor sinners … now . . . and at the hour of death… "Holy Mary . . . "
And ceaselessly the weak voice repeated again and again always the second part of the Hail Mary.
Gently the priest opened the door of the little room.
On a miserable pallet lay a poor man dying. He was all alone. "My friend, you sent for me?" began the priest.
"No, Father, I sent for no one!"
"I see that you love the Blessed Virgin. You are praying to her."
"I do not know who the Blessed Virgin is."
"Well, at least you pray to God."
"Never heard of Him."
The priest was puzzled. Who had come for him?
The man before him was obviously not hostile towards priests, but of God he knew nothing!
"My friend," he asked, "why do you repeat unceasingly 'Holy Mary Mother
of God . . .?"
"Ah!' replied the sick man, "when I am in great pain I say those words and they bring me relief."
And then he told the priest this touching story:
"I was a sailor, and oftentimes our ship was anchored off the west coast of Ireland. Those of us who wished got leave to spend the nights ashore in lodgings with the natives. I am not Irish but I liked those
"In the cottage where I used to stay, the family gathered every night for prayers. The Mother said some words alone which I cannot recall, and all the others answered:
" 'Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, poor sinners, now and at the hour of our death.'
"I have never forgotten those words and it does me good to say them."
The priest was deeply moved.
He remained all night with the sick man, talking to him of God, of the Blessed Virgin and of that other life which he was so soon to enter.
Here was a soul in all its freshness eager to drink in the eternal truths, a laborer of the eleventh hour indeed, and that Our Lady herself had gone out to seek . . .
At dawn the priest baptized him. He then gave him his first Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.
When morning had come the priest had to leave.
"My friend," he said, "I must leave you.
. . . I am going to say Mass for you. . . . and I will return.
As he left the house he was deep in thought. Who, but who had come for him? He was certain someone had come, but who?
As if in answer to his thought a poorly clad woman appeared at the door
of one of the cottages. He spoke to her.
"That poor man up there is very ill," he said. "He will not last much longer." She shook her head, then added suddenly:"It was I who went for you. I do not belong to your religion. I am a Protestant, but when I heard Mr. . . . . . .always saying the Catholic prayer, I said to myself, 'I really must go and fetch
one of his ministers to him before he dies," so I went for you."
Trying to hide his emotion the priest thanked her for her charitable action and hastened away to offer the Holy Sacrifice.
"Here," he pondered, "is a poor unfortunate who repeated the Ave Maria without even knowing what he was saying, yet the Blessed Virgin heard his request!" 'Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death!' . . .
She came, most certainly, at the hour of his death, this good and holy Mother!
"How far-reaching can be the effects of the Family Rosary said at nightfall in a Connemara cottage!"
The "Hail Mary" of a Protestant is powerful! (A True Story)
A little six-year-old Protestant boy had often heard his Catholic companion reciting the prayer 'Hail Mary.' He liked it so much that he copied it, memorized it and would recite it every day. 'Look, Mummy, what a beautiful prayer,' he said to his mother one day.
'Never again say it,' answered the mother.' it is a superstitious prayer of Catholics who adore idols and think Mary a goddess. After all, she is a woman like any other. Come on, take this Bible and read it. It contains everything that we are bound to do and have to do.' From that day on the little boy discontinued his daily 'Hail Mary' and gave himself more time to reading the Bible instead.
One day, while reading the Gospel, he came across the passage about the Annunciation of the Angel to Our Lady. Full of joy, the little boy ran to his mother and said: 'Mummy, I have found the 'Hail Mary' in the Bible which says: 'Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women. ' Why do you call it a superstitious prayer?'
On another occasion he found that beautiful Salutation of St. Elizabeth to The Virgin Mary and the wonderful canticle. MAGNIFICAT in which Mary foretold that 'the generations would call her blessed.'
He said no more about it to his mother but started to recite the 'Hail Mary' every day as before. He felt pleasure in addressing those charming words to the Mother of Jesus, our Savior.
When he was fourteen, he one day heard a discussion on Our Lady among the members of his family. Every one said that Mary was a common woman like any other woman. The boy, after listening to their erroneous reasoning, could not bear it any longer, and full of indignation, he interrupted them, saying: 'Mary is not like any other children of Adam, stained with sin. No! The Angel called her FULL OF GRACE AND BLESSED AMONGST WOMEN. Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ and consequently Mother of God. There is no higher dignity to which a creature can be raised. The Gospel says that the generations will proclaim her blessed and you are trying to despise her and look down on her. Your spirit is not the Spirit Of the Gospel or of the Bible which you proclaim to be the foundation of the Christian religion.'
So deep was the impression which the boy's talk had made that his mother many times cried out sorrowfully: 'Oh my God! I fear that this son of mine will one day join the Catholic religion, the religion of Popes!' And indeed, not very long afterwards, having made a serious study of both Protestantism and Catholicism, the boy found the latter to be the only true religion and embraced it and became one of its most ardent apostles.
Some time after his conversion, he met his married sister who rebuked his and said indignantly: 'You little know how much I love my children. Should any one of them desire to become a Catholic, I would sooner pierce his heart with a dagger than allow him to embrace the religion of the Popes!'
Her anger and temper were as furious as those of St. Paul before his conversion. However, she would change her ways, just as St. Paul did on his way to Damascus. It so happened that one of her sons fell dangerously ill and the doctors gave up hope of recovery. Her brother then approached, her and spoke to her affectionately, saying:
'My dear sister, you naturally wish to have your child cured. Very well, then, do what I ask you to do. Follow me, let us pray one 'Hail Mary' and promise God that, if your son recovers his health, you would seriously study the Catholic doctrine, and should you come to the conclusion that Catholicism is the only true religion, you would embrace it no matter what the sacrifices may be.'
His sister was somewhat reluctant at the beginning but as she wished for her son's recovery. She accepted her brother's proposal and recited the 'Hail Mary' together with him. The next day her son was completely cured! The mother fulfilled her promise and she studied the Catholic doctrine. After long preparation she received Baptism together with her family, thanking her brother for being an apostle to her.
The story was related during a sermon given by the Rev. Father Tuckwell. 'Brethren, he went on and said, 'The boy who became a Catholic and converted his sister to Catholicism dedicated his whole life to the service of God. He is the priest who is speaking to you now! What I am I owe to Our Lady. You, too, my dear brethren, be entirely dedicated also to Our Lady and never let a day pass without saying the beautiful prayer, 'Hail Mary', and your Rosary. Ask her to enlighten the minds of Protestants who are separated from the true Church of Christ founded on the Rock (Peter) and 'against whom the gates of hell shall never prevail.'
Don't Leave It On the Desk
"There was a certain professor of religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the western United States.
Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course his freshman year, regardless of his or her major.
Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the Gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery.
Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.
This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going on to seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor's class.
One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. 'How many push-ups can you do?'
Steve said, 'I do about 200 every night.'
'200? That's pretty good, Steve, ' Dr. Christianson said.
'Do you think you could do 300?'
Steve replied, 'I don't know.... I've never done 300 at a time.'
'Do you think you could?' again asked Dr. Christianson.
'Well, I can try,' said Steve.
'Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it,' said the professor.
Steve said, 'Well... I think I can...yeah, I can do it.'
Dr. Christianson said, 'Good! I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind.'
Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. No, these weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson's class.
Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, 'Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?'
Cynthia said, 'Yes.'
Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, 'Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?'
'Sure!' Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.
Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, 'Joe, do you want a donut?'
Joe said, 'Yes.'
Dr. Christianson asked, 'Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?'
Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut.
Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship.
When the professor asked, 'Scott do you want a donut?'
Scott's reply was, 'Well, can I do my own push-ups?'
Dr. Christianson said, 'No, Steve has to do them.'
Then Scott said, 'Well, I don't want one then.'
Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, 'Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?'
With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten push-ups.
Scott said, 'HEY! I said I didn't want one!'
Dr. Christianson said, 'Look!, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it.' And he put a donut on Scott's desk.
Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.
Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.
Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, 'Jenny, do you want a donut?'
Sternly, Jenny said, 'No.'
Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, 'Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?'
Steve did ten....Jenny got a donut.
By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say, 'No!' and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks.
Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these push-ups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.
Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten push-ups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert could count the set and watch Steve closely.
Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row. During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.
Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.
Steve asked Dr. Christianson, 'Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?'
Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, 'Well, they're your pushups. You are in charge now. You can do them any way that you want.' And Dr. Christianson went on.
A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, 'NO! Don't come in! Stay out!' Jason didn't know what was going on.
Steve picked up his head and said, 'No, let him come.'
Professor Christianson said, 'You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push-ups for him?'
Steve said, 'Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut.'
Dr. Christianson said, 'Okay, Steve, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?'
Jason, new to the room, hardly knew what was going on. 'Yes,' he said, 'give me a donut.'
'Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?'
Steve did ten push-ups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.
Dr. Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters. Steve's arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. By this time sweat was profusely dropping off of his face, there was no sound except his heavy breathing; there was not a dry eye in the room.
The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular.
Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, 'Linda, do you want a donut?'
Linda said, very sadly, 'No, thank you.'
Professor Christianson quietly asked, 'Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want?'
Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push-ups for Linda.
Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. 'Susan, do you want a donut?'
Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry. 'Dr. Christianson, why can't I help him?'
Dr. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, 'No, Steve has to do it alone; I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not. When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes.'
'Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?'
As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push-ups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.
Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said, 'And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, plead to the Father, 'Into thy hands I commend my spirit.' With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, He yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten.'
Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.
'Well done, good and faithful servant,' said the professor, adding, 'Not all sermons are preached in words.'
Turning to his class, the professor said, 'My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He spared not His only Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all, for the whole Church, now and forever. Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid.'
'Wouldn't you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?' "
The Angel "Birdies" - A True Story
Throughout our lives we are blessed with spiritual experiences, some of which are very sacred and confidential, and others, although sacred, are meant to be shared.
Last summer my family had a spiritual experience that had a lasting and profound impact on us, one we feel must be shared. It's a message of love.
It's a message of regaining perspective, and restoring proper balance and renewing priorities. In humility, I pray that I might, in relating this story, give you a gift my little son, Brian, gave our family one summer day last year.
On July 22nd, I was enroute to Washington, DC for a business trip. It was all so very ordinary, until we landed in Denver for a plane change. As I collected my belongings from the overhead bin, an announcement was made for Mr. Lloyd Glenn to see the United Customer Service Representative immediately.
I thought nothing of it until I reached the door to leave the plane and I heard a gentleman asking every male if they were Mr. Glenn. At this point I knew something was wrong and my heart sunk. When I got off the plane a solemn-faced young man came toward me ands aid, "Mr. Glenn, there is an emergency at your home. I do not know what the emergency is or who is involved, but I will take you to the phone so you can call the hospital."
My heart was now pounding, but the will to be calm took over. Woodenly, I followed this stranger to the distant telephone where I called the number he gave me for the Mission Hospital.
My call was put through to the trauma center where I learned that my three-year-old son had been trapped underneath the automatic garage door for several minutes, and that when my wife had found him he was dead. CPR had been performed by a neighbor, who is a doctor, and the paramedics had continued the treatment as Brian was transported to the hospital. By the time of my call, Brian was revived and they believed he would live, but they did not know how much damage had been done to his brain or to his heart.
They explained that the door had completely closed on his little sternum right over his heart. He had been severely crushed. After speaking with the medical staff, my wife sounded worried but not hysterical, and I took comfort in her calmness.
The return flight seemed to last forever, but finally I arrived at the hospital six hours after the garage door had come down. When I walked into the intensive care unit, nothing could have prepared me to see my little son laying so still on a great big bed with tubes and monitors everywhere.
He was on a respirator. I glanced at my wife who stood and tried to give me a reassuring smile. It all seemed like a terrible dream.
I was filled-in with the details and given a guarded prognosis. Brian was going to live, and the preliminary tests indicated that his heart was ok, two miracles in and of themselves. But only time would tell if his brain received any damage Throughout the seemingly endless hours, my wife was calm. She felt that Brian would eventually be all right. I hung on to her words and faith like a lifeline.
All that night and the next day Brian remained unconscious. It seemed like forever since I had left for my business trip the day before. Finally at two o'clock that afternoon, our son regained consciousness and sat up uttering the most beautiful words I have ever heard spoken. He said, "Daddy hold me" and he reached for me with his little arms.
By the next day he was pronounced as having no neurological or physical deficits, and the story of his miraculous survival spread throughout the hospital. You cannot imagine our gratitude and joy.
As we took Brian home we felt a unique reverence for the life and love of our Heavenly Father that comes to those who brush death so closely. In the days that followed there was a special spirit about our home. Our two older children were much closer to their little brother. My wife and I were much closer to each other, andall of us were very close as a whole family. Life took on a less stressful pace. Perspective seemed to be more focused, and balance much easier to gain and maintain. We felt deeply blessed. Our gratitude was truly profound.
The story is not over. Almost a month later to the day of the accident, Brian awoke from his afternoon nap and said, "Sit down, Mommy. I have something to tell you." At this time in his life, Brian usually spoke in small phrases, so to say a large sentence surprised my wife. She sat down with him on his bed and he began his sacred and remarkable story.
"Do you remember when I got stuck under the garage door? Well, it was so heavy and it hurt really bad. I called to you, but you couldn't hear me. I started to cry, but then it hurt too bad. And then the 'birdies' came."
"The birdies?" my wife asked puzzled.
"Yes," he replied. "The birdies made a whooshing sound and flew into the garage. They took care of me."
"Yes," he said. "One of the birdies came and got you. She came to tell you I got stuck under the door."
A sweet reverent feeling filled the room. The spirit was so strong and yet lighter than air. My wife realized that a three-year-old had no concept of death and spirits, so he was referring to the beings who came to him from beyond as "birdies" because they were up in the air like birds that fly.
"What did the birdies look like?" she asked.
Brian answered, "They were so beautiful. They were dressed in white, all white. Some of them had green and white. But some of them had on just white."
"Did they say anything?"
"Yes," he answered. "They told me the baby would be all right."
"The baby?" my wife asked confused.
Brian answered, "The baby laying on the garage floor."
He went on, "You came out and opened the garage door and ran to the baby. You told the baby to stay and not leave. "
My wife nearly collapsed upon hearing this, for she had indeed gone and knelt beside Brian's body and seeing his crushed chest and recognizable features, knowing he was already dead, she looked up around her and whispered, "Don't leave us Brian, please stay if you can." As she listened to Brian telling her the words she had spoken, she realized that the spirit had left his body and was looking down from above on his little lifeless form.
"Then what happened?" she asked.
"We went on a trip," he said, "far, far away." He grew agitated trying to say the things he didn't seem to have the words for. My wife tried to calm and comfort him, and let him know it would be okay. He struggled with wanting to tell something that obviously was very important to him, but finding the words was difficult.
"We flew so fast up in the air. They're so pretty Mommy," he added. "And there is lots and lots of birdies."
My wife was stunned. Into her mind the sweet comforting spirit enveloped Her more soundly, but with an urgency she had never before known. Brian went on to tell her that the "birdies" had told him that he had to come back and tell everyone about the "birdies".
He said they brought him back to the house and that a big fire truck, and an ambulance were there. A man was bringing the baby out on a white bed and he tried to tell the man that the baby would be okay, but the man couldn't hear him. He said the birdies told him he had to go with the ambulance, but they would be near him. He said they were so pretty and so peaceful, and he didn't want to come back.
Then the bright light came. He said that the light was so bright and so warm, and he loved the bright light so much. Someone was in the bright light and put their arms around him, and told him, "I love you but you have to go back. You have to play baseball, and tell everyone about the birdies." Then the person in the bright light kissed him and waved bye-bye. Then woosh, the big sound came and they went into the clouds.
The story went on for an hour. He taught us that "birdies" were always with us, but we don't see them because we look with our eyes and we don't hear them because we listen with our ears. But they are always there, you can only see them in here (he put his hand over his heart). They whisper the things to help us to do what is right because they love us so much.
Brian continued, stating, "I have a plan, Mommy. You have a plan. Daddy has a plan. Everyone has a plan. We must all live our plan and keep our promises. The birdies help us to do that cause they love us so much."
In the weeks that followed, he often came to us and told all, or part of it again and again. Always the story remained the same. The details were never changed or out of order. A few times he added further bits of information and clarified the message he had already delivered. It never ceased to amaze us how he could tell such detail and speak beyond his ability when he talked about his birdies. Everywhere he went, he told strangers about the "birdies."
Surprisingly, no one ever looked at him strangely when he did this. Rather, they always got a softened look on their face and smiled.
Needless to say, we have not been the same ever since that day, and I pray we never will be.
This is a true story provided by Mr.Lloyd Glenn, the father of little Brian.
She will like it now - by Fr. Antonio
It was Wednesday June 5, 2002, when I received a call on my pager.
- “Father Antonio, there is a woman who is dying here at the hospital in Ann Arbor. Her family is asking for a Catholic priest to come and give her the last sacrament. Can you please come?”
Sure. It would be the first experience to anoint someone after 10 months of priesthood. My ministry as a priest was more focused on giving Jesus Christ to His people through the Eucharist (saying Masses) and the Sacrament of Reconciliation (hearing confessions). I was also offering spiritual direction to a good number of people. I drove 15 minutes from home. I arrived at the hospital and entered the room.
There was a woman lying in her bed, dying. Her eyes were closed. Her family was gathered around her: the husband, the sons & their wives. They were comforting each other. I opened the book of prayers and prepared the oil. We prayed. I anointed the woman. After the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, I asked the family to pray with me the rosary. I believe that the presence of Mary can give great comfort for the woman’s soul.
The husband approached me as if he was embarrassed. He whispered saying:
- “Father, my wife never believed in rosaries. She never prayed the rosary. She never liked it.”
- “She will like it now,” I said it, with my Lebanese accent and a Maronite spirit.
We started praying the rosary. When we reached the 4th sorrowful mystery, the woman opened her eyes. The sons approached their mother to see what was going on. They were crying, amazed.
At the end of the Rosary, I asked the sons:
- “What did you see?”
- “Her eyes were filled with peace,” one of her sons answered.
I knew that Mary was present. I knew that she comforted that woman. It didn’t matter whether that woman prayed the rosary in her life or not, whether she liked it or not. It doesn’t matter for Mary for she is a mother not a judge. Mary, who was present under the cross at the moment of Christ’s death, is also present at the moment of our death. This is why we pray: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
The Circle of Love -By Fr. Antonio Elfeghali (maronite-heritage.com)
The story of an American doctor who turned his back on Mary. On an unexpected day,
he found her back into his life. Through Mary, he came back to Christ.
In one of Michigan Jails, many inmates, are experiencing a personal or a communal encounter with the Living Jesus Christ. Many inmates are able to say at one point “We have found the Messiah.” (Jn 1:41) Based on my experience in jail ministry during the last three years, I have found that most of these encounters happened:
1- through the Eucharist after an hour in His Presence;
2- through the Holy Scriptures after meditating on a gospel passage;
3- through Mary by her motherly and merciful figure after reciting the Rosary.
Although most of the inmates are non-Catholics, we try to teach them, in a gentle way, to pray the Rosary, to ask for the intercession of the Saints, and to pray for the souls in Purgatory. These forms of popular piety were an opportunity for them to encounter the living Lord.
And here is another story of a 45-year-old doctor who converted in Jail thanks to Mary.
It was on December 7th, 2003, when we (the Catholic Volunteers & the inmates) had an “Evangelical
Evening”, where we gathered to read a passage from the Bible and discuss it together. We usually start with a prayer to the Holy Spirit. Then, we read a passage from the New Testament. We meditate on the Word of God. We raise questions and try to find answers related to each one’s experience in life. We conclude with spontaneous prayers and a blessing. Now it happened that day that two nuns traveled to jail for the first time and carried with them a six-foot long Rosary- I have never seen like this Rosary before. They sat down in circle with the inmates. One of the nuns handed the six-foot Rosary to three inmates and they started praying.
One of these inmates, a 45-year-old doctor, with beads in hand, began to cry and sob. Most of the eyes in the room were focused on him and people wondered what was his story.
He said, “Twenty years ago, I was on a boat in Pearl Harbor. It was the commemoration of the Pearl Harbor Attacks. I stood up, took the Rosary in my hand, threw it into the ocean, and turned my back on God. It was December 7th, 1983 when I decided to reject Mary and God. Now today, December 7th, 2003, here is the Rosary back in my hand! It was given to me unexpectedly. I see that even if I had turned my back on Mary & God, which led me to a spiritual bankruptcy, Mary & God would never turn their back on me!”
When the people in the Jail heard this story, they praised God. On that Sunday, the doctor/inmate turned
his heart back to Jesus thanks to Mary. A week later, he was released from Jail. He spent one week in Jail
for the first time in his life. But it was a special week where his love for Mary came back into his life.
The Catholic Volunteers are eyewitnesses of these special encounters between the inmates and the living
Lord. Day by day, they believe in the call to be heralds of the Good News and to carry out a special mission of building up broken members of his Mystical Body.