On this Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the season of Advent we can share our own special Marian stories.  Mine takes place decades ago on a night when I was desperately praying to Mary for help.  As my pleas continued I began to vividly experience Mary's real presence in a hazy visual image.  The message she was conveying to me, however, was anything but indistinct: “It will be all right, you are going to be healed.”  What joy, relief and consolation flowed from this kind looking maternal woman dressed in simple ancient robes. Mary was overturning that afternoon’s dire message from my doctor.  An x ray showed that my lungs were filled with some gritty substance that could well be fatal.  As a young mother with a busy husband and six young children this was dreadful news.

      On the following day when I returned for another scheduled x-ray I was so enthralled by my vision that I had high hopes that my lungs would be clear.  But no, the shadowy evidence of the grit (which I came to call ‘true grit’) remained.  So I decided I had experienced a benign hallucination brought on by stress.  More of which promptly followed as I was hospitalized for a lung biopsy and/or operation.   In  those days they put you out, broke your ribs, and cut under your breast to obtain samples for the lab.  After all that pain, the good news was that the grit was not cancer, but neither was it any other recognizable condition.  The bad news was that the condition would most probably keep increasing; so I should prepare to be an invalid and face early death.  How early? When I asked my doctor whether I would live a long enough life to complete a lengthy Ph D program, she answered, “Why do you want to go to graduate school anyway?”  But the case was not closed.  Two years later my doctors were astounded to find that my lungs were now completly clear. The grit had gone.  My “hallucinated?” Marian promise of rescue had become a reality, with forty more years of wonderful life to come.  

      When grace and favor abound they inspire gratitude, but they also produce intense intellectual quests. What really happens in Marian encounters and in answered prayers?  Like Mary in the scriptures, I find myself ‘wondering’ and continuing to ask, “How can this be?’  I’d like to write more fully on such experiences taking full account of both psychological and faith perspectives.  In the meantime I would love to know what my fellow pilgrims experience.     

      

 

Comments

6466379 | 12/13/2011 - 6:20pm
If it’s true that every healing is a grace and if it’s also true that Blessed Mother Mary is the Mediatrix of all grace,   it must also be  true that every healing has a Marian character. This is why I happily  include this often told story on this site.
I was once addicted to, of all things, sherry wine! When I finally admitted it to myself I began praying the rosary for deliverance. One day late at night coming home from work, having just completed a rosary, I implored Padre Pio to obtain the grace for me. Suddenly I was surrounded by an indescribable fragrance, it seemed everywhere, but it was  not oppressive. Looking for a source the first thing I did was check the sidewalk shrubbery, but it was winter and everything was brittle. Next I scanned the apartments above me, thinking that maybe someone had used a canned deodorant and some had waft down to the sidewalk, But all the apartments were dark. Besides, the fragrance being experienced was delightfully fresh, like walking through a rose garden, not artificial as in canned fragrances.
I hoped the fragrance would never end because whereas before experiencing the fragrance  I felt angry at myself and sad, but now I was at peace and joyful! But it did end as mysteriously as it started and discovered when I arrived home what I previously craved – sherry wine – I now abhorred! I happily attest that to this day, more than forty years later there has been no relapse. I continue abhorring sherry wine and have absolutely no desire to drink it, or for that matter any alcoholic beverage.
However, I made an interesting discovery. I was delivered  exactly from what I asked for “addiction” because  if occasions warrant it, I can drink a glass of wine without compulsion, being totally free to decline.  My addiction to alcohol is over, being free to say “yes” or “no.” For sherry it’s always “no.” It remains abhorrent to me.
I learned later our Church has a name for the fragrance I experienced. It is called “heavenly aroma” and heavenly it truly is! I also learned that often when Padre Pio, now Saint Padre Pio grants a favor, he does so using the charism of “heavenly aroma.” I thank Pio for obtaining from Mother Mary,, Mediatrix of all Grace deliverance for me from my addiction.  
david power | 12/13/2011 - 4:28pm
Anne,

I agree with what you wrote but it spurs me on a little to try and tackle the problem.
Most catholics are "interested"  in the Ignatian sense; disinterestedness is for a very small few. 
The Church with the Saint Factory encourages this "unholy?" attitude.We no longer really pray or conceive of God  as St Ignatius would have had it.To find God "in all things" as America titles this section. 
I am not saying that there are not Priests and lay people who don't adopt this more discerning spirituality but with the focus on the  talk of graces and miracles it  always comes off looking like some guy just hit a heavenly jackpot and we should all enthuse for that.I am more inspired by people who found god in the state they were in.
I have met many people like this.
They are a blessing to have met and I am aware of how poorly I compare to such people.  
It is easy to rejoice when the wind is at our backs but there are few who smile and give thanks when reality has thrown a knife at them.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is like a magnet for crackpots and so there needs to be great caution with everything that emanates from the Marian wing of the church.That said , I think that Sidney finished with a very promising desire to explore the theme.Where will that lead to?I hope it will lead to what John Allen termed "Marian cool " that of Pope Benedict.It is obviously not mother substition in the case of the present Pope and as much as we love the Blessed Mother we should learn to treasure her simplicity and humanity once again as a recent posting showed I believe.What is your take Anne?
John Donaghy | 12/13/2011 - 3:15pm
Sidney, thanks for the touching story. I'm now worling with the poor in western Honduras where the people have a deep devotion to Mary as they feel her accompanying them. They are open to miracles - but most of all they recognize the presence of Mary, the sorrowful mother, full of grace, present with them at birth and death.
Blessings.
John Donaghy
Anne Chapman | 12/13/2011 - 1:33pm
Whenever people share stories such as these, I can't help but wonder about those others, those whose prayers were as fervent, as unceasing, whose faith and devotion was as strong as those who experienced a ''miracle'' but who did not experience any kind of healing. Why would God answer some rather than others?  Does God intervene and reverse natural physical processes for certain people and not others? Why would a fair, just and loving God do this?

 I have a close friend who has had MS for 30 years. He is a very faithful man who loves God and prays fervently. He has been to Lourdes twice, the last time in a wheelchair, (He is now almost totally physically helpless), a man in his early 50s, father of two and husband - he traveled to Lourdes with the help of several people. Many of those who love him have prayed for intercession and healing for many years. It would be very easy to fall into despair and believe that God does not love all of his children, but has favorites.  Or, perhaps those with an undiagnosed and mysterious disease that ''goes away'' have simply experienced one possible normal outcome (many diseases carry mortality risks in percentages - maybe they are among the 5% of normal possible outcomes?) and no divine intervention occurred.  Who knows, really?
JANICE JOHNSON | 12/13/2011 - 12:46pm
Dear Sidney,  your beautiful, inspiring Marian story brought tears to my eyes.  You were so young and with so much life ahead of you and a husband and children who loved and needed you.  What a tastament to faith and openess to the graces of God, mediated by his Mother.  My Marian story came when I was much older, more toward the end of life when I was 69 years old.  And it was not my devotion to Mary, but my dear mother's lifetime of regarding Mary as her mother and being totally devoted to her.
This is my story.  In the years of 2003 and 2004 I began experiencing a gradual lessening of energy and some difficulty in breathing.  My male doctor poo-pooed my complaints and said nothing was wrong with me.  I had read that the HBP med I was on had been found by some researchers to be no good.  He said I shouldn't get my info from Time Magazine!    Finally, when my children asked me if I was always going to be like this (almost non-functional) I "fired" my doctor and saw a woman internist who sent me to a cardiologist after my second visit.  In Dec. 2004 I had a complete cardiac workup.  Then, in Jan. 2005 I was given the diagnosis:  cardiomyopathy and an electrical heart defect, and told to throw out the HBP med I was taking.  I was put on a regimen of meds that I still follow.  I was quite devastated by this grim diagnosis and asked my mother to add another Rosary to her prayers for me.  But, in March of that same year, I was with her when she died at age 92 of the same disease I had just been diagnosed with.  The experience was profound.  It was like an epiphany for me, a re-conversion.  I began attending Daily Mass and found so much consolation and hope from our Faith.  I was able to lose 30pounds and followed the doctor's orders as well as I could. 

Since then, for the next years, from 2005 through 2011 I have had annual cardiac testing which has shown improved heart functioning each year.  My internist calls it a miracle and my cardiologist is amazed.  But, I firmly believe that it is my mother in heaven interceding with our heavenly mother on my behalf.  This year I went to Alaska to celebrate my 75th birthday......dog sledding on the top of Mendenhall Glacier, helicopter and float plane rides, whale watching, a ride on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad into British Columbia. 

This year I have noted diminishing energy (I am normally very energetic) and think this is caused by the stress of my son's deteriorating condition, a painful ending of a friendship and advancing age.  While my heart is restless to be with Christ and his Mother and my deceased parents, I pray to stay alive to take care of my disabled children.  They have no one else.  Our state has drastically cut benefits for the disabled.  With this in mind, I made a pilgrimage in Nov. to Mexico City, Pueble and Tlaxcala where I prayed at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe for healings for my family and a long list of suffering friends, relatives, aquaintances.  We saw the Cathedral in Mexico City where Juan Diego petitioned  the bishop and other shrines and churches.  After Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we watched Aztec dancers perform in the square. The simple yet profound faith of the Mexicans is awe-inspiring.  I was able to offer thanks to Mary for her intercession and to my mother, who continues to petition for her loved ones.  When Juan Diego tried to hide from Mary, she asked him:  "Don't you know I am your mother?"  I think of that often when I am sad and discouraged.

(I have been very wordy.  I hope that is all right.)