Have You Ever Felt ‘Picked’ by a Saint? Register Readers Tell Their Stories
All you holy men and women, pray for us!
“The lives of the saints are not limited to their earthly biographies but also include their being and working in God after death. In the saints one thing becomes clear: those who draw near to God do not withdraw from men, but rather become truly close to them.” — Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love)
Here at the Register, we enjoy highlighting our friends the saints and how they are truly close to us. Many thanks to readers who sent along stories of our heavenly helpers via email and online comments. Submissions have been edited for length and substance.
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Jim Christensen related to the Register via email about his experience of the “Treasures of the Catholic Church” exhibit, which features hundreds of relics of various saints (and the True Cross): “I had gone through the first 100 or so, not expecting anything (but hoping for ‘something’), when I picked up the relic of St. Josephine Bakhita, a saint unknown to me at the time. I felt a charge go up my arm. I made a mental note to learn more about her and proceeded to check out the remaining relics, and the next one that stood out was St. Pio, whom I had already known of (I had a prayer card of his in my car that I had touched to his relics at another church some time before). This time I felt a tingling of the hand.
“Later still, one more relic gave me the same feeling: It was St. Bernadette, another saint I was familiar with. Since then, I have watched a video dramatization of the life of St. Bakhita and have also been reading literature on her and Sts. Pio and Bernadette. My usual interaction with them is to say a prayer of thanks to all three saints for their signaling an interest in me and occasional petitions (such as reconciliation with my daughter, which eventually happened). I look forward to learning about and fostering devotions to them. And, currently, my main petition is that my family return to the faith.”
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Amy P. shared in an online comment: “I was picked by St. Thérèse of Lisieux. I happened upon her book in my mid-20s, and I loved her ‘Little Way.’ I save her novena for when I really need to know I was heard. I always see a rose, rose bush, or have even smelled roses! I knew she had picked me especially when I went to an out-of-the way antique store up in Traverse City, Michigan. There was an antique picture of her in a homemade frame some person had lovingly made. The store had no idea who she was, but I bought that picture, and it’s on the wall in my bedroom. I look at it every day. She reminds me that I don’t have to do ‘great’ things for God, just be faithful and loving in every little thing. She’s an amazing saint.”
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Teresa also shared via online comment: “St. Teresa of Avila called three people in my life to her basilica in Avila during the two weeks I was suddenly ill and dying in the hospital in 2017. None of them know each other, or planned on it ahead of time, but they all were travelers who went there specifically when they heard I was ill and prayed for me (one was a bishop who requested permission and had a Mass for me). I learned of all this after I miraculously recovered and was able to put together their timing, which was within the two weeks I was deathly ill in the hospital. Though I was named after her, I never really had a devotion or read her books before this. I knew then I was called to be a Carmelite.”
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“He isn’t a saint yet, but for some reason I was intrigued by Blessed Lucien Botosovasoa of Madagascar,” commented Barbara online. “He was martyred in 1947 and beatified in 2018. Found it on April 14, in the ‘Laudate’ app, ‘Saint of the Day’; been asking him to pray for us every day. There were quite a few martyrs in Madagascar at the time.”
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“It was St. Germaine Cousin for me,” shared mmoncey online. “When I was in high school I used to volunteer at the local veteran’s hospital. I would wheel down the patients for Mass. Outside the chapel was a literature rack. I was looking through the literature before Mass one day and found a booklet about St. Germaine. The next time I was at Mass was two weeks later. I looked through the literature again and found a prayer card of St. Germaine that wasn’t there before. I guess St. Germaine was looking for me. Now St. Germaine is my patron saint, and she never lets me down. I even have a first class relic of hers!”
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“For me, it was St. Bernadette,” noted StMichael1 in an online comment. “I always felt close to her when I was young, and I did a portrait of her from a photograph. I believe she had something to do with my conversion years later. It’s hard to explain, but I feel very strongly she helped me.”
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David McClamrock also commented online about a dear saint: “St. Margaret of Castello (1287-1320) picked me when I was in the hospital for a couple of weeks in 2013. I read the Life of Blessed Margaret of Castello by Dominican Father William Bonniwell and thought Blessed Margaret (as she was then) would be an excellent patron saint for shut-ins (as I was then), as well as the unwanted and many others. I became fascinated by this fairly-little-known lady of great holiness and intelligence; I wrote an article about her for our diocesan newspaper and asked a bunch of people to pray for her canonization. The prayers bore fruit when she was canonized earlier this year. She’s an excellent patron saint for people oppressed or threatened by evildoers of great wealth and power, because that’s what her parents were and did. They imprisoned her for years from an early age, merely for being blind, lame, hunchbacked, extremely short and supposedly ugly; then they abandoned her. But their plans to make sure nobody ever saw her or heard of her were thwarted, despite their worst efforts. St. Margaret of Castello, pray for us!”
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E. Louise posted via Twitter about St. Gerard Majella: “When I was pregnant with our second baby, I had a partial placental abruption and ended up in the hospital at 29 weeks. That’s when St. Gerard ‘found me.’ I became deeply devoted to him; reading about his life and praying to him constantly. I can honestly say he became my friend. My pregnancy complications continued with two preterm labor scares, six weeks of bedrest, and a harrowing labor experience. But St. Gerard stayed with me through it all, and I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, full-term baby boy. Our third baby’s middle name is Gerard.”
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In a tweet reply, [email protected]_ms focused on his namesake. “At the end of my first mission we had to draw randomly from a deck of cards, each containing a saint whom we’d have to learn more about and grow in friendship throughout the year. I drew my namesake, San Martín de Porres. The rest is history.”
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Rose, in a tweet response, referenced “St. Thomas More: I became a Christian and am becoming a Roman Catholic because of him.”
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Sabina is also a devotee of the rose-bearing saint, according to her tweet: “St. Thérèse, the Little Flower. She keeps popping up in my life with the perfume of roses.”
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Megan shared, via an Instagram direct message, that she has had “a few” saints “pick” her, “but the most striking is St. Brigid. I had a molar pregnancy in 2010, and her feast day was close to the ultrasound when we discovered the loss. … I named the baby Bridget before we knew that. ... I think she has been praying for me all these years, and now I have developed a strong devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows. I am also working on her 12-year novena prayer.”
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St. Kateri Tekakwitha touched the life of David Snyder. “We live in San Juan Capistrano, California, and attend the Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano,” he said in an email the Register. “San Juan Capistrano has two Native American tribes that are accepted by the federal government, and most are active in our parish. As such, when we recently built our beautiful retablo when we became a basilica, St. Kateri Tekakwitha was one of the four saints whose statue was included (it was built before she was canonized). So I saw her every day at daily Mass, and because I had considerable Native American blood flowing in my veins, she was of interest to me. I used to call her privately ‘my special lady.’”
He continued, “At the same time, our son Paul was living in Wilton, Connecticut, and I spent a couple of weeks visiting them one summer. His parish bulletin announced that the diocese was taking a bus trip to upstate New York to see the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs, in Auriesville, New York, dedicated to the three Jesuit missionaries who were martyred at the Mohawk Indian village of Ossernenon in 1642 and 1646.
“It just so happened that this was also the location of the shrine for St. Kateri Tekakwitha, who was from the same village. When our group stopped at Kateri’s shrine, I stopped in at the bookstore to look around. As I walked down one aisle looking at books, a book fell off the shelf right in front of me on the floor. I don’t remember hitting it. I put it back on the shelf and started to walk away when the same book fell of the shelf again right in front of me. I laughed within and said to myself, ‘Okay, I guess someone wants me to read this book.’ It was the life story of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. During this trip we got to see the exact spot where Kateri was born and lived her early life.
“It was the same village St. Isaac Jogues was martyred some years earlier, which I found very interesting. When I got home to California, I opened the book and could not put it down until I finished it. Then I ordered everything I could find on her and made a deep study of her life and spirituality and the ‘Black Robes’ that died for Christ in that same village. Since then, I have lectured on St. Kateri in our diocese.”
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After Mother Teresa died, Barbara Heyl said via email she “began to learn everything I could about this holy woman.” Then her prayers turned to focus on God’s will for the size of her family, as she related to the Register. “Many months later … my prayer to God for weeks became ‘Lord, don’t I already have enough children? Please give me a sign.’ No answer. Nothing. I trusted, but I so wanted an answer to my specific question. One day as I was cleaning the house in great turmoil over this. I simply said, ‘Okay, Mother Teresa, I would like you to please pray for me. Don’t I alreadyhave enough children?’ — that was my exact question to her — ‘Because I’m not getting any sign from God, could you please answer me?’ Just then I was dusting the bookshelf and noticed something sticking out of a book I had leant to a friend and was now returned. I had put nothing in that book, and I wanted my books neat. So I removed the book and pulled out my friend’s bookmark.”
It read: “Mother Teresa of Calcutta: ‘How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.’”
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Paul Sofranko recalled in an email l how he had his last drink on May 22, 2002, the feast of St. Rita of Cascia, renowned as the “Patron Saint of Impossible Cases.”
“If anyone was an ‘impossible case’ in recovering from alcoholism, it was me,” he shared, adding, “I had never heard of St. Rita. She picked me years before I got to know her. At the time of my last drink, I was slowly reverting to the Church. I wasn’t really practicing the faith, and I knew that ‘12-Step’ spirituality wouldn’t do it for me. I took AA’s advice to examine the religion of my youth. I picked things up by watching EWTN’s daily Mass and being riveted by the homilies of Father Angelus Shaughnessy.”
He continued, “How do I know that St. Rita of Cascia ‘picked me’? There is the coincidence of dates with the seeming impossibility of my case for recovery. There is also a commonality of some other things. Her husband, Paolo (Paul) Mancini, was afflicted with passions such as an explosive temper and violent behavior. I had a very short fuse, and while I’m much better (the fuse is much longer, now), then it wouldn’t have taken much for me to blow up. I never exhibited violent behavior of Paolo’s type, but while under the influence, I did threaten and sometimes throw things. … The grace of God plus the intervention of St. Rita, who must have been warming up her talents with me years before my sobriety date, prevented much worse over the years.”
“One day I wandered into a nearby parish and saw this beautiful antique image of her on tin, within an ornate frame just sitting there in the ‘free stuff for anyone who wants them’ table by a side entrance. I had been struggling with my direction in life just the night before. You see, I blog on alcoholism and recovery from a Catholic perspective at http://sobercatholic.com. I was wondering if it was all worth it. Was I wasting my time blogging when I could be writing other things? Was writing a waste of time? Who would read my stuff? The appearance of this picture at this particular intersection of anxiety, doubt and time just seemed to me to be a signal grace, indicating that ‘Yes, Paul, keep blogging.’”
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For her part, Rose Santuci-Sofranko recounted via email that she “prayed many, many Divine Mercy Chaplets” for new neighbors, “their newborn baby and ‘all those in abusive situations.’”
Then came the horror of Sept. 11. “I remember turning on the TV that morning (which normally I didn’t do) before heading off to Mass. I sat horrified at seeing those planes crash into the towers and watching as those towers collapsed and all those lives were lost before my eyes. I finally tore myself away from the TV, and, after calling my mother to tell her I loved her, I hurried off to church. I then heard on the radio in the car that another plane had been hijacked and more people were most likely headed to their deaths. When I went in to St. Martin’s beautiful perpetual Eucharistic adoration chapel, I begged the people there to pray for the souls on that plane, fearing the worst ... and, the worst happened, shortly after that.
“Some time during the 11am Mass, the Holy Spirit gave me the conviction and the courage to ask loudly after Mass for people to please stay and pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for all involved in the tragedies. Almost everyone in the Church stayed and prayed that beautiful prayer.”
She continued, “With the pastor’s permission we continued to pray the chaplet after Mass — Monday through Saturday. Only a handful of people stayed to pray on subsequent days. Nevertheless, our small group faithfully prayed the chaplet, day in and day out, with the Lord guiding us in what to pray for.”
“Soon, I had a yearning to learn more about the Divine Mercy devotion and its origin (and about St. Faustina). I desperately wanted to buy and read her diary. However, I was very short on money.”
Then she heard about a pledge drive for the local Catholic radio station. “I issued a pledge challenge to all my former co-workers at Our Lady of Victory Infant Home (where I was honored to teach God’s most perfect people, his special children, for nine years).”
As part of the drive, St. Faustina’s diary was a pledge gift. “I heard an announcement that ‘the next two people to call in with a donation of any size would receive a copy of St. Faustina’s diary!’ The Lord had timed it just perfectly for me to be in my car to hear that announcement. You better believe that I rushed into the house and called the station. … For an additional $5 donation (I wish I could have given more), I finally would get the chance to read the book that I had been yearning to read. Allowing me to get a copy of the diary in this incredible way was another gift of God. I read that wonderful diary from front to back in no time at all.”
Through other blessed circumstances, she started paying the Chaplet each Thursday, “face-to-face with our Eucharistic Lord. … Thursdays became a very special time used for praying for our loved ones … and our little group of pray-ers soon grew until there were more of us (some days) then there were chairs in the chapel.”
The prayers continued, with “the chaplet with [Jesus] in the chapel each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday ... praying in the main Church the other days. God is so great!”
In March 2003, she said, “The Lord opened up some more doors for us” at the National Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Victory. She said she and another pray-er asked their pastor “if we could lead the chaplet before Mass each day (even moving our Sunday time to before Mass), and the Lord moved that wonderful man to say ‘Yes.’”
She referenced the blessings that stemmed from “paving the way for the daily recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet at not one, but two churches (and I’m sure many other parishes throughout the world), culminating in the celebration of the great feast of mercy on the Sunday after Easter.”
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Zeina Chernoff shared via email with the Register how, on a family trip, taken during a difficult time, in summer 2020, she encountered a special saint, too. They traveled “to a quiet little historic town in North Texas called Archer City. Archer City’s two claims to fame are, one, that it is the hometown of the famous Western writer Larry McMurty, and, two, that it contains one of the largest rare and used book stores in Texas. So we went, partly to clear our heads in the aftermath of the recent months and partly for the books.”
She explained, “After a couple of hours our toddler was getting cranky, so we started poking around for any last-minute finds as we wrapped up our visit. Suddenly, my husband excitedly called me over to the shelf he was perusing and placed in my hands the most gorgeous little book, A Child’s Book of Saints, by William Canton, 1902. It was absolutely stunning, with a gold-gilded art nouveau angel on the cover and exquisite illustrations inside. It was a little damaged, and a little pricey, but, imagining how I would have treasured such a beautiful little book as a child, I did not hesitate to pay a little extra for our daughter to have that experience herself. When we got back to our hotel, I pored over the little thing, skimming the pages and marveling at how far the state of children’s literature had fallen from its former glory. Soon, however, I moved on to other books that we had purchased and forgot about it.”
“That night I had a very odd and extremely vivid dream,” she continued. “In it, I had had another baby, and it was a girl, and we had named her … Winifred.
“The next morning, I told my husband about the dream and thought it was so strange and hilarious. Winifred? What kind of name was that? I — someone who obsesses over names and has had an extensive future-baby name list for as long as I could remember — couldn’t recall ever once in my life giving that name any thought whatsoever, even for a moment. I had certainly never met a Winifred and didn’t even know where that name came from. It was simply not on my radar. I shrugged it off, but throughout the day, it continued to bother me. Where had my subconscious gotten that name? I even looked the name up online. Winifred was apparently the name of a seventh-century Welsh virgin martyr.
“‘Interesting,’ I thought, especially since I had studied the Welsh language when I was younger and, despite not being of Welsh ancestry myself, had fallen hopelessly in love with the language and the culture. I was surprised that I had never, to my knowledge, heard of her. Later that day, however, it struck me. Of course! That book! It was, oddly enough, about obscure British Isles saints. That must have been where I had gotten the name! St. Winifred must have been one of the saints whose story I had skimmed. Mystery solved. However, when I went to look for her in the book, as my curiosity had been aroused by her strange story, I couldn’t believe it: Her story was not in the book. How was that possible?”
“I looked and looked, but nothing,” she recalled. “She was not one of the saints in the book. Still convinced that I had somehow missed something, I googled ‘Winifred’ and the title. After a few minutes of digging, I found something. In the beginning of each story, Canton begins by addressing someone, presumably a child, called only ‘W.V.’ On a webpage about the author, it stated that W.V. was none other than William Canton’s own little daughter and that the W stood for — you guessed it — Winifred. My jaw dropped. Still skeptical, I searched the book again. The name did not appear in any other form than W.V. in the entire work, so I couldn’t have known.
“Baffled, I told my husband about the remarkable coincidence, and, after learning more about St. Winifred, we were convinced that she herself had played us this little ‘trick.’ At one point we looked at each other and I said, ‘I guess if we have another daughter, we’ll have to name her Winifred.’ We both laughed, but it wasn’t entirely a joke. After that, we continued to run into the name in little ways (a street name where we picked up a piece of furniture, an unexpected character in a long-awaited new movie) that could perhaps have easily been explained away if it weren’t for that first big coincidence
“ I quietly started a little devotion to St. Winifred, asking her to intercede on behalf of our struggling little family, and, as her name meant ‘white peace,’ to perhaps ask God to bring a little peace into our lives, in whatever form God deemed best. This continued for a little while, until a few short weeks later, while we were in the process of finally moving into our own house, when I found out that I was pregnant. A few months later, we learned that it was, indeed, a girl.”
She concluded: “What started as a sort of joke (who on earth is named Winifred anymore?) slowly became, for us, the only viable option. St. Winifred had cornered us. We had absolutely no idea why, but she had chosen our daughter, and who were we to refuse her? Nine months later, our Winifride (a medieval variation on the more modern ‘Winifred’) was born, and we couldn’t imagine a better name for her, this sweetest and most peaceful of babies, who came into our lives at a troubled time and has since been a constant reminder of God’s never-failing providence. We still don’t know why the ancient Welsh saint chose her, but I have no doubt in my mind that someday, in this world or the next, we will.”
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Katie Wesolek’s story includes two saints, starting with the patron of journalists and writers. “When I was high school I had a spiritual conversion deeper into my Catholic faith and was trying to find ways to grow spiritually without much guidance from the adults in my life. One of my friends was on a similar path and was reading Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales. I bought a copy and read it and tried to put into practice his spiritual advice. I felt like he reached out to me over four centuries’ history and from the eternal realms. I was especially moved by how gentle and encouraging he comes across in his writing. He continues to be a beloved friend to this day.”
She also is close to the Little Flower. “My first date with the love of my life was in Chicago on the feast day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. We went to an evening Mass and then walked down to a little Italian café for dinner. The café had some Catholic imagery on the walls, and the waiter seated us under a big, framed picture of St. Thérèse. From that moment on, she was very much part of our relationship, sending us her traditional sign of roses at pivotal moments and guiding us along in our journey. Both of us had been in religious life before meeting, so we like to think that St. Thérèse sees a reminder of her parents — Sts. Zélie and Louis — in us.”
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Theresa McCormack didn’t always feel close to her confirmation saint, admitting via email, “For decades I would cringe when someone would ask me my confirmation name. I would reluctantly say, ‘Louise,’ and then explain that I didn’t know one thing about St. Louise except that I didn’t like her name. My confirmation saint would be foreign to me for approximately 34 years.
“That all changed for me back in 2010, when my son, Michael, was being confirmed. I was praying faithfully to the archangel Raphael at the time, and prayer opens up the inner spiritual depths and anchors our perspective in life. My daughter Katie put all the mystery and angst of my confirmation saint behind me when she said, ‘Let’s look up your saint, Mom.’”
In a bit of background she shared that “St. Louise would be the third of four French saints that would pursue me in my lifetime.” She said that, “healed through her intercession as a child,” St. Thérèse of Lisieux “is the truest friend I’ve ever known.” St. Catherine Labouré was also a dear saint, as she “wore her medal faithfully as a child and was drawn to her story.” She recounted that St. Bernadette Soubirous “came to me late in life but to whom I could relate to greatly.”
But it was St. Louise de Marillac, “my confirmation saint, who influenced me unknowingly from the time I was 12” that she was so interested in learning more about as her daughter read about her.
“The first thing I noticed was that she had wanted to enter religious life but on advice of her spiritual director had chosen to marry instead. I, too, had earnestly wanted to enter a religious community for the first 22 years of my life. I was in a preentrance program for The Adorers of the Blood of Christ during my junior and senior years of college. And, like Louise de Marillac, I decided to marry and have a family instead.
“Then I saw that St. Louise had one son, Michel, who had special needs. My only son was named Michael, and I even worked with [those with special needs] in my time as a social worker and have written about special-needs people, as well. I could also never explain to people why I majored in psychology (with a minor in social work) while in college. Now I know.”
She continued, “Louise’s love of the poor spoke to my heart, and I saw that, along with St. Vincent de Paul, she had been the foundress of the Daughters of Charity. Louise was becoming intriguing to me, and I was hooked on every word Katie was reading to me about her. Louise de Marillac was utterly human and suffered from bouts of depression, as self-doubt had crept into her mind concerning doing the will of God. She wondered if she chose correctly in marrying and not entering religious life. I had struggled with the exact same issues, including depression, and had her beside me to lean on but was unaware. Louise would have heard the keening of my despair and understood me.”
“The more Katie read to me about St. Louise the more I felt like I was reconnecting with a deep and ancient friend … someone who knew me intimately ... someone who had walked this road of faith and life before me. As Katie continued to read, St. Louise continued to startle me. I found out that St. Louise was a mystic! She would have understood my little ‘mystical’ occurrences. I saw she was also a catechist, just as I had been at our parish. Also, I was amazed when Katie said St. Louise was the patron saint of social workers! Then my daughter’s eyes grew big. ‘What?’ I questioned. ‘Mom, you’re not going to believe this!’ she said in utter disbelief. ‘She even said the same little motto that you always say.’ Katie … in shock simply stated the three words I said repeatedly, ‘Order over chaos!’ At that moment it redefined my relationship with her.”
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While worrying about her father declining from dementia 500 miles away, Ann Szumski noted in an email that she felt overwhelmed by daily to-dos, as “the boys hit a growth spurt, the school physicals need scheduling, the dishwasher needs replacing.”
But she recalls at that time that “a voice in my head interrupts the litany of have-tos. It says, ‘Go check the bookshelf.’ ‘I don’t have time to check the bookshelf,’ I tell the voice with irritation. ‘I’ll be late for adoration.’ I have no time to read. I don’t have time to breathe. I haven’t read in months, although I would like nothing better than to escape the push-to-exhaustion of every day into an imaginary world. The voice insists, ‘Go check the bookshelf.’ I vaguely recall there is a book on C.S. Lewis on the top shelf, a book on organization, the Baltimore Catechism.
“But, look — next to these is a book on St. Gemma Galgani. A friend at church had visited Rome on her feast day and brought back blessed medals for each of my children, a book of her life for me. That was 10 years ago. I had forgotten it. Now the book is open in my hands: Gemma’s steady gaze is on me: She looks out of a black-and-white photo; she is young and beautiful. She has a look of serious contemplation staring out at the viewer. On the opposite page, her words jump out at me as she speaks with Jesus. Her mother is dying. Jesus asks Gemma to give her mother to him. She refuses. He asks again. She weeps. Only if you take me with her, she says. Jesus refuses but says tenderly, ‘I am with you always.’ She gives in. She gives Jesus her mother.
“I say, ‘Gemma, please help me give Jesus my father. I can’t do it alone.’ I take a breath. I wipe my eyes. I toss Gemma’s book in my tote bag and rush down the stairs. I am seat-belting my toddler in the car; I’m counting the items to bring to the adoration chapel to keep the little one quiet and busy. Red lights all the way. The woman in the hour before mine at the chapel always needs to leave on time. ‘I’ll be there as soon as I can.’ But there is construction. Pedestrians. Joggers. More red lights. My knuckles are white. My hands ache as I climb out of the car and race into the chapel with my son. The woman in the chapel dashes out. Not a smile. Not a nod. She is as spent and rushed as I am. I sigh into a seat and let my toddler spread out on the floor with his trains he unloads from his pockets. I am glad we are alone. I don’t have to shush my son, ask him to drive the trains on the carpet and not the wood kneelers.
“When I look up at Jesus, he is silent, white, enclosed. My head swims. Demands are accumulating, surrounding me, pointing fingers at me. I look at Jesus again. I cannot pray. I cannot think anymore.”
She then looks for the St. Gemma book and realizes she left it in the car. “Obviously, Jesus wants me to sit here and wait,” she tells her son, who “smiles and nods” and “goes back to playing trains.”
She stands and walks to the chapel bookshelf: “Ten years of coming to the adoration chapel once a week, and I know every single book here. Every single one — except this little one tucked in the bottom right shelf. There are gold letters on the spine. I pull it out of the shadow of the bigger books and read the title: I Am With You Always. Gemma’s book flashes in my mind. I open the book, and I am staring at St. Gemma again, the exact same photo in my book, but in a holy card stuck in this little brown book of prayers before the Blessed Sacrament.
“But something inconceivable is happening at this moment — she is smiling at me. She is smiling at me from the holy card, smiling a big smile showing her teeth, laughter sparkling in her eyes. Gemma is smiling in joy, and I am laughing in surprise through my tears. Someone has seen my pain — someone who knew this pain, lived this agony, could understand me, and help me through it. I feel as if my body is floating as I turn to face Jesus in the monstrance. And I hear his voice, ‘I am with you always.’ And I hear Gemma say, ‘Give him to Jesus.’ And I do.
“In the end, my father still dies. Sorrow is so heavy, but I know I am not alone. St. Gemma’s smile is fixed in my mind; her laughing eyes hold me up, eyes that know the triumph of surrender. I repeat over and over, ‘Jesus, he is yours, and so am I.’”
Please feel free to add additional stories in the comments below. All you holy men and women, pray for us!