I’ve been waiting a long time to tell this story. But I think it’s very appropriate in these times to share it.
Recently, I’ve been receiving emails from various Christian/Catholic organizations and watch groups, regarding the dramatic rise of Satanism, – many more covens and illegal and horrific blood sacrifices, the public display of satanic statues, black masses, public satanic rituals and satanic marches, in cities across America, on American university campuses, in front of town and city halls, with the approval and support of local city and town authorities, under the pretense of “religious” liberty.
Some of these Baphomet statues are being set up right next to the 10 Commandments; and in other places Judeo-Christian symbols and sculptures are being removed. Religious liberty is being arbitrarily applied. In fact, it goes without saying, that there is a current war on Christianity taking place in our country
as atheistic and liberal, secular humanist groups
purposely confuse and distort the religious liberty statute in the US Constitution to mean that there’s no place for religion, (i.e. Christianity) in the public square.
Our Founding Fathers did not ban religion from the public square, which is often the incorrect liberal interpretation of “separation of church and state”, but rather our Founding Fathers’ intent was to ensure that there would be no “official state religion” imposed upon the citizens of the United States of America as had been the case in medieval Europe. All religions that had in mind the common good (and I do not believe the Founding Fathers would include blatant evil groups such Satanism when they referenced “religion“) should have freedom to worship and participate in the public and moral life of the society. You can easily find a wealth of articles and information about the state of the attack on religious liberty in America, aimed specifically at removing Christianity from the public square, on the Internet with a touch of a button.
So now I’d like to share with you a very personal experience, that touches on this intense spiritual warfare taking place between good and evil, between God and satan between Christ and the devil, between the children of Light and the children of darkness. This battle touches every soul, as God desires through Christ, to redeem and save all of His beloved human creation to spend an eternity of joy, peace and love in His presence, while the rebellious fallen angels, led by satan/the devil – whose name means, the deceiver, the accuser – work frantically, yet, intelligently, to destroy this loving plan of God, and to deceive souls so that they may be tempted to choose evil, and thereby lose their friendship with God, and ultimately, be conquered by the Prince of Darkness and lost to Hell by their own free choice to assent to evil.
It was a Friday when I received a call from an evangelical Christian friend, a Palestinian-American woman who told me that she felt a sense of urgency to come to my home to pray for my husband. She lived more than an hour’s drive from my home, but insisted she wanted to come immediately to pray with me, because she sensed in her spirit by the promptings of the Holy Spirit, that my husband desperately needed spiritual warfare prayers.
Truly, for me, this unusual call was out of the ordinary. There was nothing new going on in my household. There did not seem to be any intense spiritual battle taking place. Everything seemed to be as it always was. Yes, my husband at that time was an ardent atheist, but he’d been so for decades. This was nothing new.
I told her to come on over if she insisted and she could lead whatever prayers she thought were necessary and appropriate. She was a seasoned spiritual warfare intercessor, and I was a very recent convert to Christ, having only been walking with the Good Shepherd for about a year as an evangelical Christian at that time. This all took place before I followed the Lord’s call into the Catholic Church in 2003 -2004 after Jesus revealed to me His real Presence in the holy Eucharist.
She drove to my home in Pennsylvania, and we sat at the kitchen table together, and she began to pray powerfully in the Holy Spirit, while I lifted my mind, heart and soul to the Lord, and quietly listened to her intercessory pleas to Jesus for protection and deliverance for my husband from the Evil One, and claiming him for the Kingdom of Christ. She prayed fervently for about an hour, while I listened to and participated silently in my heart with her supplications for my beloved husband. It was all very new for me, this type of Holy Spirit led intense Charismatic prayer. But I was grateful to her for taking the time to come to my home, and give of herself, in such a compassionate, generous, and caring manner on behalf of my husband. I realized she must’ve felt something very deep in her spirit to have made such an effort.
After she left, the rest of the day was just a normal usual Friday. The kids were at school, my husband was at work, and I did my daily duties at home. When the evening came, after I settled the children in to their beds, and my husband had retired early to go to sleep, I sat on the couch in the family room downstairs, and picked up a book that I had randomly selected from the Barnes and Noble’s store some weeks before, and decided that I would begin reading it in the silence of the evening. The book was written by a Catholic priest, a world famous exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, who was known as the chief exorcist of the Diocese of Rome. I don’t even know why I bought the book, as I was not yet Catholic, and did not even know about such things as the Roman Rite of Exorcism, or of spiritual warfare of that level. My only exposure up until that point in such a deep area of the Christian reality of spiritual warfare had been reading the accounts in the Gospels, where Jesus drove out the demons from various afflicted persons. But as for personal experience, I really had very little at that early stage of my infant Christian spiritual life.
Therefore, just having this remarkable book in my hands, and reflecting on what happened later, it was clear that this was completely a work of the Holy Spirit and totally providential. The Lord was preparing me for something which I did not yet even know how to anticipate.
I read the book for many hours until it was well past midnight. I couldn’t put it down as it was so fascinating. I had never read anything like the accounts that Father Amorth was witnessing to. It was extremely edifying. In my spirit I had a strong conviction that the priest was absolutely telling the truth from his own personal experiences as an exorcist during his 30 plus years of work with demonic possession cases. If you wish to read this book, it is titled, “An Exorcist Tells His Story” by Father Gabriele Amorth.
There were things in the book, for example his references to the Blessed Virgin Mary, which I did not fully comprehend at the time, since I had not yet been exposed to Catholic doctrine and dogma still being an infant evangelical Christian. I read about specific cases of demonic possession, and the infestation of houses by evil spirits, about the stages of oppression, obsession and possession. It was fascinating and yet terrifying. I knew the good priest was telling the truth.
After reading about 3/4 of the book, I suddenly felt the prompting by the Holy Spirit to go upstairs and to give each of my daughters who were laying in their beds fast asleep, a blessing. So I entered each of their rooms very quietly, and knelt down by each girl at the side of their beds. Using blessed oil and holy water, which had been given to me by my friend, I gently made the Sign of the Cross on their forehead without waking them. Using some of the prayers that I had read in Father Amorth’s Book I blessed them and prayed protective prayers over them. They didn’t stir, and remained sleeping peacefully like little angels.
Then I went to the door of the master bedroom, and fearing that I could not go in and kneel next to my husband while he was sleeping, and make the Sign of the Cross on his forehead with the blessed oil and holy water, as he might wake up, and become angry with me for my actions, despite my holy and loving intent, to do only good for him, I stood on the outside of the door and I made the Sign of the Cross in oil and holy water with my fingers on the door of our bedroom. I stood there in the hallway praying deliverance and protective prayers over him from behind the door, attempting my own spiritual warfare intercession for the first time in my walk of faith with Christ.
This was the first time that I made the Sign of the Cross, as it was not a usual evangelical action, but rather a Catholic one. I had read about the power of the Sign of the Cross in Father Amorth’s book. I had learned many new things from this book.
I decided to sleep in the guestroom that night, as I didn’t want to disturb my husband. When I woke the following morning I went downstairs to the family room, where my husband was already awake and sitting on the leather chair.
I sat on the couch across from him and greeted him good morning, and asked how he had slept that night. I had no premeditated intentions by asking such a question, it was simply polite conversation as I made every other morning.
As I looked at him, I noticed that his face was pale, which concerned me. Still holding his cup of coffee, he looked intently at me, and said, “I don’t know what happened, I mean, it was real. “ I looked at him confused, and did not know what he was talking about. He then began to share with me what happened to him in his bedroom while he was alone in the early hours of that morning. He told me he woke up just as morning was breaking, around five am. and saw a man standing by the side of his bed! I didn’t know what to say to him. I asked him to explain.
Then he repeated, “I woke up, and saw that there was a man standing by my bed and he was just looking at me.” I asked him if he had been dreaming. He said no that he was awake. And then I asked if the man frightened him. And he told me no. He repeated to me that the mysterious man was just standing there next to him gazing down at his face. And then he was no longer there. My husband told me he got up and looked around, but the mysterious supernatural visitor had gone. So I asked him, “were you able to go back to sleep?” Remarkably, he told me that he was able to fall back to sleep and that he slept very peacefully!
This experience for my husband, an atheist, was extraordinary, yet, it was real – supernatural, spiritual and mysterious. I thought it best not to ask him any further questions, since he hadn’t been frightened by the otherworldly early morning visitor, and he was able to fall back to sleep and sleep very peacefully.
The Holy Spirit later convicted me that the Lord has sent a heavenly visitor to watch over him. Reflecting on all that had transpired the night before – knowing that I had interceded for my husband’s soul on the other side of the bedroom door, anointed the door with holy oil and holy water, and prayed deliverance and protection prayers over him which were sparked by reading Father Amorth’s book, I knew that my prayers had been answered and in a way I could never have imagined! I reflected on the urgent visit the morning before by my Evangelical Christian friend who felt compelled to pray at length for my husband’s soul and well-being, and her charismatic intercession for heavenly assistance and protection.
This was no coincidence!
Never in my husband’s life had he had such experience, and he has not had another one like it since. I understood this to be an extraordinary grace and blessing from our Lord for my husband, and for me and for our family, and also a supernatural sign to us confirming the Lord’s love, compassion, care, and mercy for my husband and my family.
Who was this mysterious heavenly visitor? Perhaps he was my husband’s guardian angel, perhaps he was the Lord Jesus, we do not know, but we do know that the Holy Spirit prompted all the events to line up: my Christian friend’s visit, my finding the priest’s book at Barnes and Noble‘s, my opening it that particular night, and reading it, and being moved by it, and acting upon what I read, praying over my children and over my husband spiritual warfare prayers, and having trust and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ as our merciful and protective Savior, who delivers us from evil – from the Evil One – and keeps us safe in His loving care!
Here is a delightful story I’d like to share with you. Some friends had joined me for dinner at my home the other night and we got talking about our love for animals, and in that moment the Holy Spirit reminded me of this remarkable rescue by our Lord Jesus.
A few years ago when we lived in Israel, I found myself with an unofficial mission of animal rescue. I had never planned to get into such a situation, but I do love animals and I feel that I live in the spirit of St. Francis.
Because we had brought our own cat from America, when I put her water bowl and food bowl out on the porch for her to nibble during the day, I found it attracted many other cats, who were desperate to find food. The feral cat problem in Israel is severe. They have not yet effectively established a spay and neuter program, and the common expression about the feral cats in Israel is that they are like squirrels! I ended up in a situation where at one point I was taking care of 20 plus cats in my yard feeding them and providing medical care through the services of a local veterinarian whom I had befriended and who had a very big and compassionate heart. I was able to trap and bring them to the Vet for him to spay and neuter many of the cats, and care for their injuries, give them with their shots etc. and I cared for them until I was able to find homes for them. I was successful at getting quite a number of the feral cats adopted, after I had tamed them by daily feedings, lots of sweet conversations, and TLC, and even making them shelters in my yard and driveway.
My family even adopted a kitten ourselves and Libby is now with us here in America. I had rescued her as a one -month-old kitten from a storm drain. Today she’s going on 10 years old, and loving her life in America.
I had learned of an organization called SOS, which on Fridays would hold a full day of adoption in an industrial area outside of Tel Aviv. People around the country knew that they could bring stray cats and dogs on Friday and attempt to have them adopted. People who were looking for pets could come to SOS and look amongst the many kennels and cages of cats and dogs to find the perfect pet they were looking to adopt.
It was a great idea, and good number of cats and dogs were adopted, but unfortunately most went back with their foster families, and were brought back Friday after Friday in the hopes that someone would adopt them.
One evening while I was walking in my neighborhood I found a tiny little kitten, mostly black fur with some white markings, and a big white dot on it stomach. I found him on a main street with a lot of traffic. Maybe it had been separated from its mother, or perhaps children had found the tiny kitten and brought it home and their mother insisted they take it back where the found it and so it was dropped off however, on a very busy intersection. It was still a nursing kitten and needed special care.
I knew it could not survive on its own, so I wrapped it in my shirt and I brought it home. We named him Spot. He was just adorable and while we all wanted to keep him, we knew that with two pet cats already in our home and all the strays in our yard, we could not adopt Spot. We cared for Spot for several weeks, bringing him to the point where he could eat solid food, and then after learning about SOS, I decided to bring him one Friday in the hopes that I could find an adoptive family for him.
I arrived with Spot as soon as the gates opened in the morning and planned to stay all day until closing, if necessary, hoping my little kitten would be adopted. I took Spot back to the cat section and placed the little cage amongst the hundred cages that were already set up. There were cats of every color, size and age, some on their own, litters of kittens, some mother cats with their kittens, and every combination possible. Oh I realized it was one in a million chance given the number of cats available for adoption, and the small trickle of potential adopters coming in to take a peek.
During the many hours I sat there waiting I began to talk with the other Israelis there also waiting for someone to adopt the cats that they had brought to SOS that day. I listened to many stories of these compassionate amateur rescue workers who forfeited vacations and came every Friday in order to try to help the stray cats that they were caring for – that they had found and we’re fostering – or that someone had given to them because they knew that they were kind hearted persons who would not refuse an animal in need. I heard their stories of how much of a sacrifice they had to make, in coming every Friday to SOS and usually returning home with the same cats. Week after week they came and week after week they went home without anyone adopting their cats and kittens that they had brought.
It was 15 minutes until SOS was to close. After hearing all these sorrowful stories, and realizing that I could count the number of cats adopted that day, after all those hours, on about three fingers, I was heavy hearted and my soul was downcast. I surely did not want to come next Friday, or the Friday after, or the Friday after, and suddenly a burst of passionate and fervent Faith
arose within me.
Without inhibition, I burst out to the rescuers present, “this is so distressful, we’re down to the last 15 minutes, I’m desperate and I’m going to pray for God to help me.” I realize it was a bit dramatic, but I truly meant it. I dropped to my knees, and I made the sign of the cross, and with my heart lifted high to the Lord in radical faith, I prayed out loud, calling on Jesus to help me in my hour of need – rather, my last 15 minutes of need. They all watched as I did this and some smiled, and I can only imagine what they might’ve been thinking.
I collected myself and stood up and went over to a chair and sat down. I had called on the Lord Jesus Christ out loud amongst a group of secular Jews, to rescue me from my distress! I thought to myself, oh Lord, I did not intend to put You to the test, and I hope that I haven’t just scandalized You, but the truth is that I was desperate and really needed Jesus’ urgent help and I was sincere when I called upon Him.
A few moments later a family arrived, a husband and wife and their 13-year-old daughter. They had come from the town of Petah Tikva and they were looking to adopt a cat for their daughter’s 13th birthday. Of course I didn’t know this at the time, I only learned about that afterwards. They walked around and peered in each of the cages looking at the cats and kittens, until they stopped and gazed at Spot. The young girl said to her parents, “I want that one.” I was speechless. The family adopted Spot, and I thanked and praised the Lord, right then and there, out loud. It was indeed a miracle which all present witnessed! Jesus Christ is our Savior, He is our SOS.!!!!!!!
In a few weeks time I’m going to be traveling back to the Holy Land, where we have a second home between Haifa and Tel Aviv along the Mediterranean coast. I really look forward to the more than seven months I now spend in Israel each year. It is a blessing, not just because the fall, winter and early spring months are such a beautiful temperate climate in Israel, compared to the frigid winters of the Philadelphia area, but also I am fortunate to be able to steep myself in the rich spirituality of the Holy Land and the fascinating cultures of the different people groups, such as Jews, Arabs, Druze and Bedouins and enjoy the delicious variety of Middle Eastern foods, and reconnect with family and friends. But mostly, it is a treasured opportunity to be a witness to Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ in the Land where He was born, grew up, worked as a carpenter’s apprentice, where He was baptized, where He preached for three years, where He performed His astounding miracles and where He suffered, died, and rose from the dead and ascended into heaven for our salvation; and where He first poured out His Holy Spirit on the Apostles, giving birth to the Holy Church.
The Lord has given me many gifts and blessings but none as wonderful as the vocation to be His evangelist, missionary disciple of the Gospel , and witness to His Good News – our redemption and salvation in Jesus Christ, to those who believe, who have faith and trust in Him.
Years ago I wrote a story called “The Vagabond”, which is posted here on this blog. It tells the story of how the Lord spoke to me and told me I would be His vagabond. When I’m in the Holy Land, the Lord gives me many opportunities, in astounding and providential ways to witness to people from all segments of society about His unfathomable love for them and His gift of eternal life through Faith in Jesus Christ. You can read many accounts here in this blog of my witness to Jews and Muslims, and agnostics, which our Lord brought about in the most remarkable and unexpected and supernatural ways. I still pray for Itzhak and Svi and Tali and others whom the Lord graced me with the opportunity to share His truth with their searching hearts. So I always look forward to going back to the Holy Land, because it is ripe for the harvest.
Indeed, the world is the Lord’s harvest field, and in every nation there are those whom the Lord is calling to Himself and those who are sincerely seeking God and to know His Truth. I’ve been blessed to be able to witness to many people of all walks of life in many lands. Today, I want to share one extraordinary account of the Lord’s love and gentle wooing to a soul to draw it to Himself – a stranger who was on a journey seeking the true God.
This amazing encounter happened while I was in Cairo, Egypt. My family and I were having dinner al fresco, along the poolside, in the beautiful gardens of the L’ Meridienne Hotel, overlooking the pyramids at Giza. After a long day of dusty sightseeing and camel riding, we had showered, washing off the fine sand of the Sahara, and we dressed somewhat formally for dinner, as we respected the beautiful resort. The evening was magnificent as the sun was setting over the Pyramids. The Middle Eastern menu offered enticing delicacies and a band of Nubian musicians were playing exotic oriental tunes.
A handsome Egyptian seated us at our table bedecked with a white linen tablecloth, and our server came and took our drink order. We were seated at a table set for just four persons- myself, my husband, and our two daughters. We were relaxed and relishing the sunset over the Pyramids, as the band from Southern Egypt near the Sudan played mysterious refrains. It was a glorious evening in a truly exotic place.
When I travel, I always pray to our Lord to send me those souls whom He is seeking. We are taught to be ready “in season and out of season” to tell others of our Faith.
(Preach the Word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2)
And my heart is always ready to witness to the saving love of Jesus.
(My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready: I will sing, and will give praise, with my glory. Psalm 107:2)
We ordered our food and our soon our dishes were served, and we began to eat together as a family. In the middle of our dinner, something very remarkable took place. Two men who were the last residents enjoying the pool that evening, got out and wrapped towels around themselves.
Still wet they came over to our table and struck up a conversation about the apparently delicious food on our plates which they were observing. Being courteous, we responded to their inquiry, and naturally we assumed they would then go in to shower and change for dinner and come back later to sit at their own table to eat. We were truly shocked when they asked if they could join us right then and there for dinner, still dripping wet and in their towels. What could we say? How does one handle such an awkward situation? They looked around and took two chairs from another table and pulled them over towards ours. Having no other real choice, we of course permitted them to join us.
The waiter came and took their orders, as we were already in the middle of our meal, and we began to converse with the two strangers while they waited for their food.
We learned that they had been on a business trip to Egypt and this was their last night in Giza as they were leaving the following morning. One man was returning directly to his native country of Australia. The other man informed us that he was heading first to Israel for a brief personal visit to Jerusalem before he would return to his wife and children in Australia. When I heard his plans, the Holy Spirit nudged me interiorly, alerting me to His Holy purpose for this most bizarre encounter with the two wet strangers who had seated themselves at our table. The Holy Spirit gave me light and wisdom to understand that here before me was a soul He was calling and this soul had been on a intense faith journey searching for God but had not yet found Him.
The Lord help me to understand that He was going to use me to allow Himself to be found by the stranger right there in the shadow of the Pyramids.
(“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
12 Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
13 You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.
14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD,” Jeremiah 29:11-13)
I shared Jesus with Paul from Australia telling him of Christ’s Gospel, much to my husband’s frustration and annoyance, as this episode took place during a time when he was a very intolerant atheist.
At one point my husband tried to cut off the conversation, but Paul, sincerely desiring to hear the Gospel of salvation told him that he would like me to continue.
Paul asked many questions, and with the help of the Holy Spirit I answered them, and I could see that his face became full of joy and light as he believed the Good News. He had shared with me that the reason he was passing through the Holy Land at this time, was because he was searching for answers to life’s important questions. He was not a practicing or believing Christian yet.
Paul was hungry to know the Truth, and he told me he had been searching hard for God. After we finished our dialogue, and our dinner came to an end, Paul thanked me for sharing God’s precious Word of Life, and hugged me and kissed my cheek telling me that now he is ready to go to Jerusalem to begin his journey with Jesus Christ.
I told Paul that I would pray for him that evening that he would come to know, love and serve our Lord Jesus Christ with all his heart, mind and strength and encouraged him to pray that evening to Jesus. I assured Paul that Jesus loves him. In parting, Paul told me that when he returned to Australia he would take his wife and his children to church. He was excited to begin his journey of faith with Jesus Christ.
My husband and I were walking through the lovely Israeli town of Zichron Yaacov situated on the top of the hills that roll off from the Carmel Mountains of Haifa. We often make a visit to this quaint town because they have a lovely pedestrian area that runs through the center, with fine restaurants and bohemian shops, and numerous outdoor terraces and bars where one can enjoy a cold beer or taste some of the delicious rich wines from the famous Israeli Wineries which have their vineyards around the town on the slopes of the hills. Some of these highly renowned wineries are Binyamina, Margalit and Tishbi.
After enjoying a delicious meal and some locally produced red wine, my husband and I continued down the pedestrian path until we came to the end of the street. There we saw that there were a number of Orthodox Jewish men who had set up a booth displaying religious pamphlets and which they were offering to the passersby, in an attempt to engage them in a conversation about Orthodox Judaism. They were dressed in their distinctive black trousers and white shirts with their long white tassels hanging by the sides of their hips, and their carefully groomed curls dangling at the sides of their temples.
As we were walking past the group of Jewish “evangelists,” one of them approached me and offered me a pamphlet speaking some words in Hebrew to me which I did not understand. While I didn’t understand his words, I fully understood his desire was to share with me his Jewish faith and so I politely took the pamphlet from him saying very pleasantly the name of Jesus Christ in Hebrew, Yashua Ha Machiach, which translates to “Jesus, the Messiah” or “Jesus is Lord”. I meant no offense by it in anyway, in fact,I was simply trying to indicate that I was a Christian, not an Israeli secular Jew and therefore, I would not be a good prospect for his preaching. However, the young man became very irate when he heard me mention the name of Jesus, and shouted out in English, “We have Moses as our father!”
Unfortunately, had I been alone, I might have gone up to him to reassured him that I was trying not to insult him or be offensive in any way. But my husband quickly whisked me away to avoid “making a scene“.
I was very disappointed, because I really would’ve liked to have tried to speak with young man to share with him some accounts from the Scriptures in the hope that the Holy Spirit would enlighten his mind and pierce him through the heart with God’s Truth that Jesus is the long anticipated Jewish Messiah – Yeshua Ha Machiach. Only God knows whether the young devout Jew would have been convicted of this truth by the Holy Spirit if I had been given an opportunity to share the Gospel with him. So I can’t know what might’ve transpired if I had shared the Word of God with this young Orthodox Jewish man.
Things haven’t changed much since the days our Lord Jesus and His Apostles walked and preached in the Holy Land, amongst the “lost sheep of the house of Israel”, (Matthew 15:24) whom the Lord came to save, most of whom did not recognize the moment of their long awaited Messiah’s visitation.
Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem
41He came closer to the city, and when he saw it, he wept over it, 42saying, “If you only knew today what is needed for peace! But now you cannot see it! 43The time will come when your enemies will surround you with barricades, blockade you, and close in on you from every side. 44They will completely destroy you and the people within your walls; not a single stone will they leave in its place, because you did not recognize the time when God came to save you!” ( Luke 19:41-44)
This prophecy of our Lord Jesus Christ came to pass in 70 A.D. when the Roman army led by General Titus surrounded Jerusalem and utterly destroyed the city, leaving no stone upon a stone, resulting in the destruction of the ancient temple of Solomon and much of the surrounding city by a fire started by the Roman army under the command of the future emperor Titus. The revolt started in 66 CE, following religious tensions between Greeks and Jews, but soon involved protests against taxation and attacks on Roman citizens. Shocked by the defeat of a legion under the command of Gallus, Emperor Nero sent military commander Vespasian, with a force of 60,000, to ensure that order was restored. Despite victories elsewhere, Jerusalem proved difficult to take. Vespasian’s son, Titus, surrounded the city with a wall and a trench, and anyone caught trying to escape was crucified. Titus then put pressure on the food and water supply by allowing pilgrims to enter the city in order to celebrate Passover but not letting them out.
After a number of failed attempts to attack the city, the Romans set about the destruction of Jerusalem’s formidable defenses with a battering ram. Having breached these defenses, the Romans fought their way from street to street. Many Zealots sought sanctuary in the ancient temple of Solomon and in the fortress of Antonia. The Romans finally overwhelmed the fortress, and the ancient temple was destroyed by fire in the ensuing battle, reputedly against the wishes of Titus. The destruction of the temple is still mourned by Jews in the annual fast of Tisha be-Av, and the fall of Jerusalem is celebrated in Rome’s Arch of Titus.
According to Jewish historian Josephus, the losses were Jewish, 1.1 million dead and 97,000 enslaved; Roman, unknown.”(source: Encyclopaedia Britannica).
All that remains of the Jewish Temple of Solomon – the Second Temple – from the destruction of Jerusalem, is the “Western Wall”, the retaining wall of the Temple Mount, known as the Wailing Wall where the Jews pray. For 2000 years they have not been able to make ritual sacrifices. They did not “recognize the time of their Lord’s visitation” ( Luke 19:44) that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Passover type, – Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world ( John 1:29) who was immolated on the wood of the tree ( Deuteronomy 21:23, Galatians 3:13) the Holy Cross (Acts10:39) the long-awaited Messiah of the Jewish people would come to save the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15: 24) and by their obstinate blindness in not seeing the day of their Lord’s visitation to them, and their subsequent rejection of Jesus their Messiah, Jesus brought salvation to the entire world – to all Jews and Gentiles who would believe in Him, receive Him for who He truly is, Emmanuel – God with us, the Lamb of God and Savior of all humanity.
So when young Orthodox Jewish man shouted out to me, “we have Moses as our Father,” the Holy Spirit immediately brought to my mind these words of Jesus who heard the same outcry 2000 years ago by the unbelieving Jews of His day:
Then they hurled insults at him (the blind man healed by Jesus) and said, “You are this fellow’s (Jesus) disciple! We are disciples of Moses! “ (John 9:28)
Jesus responded, “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. (John 5:45)
Here are the two full accounts in the New Testament from John chapters 5 and 9.
John Chapter 9
The Pharisees Investigate the Healing
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.
17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”
20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind.21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue.23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”
28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
39 Jesus said,“For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
John Chapter 5
The Healing at the Pool
1Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
The Authority of the Son
16So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
19Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
24“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.25Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
28“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
Testimonies About Jesus
33“You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.
36“I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,38nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
41“I do not accept glory from human beings, 42but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
45“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
Pray for the conversion of the Jews! Their prophesied Messiah has come and will come again!
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on Me, on Him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over Him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” ( Zechariah 12:10)
(“In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.)
I’m taking a leap of faith. I’m going to write an amazing story today. Somehow in my spirit, I feel that now is the time to tell this account as one of my newest songs “Just Like Judas” is being recorded in Nashville by respected producer, and being sung by a prominent artist. I’m trusting the Lord has a plan for this one.
A few years ago, my daughter began violin lessons at a music conservatory near our home. She’s a professional artist – an oil painter and graphic designer. But as all artists seem to have many modes of expression for their creative talent, she was also taking ballet, playing the piano, and also had ambitions for learning the violin. She realized soon enough that she had too much on her plate. She had a few unused lessons. I asked the Conservatory if I could take advantage of those remaining private classes, and study under a renowned and well trained pianist, composer and conductor. They agreed. So I began my study with the talented Efrain. (http://www.efrainamaya.com/main.html)
After a few lessons at the Conservatory, Efrain invited me to come to his home, where he had all his instruments, and professional recording equipment.
I arrived 15 minutes early for a scheduled lesson. When I drove into the parking lot of the apartment complex, I wasn’t sure that I was at the right location. There was a man walking through the parking lot as I was driving slowly through it. I rolled my window down a bit and called out to him to ask if this place was such and such apartment building. He said “yes” and simply continued walking on his way. I drove to the back section of the apartment complex, and parked my car.
I had decided not to go to the door straight away as I did not want to impose myself on such a fine composer and just pop in on him a quarter of an hour early for our class.
As I was sitting in my car waiting, I was stunned to see the stranger come up to my window. Feeling slightly uncomfortable, as I didn’t know him, or what he wanted, I cracked my window and greeted him. His expression was gentle and cordial. I rolled the window down a little bit further, and was astounded to hear him ask me, “Are you a musician?” Shocked by his unexpected, out of the blue, odd question, and with an honest sense of humility in my heart, I replied, “no, I’m not really a musician, I’m more like a composer.“
I told him this because, although I took piano lessons for 10 or more years in my youth and reached a very high level of expertise, and even played in some rock bands, music groups, and gave classical recitals and was hired for a few private jobs, I really hadn’t played much in the past three and a half decades. And I never considered myself a great “pianist” as I had way too much respect for those that were truly professional pianists to describe myself as such.
I rather considered myself at this time, a quickly learning novice composer, which is why I was meeting with Maestro Efrain, to show him my scores and to get his assistance to perfect them. With my songs and compositions scored I could have other professional musicians and singing artists record them.
I noticed that the stranger was dressed in a work uniform, much like mechanics wear, bearing an embroidered name tag on the shirt which read “Tony.” I rolled my window down completely and took one of my scores which I had used as scrap paper on the back side to write down the address of Efrain’s apartment complex. I showed Tony the score and he said to me while looking at the title of the song, Never Lost, “You are never lost, for God is always with you. You did not follow the will of the Lord by pursuing the musical gift he gave you when you were young. Do not turn and run away a second time.” I was dumbfounded at his words! How could this total stranger know that when I was young I had contemplated and had begun to move forward towards a career and life in music, but during my university years in New York City I got detoured, and ended up taking another road instead, one that led me into a career in international banking!
I was speechless. I was amazed. I had a sudden holy fear come upon me. I sensed that I was in the presence of something mysterious and awesome. Who was this man Tony?
To me, it was seemingly more than “coincidental”, that my song “Never Lost”, which I just happened to be using as my scrap paper that day, was the very first song I had ever written. I composed it when I was a teenager and still dreaming about a life in music. It was not titled “Never Lost” at that time, as I did not have any strong Christian faith.
I had just rewritten my childhood song, using the original melody, but rewriting all the lyrics to be a Christian contemporary song. Of all the hundred plus scores that I had composed over the past two years, it was this particular one that I had used in order to write down the directions to the apartment.
I had retained the melody, but felt that I should change all the lyrics in order to express my love for Jesus, since I had given my life to the Lord and was now following the Good Shepherd where ever He would lead me.
The time had come to go to my lesson. I got out of my car, and stood with Tony. He looked at me tenderly and stretching his hands out towards me he gently grasped my arms and began to pray out loud to the Lord sweetly and powerfully that He bless me, and accomplish His will in me, and bring to completion what He had begun many years before in my life.
I was too overwhelmed and emotional during this occurrence to remember any other specifics of Tony’s prayer, but I had an overwhelming sense, that I was in the presence of a heavenly visitor, who had been purposely sent to exhort and encourage me! Tony wrapped his arms around me, and softly kissed my cheek, and then he blessed me. I walked away slowly towards the apartment building, and when I reached the door I looked behind me, but Tony was gone.
When I entered into Efrain’s apartment, I was shaking and had difficulty speaking. I finally got the words out and began to share with the Maestro what had happened in the parking lot outside of his building. He attentively listened, and suggested that I sit down for 10 minutes to rest while he brought me a cup of cold water. When I had collected myself, we began our lesson.
In these past several years I have continued to compose, and the Lord has brought to me without any initiative on my part, international musicians, composers, arrangers, and producers to help advance my works. He has blessed me beyond my imagination and expectations. From time to time I question whether I’m on the right path, and doing the Lord’s will with the music, and then I remember Tony, and what he said to me, and I hold on to the memory of our mysterious encounter with wonder and awe, trusting and believing that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
Dear friends, would you please pray for my and Jesus’ music mission, and specifically, for my new song “Just Like Judas” that it would find its way to the ears of those whom the Lord would have hear it, and that it would be broadcast, and any good fruits, could be put to use for the building up of the Lord’s Kingdom. Thank you, and I pray for all of you, dear readers.
Never Lost by Ann Ammar
Keep me safe in Your Goodness
Hold me tight in Your Love
Give me tastes of Your sweetness
Kept for me up above
Held for me in Your love.
Where You lead, I will go
Your will is my will, for You are all I know.
As we walk through life together
As we carry that one Cross
Being yoked in love forever,
Never lost….. I’m not lost.
Teach me wisdom of Spirit
Help me love as You love
Open my heart that I hear it
Whispering like a dove
Filling me with your love.
Through Your word, I will speak
Your heart is my heart, Your Face is all I seek
As we walk through life together
As we carry that one Cross
Being yoked in love together
I’m not lost… never lost.
Cleanse me from all defilement
Wash my soul in Your Blood
Free me from all attachment
That You alone I may love
As angels do up above.
By Your grace, I am free
Your love is my love, Your mercy all I need.
As we walk through life together
As we carry that one Cross
Being yoked in love together
I’m not lost…never lost
On Christmas Day, December 25, 2017, in my devotional reading* I read a quote from Pope Francis, “may Joseph give us the ability to dream great things.“ Pope Francis was inaugurated as Pope on March 19, 2013, the Feast of St. Joseph, and has a special devotion to St. Joseph, who is venerated as the holy Patron and Protector of the Universal Church. Saint Joseph is also venerated as Patron Saint of fathers, workers, employment, unborn children, immigrants, carpenters, realtors, travelers, against doubt and hesitation, and perhaps most commonly called upon to assist through his intercession with our Lord Jesus, at the moment of our deaths, for the blessing of a “happy death”.
For this reason Pope Francis says he keeps the statue of the sleeping Saint in his bedroom. And our Holy Father has also advised people to leave a “note“ under the image of the Saint for help whenever they have a problem.
In fact St. Joseph, as the faithful and righteous husband of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ, and the guardian of the Child Jesus, Emanuel – God with us- living amidst men on this earth, Joseph is loved, honored and respected by all Christians. In the Catholic Church, St. Joseph is honored in his role as carpenter, on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, on May 1. In the Orthodox Church, St. Joseph is honored on the Sunday after Christmas as St. Joseph the Betrothed of the Blessed Virgin Mary and as the foster father of the Child Jesus.
Even though in all four Gospels, St. Joseph does not speak a single word, yet we have come to know and love him, because we know that he was chosen by God before all time in His Wisdom to prepare a worthy foster father for Himself. Jesus completely entrusted Himself to the care, love, and guidance of His earthly father, Saint Joseph, and was fully obedient to him while Joseph lived. While the Scriptures do not inform us of the time or manner in which St. Joseph passed from his earthly life to the Heavenly Father, Christians throughout the ages have believed, and with good reason, that Joseph died a happy and good death, as the foster father of the Incarnate Word, and God’s uniquely chosen son and beloved child, surrounded by his closest loved ones, Jesus and Mary, at his peaceful passing.
There is another pious tradition that developed through the centuries of the Church concerning St. Joseph’s patronage, of which I was unaware, until, when recently trying to sell my home, a devout friend told me about it.
Long before Pope Francis encouraged us to call on this powerful Saint for help whenever we have a problem, other Saints, such as Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Andre Bessette did just that. Saint Teresa of Avila encouraged the sisters of her convent to pray to Saint Joseph and to demonstrate their devotion to him by burying St. Joseph medals when they needed help, and in particular when they wanted to expand their convent and needed to acquire more land.
In the late 1800’s St. Andre turned to St. Joseph to help him sell a house by burying a statue of the Saint in the yard. He also wanted to buy a piece of land to build a new chapel. Like Saint Theresa he called on St. Joseph for assistance after burying St. Joseph medals and his petition was speedily answered.
When I mentioned my need to sell our home in Pennsylvania in order to move quickly to New Jersey to take care of my dying mother, a friend told me to bury a statue of St. Joseph headfirst in the front yard and call upon his intercession for a quick and successful sale of the house. I had never heard of such a practice.
But knowing that the good Lord hears our prayers, and trusting that Saint Joseph is with Jesus in Heaven, and so dear to His Heart, along with His Blessed Mother, I took a walk around the block of my mother’s home in New Jersey and prayed the Holy Rosary calling upon Joseph and Mary to assist me in my need. Before I began the prayers of the Rosary, however, I spoke directly to St. Joseph telling him that I had heard of his powerful intercession with Jesus and that I had been counseled to bury a statue of him in my front yard as an act of loving devotion to the foster father of our Lord and to express faith filled confidence in his speedy assistance to the Lord’s own brothers and sisters.
I told him I did not have a statue and I was not able to go to physically to Pennsylvania to make such an act at that time so therefore I would make the “pilgrimage” spiritually in my heart and mind. I did so and began my walk around the block praying the Rosary with the intention of Saint Joseph’s good help to sell my house quickly so I would not be burdened by preoccupation with this matter since I had already moved into my mothers house to focus all my attention in caring for her during her terminal cancer.
As I concluded my Rosary walk, and approached my mothers home, at just that moment, my husband drove into the driveway, and was speaking on his cell phone. I asked who called, and he told me that just then he had received a firm offer from a couple to buy our house in Pennsylvania for the price we had been asking! Hallelujah!
St Joseph, a mighty intercessor before the Lord and powerful patron of His Church!
Saint Joseph, who was the most devoted, attentive, caring and loving father to the Child Jesus while on earth, and now from Heaven, to all the Lord’s dear brothers and sisters!
*Little Blue Book, 2017
Diocese of Saginaw, MI
Gordon: When and why did you join Holy Angels Parish?
Ann: We moved into Woodbury, New Jersey when I was seven years old and in the second grade. My father was a vascular surgeon and established his private medical practice at the Underwood Memorial Hospital in this small, lovely, and typical American town founded in the 1600s and situated across the Delaware River from the City of Philadelphia. My parents originate from Norway (my mother was a first generation immigrant) and Germany, (my father’s family came to America in the early 1700’s as farmers and settled in Pennsylvania). Below is the photo of my Norwegian grandfather leading the singing praise hymns to the Lord by all my Norwegian cousins in the traditional Lutheran Church in my mother’s farming village of Ekne, Norway on my baptism in 1962. I’m the little toddler on the right side running around the church.
Thus, our family’s spiritual history is Protestant from the time of the Reformation. I was baptized in 1962 as a toddler in my mother’s traditional Lutheran church on a visit to my devout Lutheran Norwegian farming grandparents. When my parents moved into Woodbury in 1967 they became members of the First Presbyterian Church at Woodbury, as they were told it was a “nice” church with a good pastor. While growing up in Woodbury, I was active with the Presbyterian Church in their youth activities, singing in the church choir, and studying piano and organ under the church music director. Although I had attended Sunday school, and went to church services on Sunday where I would usually sing in the choir, and even though I had been Confirmed in the Presbyterian Church at age 13, I did not really know Jesus and I did not have living and active faith. Church for me was social, -a community and musical experience. Music touched me deep in my soul, and although my heart rose in joy when I sang the hymns, I did not specifically lift my heart to the Lord or knowingly sing to God and Jesus in worship, love and Adoration. When I recited the Apostles Creed, I did not understand the words that I was saying. Despite my church life, I was spiritually ignorant and blind, and did not have “ears to hear or eyes to perceive” the Gospel at that time in my life. St Patrick’s Church was the only Catholic church in our town of Woodbury when I was growing up and still is the only Catholic church in the town. Many of my classmates from elementary and high school attended CCD, and CYO at St. Patrick’s. I remember some classmates coming to school on Ash Wednesday with the sign of the cross traced in ashes on their forehead. I did not understand what this sign meant. I did not have a hunger to know why they did this act and so I never inquired about their faith, and furthermore, none of my Catholic classmates ever spoke to me about their Church or shared their Catholic Christian faith with me, and so I remained ignorant. I left Woodbury at age 17 after my high school graduation to pursue my education and I moved to New York City to attend New York University. By then I was an agnostic, totally focused on worldly and secular pursuits. I was a very lost sheep, but I did not even know it! During my university years I was not exposed to any witness of the Christian or Catholic faith by anyone at any time. My New York City experience was secular, hedonistic, humanistic, and worldly and I was exposed to many sinful and evil persons, places and things leading me further and further away from God.
I graduated from NYU and then moved to London to continue my studies, earning an MBA in international business. I began my international banking career in Philadelphia when I returned to America in 1983, married my husband in 1985, whom I had met in London during my graduate studies, and moved with him to Madrid, Spain in 1991 to open an office for the bank as my successful career advanced. During all these years I was spiritually dead, and not looking for God, and my husband was a self-proclaimed atheist despite having been brought up in a devout Muslim family in a Palestinian village in Israel. Upon returning to America from Madrid, due to my promotion to head up the Southern European Region of the International Division for CoreStates Bank, we started a family, and our two daughters were born in 1995 and 1997, respectively. It was during this period from 1994 through 1998 while I was still working at the bank and traveling for business through Southern Europe that the Lord pursued me mightily to come to Him in faith, beginning with His mysterious call to my heart and soul during a routine business trip to Italy in 1994.( Further below I will share my testimony for it was the beginning of my journey towards full Conversion to Jesus Christ and into Christ’s One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church). But first I will return to the question of why I have returned after 40 years to my hometown of Woodbury and am now attending St. Patrick’s Church, one of the three churches that were merged to form Holy Angels Parish. I started coming back to Woodbury from Israel where I was living with my husband and two daughters during 2008-2011, in order to assist my parents and sister who had become very ill during the time we were living abroad. Since I was by then a Catholic convert, I began to attend Saint Patrick’s Church every time I came home to the USA. Because of the increasing complexity of my father, mother and sister’s illnesses, and simultaneous trial we were going through to find a cure for my youngest daughter’s years’ long, chronic and life- threatening depression, my husband and I decided we should return to America to seek better treatment for her. Then, in 2014, I moved to Woodbury without my husband and youngest daughter, in order to live with my parents and sister who were suffering tremendously and could not care for themselves. My mother was battling late stage ovarian cancer, my sister who had been living with my parents was dying of liver failure due to alcohol addiction and my father was deteriorating rapidly from Alzheimer’s disease. After my sister passed away, and we were finally able to relocate my father to an assisted-living facility for Alzheimer’s patients, my husband and youngest daughter joined me in Woodbury so we could live together as a family, helping my mother until she finally succumbed to her disease in 2016. After the death of my mother, my husband and I decided to remain and settle in my family home in Woodbury, and it is then when I formally joined St. Patrick’s Church. We have been living in Woodbury for the past few years, and during this time St. Patrick’s Church was merged with two other local churches forming the new Holy Angel’s Parish. I was not involved with the merger process in anyway, so I cannot really speak about it. I understand that it was due to financial reasons that the merger was necessary. I love our parish! There are a group of very devout, pious, deeply spiritual Catholics who attend daily Mass, and adore our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and whose worship and devotion to our Lord keeps the Holy Spirit present and moving amongst us. We have had new priests assigned to our parish, due to the retirement of Monsignor, and due to serious illnesses of several other of our priests. We are blessed with two holy priests from Africa who have recently been assigned to our parish.
It feels good to be home in my childhood town, after forty years away, and I can only say with Saint Augustine, “too late have I loved Thee”! How I wish I had had living faith in our Lord Jesus Christ during my childhood and had known the truth about the holy Eucharist and the holy Catholic Faith and had received Him in holy Communion at Saint Patrick’s during my childhood!
Gordon: You have a fascinating background as a former international banker, who, after visiting Assisi, had a life-transforming experience. Could you share this with our readers?
Ann: I would like now to pick up where I left off above, in my personal history, when I was still working for Corestates Bank and traveling to Southern Europe as Regional Manager, and to share with you details about one extraordinary life-changing day I experienced on a business trip to in Italy in 1994 when the Spirit of God came upon me mightily in the holy town of Assisi and thus, transformed my life forever! I was a 34 year – old, ambitious Vice President who had successfully opened an office for Corestates in Madrid, Spain. I had built up the market successfully to such a point where my proposal to open a representative office on the Peninsula was heartily approved by senior management. After three years of success in managing the Madrid Office, I was offered a promotion to Regional Manager of Southern Europe, which included responsibility for Spain and Portugal, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Israel and the other countries surrounding the Mediterranean basin. It seemed I had everything going for me. I had been married 10 years at that time, was very well paid, and after this lucrative overseas ex-patriot assignment for several years had returned to a more senior position at the bank with further upward success looking promising. On the surface of things, it appeared that my life was very good and that I was lacking for nothing, but I would soon discover by no attempt of my own that I was utterly poor and empty in all that truly mattered! I was scheduled for another routine trip to Italy, accompanied by my colleague, a young woman who reported to me, and who was one of the country managers for Italy. She had arranged the entire itinerary for our Italian trip and one of our appointments was with a bank in the town of Perugia. It was scheduled as a brief courtesy call to show our appreciation to the international division manager for all the business that he and his bank conducted with ours. Our arranged agenda was to spend about half an hour having a coffee with the manager and then continuing on the rest of our business trip to Rome.
I had never met the head of the international division at this bank, so I was unknown to him, and he had no knowledge of my agnosticism. My colleague had told him nothing personal about me regarding matters of faith and religion, as these topics were unrelated to our business purposes. When we arrived at the bank that morning, I discovered that the bank manager spoke no English.
After a brief introduction, he proceeded to cup his hand under my elbow and gently lead me away, with my colleague following, through the halls of the bank and then down into the garage where he encouraged us to get into his car. Not speaking any Italian, I was not able to converse with him and did not understand what was happening. He began to drive us to a destination, and when we arrived we found ourselves at Assisi, the holy pilgrimage town of Saint Francis of Assisi. We wondered why he would bring us there without discussing these plans with us in advance. We had scheduled a standard international corporate bank appointment and had not arranged any time for sightseeing. Furthermore, we had plans to drive on to Rome that morning. No amount of explaining our desires to the banker moved him to bring us back to the bank. After about an hour with the Italian banker leading us through the holy sites of Assisi, we gave up our protestations and yielded to his agenda, and let go of our need to control the day’s events.
Not being Catholic, and not even a practicing or believing Christian I had no idea what Assisi meant, except that it was the name of the town from where Saint Francis came. I knew practically nothing about St. Francis except that I often saw his statue adorning gardens because he was associated with birds. At first, the banker took us to the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli a little distance outside of the main town of Assisi where after he took us to visit the other famous shrines. In the Church, he pointed out the holy icons and paintings, and I did not have a clue as to what they signified and thus, did not know how to appreciate their spiritual importance. Then, he motioned to me to go inside the Porziuncola (the little chapel which name means “small portion of land” which belonged to the Order of Saint Benedict of Monte Subasio), which is thought to have been erected under Pope Liberius in the mid- 4th century by hermits from the Valley of Josaphat in Jerusalem, who had brought relics from the grave of the Blessed Virgin to Assisi. The chapel became known as the Chapel of Our Lady of the Valley of Josaphat or the Chapel of the Angels because of the relics brought from the site where Mary’s Assumption into heaven accompanied by angels occurred. Furthermore, it also derives its name from the witness of many persons over the centuries claimed to hear the singing of angels inside!
After St Francis returned from a pilgrimage Rome, he had a vision of Christ on the way, who said to him, ‘Francis can’t you see that My house is falling into ruin, Go and rebuild it!” Francis, not yet understanding that the Lord was speaking to him about reforming the entire Catholic Church, Francis took the words of Jesus at face value and began restoring several local ruined churches, among them the Porziuncola, the little chapel of St Mary of the Angels. Afterwards, Francis built himself a small hut near the Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels and was soon joined by other followers. It was here that Francis founded the Franciscans.
I entered timidly into the chapel as I did not know what to do in such a holy space. There were devout pilgrims kneeling in prayer on the wooden pews along the sides of the chapel. I didn’t consider kneeling down to pray as I did not know God, nor even how to pray, as I had not said prayers since I was a young child, and even then, I seldom prayed. I stopped and remained still in the middle of the aisle facing the altar. I simply stood there alone in the aisle without being aware of any thoughts. It was there that a mysterious Presence came upon me. I felt a wonderful sense of Peace and Love and Light flood my soul, – a place I did not know even existed within me. I realized that I was in the Presence of a Person who personally knew me, loved me, and cared about me. I did not hear any Voice nor see any Face. My experience was a mystical sensation in my innermost being. I had an immediate understanding that this Person was God Almighty who created me and knew me and was revealing Himself to me that He exists and loves and cares for me. I was forever changed by this brief but sublime Encounter.
On two other specific occasions during that marvelous and mysterious day, the Spirit of God came upon me again and continued to call me to Himself. When finally, the banker took us back to his car, he gave me as a gift the Prayer of St Francis and quite curiously he asked me in his poor and broken English, “are you different?” I did not know how to answer his mysterious question, but tears welled up in my eyes and when I looked at him I saw that he too had wet eyes. I saw him only one time after that day, six months later in Milan, on another business trip at a bank event, where this mysterious banker simply gave me a hug and offered me another gift – a print rolled up like a scroll of St Francis with his arms raised to heaven in praise to God.
I never saw the banker again, but his name if you translate it into English means “soldier of the Cross”. This gentle banker was surely an instrument of the Holy Spirit in my life. When I see him again one day in Heaven I will thank him for his faithful obedience to the promptings, inspirations and nudges of the Holy Spirit which forever changed the direction of my life. I continued seeking the Lord of Assisi with all my heart, mind soul and strength in the years to follow and our loving Triune God ultimately let Himself be found by me, – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and each One of the Divine Persons individually and distinctly revealed themselves to me. I left everything to love, follow and serve the one True Triune God of St Francis and the Christians and who is the only Living God of all humanity.
Gordon: Your Battle Cry is an extraordinary publication, and the title also reflects a challenge that many of us may not often reflect upon. Could you comment on some of the reasons why you chose this title?
Ann: The Battle Cry apostolate came directly from the Lord. I would never have considered beginning such a ministry on my own. The Lord gave me the name, “The Battle Cry” and confirmed His selection of this name through another Catholic who serves Him. Initially I was very reluctant to begin this ministry, because it involved transparently exposing my inner life and making myself vulnerable by sharing intimate words from the Lord that I receive in prayer.
However, the Lord continue to reassure me that this was His will, and that this was not only for my benefit, but also for the benefit of many souls who do not yet know and love Him, in order to draw them to salvation through repentance from sin and receiving of the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus. These words from the Lord are also for all Christians who do know and love their Lord yet, He desires to draw them into a deeper and more intimate relationship in order to prepare and strengthen them spiritually for much more difficult times that will be coming in the Church and the world as the evil spirit of apostasy, heresy, immorality, violence, and callous cold-heartedness increases in power and influence.
I believe that the Lord chose the name “The Battle Cry” in order to alert His Church and anyone of goodwill in the world who will read His words, to the urgency of the need for sincere contrition and deeper repentance, and a profound conversion of heart, through increased prayer, deeper trust and stronger faith in God and faithful obedience, service and living our lives in the light of His Holy and perfect Will.
I was prepared for the transition to share such intimate words and inspirations from the Lord through years of obedience to writing my personal faith testimonials in the first blog that the Lord asked me to write beginning in 2010. This first blog is .Walking with our Lord.
Readers can go to this site where I share many personal testimonials of my journey of conversion and walking with Jesus in increasing faith living in America and in the Holy Land. Each of the testimonials are true and reveal many miracles and wonders that our Lord has done in our intimate relationship and which he desires to have with all His beloved children. I wrote each of the accounts after the Holy Spirit revealed the story that He specifically desired that I share publically on the blog.
Gordon: You are also a popular Songwriter & Composer Based on your experience, how can music be a helpful evangelization resource?
Ann: As I shared above in my personal history, ever since childhood, I had a special love for music, singing in the church and school choirs, and studying piano and organ, and composing songs as a teenager, and playing in two bands, and even during my university years in New York City, managing a new wave band, and aspiring to a music career. For reasons I do not fully understand, but in reflecting back over the years, it would seem that the Lord had other plans for my life before He would stir up the gift of music He gave me and fulfill the desire of my heart.
Despite the earlier path towards music, while at NYU I found myself pursuing a major in history, and then, going on to study for my Master’s in international business in London and returning to the US to start a career in international banking. It wasn’t until after I returned home from living in the Holy Land, in 2011, that the Lord opened the floodgates of inspiration, and began sharing from His heart to mine both lyrics and melodies, which I diligently struggled and worked to annotate as musical scores.
I have composed a little more than 100 compositions over the past few years of songs and choral works that are in various stages of development. I never studied music theory or composition, so I had to teach myself how to score and arrange music. This has at times so frustrated me that I have become discouraged. I cannot accomplish all that my heart desires as I do not have the technical training and skill required. However, the Lord in His goodness has brought other Catholics to assist me in developing some of my simpler pieces into more advanced works as orchestral scores, and also to produce professional recordings in the studio of some of my songs and those that I have cowritten with them.
There is a story that I have yet to write and post on the Walking With Our Lord blog that I am still meditating upon. I had a miraculous encounter with someone, “Tony”, who prophesied to me about my music mission. When I get discouraged and begin to doubt this beautiful gift the Lord has given to me, and the music mission which He has inspired, I recall the encounter with the mysterious and angelic? “Tony” and try hold his amazing words of encouragement and counsel deep in my heart. I haven’t been working too much over the last six months on the Lord’s music, so I must get back to work! Saint Augustine once said, “He who sings, prays twice!” Music is the international language of the soul, and reaches deep into the hearts of all people, and thus music can be a very effective and sweet form of evangelization and sharing with others the love and truth of God who is the Divine Author and Composer of Music!
Today, while in prayer after receiving our Lord in Holy Communion, Jesus inspired me to tell you the following heart- warming story which I experienced some years ago, a story which reveals His Mother’s tender love and concern for and gentle presence with her dear children throughout the ages. In prayer the Lord brought to mind my young God-daughter and niece, Alenka, who will be turning 13 this summer. Jesus is prompting me to send her a lovely little ladybug devotional bracelet with a Cross and an image of our Lady of Grace connected by a string of little red ladybug beads, which I was wearing today at Mass. This devotional bracelet was given to me A couple of years ago by a Catholic friend, after I shared with her my experience with our Mamma Mary and some ladybugs during Easter. To my delight and surprise, my friend told me that the ladybug (also known as a ladybird and a ladybeetle) has an historical connection with our Blessed Mother Mary because of a miracle she performed in Europe in the Middle Ages.
(From Catholic.org, article dated October 30, 2004) “The original name of the ladybug is “Our Lady’s Bug.” It seems that during the Middle Ages, a plague of small insects (aphids) attacked the crops, threatening Europe with starvation. The people had recourse to Our Lady, and petitioned her to save them from this plague. In answer to their prayer, a cloud of small, black-spotted, orange-red insects arrived and promptly ate all the offending pests. The grateful population gave to them the name, “Our Lady’s Bugs.” News of this miracle spread and a comparison of over 40 languages, including different dialects, this small beetle was given a great variety of names, referring to Our Lady and God such as: “God’s Little Cow” (Dievo Karvute, Lithuanian; Vaquilla de Dios, Spanish); “Dear God’s Little Creature” (Lieve Heersbeestje, Dutch);
- Ye Mariam Tinziza … “Mary’s Beetle”, Amharic (West Ethiopia);
- Arca de la Mare de Deu…“Mother of God’s Ark”Catalan;
- Gallinetta de la Mare de Deu… “Mother of God’s Chicken” …Catalan
- Bubamara … “Mary’s Beetle” …Croatian
- Mariehøne … “Mary’s Hen” …Danish (and Norwegian, if the ‘e’ is made an ‘a’)
- Onzer-lieve-vrouwe Beestje… “Our Dear Lady’s Little Creature” …Dutch
- Bete de la Vierge … “The Virgin’s Creature” …French
- Frauenkäferlein … “Our Lady’s Little Beetle” …German (Bohemia)
- Scarpa de la Madona … “The Madonna’s Shoe” …Italian (Turin)
- Kafsch Dus … “God’s Beetle” …Persian (Iran)
- Boul-popei … “The Pope’s Ox” …Romanian
- Jungfru Maria Nyckelpiga… “Virgin Mary’s Key Maid” …Swedish.”
I had no idea how universal this association between the ladybug and our Blessed Mother Mary and God is! I just knew that our Lady had revealed her Presence and tender care for me through a ladybug!
Here is my story. While living in Pennsylvania, during the winter months, I would find some ladybugs in our bedroom on the curtains and window frames. Somehow they had crawled in through small crevices/cracks, seeking warmth inside our home from the harsh winter cold. The first winter I saw them, I paid no attention to their plight because I didn’t understand that they would not survive inside, as they would dry out from the heating. They should’ve been hibernating outside under the earth for the winter where their body temperatures would drop and their internal system would slow down until the first warmth of spring when they would awake and come out of hibernation. Those ladybugs that had come into a heated home, their bodies would not know to hibernate, rather they would simply dehydrate and die. The second winter that I saw the lovely ladybugs inside my house, I was curious about them and so I looked up on the Internet information about ladybugs and learned that in order to be humane it would be necessary to build a terrarium. One must place the ladybugs in the terrarium and provide water and honey for them to survive until spring when they could be released. I worked very hard on this and created a beautiful terrarium with twigs and earth and leaves in a glass container with a aerated lid for the seven ladybugs that I rescued that second winter. I provided them with fresh water and honey daily, using plastic bottle caps for their little bowls.
I became a caring mother to the seven ladybugs from November until April. Occasionally some of them would manage to get out of the lid, and in a panic I went looking for them all over the house, knowing that if they did not return to the terrarium they would dry out and die. I did find them, usually on the windows, and replaced them in their temporary home. One of them even laid eggs in the terrarium, so I knew that they were male and female, although I could not tell them apart. It was a joyful labor of love for the six months of winter looking after these little creatures of God, although my husband and children did not understand why I should care about “just bugs”. But I have the spirit of Saint Francis, and I care about every living creature no matter how small or seemingly unimportant. To me all life is sacred and beautiful. I discovered that one can become attached even to ladybugs, as love does not discriminate!
The week of Palm Sunday approached, and our family had plans to make a trip to Chicago to visit our older daughter. I found myself faced with the dilemma. Should I release the ladybugs outside since I would not be there for the week to provide water or honey for them? The temperature did not yet seem warm enough to release the ladybugs outside. What would happen if I left them for the duration of the trip in the terrarium and they dried out due to lack of water? I didn’t know what was the best course of action to take. I had been doting on them for six months and I couldn’t bear the thought that it would have all be in vain, that they would either die outside or inside if I made the wrong decision about their care. I sought guidance from the Lord on this matter. Ultimately, my sense was that they should be kept inside the terrarium until I got back. We left on our trip to Chicago. The weather took a sudden turn, and temperatures rose dramatically. I thought how I should have let them out. But how was I to know? I worried that the temperature inside the house without the air conditioning on would rise and the terrarium would dry out quickly and I would return to dead ladybugs. Remarkably the temperatures outside climbed into the nineties in Pennsylvania during that week!
There I was in Chicago and there was nothing I could do but pray for my precious ladybugs to survive. My husband, my daughters and I were walking through Millennium Park in Chicago on that very hot afternoon in mid week of our trip. I thought about the ladybugs in their dry as a bone glass terrarium with shriveled and brown leaves and clippings.
I lifted my heart up to our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God , Help of Christians, and approached her Immaculate and Holy Heart in prayer right there in Millennium Park with all trust and confidence as my loving and caring Mother and indeed, the Mother of All the Living, appealing to her for protection of the little creatures that I had left back in Pennsylvania. I prayed out loud, and my daughters witnessed my call on her powerful intercession. Immediately after this deep and sincere cry from my heart, a ladybug landed on my hand!! I rejoiced while showing this miracle to my husband and daughters.
This was beyond astounding! I praised the God of heaven and His Mother for their awesome Love and power. I believed in faith that all would surely be well with my ladybugs when I returned to Pennsylvania.
Several days later we arrived back at home and I found a bone dry terrarium filled with shriveled, dry and crumbling leaves and not a drop of water. But the ladybugs were there safe and fully alive! I released them on Easter Sunday morning into a pink flowering tree while praising Our Lord Jesus Christ who rose from the dead, and Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life!
All Creatures Great and Small, the Lord God Loves Them All – The True Story of Mittens and Her Kittens.
This evening I’ve been sitting on my deck looking out over my yard, which is surrounded by many old trees, some which are more than 100 years old. The grass is green because we’ve had so much rain here in southern New Jersey. The trees are thick with green foliage and the sun is setting, as night is falling, but I can’t see the setting sun because there is an expansive grey cloud cover above me. I had to put an elegant white plastic swan in my swimming pool which I just opened for the summer, and which is sparkling blue and creating a tranquil and pleasant vista from my deck in order to deter a determined pair of Mallard ducks which have been feeding all spring under my bird-feeders, from swimming in my clean pool.
I have been feeding this faithful duck pair for several years now, and I understand that ducks mate for life. I also put food out daily for squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and I fill several birdfeeders for all the many bird species that live here in the middle Atlantic United States. I even leave out leftovers from our dinner plates for any other wild animal that comes up from the woods and from the lake searching for some morsels to eat. I’ve fed a red fox, and nearly pure white skunk, a possum, and two raccoons with the scraps from my dinner table. Recently, a grey tabby cat has appeared and has devoured anything and everything I put out in the evening. I’m thinking it may be a feral cat although it could be one of the neighbors cats that just has a very ravenous appetite.
In this peaceful and blessed state of mind and spirit, I began singing a hymn that I wrote a few years ago, “Walking by Faith” to the Lord in adoration.
It’s then that Jesus surprised and delighted me by bringing to mind an experience we shared 10 years ago and that I feel He desires that I relate to you in order to reveal His tender love and compassionate care for His beloved Creation and to witness to His close attentiveness to every one of our prayers.
One evening, in May 2007, while I was living in Pennsylvania, there was a terrific thunderstorm that broke out in the evening. I noticed my gorgeous white Himalayan puffball of a cat sitting in our breakfast room window looking intently into our backyard through the driving rain at something on the other side of the pool, close to the fence. Since she was staring so fixedly despite the rumblings of thunder and flashes of lightning, I went to the window to see what she might be looking at. It was then that I noticed a small motley and bedraggled calico cat whose fur was soaked through and who had the appearance from which the expression came, “it looks like something the cat dragged in from the rain”! What was this poor creature doing outside during such a torrential down pour, I asked myself. I opened the door and leaned out over the deck and tried to call the cat to come. She seemed scared. I quickly poured some cat food in a bowl, and shook the bowl to attract her attention and to try to draw her in. I set it down on the deck near the door where she could eat if she was hungry with some protection from the harsh elements.
I went inside and shut the door and waited and watched to see if she would come to eat. She did come, as she was starving. When I saw that she ate all the food I gently opened the door to encourage her to come in. She was scared and she ran to the side of the house. It’s then that I thought open the garage door to see if she would come in to take shelter. She indeed wanted to escape the storm and after a little while she entered the door to the garage. Now I had her! I prepared a box with some bedding and put a water bowl and food bowl next to her new little “house” in my garage. She would be warm and safe tonight. My daughters and I came into the garage and allowed her to get accustomed to our presence. She could feel that she was loved and being cared for, and she soon relaxed and accepted us. We realized that she had been someone’s pet, and had been dropped off in our nice neighborhood to fend for herself, as sadly she was no longer wanted. I came to this conclusion the next day after I took her to the veterinarian to be checked.
There was a sense of urgency to get her checked immediately the next day so that I could find her a new home. My husband did not want to take in a second cat, and he gave me an ultimatum, that if I did not find a home for her the next day she would have to be brought to the SPCA shelter. I surely didn’t want to do this, as I know how many animals languish in shelters waiting for adoption, and in many cases are put down if they cannot be resettled into permanent homes quickly.
So I determined to take the little cat that I named “Mittens” because of her mutation of having six toes on each paw! These kind of cats are known as polydactyl cats or Hemingway cats. Each of her paws looked like she was wearing mittens; she was extremely adorable because of this deformity. Who would want to dispose of such a cute little creature? When the veterinarian performed her examination, she sensed that Mittens might be pregnant. She took an x-ray and could clearly see there were at least two developing kittens in her womb. That might be why she was released, as she had not been spayed and perhaps her owners did not want any more mouths to feed or to deal with the birth of kittens.
How could I find a home for Mittens and her soon-to-be kittens in only one day, I asked myself in exasperation! I begged the veterinarian to adopt her on the spot and to try to find a home for her amongst their many clients and using their connections. Unfortunately, the veterinarian would not be able to help me. I paid her services and left the clinic dejectedly. Then with a sudden burst of Faith, I lifted my heart and voice to the Lord Jesus and begged Him instead to help me, as “all things are possible for God”! My faith in that moment felt substantial. Hope rose in my heart and I felt a sense of peace and joy flood my soul.
When I returned from the veterinarian I proceeded to make phone calls to everyone that I knew, asking if they would be willing to adopt mama Mittens and her kittens, leaving messages on their answering machines since I did not reach anyone in person.
Having completed numerous phone calls, I had to run an errand, so I left the house and drove away, calling on St. Francis of Assisi to advocate for me to our Lord, for extra grace to solve this crisis. I love Saint Francis not only because he is the Saint most associated with animals, but also because he was instrumental in my conversion to Christ in 2000 after decades of agnosticism, and ultimately for my coming into full communion with Christ’s one, holy Catholic and apostolic Church some years (in 2004) after my turning to Jesus with my whole heart.
When I returned home it was later afternoon, and time was running out. I knew by evening I would need to take Mittens to the SPCA after my husband returned home from work, if I had nowhere else to bring her.
The phone rang, and a friend, an Arab Muslim woman from Jerusalem, now living with her husband and daughters in New Jersey, had picked up my message and was calling me back. I could not believe my ears when I heard her say to me that she wanted to adopt Mittens! It was a miracle! – an answer to my prayer by both our Lord Jesus and St. Francis. The call came just minutes before my husband walked in the door from work! But even more astounding, was what Amal shared with me as the reason to why she wanted to adopt Mittens.
Amal told me that last night she had had a dream about her father. Her father had died in Jerusalem last year and she told me that he had appeared to her in a dream last night, the night before the one year anniversary of his death! Today, ( the day I had called and left a message asking her if she would adopt Mittens and her kittens) was the one year anniversary of her father’s passing. Her father lived on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, and he loved cats. He had “adopted” three stray cats that hung around his house and he fed them and cared for them. Only he cared for them, and no one else paid any attention to them. On the day he died, no one was there to look after them anymore, and so they disappeared. Amal just knew she had to adopt Mittens and her two soon-to-be-born kittens, believing that her father would surely want this and be pleased, and that she could demonstrate her love and show her honor to her father by adopting the pregnant Mittens. She firmly believed that God had specifically granted her this vision of her father in the night to prepare her for this act of charity. I knew it was true because I had prayed to the Lord asking for His urgent and essential help, fully trusting He had heard my prayer and knowing, believing and trusting in His love for me, and for Amal and her father and for every one of His creatures. When I dropped off Mittens to Amal’s home, we saw on Mitten’s neck a golden mark in her fur of a large cross! The rest of her pattern of fur was all splotchy calico with no other distinct markings!
Not long after that Mittens gave birth to her kittens, and they have been loved by Amal and her family for all these years!
“All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
The purple headed mountains,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning
That brightens up the sky.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
To gather every day.
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.”
In the summer of 2010 my daughters and I came home for 7 week visit to the USA. My own family had been living in Israel for a couple of years by then, and we missed America. So we travelled back to my childhood home in New Jersey where my parents were still living.
We had a wonderful summer hanging around with my mother and father, sharing the simple pleasures of life: conversations over meals, coffee on the deck, shopping for food, and making small outings together. In September we returned so the girls could start a new academic year at their international school.
After a little while, as I was busy with my usual daily routines in Israel, I began to notice powerful sensations welling up in my heart that I came to realize were the deepest sentiments of love that I had ever felt for my parents during all of my life.
In all my fifty years I had never experienced such overwhelming emotions of love for my mother and father as I felt for them at that time. I became aware that this exceptional passionate love was not of my own making, but arose in my heart from an “extra”ordinary outpouring of grace by the Holy Spirit. As I came to realize this as a profound supernatural grace at work within my heart, I was deeply moved to thank and praise the Lord for this ordinary gift He was bestowing on me.
The light and love that the Holy Spirit was pouring into me drove me into deep prayer and I cried out to the Lord that He not take my mother and father from me as I loved them so much and needed them too. I was rather confounded in my intellect about these supplications – that the Lord must not take my parents away from me – as to my reasonable mind they seemed a rather odd response to such deep, positive, fiery emotions of love. I didn’t really know why I was praying such things.
During one of my telephone calls to my parents I opened my heart and told my parents of these strange new feelings – that a marvelous, mysterious wave of love had washed over my heart – and that I felt I now loved them more than I had ever loved them before, and I wanted them to know it. Not long after this telephone conversation, my father called me and stunned me with the remarkable and unexpected news that my mother had been just diagnosed with a late stage, incurable ovarian cancer.
I reflected that the Lord went before me and that through His signal grace of flooding my heart with torrents of His merciful love for my parents, He had prepared me for this challenging trial. Filled to overflowing with the Lord’s own divine love, I immediately booked a flight home to be at the hospital bedside of my mother who would undergo a massive surgery and then need chemotherapy for the rest of her life.
I remained with them for more than five weeks in America to attend to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of both of my elderly parents.
My husband, daughters and I moved home to America in June 2011. We would now be near to my parents to support them. My father’s mental and emotional state began to deteriorate rapidly upon learning of my mother’s cancer. His depression worsened, his anxiety increased astronomically, and his behavior became erratic and highly agitated, with frequent uncontrolled outbursts of anger and violence. His memory was failing him. He was confused and was unable to process what was going on around him. The situation of my mother and father became quite chaotic and dangerous as my father’s dementia increased. The problems and difficulties were further exacerbated by the fact that my middle aged sister was living with them in a state of chronic alcoholism. The troubles and needs of my parents and sister had become monumental.
I loved them all so much and desired with all my heart to help each one of them, and being the oldest daughter and closest to them, I felt responsible and considered it my loving duty to handle everything. I plunged head long into the role of caregiver to the three of them with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. I worked, strived, managed, scrambled, and wore myself to the bone trying to do it all. The Lord had placed in me a huge reservoir of His divine love, and during that trip back home in 2010 I had drawn deeply from that well.
But as the demands increased and challenges mounted during the subsequent years of 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 I found myself sinking under their weight and falling into despair. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was burnt out, stressed to the uttermost, at my wits end, desperately wanting the persons I loved to be free of their torments, as I suffered in my heart to see them suffering so, trapped in their own unique incurable conditions: mom with terminal cancer, dad with Alzheimer’s and my 52 year old sister with late stage liver disease, with no hope for a liver transplant, as she was still drinking and would surely die soon without one.
My mind and heart were warring with each other, as temptation after temptation assailed me, at one moment my heart was yearning to find still another possible way to save them and make them well, and the next moment my thoughts were replete with despair (or was it the Evil One’s suggestion?) thinking that it would be better if they died – if the Lord would take them to Himself and end their misery, and free me from this agony of caring and responsibility. I could not find rest or peace in the Serenity Prayer, although I knew it was true.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference
One afternoon before Easter 2014 I went to the chapel in a state of utter desperation. I cried out to the Lord with all my strength of agony and pitiful misery that I had come to the end of myself. There was nothing left in me. I was empty as a dry well. I was exhausted from the trials. I had no more to give and I was falling into bitterness and anger. I pleaded for Him to save me from myself, to lift me up from the quick sand that I was sinking in, from the slippery slope of the abyss that loomed before me. I was afraid. I felt my humanness, my misery, my wretchedness, my utter helplessness, and I cried to the Lord of Mercy to have mercy on me. Went I was totally spent in prayer, I sat in complete silence before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament like a baby being held exhausted and limp in her mother’s arms after a furious crying spell and I fell asleep.
When I awoke from this sweet sleep about an hour later I recalled my agonizing prayer. I serenely asked the Lord for wisdom to help me go on. Just then I heard an interior Voice say to me, “Ephesians 6.” A little distance from me on the pew was a paperback Bible. At first I was hesitant to reach for it to open it to the book and chapter spoken to me. I was afraid that my faith would be stumbled. The thought came to me that if I should open the book and read Ephesians 6 and it not have any meaning for me, that I would then know that I was deluded – that I was imagining the Lord had spoken to me, and what utter vanity and pride this would be. I overcame this fear and reached for the book, and opening it to the New Testament Epistle of Ephesians, chapter 6, I looked down at the first verse and was immensely astonished. The words were Living and True – the words were Jesus Christ the Lord Who was speaking
“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise,
“that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on earth” ( Ephesians 6: 1).
My heart was racing with joy and amazement as I continued reading Ephesians 6.
Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from His mighty power…
Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.
For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.
Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.
So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate,
and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God…
…With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit… (Ephesians 6)
I knew that Jesus had just answered me and given me His Divine Wisdom. I knew this beyond any shadow of doubt, because I could not deceive or lie to myself, as I knew for certain that I DID NOT KNOW what was written in Ephesians 6. I could not have said this to myself. With this substantial Word from the Lord, I received not only wisdom from Jesus, but His grace, power and strength to do what His Word commanded! The good Lord raised me up in an instant and empowered me to carry on doing His perfect Will:
Over the months to come my dear sister continued to decline and she passed to the Lord on October 2, 2014, dying in the state of grace, having been blessed with every spiritual gift before she crossed into eternity. I was able to arrange the spiritual support she needed, caring Christian hospice and a Catholic funeral Mass and burial. She is in Peace now with Jesus. My father is now being cared for in an Alzheimer’s facility which I was able to arrange for him. I am looking after my mother who continues to live with stage four cancer but my heart is full of joyful confidence in the Lord Who:
“The LORD helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads.” (Psalm 145:14)
”Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.”(Psalm 54:4)
“Uphold me that I may be safe, That I may have regard for Your statutes continually.”(Psalm 119:117)