April 13, 2007 at 7:52 pm #66986
The Lowell Sun…by Jim Campanini…Sun editor
Article Last Updated: 04/13/2007 11:31:47 AM EDT
Two weeks ago, I left Lowell in sorrow upon the sudden death of my mother-in-law in Pompano Beach, Fla.
Margaret Harrington, 86, passed away sitting in her favorite chair at home as another glorious Sunshine State day was coming over the horizon. She wasn’t ill. Her fiercely determined heart just gave out.
That was Friday, March 30.
Two days later, my wife and I attended Palm Sunday Mass at an oceanside church, St. Gabriel’s.
Coping with death, it was difficult to stay focused on anything being said on the altar. That changed, however, when a missionary priest, guided by a cane and a layperson, made his way to the lectern to deliver the homily. It was one for the ages.
An hour later, our grief was all but swept away.
Here’s what the priest had to say:
Why do some people need a miracle to believe in God yet others just need faith?
A miracle is proof. Faith is believing with all your heart and soul, minus the miracle.
What do you need? The missionary then told a story about
a young boy from Maine.
Born the 17th of 22 children, the boy contracted meningitis at age 5. He lay in a coma. The family kept a daily vigil at the hospital, praying for a recovery. Doctors told the parents their son should be allowed to die. If he were to live, they said, he’d be a vegetable.
Five months later, the boy opened his eyes but was blind and could not move.
Still the family rejoiced, took him home and continued to pray.
The boy prayed, too, in silence.
His siblings dressed him every day. They stood him on his feet. They put one foot ahead of the other and willed him to walk.
Five years later, the boy took a step on his own. Eventually, he began to walk unsteadily with a pole.
The boy prayed to God if only he could see. One day, staring up at the sky, a pinhole of light appeared. An airplane flashed by. He was 12. Doctors couldn’t explain the boy’s sliver of sight. It must be a miracle, they said.
Next, the boy prayed to go to school with the other children. But educators said he had to go to a school for disabled children 500 miles from home. His parents refused. The local school said they’d take him in. Teachers taught the boy to read one letter at a time. He memorized all his lessons. By the 10th grade, he was No. 1 in his class.
College beckoned, yet the boy, now a teenager, prayed to become a priest. But the Church rejected him. Officials said his lack of sight and shaky gait were impediments to the job.
The teen persisted. He wrote a letter to the Christian Brothers, sent them his grades, and he was accepted. They never asked if he was blind, so he never told them.
The teen flourished in his studies but the Brothers, watching him play football, grew suspicious. He nearly killed himself on the field several times. The teen told them the truth. They threatened to banish him. He pleaded and prayed, and the Brothers finally relented.
Thereafter, though, the teen was treated differently. Upon graduation, he couldn’t become a priest and was assigned to work with the disabled.
Now a young man, he never complained. Instead, he prayed. Ebbs and flows followed. He questioned his faith. If he couldn’t become a priest, he’d quit. On the day of decision, a mother called and asked him to meet with teenagers wanting to study the Bible. He agreed out of curiosity, nothing more. The teens greeted him with song and prayer. Their faith astounded him; he began to weep.
Why did I question you, Lord? he asked. Forgive me, he prayed.
Years passed and he continued to pray. Eventually, the blind boy, the rejected teen, and the once-broken brother was ordained a Catholic priest.
If you haven’t figured it out, the person telling the story at St. Gabriel’s Church was none other than the Maine boy grown up, Brother Patrick Martin.
“They said I’d never walk. They said I’d never see. They said I’d never be a priest,” he told the gathering. “Doctors say I’m a miracle. People say I’m a miracle. If it is a miracle you want, here I am. But remember this: The story I told you is one of faith.”
On Monday, April 2, Margaret Harrington was laid to rest in a private graveside ceremony. Instead of mourning her death, we celebrated her life.
Looking back, my wife and I never would have heard Brother Martin’s words if Margaret’s passing hadn’t taken us to Florida. Was it coincidence or something else?
I’d like to think if was Margaret’s final gift to both of us, delivered from God Himself.
To learn more about Brother Martin, go to his Web site at http://www.awildcanary.comApril 13, 2007 at 8:56 pm #117782
:hearts: :tissue: :hearts: Thank you for sharing this story, Laura! Beautiful!!!:hearts:April 13, 2007 at 10:21 pm #117784
:hearts: :hearts: Awwww How beautiful… Thanks for sharing…We could all use a little extra faith now couldn’t we.:hearts: :hearts:
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