Currently my wife and I are going through our own storm. In the midst of this storm, there are several stories that I’ve encountered that have been really helpful. These are stories of how great faith can overcome any storm and result in a goodness that only God knew of. There are no points or lessons in this episode.
I hope that you will find these stories helpful. Sometimes stories can point out in our own lives the ways that we could be doing things better. Sometimes stories can bring us to tears (that happened to me for one of them.) Whatever your current state of life, I hope one of these stories is helpful to you.
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Episode 32: 5 Stories to help you Trust in the Lord
Jesus sends us into storms, Matthew 8:
23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. 27 They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”
My child, when you come to serve the Lord,
prepare yourself for testing.[a]
2 Set your heart right and be steadfast,
and do not be impetuous in time of calamity.
3 Cling to him and do not depart,
so that your last days may be prosperous.
4 Accept whatever befalls you,
and in times of humiliation be patient.
5 For gold is tested in the fire,
and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation.[b]
6 Trust in him, and he will help you;
make your ways straight, and hope in him.
7 You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy;
do not stray, or else you may fall.
8 You who fear the Lord, trust in him,
and your reward will not be lost.
9 You who fear the Lord, hope for good things,
for lasting joy and mercy.[c]
10 Consider the generations of old and see:
has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed?
Or has anyone persevered in the fear of the Lord[d] and been forsaken?
Or has anyone called upon him and been neglected?
11 For the Lord is compassionate and merciful;
he forgives sins and saves in time of distress.
12 Woe to timid hearts and to slack hands,
and to the sinner who walks a double path!
13 Woe to the fainthearted who have no trust!
Therefore they will have no shelter.
14 Woe to you who have lost your nerve!
What will you do when the Lord’s reckoning comes?
15 Those who fear the Lord do not disobey his words,
and those who love him keep his ways.
16 Those who fear the Lord seek to please him,
and those who love him are filled with his law.
17 Those who fear the Lord prepare their hearts,
and humble themselves before him.
18 Let us fall into the hands of the Lord,
but not into the hands of mortals;
for equal to his majesty is his mercy,
and equal to his name are his works.[e]
Hebrews 12:7-13 Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? 8 If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. 9 Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. 11 Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
Book “Small Miracles” true story by Greg O’Leary
I was walking down a dimly lit street late one evening when I heard muffled screams coming from behind a clump of bushes. Alarmed, I slowed down to listen, and panicked when I realized that what I was hearing were the unmistakable sounds of a struggle: heavy grunting, frantic scuffling, the tearing of fabric. Only yards from where I stood, a woman was being attacked.
Should I get involved? I was frightened for my own safety, and cursed myself for having suddenly decided to take a new route home that night. What if I became another statistic? Shouldn’t I just run to the nearest phone and call the police?
Although it seemed like an eternity, the deliberations in my head had taken only seconds, but already the girl’s cries were growing weaker. I knew I had to act fast. How could I walk away from this? No, I finally resolved, I could not turn my back on the fate of this unknown woman, even if it meant risking my own life.
I am not a brave man, nor am I athletic. I don’t know where I found the moral courage and physical strength — but once I had finally resolved to help the girl, I became strangely transformed. I ran behind the bushes and pulled the assailant off the woman. Grappling, we fell to the ground, where we wrestled for a few minutes until the attacker jumped up and escaped. Panting hard, I scrambled upright and approached the girl, who was crouched behind a tree, sobbing. In the darkness, I could barely see her outline, but I could certainly sense her trembling shock.
Not wanting to frighten her further, I at first spoke to her from a distance. “It’s OK,” I said soothingly. “The man ran away. You’re safe now.”
There was a long pause and then I heard her words, uttered in wonder, in amazement.
“Dad, is that you?”
And then, from behind the tree, stepped my youngest daughter, Katherine.
A Powerful Lesson From Mother Teresa
Christina Stevens followed a sacred call she received in a dream—to go to India and create a movie about Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa has twice turned down Christina’s request to let her film crew document her work and her message to the world. Here is an excerpt from her book, Love, The Saint and The Seeker, where Christina is watching a film about Mother Teresa:
While I watched the film, my mind searched for a clue, a way in or around her resistance. Yet, if I were to give credence to my belief in the law of attraction, what I really needed was a clue to myself, a way around my own resistance and into my own faith. I needed to believe that a miracle was possible. Or more accurately, I needed to believe the miracle had already occurred. And I just had to give thanks.
The film was half over when I caught one of the Brothers narrating a story. Mother Teresa’s face on the screen pulled in my full attention.
It was 1982. War was breaking out. Shells were dropping in PLO strongholds in West Beirut. As the invasion continued, it was estimated 500 civilians had been killed and another 1,000 wounded. Mother Teresa wanted to get to West Beirut, and see to the needs of the people there. Even though she had not been informed, she “had knowledge” that somewhere behind enemy lines there were people in need of her special kind of rescuing.
Frail, hunched over, wearing her diminutive thin cotton sari, she was outnumbered in a room full of upstanding, uniformed military leaders and men of the cloth dwarfing her pure intent. In no uncertain terms her desires were dismissed.
“Mother, do you hear the bombing?” the British father asked, somewhat incredulously.
“Yes, I hear it,” she responded firmly. “It’s absolutely impossible for you to go there. A priest was killed two weeks ago for no reason! They just wanted to kill a priest! Even if you get over there, we may not be able to get you back. Now, this is a nice idea you have. But—”
Mother Teresa straightened up to silence his patronizing tone. “It is not an idea. It is our duty.”
And then she patiently explained, as she did to so many, “You see, I always feel like this. Many years back, when I picked up the very first person, if I didn’t pick up that person, at that time, I would never have picked up forty-two thousand. One at a time.” Like the beloved teacher she was, she would take everyone back to square one. Keeping it simple.
As the saga continued, he relentlessly attempted to talk her out of this foolhardy mission. “It is absolutely impossible for you to cross at this present time.” The word “impossible” was not in Mother Teresa’s vocabulary. “We would have to have a cease-fire first,” he added. Mother Teresa was not backing down. And he had just given her an opening.
“Oh, but I have been praying to Our Lady,” Mother stated confidently. “And I have asked her to let us have a cease-fire here ~ tomorrow.”
The ambassador was taken aback. He stared rather incredulously at Mother Teresa and said, “Mother, I am very glad you are on my side, and that you are a woman of prayer. I believe in prayer and I believe prayer is answered. And I am a man of faith. But you are asking Our Lady to deal with Prime Minister Begin. Don’t you think that the time limit is little . . . er . . . you know ~ short? That you should extend it a little further?”
Mother was firm. “Oh, no. I am certain that we will have the cease-fire tomorrow.”
Trying in vain to conceal his skepticism, he placated her quietly. “Mother, if we have a cease-fire, I will personally make the arrangements to see that you go to West Beirut tomorrow.” Mother Teresa’s simple and finite response to that was, “We shall pray.”
The film dissolved softly to a tiny room that had been transformed into a makeshift chapel and there, on screen, was the image of Mother Teresa surrounded by her Sisters, all on their knees, praying together. Through the night they prayed. This would add to the growing body of evidence that when people unify with focused, specific intention and feeling, even in a nondenominational mass prayer, they can produce effects that reach far beyond the sanctuary where the prayer had been given.
The soundtrack of the film became quiet as the camera recorded the sun rising over Beirut the next morning. Suddenly the voice of the British Red Cross captain came through. In contrast to the discussion of the night before, he spoke with an almost comic awestruck tone as he said, “I think we should take full advantage of the fact that we have a cease-fire of sorts.” Very quickly, he pulled out a map and unfolded it for Mother Teresa to grasp the situation fully. “There are sixty totally deficient spastic children in a center, here. There is no staff there to look after them and it’s been shelled a number of times. Many people have been killed.” He leaned close to Mother Teresa and added, “I should like to take you there.”
While watching the film of Mother Teresa leading an armada of Red Cross vans across enemy lines, waving her arms directing the operation, totally in her element, I could feel the intensity of her mission. Rescuing the abandoned children who would certainly have been killed or would have died without water, food, and care ~ suddenly, I knew what I had to do.
I continued watching as Mother Teresa and her Sisters scoured the center, picking up children. I watched while the picture remained focused on one of the Sisters as she caressed a spastic child’s crooked and contorted body. Her hand was cupped in a manner I recognized, as if she were spiraling air to conjure and disperse energy. She spoke with the little child, and though I didn’t see her lips move, what became apparent was they were communicating ~ with each stroke of the Sister’s hand, the little girl’s stiff and twisted body relaxed and straightened, her taught, pained face softened, and in the next moment broke into a smile. This was a true mystic at work. And it began with prayer.
I knew my prayer could not be a request or a plea, for that would simply reinforce disbelief and create space for the possibility of failure. No. From my training in the Science of Mind and the power of affirmations, when I was asked to pray for someone, as if I had just been given direct access to the power of creation, I would snap immediately to the knowledge that “it was done.” And so it was. My prayer was an echo of gratitude. I took a deep breath. The prayer had already been answered.
Miracle of Lanciano
The miracle of Lanciano is the first, and many believe the greatest, Eucharistic Miracle of the Catholic Church. Keep in mind that strictly speaking a miracle is an extraordinary event produced directly by God or by His will and command through an agent, such as a saint. The miracle occurs in a religious context and is a clear sign of supernatural, divine intervention. Most importantly, the miracle arouses within the spectator or recipient a greater conviction of faith in God.
With this in mind, we now turn to the miracle in question which occurred in the 700s in the town of Lanciano, then known as Anxanum, an ancient Roman city, located southeast of Rome. There the monks of St. Basil had established a monastery under the patronage of St. Longinus, traditionally believed to be the centurion at the crucifixion who proclaimed, Truly, this was the Son of God (Mt 27:54) and pierced the side of our Lord with his lance (Jn 19:34).
One day, a certain monk was offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Although we do not know his identity, an ancient document described him as …versed in the sciences of the world but ignorant in that of God. Apparently, he had been plagued by doubts about transubstantiation: he agonized over whether the bread and wine changed substantially into the Body and Blood of our Lord at the words of consecration, and whether our Lord was truly present in the Holy Eucharist.
This time, when the monk pronounced the words of consecration, the host was miraculously changed into flesh and the wine into blood. The monk was awestruck. Weeping joyously, he regained his composure. He called the congregation around the altar and said, O fortunate witnesses, to whom the Blessed God, to confound my unbelief, has wished to reveal Himself visible to our eyes! Come, brethren, and marvel at our God, so close to us. Behold the Flesh and Blood of our Most Beloved Christ. Those who witnessed the miracle soon spread the news throughout the surrounding area.
Shortly after the occurrence, the Blood coagulated into five globules of different sizes, but the Flesh remained the same. The archbishop ordered an investigation. The testimony of witnesses was recorded. The Flesh and Blood appeared to be human flesh and blood. The archbishop sent a scale for the weighing of the globules: each individual globule weighed the same as the other individual ones (although different in size) or as all five together or as any other combination. Eventually, the Flesh and the globules of Blood were placed in a special ivory reliquary, but not hermetically sealed. Church authorities certified the miracle although the original document was lost some time in the 16th century.
Over the centuries, different religious orders have had custody of the Church and the relics: originally the Basilians until 1176, followed by the Benedictines until 1252, and since then by the Franciscans. In 1258, the Franciscans built a new Church under the patronage of St. Francis of Assisi to replace the decaying Church of St. Longinus. The relics to this day remain at this basilica under the care of the Franciscans.
Since the first basic investigation, the Church has permitted other studies on the relics. In 1574, Msgr. Rodrigues once again weighed the five globules in the presence of witnesses and arrived at the same conclusion. Remember though that eight centuries had passed and no visible sign of deterioration had taken place.
In 1713, the original ivory reliquary was replaced by one of silver and crystal. The Flesh is displayed in a monstrance just like the Sacred Host, and the globules of Blood are in a crystal chalice, which some believe is the actual chalice used by the monk for Mass.
The most thorough study occurred in 1970-71. Pope Paul VI permitted a series of scientific studies on the precious relics to verify their nature. Dr. Odoardo Linoli, professor of anatomy and pathological histology, chemistry and clinical microscopy, and head physician of the hospital of Arezzo, conducted the study. He was assisted by Dr. Ruggero Bertelli, professor emeritus of human anatomy at the University of Siena. The analyses were performed in accord with scientific standards and documented, and Dr. Bertelli independently corroborated Dr. Linolis findings. In 1981, using more advanced medical technology, Dr. Linoli conducted a second histological study; he not only confirmed the findings but also gathered new information.
The major findings from this research include the following: The Flesh, yellow-brown in color, has the structure of the myocardium (heart wall) and the endocardium, the membrane of fibrous-elastic tissue lining all the cardiac cavities. These have the same appearance as in the human heart. No traces of preservatives were found in the elements.
The blood was also of human origin with the type AB. Proteins in the clotted Blood were normally fractioned with the same percentage ratio as those found in the sero-proteic make-up of normal, fresh human blood. The blood contained these minerals: chlorides, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and calcium.
Professor Linoli asserted that the blood, if taken from a cadaver, would have deteriorated rapidly. Given that these samples were centuries old, free of preservatives, and never hermetically sealed in the reliquaries, they should have deteriorated. However, he underscored that the samples had the same properties as fresh human blood and flesh.
Moreover, the doctors both concluded that only the skill of a trained pathologist could have obtained such a sample, a tangential cut of the heart a round cut, thick on the outer edges and lessening gradually and uniformly to the central area.
The beauty of the miracle of Lanciano reflects the words our Lord spoke, I am the Bread of Life. He who feeds on my Flesh and drinks my Blood has life eternal and I will raise him up on the last day. For my Flesh is real food and my Blood real drink. The man who feeds on my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in Me, and I in him (Jn 6:35, 54-56). We must, therefore, never forget that when we participate at Mass, we witness a miracle, and through the reception of Holy Communion we share in the divine life of our Savior.
St John Bosco – one of the incorruptibles
Feast Day – January 31
St John Bosco, considered one of the greatest saints of modern times, was born in a Piedmontese village in 1815. When he was 2 years old he lost his father, a humble peasant farmer, and he was brought up by his saintly Tertiary mother, Margaret. It was no doubt due to her example and influence that John too joined the Third Order of St. Francis.
Even as a youngster, John recognized that it was his vocation in life to help poor boys; and he began to teach catechism to the boys of his own village and bring them to church. Acrobatic stunts and conjuring tricks were the means he used to get them together.
At 16 he entered the seminary at Chieri. He was so poor at the time, that the mayor contributed a hat, the parish priest a cloak, one parishioner a cassock, and another a pair of shoes. After he was ordained a deacon he passed on to the seminary in Turin; and there, with the approbation of his superiors, he began to gather together on Sundays poor apprentices and waifs of the city.
Not long after his ordination to the priesthood in June, 1841, he established what he called a Festive Oratory, a kind of Sunday school and recreation center for boys, in Turin. His mother came to be his housekeeper and mother of the Oratory. Two more Oratories in the same city followed. When Father John Bosco’s mother did in 1856, the Oratories housed 150 resident boys; and there were four Latin classes and four workshops, one of them a printing press. Ten young priests assisted Father John in his work. Father John was also much in demand as a preacher; and he spent half of his nights in writing popular books in order to provide good reading.
There were many lean times for the saint, although God always provided. One time the local baker refused to give Father John further credit, and the boy who had gone for the rolls returned with only 15 rolls for over 300 boys. The boys got in line as Father John began to distribute to rolls, one to each boy. He continued to draw out fresh rolls until each of the boys was fed. The last boy in line counted how many rolls remained in the basket, and found there were 15.
St John Bosco’s confessor and spiritual director was the Tertiary priest Saint Joseph Cafasso; and Father John too gained the reputation of being a saint. Miracles, mostly of healing, were attributed to him. By his kindness and sympathy and his marvelous power of reading the thoughts of his boys, he exercised a profound influence upon his charges. He was able to rule them with apparent indulgence and absence of punishment, something the educationists of the day could not understand. When necessary, he was known to bilocate even to distant places to help care for his boys.
St John Bosco himself admitted that God had given him the ability to discern hypocrites, as the saint stated that when one of these boys came near him he would be overcome by a sickening odor, as if the sinners darkened soul gave off the stench.
St John Bosco also had the gift of prophesy. One day he told his boys in school: “Let us be ready for death, for before a month is over one uf us has to appear before God.” One of the boys died later that month of blood poisoning caused by an insect bite.
In 1854 St John Bosco founded the religious order of Salesians, so called in honor of St Francis de Sales. Its members devote themselves to the education of poor boys. The new society grew rapidly. Father John lived to see 38 houses established in the Old World and 26 in the New World. Today it is one of the largest orders of men in the Church.
St John Bosco also founded a sisterhood called Daughters of St. Mary Auxiliatrix; and he organized many outside helpers into the Salesian Co-operators, who are pledged to assist in some way the educational labors of the Salesians. Prior to Vatican II, they totaled 800,000. Father John’s last great work was the building of Sacred Heart Church in Rome, a task which was entrusted to him by Pope Pius IX after it has seemed to be a hopeless project. The holy priest, who was everywhere acclaimed as a saint and wonderworker, gathered funds for the church in Italy and France; and somehow he succeeded where others had failed. But in doing so he wore himself out.
On January 31, 1888, he was called to his reward. Forty thousand persons came to pay their respects as his body lay in state in the church at Turin; and his funeral resembled a triumphal procession.
St. John Bosco was canonized in 1934.