I would like to start my sharing of experience about Mary with the greeting of angel Gabriel in the gospel of Luke 1:28; “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you”. Notice that the angel didn’t mention the name of our lady? Instead, the angel emphasized the salutation as “Hail, full of grace” or in Greek word “kecharitomene”; and not Mary, you are full of grace. This is a clear evidence in sacred scripture, that Mary was indeed privilege and preserve by God with an absolute grace free from original sin.
As a Catholic Christian during the early 90’s, me and my entire family don’t have a deeper relationship with Mary. We just know her as a typical human being that played a big part in salvation history. Until a “great storm” came to my family.
It was August of 1996 when my younger sister May who was 18 years of age have had a seizure around 1:00 o’clock in the morning. I vividly remember that her entire body is uncontrollably shaking and stiff. Her eyes are apart and her saliva was bubbling. It’s like witnessing a person with an epileptic condition.
The entire family were shaken and we don’t know what to do. My mother is crying while she is embracing her daughter and shouting her name over and over. I myself was shock and I felt my entire body was frozen. I cannot move because it is my first time to witness such occurrence involving a loved one.
My dad came and carried my sister and we all run in the nearest clinic as we shout for help. But it is an ungodly hour and everyone in the neighborhood is in a deep slumber.
My sister was given a first aid so that the seizure might subside. Afterward, the driver came and drove the car and finally we arrived at the hospital. The seizure continues and May is in a state of unconsciousness.
We stayed at the hospital’s intensive care unit for more than two months. May remained in a comatose state and the only thing that kept her breathing is the respirator machine and continuous medicine given to her. She was suffering from brain abscess meningitis, lung infection, her heartbeat and blood pressure are unstable because she was diagnosed with a Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. The first symptoms of this disorder include varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs. In many instances the symmetrical weakness and abnormal sensations spread to the arms and upper body. These symptoms can increase in intensity until certain muscles cannot be used at all and, when severe, the person is almost totally paralyzed. In these cases, the disorder is life threatening – potentially interfering with breathing and, at times, with blood pressure or heart rate – and is considered a medical emergency. Such an individual is often put on a ventilator to assist with breathing and is watched closely for problems such as an abnormal heart beat, infections, blood clots, and high or low blood pressure. (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke).
We all have a drooping spirit but I remain calm and kept my faith and trust in the Lord. It was only I who is involved in a Catholic Charismatic Movement during those time and I am just starting to discover the richness of my Catholic faith.
Prayers and moral support from friends and relatives are outpouring and that situation made my family relationship close to one another. For we cannot afford to lose another family member.
When a loved one is struggling for her life and you are witnessing that life and death situation face to face, which is a hairline; you can say all the good things and last minute goodbye straight from the heart.
Our heart is in total grief as we continue to see our sister May suffering from all the needles (intravenous) inserted in her vein. The hospital already made us signed a waiver because my sister’s body is in need of the medicine for her to continue living.
We already accepted the fate of my sister’s condition as we prepare ourselves to let go of her. We call a priest to give her the sacrament of the anointing of the sick to prepare her spiritually in case death will visit my beloved sister anytime soon.
September 11, 1996 when May became conscious. She was so thin and suffering from bed sore. The following day, the respirator was taken away from her mouth. Usually, a patient who had a respirator machine for so long a time cannot manage to speak as the lung still recuperate.
Around 6:00 o’clock the next morning the family went to visit my sister at the ICU. Everyone was so happy as we witness May alive and conscious as she continue to struggle to breathe without the aid of the respirator machine; at the same time we are sad because we still don’t know how long she will stay with us.
May was looking to each and every one, looking at us like a 5 year old child. As she opened her mouth and spoke in a very soft voice telling us all… “Someone visited me” … We all cannot hear her because her voice was so soft, so we asked her again… What did you say again sister? She replied again with a very slow and soft voice… “Someone visited me today”. With curiosity in everyone’s face, we asked her… Who visited you? It is 6 o’clock in the morning and the visiting time in this ICU hospital is 9am. May continued to speak animatedly as she disclosed to us in detail with a coarse and soft voice… like a child, she spiritedly shared with us… “Jesus and Mary visited me today… Mary is so beautiful! She is wearing a blue dress and a veil. She is holding a white cloth like a handkerchief. She walked close to me and she wipe my head, chest and entire leg and feet with the white handkerchief”. We asked her again… How about Jesus? Is he doing something? May replied, none! “He is just standing at my feet, looking at me. He didn’t utter a word but just looking at me. He is wearing a red robe”. We asked her again… How come they managed to get out in the ICU? May replied, “I don’t know… Mary told me to sleep and I slept immediately. When I opened my eyes, they are gone”.
We all laugh out loud as we don’t know what and how to react; if we will believe her or not. Maybe she just had a dream or whatever. Their are butterflies in our stomach because her story is a supernatural phenomenon. We are skeptic and at the same time, like Thomas the apostle, a man of little faith. Nevertheless, we are thankful for that sharing and experienced of May at her death bed in her second day being conscious.
All the laboratory and other test was again repeated and monitored the same day that Mary and Jesus allegedly appeared to her. The following day, mid-day, the doctors came and updated us with the result. We are so astounded as the doctors declared that all the test are negative especially the Guillain-Barré. One of the doctor is a Buddhist and he told us that what happened to my sister is indeed a miracle.
We never disclosed this to anyone else because this is a very sensitive issue. Nonetheless, why keep this in secret since it made my entire family relationship better, close to one another and renewed. Isn’t it a miracle of faith, hope and love? We can now express the love and care in words and action that we never did before. That situation created a great change with my family relationship; and we become to know Mary deeply as our mother and intercessor. Moreover, our relationship with God through Mary became more profound as we all witness His merciful love and saving grace that heals. Like in the ancient days, Jesus not only heals the physical deformities of the lepers and the blind but He heals the distortion and deformities of our soul.
We started as a family to have a deep devotion to Mary, as we honor her as the mother of God. Of course all the praises and worship belong to our Triune God. But Mary, the mediatrix of all graces is truly a powerful channel to convince her son Jesus with our prayer petition. It reminded me with her intercession in the wedding at Cana, as Jesus turned the water into wine. That time, Jesus is not yet to perform his miracle but how can a loving son like Jesus decline the request of a loving mother?
Now, I am in the process to know more and more about her, that I may able to proclaim the profound beauty of our mother Mary. Since I am a child of God, therefore, she is my mother too! She remained and witness all the joyful, sorrowful and glorious moment of her son Jesus. As she continue to intercede for each of us who plead to her maternal protection, always leading us to her son. Mary who carried the son of God in her womb for nine months. She who nurse and taught our Lord Jesus Christ the incarnate word, the bread of life, who is the royal priesthood, all the unconditional love a mother can give to her child. Truly, Jesus give life and walk the commandment given to Moses at Mount Sinai, that is to honor your father and mother. So we Christians must honor the mother of God. For Jesus himself give the highest honor to her Queen Mother.
In one of an autobiography book that I read about Martin Luther, the founder of protestant reformation was once a Catholic Agustinian monk, started the Lutheran church in 1517 A.D. Luther once gave a homily 10 years after leaving the Catholic Church… as I quote his words… “We are the children of Mary. Mary is the mother of Jesus and the mother of us all. If Christ is ours, his mother therefore is also ours. She, the lady above heaven and earth, here passes the woman who is raised far above all woman; indeed above all human race. No woman is like unto thee. Thou art more than an empress or a queen blessed above all nobility, wisdom or saintliness”. Isn’t it ironic that today, most christian denomination degrade and ignore the mother of God? Maybe they should be reminded with the words of their founder about Mary.
Moreover, the action tell again about Lucifer who was cast down from the ranks of heavenly being because Lucifer was full of pride. Father Jose’ Fortea, in his work, Interview With An Exorcist, points out why Catholics look to Mary as an important ally in the struggle against demonic forces… Lucifer is the most perfect creature by nature; Mary is the most perfect creature by grace. Lucifer corrupted himself by disobedience; Mary sanctified herself by obedience. Lucifer wanted to be king, refusing to served, and in the end became nothing; Mary wanted to be nothing, desiring to serve, and in the end was crowned Queen of Heaven.
Truly it is heaven to know that I am her son and she is my mother! And my mother is a Queen!
Today, my sister May will celebrate her 40th birthday on November 2016. A two decade of witnessing the powerful love of God through Mary. She is now actively and effectively managing the financial affair of our family enterprise, a livestock agri-business.
As I unwind, let me share with you the classic Memorare prayer that I usually recite from the heart especially in time of need and doubt…
“Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me.
Amen”…. Mary, mother of all Christians… Pray for us.