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Do you have a story about an experience with your own personal communion of saints?

Submit your reflection by typing in the box below and then clicking the Submit Reflection button. Your reflections will be forwarded to an editor before being considered for posting on the AmericanCatholic.org Web site and inclusion in St. Anthony Messenger magazine. You may view other readers’ reflections below.

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Great Aunt in a Room

When I was 15 my great aunt became ill with what they called the "Hong Kong" flu. As she was single and in her 70's my parents asked her to recover with our family in the suburbs. As it turned out she died suddenly in our home of a cerebral hemmorhage, unrelated to her current illness. About a month later my mom and I were watching TV in our family room, when a rustle of air and wind and a smell of perfume glided through the space. My mother and I looked at each other and said at the same time, "Aunt Helen" and we knew she had come through to say goodbye.

Susan Dunn
Arlington Heights Illinois
Thursday, June 17, 2010


My mother

My mother died January 5, 2010. I was with her in our family home in Florida the last 3 months while she was a hospice patient with lung cancer. She died peacefully in her sleep. The morning she died I suddenly awoke at 4 am, finally about 5 am I tiptoed downstairs, made my pot of tea and quietly read my morning devotions. Also I gathered some old magazines to go through before throwing them away, one being the St. Anthony Messenger from November 2009. I read Surrounded by Saints and decided to clip it and save it, I mean, my mother did have a terminal illness and I might want to re-read it later. Finally about 8 am I went to wake my mom and discovered she had died during the night. She had lung cancer and had been diagnosed for 20 months, my father had died 4 months after her diagnosis, and she had been facing a grim ending and knew it. She died peacefully and we never had to open the hospice box of pain medicines. The night before she had a nice meal and we watched Antiques Roadshow on PBS, it had just been a normal evening.

Now for my sign---the day before she died she told me she wanted to go back upstairs to her bedroom (my parents had converted our downstairs den into a bedroom 3 years prior) I told her whenever she felt like going up I would move the oxygen machine around and help her. The next morning after the funeral home had removed her body and I was talking with her best friend I ran upstairs to get a dress out of the closet that I thought would be appropriate to bury her in and as I walked into her bedroom a picture was off the wall and on the floor---it was over by her side of the bed. I had been in the room the day before and it was on the wall. When I asked the hospice nurse what time she thought my mother died, she estimated around 4 am--the time I woke up.

 Several days later our next door neighbor asked me that same question, when I told her she told me she was dreaming about a "commotion of angels flying out the upstairs window" about 4 am and woke up. My mother died peacefully and I have a feeling of her flying past my bedroom door, visiting her bedroom one last time and leaving through the window. Thank you for the article I read that morning. It has been 3 months now and I have been wanting to write you this ever since. I also have a story about my father's sign but that is for later.



Elizabeth
Arlington Virginia
Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Dream visits

I am the only girl and youngest of a family of five children. My parents felt the need to move closer to me as they aged because my brothers lived in states far from Wisconsin. My dad was stricken with the flesh-eating disease shortly after I gave birth to my long awaited second child, a girl. He clung to life for five months while my mother and I held out hope that he would get better. He passed away when my daughter was 6-1/2 months old. I felt so cheated by his absence in my new daughters life as my dad was so excited about her. Four months after he died, I returned to bed one morning after my husband had left for work and my 9 year old son off to school as the baby was still sleeping. I fell asleep and began dreaming that my dad had come into my bedroom from a direction that I knew he had checked on baby Monica. He caught my attention as he accidentally banged his hand on the door and rattled a plastic bag in which he was going to collect the trash from my bedroom (a chore he always did when I was a child). He walked up to me, held my hand while I babbled how I had missed him. I started to awaken and could hear myself babbling yet still felt the pressure of my dad's hand holding mine. I was fully awake and could still feel his touch. I denied the dream for several days until I repeated it enough to family and friends that I realized my dad came to comfort me with the knowledge that he would still look out for the little baby he barely got to hold. I knew he was also thanking me by holding my hand as I had done for months for him.

Fast forward through 7 years caring for my mother who developed dementia and Parkinson's disease after my dad's death. Many times I felt alone while trying to handle various problems with her and would cry out to my dad to help me; the answer always came from my earthly father or my heavenly Father without fail. When my mother left this earth I felt a deep sense of loss for having cared for someone right alongside of that little baby who was now getting ready to go off to school! My mother visited me one night in a dream many months after she had passed. We sat on a park bench together and I laid my head in her lap and she lovingly stroked my hair. I really don't like anyone "messing" with my hair so I knew it was a sign from my mother that she had appreciated all that I had done for her and was caring for me once again. Thank you for your wonderful article in St. Anthony Messenger magazine as it reaffirmed my feelings of reaching out for help from those saints with the little "s"!



Susan Swinick
Mosinee Wisconsin
Sunday, January 24, 2010


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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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