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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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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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