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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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Pio of Pietrelcina: In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002. It was the 45th canonization ceremony in Pope John Paul's pontificate. More than 300,000 people braved blistering heat as they filled St. Peter's Square and nearby streets. They heard the Holy Father praise the new saint for his prayer and charity. "This is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching," said the pope. He also stressed Padre Pio's witness to the power of suffering. If accepted with love, the Holy Father stressed, such suffering can lead to "a privileged path of sanctity." 
<p>Many people have turned to the Italian Capuchin Franciscan to intercede with God on their behalf; among them was the future Pope John Paul II. In 1962, when he was still an archbishop in Poland, he wrote to Padre Pio and asked him to pray for a Polish woman with throat cancer. Within two weeks, she had been cured of her life-threatening disease. </p><p>Born Francesco Forgione, Padre Pio grew up in a family of farmers in southern Italy. Twice (1898-1903 and 1910-17) his father worked in Jamaica, New York, to provide the family income. </p><p>At the age of 15, Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio. He was ordained in 1910 and was drafted during World War I. After he was discovered to have tuberculosis, he was discharged. In 1917 he was assigned to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, 75 miles from the city of Bari on the Adriatic. </p><p>On September 20, 1918, as he was making his thanksgiving after Mass, Padre Pio had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet and side. </p><p>Life became more complicated after that. Medical doctors, Church authorities and curiosity seekers came to see Padre Pio. In 1924 and again in 1931, the authenticity of the stigmata was questioned; Padre Pio was not permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to hear confessions. He did not complain of these decisions, which were soon reversed. However, he wrote no letters after 1924. His only other writing, a pamphlet on the agony of Jesus, was done before 1924. </p><p>Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but busloads of people soon began coming to see him. Each morning after a 5 a.m. Mass in a crowded church, he heard confessions until noon. He took a mid-morning break to bless the sick and all who came to see him. Every afternoon he also heard confessions. In time his confessional ministry would take 10 hours a day; penitents had to take a number so that the situation could be handled. Many of them have said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned. </p><p>Padre Pio saw Jesus in all the sick and suffering. At his urging, a fine hospital was built on nearby Mount Gargano. The idea arose in 1940; a committee began to collect money. Ground was broken in 1946. Building the hospital was a technical wonder because of the difficulty of getting water there and of hauling up the building supplies. This "House for the Alleviation of Suffering" has 350 beds. </p><p>A number of people have reported cures they believe were received through the intercession of Padre Pio. Those who assisted at his Masses came away edified; several curiosity seekers were deeply moved. Like St. Francis, Padre Pio sometimes had his habit torn or cut by souvenir hunters. </p><p>One of Padre Pio’s sufferings was that unscrupulous people several times circulated prophecies that they claimed originated from him. He never made prophecies about world events and never gave an opinion on matters that he felt belonged to Church authorities to decide. He died on September 23, 1968, and was beatified in 1999.</p> American Catholic Blog In times of intense loss and grief, we take our place with Mary as she embraces all our grief in her own as she is silently holding in her arms the stark presence of our suffering God in the lifeless body of her Son.

 
PICKS OF THE WEEK
Adventures in Assisi
“I highly recommend this charming book for every Christian family, school, and faith formation library.” – Donna Marie Cooper O’Boyle, EWTN host
Padre Pio
New from Servant! “It is always a joy to read about Padre Pio, and one always comes away a better person.” —Frank M. Rega, OFS
Zealous
Follow Jesus with the same kind of zeal that St. Paul had, guided by Mark Hart and Christopher Cuddy.
Fearless
Learn about the saints of America: missionaries, martyrs, bishops, heiresses, nuns, and natives who gave their lives to build our Church and our country.
New from Servant!
"Valuable and inspiring wisdom for everyone." —Ralph Martin, S.T.D., author, The Legacy of the New Evangelization

 
CATHOLIC GREETINGS
St. Pio of Pietrelcina
This 20th-century Capuchin friar is revered for his dedication to prayer. Do you know someone in need of your prayers?
Belated Birthday
Did you forget someone’s birthday? An e-card will reach them more quickly than the regular mail.
Catechetical Sunday
Catechists serve a vital role in the Church's mission of modeling and handing on the Good News of Jesus.
St. Francis
Promote peace among communities, nations and governments by promoting peace among individuals.
Catechetical Sunday
Send a Catholic Greetings e-card to the catechists who hand on the faith in your parish!



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