LOOKING FOR MARY; FINDING GOD
Deborah L. Collins
I was lying on my back in our water bed praying the rosary. My fingers deftly found the beads in the dark as I recited the familiar chant, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” But what I was really thinking was, “Mother Mary, why won’t you appear to me as you have appeared to so many others all around the world? It’s what I want more than anything!” Didn’t she see my devotion to her and to her message to mankind? Hadn’t I fasted on bread and water twice that week to “make reparation for the sins of unbelievers”?
All at once my gaze was riveted to the wall directly across from the foot of the bed. Could it be? I held my breath, for there, on the blue-flowered wallpaper barely visible in the darkness, a glowing shape had appeared. I squinted to be sure. Yes, it was that familiar outline of the Virgin – the one of countless statues in gardens and churchyards – a woman with her arms at her sides and slightly extended in beckoning supplication.
“Oh wow! This is IT!” I still hadn’t taken a breath but gingerly rolled out of bed in order to fall prostrate before my Queen. Smugly, I thought to myself, “I just knew that someday my zeal would be rewarded!” As I walked reverently toward the glowing figure, it vanished. “What!” Maybe my forwardness had frightened her. I crawled back into bed and hunted for my rosary. That’s when I noticed that the luminous lady was back on the wall! Should I try it again? I decided yes. Quietly, I slipped out of the bed once more, grasping my rosary tightly in my fist. Again, the form disappeared! I moved slightly away from the bed. She reappeared! I inched back toward the bed — gone again. Away from the bed, she was there. Toward the bed – gone! And that’s when I realized that my body was alternately blocking and unblocking…a reflection…from my water bed heater light!
For a second, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Then I chose to laugh — deep belly laughs that gave me the hiccups. I tried to do it quietly so as not to wake my two boys down the hall. When I remember that moment today, more than ten years later, it makes me laugh again – in relief — because, if “Mary” had appeared to me that night, I know in my heart that I would be a “goner” today.
“Hurry up with the snacks, Debbie; the movie’s on!” My younger (by eighteen months) sister, Rachelle, yelled from the darkened living room as I walked in with the popcorn and a couple of bottles of Roxo soda. The erratic flashes of light from the black-and-white television screen played over the faces of my mother, my two younger sisters…and the familiar figure of my father sleeping in his recliner. He’d be there for the night unless my mother made the effort to rouse him to sleep in their bed until he had to get up at four A.M. to deliver milk. I’ve received a lot of “mileage” over the years out of telling people with a wink that the milkman was my father!
I settled into my usual spot on the floor in front of the small television set as the opening credits played for “The Song of Bernadette.” We had seen the 1945 movie several times already; it had become a family ritual for Mom and us girls to watch it faithfully every year. The living room became very quiet, and our eyes opened as wide as saucers when the part we had been waiting for finally came: the moment Bernadette sees…The Blessed Virgin Mary! Had there ever been a sweeter, lovelier face than that of this adorable little Mother of God? Only the face of Jennifer Jones playing Bernadette rivaled it in beauty. At the end of the film, when Bernadette faces her death without even a murmur of complaint despite the horrible pain she is suffering, we didn’t bother to hide our tears because we were all blubbering.
“Do you believe all that really happened, Mom?” Rachelle asked a little skeptically as the credits rolled.
“Oh, of course it happened!” my mother exclaimed. “Who would make something like that up? And didn’t Bernadette tell the priest that Mary had told her she was the ‘Immaculate Conception’? Don’t try to tell me that she knew those big words by herself!” Satisfied, we all nodded in agreement.
Later, in bed in my little upstairs bedroom painted royal blue, white and metallic gold — like I had imagined Napoleon’s (my current hero) was – I took one last look at the pink and white outfit laid out on my chair. It had been purchased especially for the “Crowning of the May” procession the next day at St. Mary’s. Then I closed my eyes and went to sleep, firmly resolving to be holy and sweet for the rest of my life — just like Bernadette.
* * *
“Fifteenth Decade [of the rosary]: We offer Thee, O Lord Jesus, this fifteenth and last decade of the glorious crowning of Thy Blessed Mother in Heaven, and we ask of Thee, through this mystery and through Her intercession, the grace of perseverance and increase of virtue until the very moment of death…” The Secret of the Rosary, by St. Louis De Montfort, 1954.
The next day
“Salve Regina!” Thirty sixth-grade girls’ bell-like voices rang out against the marble pillars supporting the seemingly impossibly high ceiling of the Roman Catholic Church that had witnessed every milestone in our family. Twenty-nine girls tried to control sharp pangs of jealousy as we watched Laura Bedloe walk reverently up the steps to the side altar where the statue of Mary smiled serenely down at her. My mother had explained in a matter-of-fact tone that it wasn’t Laura’s grades or deportment that had won her the honor of “crowning Mary, Queen of the May” with a garland of yellow roses; it was more likely the fact that her family had given wads of money to the Church. That suggestion did little to dispel my agony at never being the one chosen for anything. I tugged at the pink skirt that, thankfully, had an elastic waist to encircle my plump figure.
After an hour of behaving like the young ladies we weren’t, we were finally let loose to run outside into the glorious spring afternoon. “How did I look?” I asked Rachelle. She grinned maliciously and pointed to the back of my skirt. “Okay, I guess; if nobody noticed that!” I tugged the back of the skirt toward the front. A small dark-red drop of blood was visible at the hem. My period had started in church? It could only happen to me; and it could only happen when I was wearing pastel pink! I high-tailed it for home and up to my room where I ripped off the offending skirt, wadded it into a ball, and threw it into the corner. Something like this would never happen to Laura Bedloe; you could bet on it! And come to think of it; it probably never happened to the Virgin Mary, either. She probably didn’t even get the curse…it would be out of line with the “Immaculate Conception;” of that, I was sure!
“He who is protected by Mary will be saved; he who is not will be lost. St. Bernardine of Siena thus addresses this Blessed Virgin: ‘O Lady, since thou art the dispenser of all graces, and since the grace of salvation can only come through thy hands, our salvation depends on thee.’” Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus de Liguori, 1931.
Sister John Bosco smiled indulgently down at me. Her face, slightly yellowed as if from jaundice, was stiffly framed by her starched wimple. “When you’ve finished arranging those blooms for the altar, Deborah, we’ll prepare the Eucharistic wafers for Sunday Mass.” That was what I’d been waiting for, because that job was fun! The unconsecrated wafers had to be punched out of large sheets of the wafer material, much like cardboard game pieces needed to be punched out in setting up a new board game.
“Have you given any more thought to consecrating your life to Christ in the convent?” Sister Bosco asked me in a studiedly casual tone. “You have shown signs that you would find contentment in serving Him as a religious.”
Feeling very grown up and important, I answered breathlessly, “Oh, yes, Sister! I think about it all the time!” I could just see myself in a crisp black and white habit with my hands tucked demurely into my sleeves and an otherworldly expression on my face (like Bernadette). The idea of becoming a “bride of Christ” was almost more than I could bear without swooning. Of course, as soon as I got back home from helping at the convent, I’d demand my rights as loudly as anyone else in our family by acting anything but holy. The spirit may have been willing, but the flesh is naturally weak.
* * *
“Our Lady blesses not only those who preach her Rosary, but she highly rewards all those who get others to say it by their example.” The Secret of the Rosary, by St. Louis De Montfort, 1954.
“Just wait until we show the nuns at school! I’ll bet Laura Bedloe and Yvette Skokey will never in their lives top this!” I chortled as Rachelle and I lounged against the couch cushions in the living room that my mother had recently re-done in ‘earth-tones’ with just a touch of tangerine. Mom liked to repeat the fact that this style was “all the go now.” I held the rosary that I had just received for Christmas from our uncle, Monsignor Sylvester, up to the light from the windows behind us. The blinding winter sun shone through the transparent beads, each containing a tiny blue statue of “Mary of Lourdes” encased in actual holy water from the miraculous spring. In addition to that, His Holiness, Pope John XXIII, had personally blessed it! As for the miracle waters of Lourdes, they had proved to be a disappointment to our family, as the gallon jugs of it that Uncle “Father” Sylvester had given us to heal our brother, Dick, of his muscular dystrophy, had had no effect; and we had lost our brother to his disease earlier that year.
When Catholic grade school resumed after Christmas break, the excitement and jealousy of the nuns over my special rosary almost made my yearly terror over the holiday visit of my uncle, the Monsignor, seem worth it. The way those Dominican sisters fought over a chance to touch it made me fear it would get broken in the scuffle!
My feelings toward my stern-faced uncle, who was always dressed in black with a white Roman collar, were a mixture of abject terror and smoldering resentment. He took almost yearly trips to Europe and made a habit of bringing Rachelle and me dolls from different countries. The dolls were always in pairs – a boy and a girl – dressed in their native costumes. The resentment came from the fact that he always gave the girl doll to Rachelle, while I received the less interesting boy doll. The Monsignor’s dutiful and brief conversations with us children were an obvious strain on his patience. His color slides of the many religious shrines and cathedrals of Europe were an equal strain on mine. One particular slide is burned into my memory, however, that of the “miraculously preserved” corpse of Bernadette, “as lovely and fresh as the day she died.” I remember thinking to myself, “She looks about as fresh as a piece of beef jerky!” But I didn’t dare articulate that thought; Heaven only knows what would have happened!
I shifted uncomfortably in the pew near the front of St. Mary’s church. Or, I should say, I shifted, but my cotton dress stayed glued to the seat thanks to the heavy coat of partially melted varnish on the aged wood. I surrendered myself to the inevitable fact that when I stood up to hear the “Gospel,” a faint “ripping” sound would be heard as my skirt disconnected itself from the surface of the pew. Like everyone else, I fanned myself surreptitiously with my church bulletin and tried to will a breeze from the partially open stained glass window to my right.
“Our reading today is taken from St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans, chapter 3, verses 21 through 24,” the white-haired Monsignor Gorelli intoned with the breath that I knew from his visits to our catechism class smelled like cod liver oil. “But now without the law the justice of God is made manifest, being witnessed by the law and the prophets. Even the justice of God, by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe in him; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned, and do need the glory of God. Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption, that is in Christ Jesus.” (Catholic Bible – Douay Rheims Version).
Now that caught my attention! “Freely by his grace”? “Without the law”? Had I heard that right? All I could think of was, “Who let this guy, Paul, in here anyway? What he’s saying here is NOT what ‘they’ are saying up there the rest of the time!” I shook my head sadly. Clearly, this was a mistake; this Paul character was out of touch with reality! Everyone knows that we’re not “justified freely;” there’s a big list of dos and don’ts to follow in order to get to heaven…and that’s after we’ve spent thousands of years in Purgatory suffering for our sins! I sighed then, deeply, and for just a moment, wished that what Paul had written here was true. But, I thought smugly, I was not that naive!
Later that summer
Lunch would have to wait! Today was the day that the parish financial report had been handed out after we good Catholics had devoutly dipped our fingers into the holy water fonts and crossed ourselves before leaving Mass. At home around the kitchen table, we skimmed the report to see what kind of ranking our family had achieved through our faithful giving. We heaved a sigh of relief as it was noted that, as usual, we fell somewhere near the middle. The Bedloes and the Gilberts, of course, were the top contributors and were listed first, while our neighbors, the Vaughans, came in dead last with a two-digit amount.
“Do you think God counts how much you give to church when he decides who gets in to Heaven?” I asked of no one in particular as I tore open a bag of potato chips.
My father, who rarely ever spoke — which is understandable in a house full of women – said, unexpectedly, “We’re saved by faith alone.”
“What?” I was shocked by the plainness of his remark. I knew that my father had “turned Catholic” to please my mother when they got married, but that he had been brought up in the Lutheran church. I had been under the impression, however, that he had left any strange Protestant doctrines behind him and had fully embraced Catholicism by now.
“We’re not saved by what we give, or by what we do or don’t do, Debbie. We’re saved by putting our faith in what Christ did.” My father had uncharacteristically pulled himself up to his full five feet eleven inches; and his brown eyes gazed at us steadily from under his bushy, arched eyebrows.
I’m ashamed now to report that this heartfelt pronouncement of my father’s immediately brought raucous laughter from his womenfolk.
“It’s not that simple, Dad!” Rachelle blurted out between guffaws. Even little Julie, about to enter first grade at St. Mary’s grade school, was shaking her head in disbelief over his pronouncement.
My mother put in her two cents. “You can’t get there without the Sacraments! What are you thinking, Glenn?”
“And, of course, you have to be as good as you can so you don’t have to spend too long in Purgatory! If you commit a mortal sin and don’t get absolution from a priest, you’re cooked!” I was proud of my advanced theological knowledge; after all, I was going into eighth grade!
Out-numbered as usual, my father just shrugged and started eating. His words rang in my head for a long time, however; and I still remember that day clearly. I would hear those words again from another Lutheran — my future husband.
I stole a glance at the stained glass windows beside the outside pews to make certain they hadn’t shattered from the high soprano strains of “Ave Maria” being warbled by the soloist we had hired for our wedding. Maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea after all to insist that we, as the wedding couple, face the congregation instead of the traditional stance of having our backs to it. It was my way of rectifying the longing I had experienced at so many other weddings to see the faces of the bride and groom as they exchanged their vows. But I hadn’t foreseen the distraction that would result from making eye contact with the wedding guests in the pews – especially with the four residents I had invited from the mental health center at which I worked! They were having a fine time sticking out their tongues and wagging their fingers by their ears! I hoped this wasn’t a portent of things to come!
I had also broken with tradition by processing down the aisle alone with no one to “give away the bride.” My father had passed away six months earlier, and there was no one else to whom the honor belonged.
A few minutes later, the organ swelled out “The Wedding March;” and we strode triumphantly down the aisle out into the cold November evening where a twinkling snow was falling. I quickly realized that another mistake had been not wearing long underwear under the “Gone With the Wind” hoop skirt of my bride dress. Make that three mistakes, because no one had taught me how to sit down in the darn thing either. When I got into the bridal car, I plunked down on the seat and my face reddened as my view was totally blocked by my skirt flipping up. I don’t even want to think about the view everyone else got!
The parish priest waved happily as we drove off, his handsome tip in hand, and on his desk in the rectory a document signed by the groom promising to raise any children resulting from our union as good little Roman Catholics.
Five years later, and then some
Five years later, the Roman Catholic Church began receiving its dividends when son Franklin Lester was born, followed two years later by Douglas Glenn. True to his word, even though he disapproved of how Catholics “worship” the Pope, their father, Donald, allowed the Church to guide their early spiritual development. Just as my father before him had done, every once in a while, he’d say, “We’re saved by faith alone.” And just as we girls had done so long ago, we would laugh.
The boys and I simply continued to attend our beloved St. Mary’s; and I noticed that even their dad, on the rare occasions he came with us to Mass, beamed with pride when Franklin began serving as an altar boy, his white-blond hair reflecting the sunbeams pouring through the tall windows near the sanctuary.
Early Spring, 1992
Suffice it to say, without my going into tedious detail, that by 1992, our marriage was in serious trouble, perhaps in part due to our disobeying the adage, “the family that prays together, stays together.”
I know a mother who has a four-year-old son; and when this mother leaves him in the care of others for even a little while, she comes down to his eye level, and says slowly and deliberately, emphasizing each individual word, “Now, Ethan…Remember…Make. Good. Choices.” It struck me one day, hearing her say it yet again, that her reminder to Ethan is Good Life Advice! Looking back, I realize now, that time after time, I had not made good choices. I have no one to blame but myself, and I’ll be the first to say it. But we can’t go back, can we? We can only learn from our choices and go on.
* * *
“Ah-h-h, that feels good!” I thought to myself as I plunked myself down and pushed back the recliner in our spacious living room. I kicked off the Alfredo sauce-spotted black shoes I had worn to my part-time job as a waitress in a bustling Italian restaurant downtown. Wiggling my black-nylon-stockinged toes, my glance fell upon a shiny paperback on the end table next to me — “Armageddon, Oil, and the Middle East Crisis,” by John F. Walvoord. Being a voracious reader, I picked it up and paged through it. Although the cover displayed what was, to me anyway, an uninteresting military airplane, the words on its pages caught my attention. Soon I was engrossed in the author’s explanation of Bible prophecy.
“What?” I stiffened in my chair as I read the writer’s opinion that world events seemed to be pointing to the very real possibility that Christ would soon come for His “Church.” I had never heard that one before! As a practicing Catholic, I knew that Christ would return ‘someday’ to end the world, judge the living, and then eternity would begin; but never had I heard that there were any “signs” associated with the event. Of course, like many Catholics, I had never really read the Bible, but had allowed myself to be spoon-fed verses read aloud by the priest at Mass. But, wait! This same author was going on to say that after Christ came for his church – the “rapture,” he called it — terrible things were going to take place on the earth, and that Jerusalem would play a key role. Could these words be true? I was so agitated that I hadn’t noticed my husband, Don, come into the room.
“You’re reading my book.” He looked slightly affronted that I had picked it up without permission. “A guy at work lent it to me so be careful with it.” I wanted to ask him if he believed the things it said, but he was already outside with the dog.
I managed to read most of the exciting book before it disappeared from our home. This idea of “the rapture” stayed in my head, however; and I was driven to learn more. The public library proved to have very little in the way of works on Bible prophecy with this new slant. I did come across a book by a man named Dave Hunt — “Global Peace and the_Rise of Antichrist.” I began to devour it, until something else came flying out of left field that threatened to really knock me off my pins!
That “something” was another book lent to my husband by still another “guy at work.” This one, “The Sun Danced at Fatima,” by Joseph A. Pelletier, was about something more familiar – a famous “Mary” apparition – the one that involved the famous “three secrets” — that took place in Portugal in 1917. He had also lent Don a video about the Marian apparitions that had been taking place daily in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia since 1981. As I watched the video, I was struck by the fact that the ability to see something invisible to everyone else was possessed by not only the alleged seers, but by a baby of about one year of age in the audience, who, with eyes wide and dilated, pointed at something slightly above the visionaries.
All of my buried feelings about Mary, the sweet “Mother of God” to whom I had devoted myself in my childhood, came flooding back to the surface. Was this newest visitation of the “Queen of Heaven” a part of the end-time scenario I had read of in the book on Bible prophecy? Had God sent his Mother to warn and gather her wayward children back into the fold before all hell broke loose on the earth? The video had convinced me that these young people chosen to be blessed with this grace were not hallucinating or trying to deceive, but were truly receiving a vision of our Most Blessed Mother. Somehow, I must discover how these events were linked; and most importantly, what did I need to do about it?
“This magazine on Medjugorje says that Our Lady is begging us to fast twice a week on bread and water to make reparation for the souls of the lost and to shorten our own time in Purgatory after death.” I shook the slick publication at my family as they tried to watch “Home Improvement,” the television series starring Tim Allen. I put on my sternest expression. “If Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is bothering to appear on earth to tell us what God expects of us at this time in history, well, we’re darn well going to do it!”
My teen-age sons’ lack of religious zeal was more than made up for by my abundance of it. The family Bibles remained unopened and dust-covered on the book shelf in the living room as I collected everything I could find on Marian apparitions, especially the more recent ones.
“Mary” had a whole laundry list of requests of faithful Catholics and interested inquirers alike. Here are just a few of them:
Pray, pray, pray the rosary!
Offer up sufferings and sacrifices for unbelievers’ sins.
Go to Mass daily and offer as many parish novenas and Eucharistic adorations as possible. (Eucharistic adorations were hours and hours of on-your-knees devotion in front of the Blessed Sacrament that’s usually encased in an ornate display case called a “Monstrance” on an altar at the local Catholic church.)
Go to confession as often as possible to ready yourself for the “Chastisement” to come. (The Chastisement is a period prophesied by some Catholic mystics that’s supposedly coming in the near future, during which each person’s sins will be starkly revealed to him so that he may see exactly how he appears to God. No mention is made of a literal Second Coming.)
Pray for the Pope and local parish priests.
Use consecrated relics and images in your worship; an example of a good one is the “scapular”: two squares of cloth, each containing respective images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary joined by two strings in each of the upper corners to enable the devout to wear them under their clothing. Catholic legend has it that in 1251 A.D., the Blessed Virgin appeared to Simon Stock, who is now a canonized saint, and gave him the scapular she held in her hand, saying, “Take beloved son, this scapular of thy Order as a badge of my confraternity, and for thee and for all Carmelites, a sign of grace. Whoever dies in this garment will not suffer everlasting fire. It is a sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant.”
Observe the required “holy days of obligation.” It seems many Catholics are neglecting these, not realizing that to do so is to incur a mortal sin, which is only able to be absolved through confession to a priest.
Let me tell you something about fasting on bread and water: It can eventually lead to a
light-headed condition and even to a state of altered consciousness during which is experienced a profound sense of “communicating with the infinite.” During that time of fasting, our dog avoided me; and squirrels and birds, and once even a cat, stopped dead in their tracks, seemingly mesmerized by me. At the time, I thought that they could sense that I meant them no harm in my “exalted” state, especially since I had taken to reciting the “Hail Mary” all the way to work each day so that I could take on more of the burden of praying for the “conversion of sinners.”
I now had an extreme desire to read more about Mary; so I was overjoyed to find at the public library a thick book called, “The Glories of Mary,” by St. Alphonse de Liguori. If you’ve ever read this book, you’d likely agree that a dozen triple chocolate donuts cannot compete with the sickeningly sweet “taste” of this book – and the indigestible “lump” it leaves after reading it. But read it, I did, like it was food for my soul!
While fasting, meditating, and reading “The Glories of Mary,” and pondering all I had learned about Mary, I suddenly “received” a startling revelation: Mary, in her roles of “Co-mediatrix” and “Co-redemptrix,” is equal with God! She is the feminine side of the Godhead in her fleshly incarnation as the sinless Mary, just as Jesus was the masculine incarnation. The Roman Catholic Church has never come right out and said anything like this; but that was only because they were being cautious, I thought.
Late one evening, I was lying on the living room couch meditating on this new revelation about Mary actually being the “flip side” of God, when I clearly “heard” voices in my head — not just a single voice, but a cacophony of jubilant, high-pitched, whining voices. The voices were screeching, “Tell Frank; tell Frank.” Yes, I thought, that’s what I should do; share this with Frank. I went to Frank’s room where he was just falling asleep and quietly told him that I had come to the conclusion that Mary was the feminine side of God. He looked rather taken aback, but just said, “I’ll have to think about that one awhile, Mom.” I kissed him good night and headed for bed myself.
The next day
The next day at work in the restaurant, I felt compelled to share my new insight with some of my co-workers. The women especially were receptive to the idea; which is logical, I suppose, as most of them were militant about a woman’s role in society, and detested the male-dominant role in religious thought.
During the mid-afternoon lull at the restaurant, I often waited upon a man who was a minister in a local church. On this day, I approached him in order to share with him my wonderful discovery about Mary. He listened politely; and when I was finished, he said gently, in his wonderful Texas accent, “Debbie, you know as well as I do that the feminine side of God is his Bride, the Church. You’ve probably read it many times in the New Testament Book of the Revelation.” Looking into his clear-eyed face, I felt some of my obsession with the idea dissipate. I promised him that I’d give it some more thought, and that I would read the Book of Revelation as he suggested.
When I arrived at home, I went straight to the bookshelf in the living room and picked up the King James Bible that Don had received at his confirmation in the Lutheran church. It was dusty and the print was small; but I trundled over to a comfortable chair and flipped to the very last chapter, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, seeking the passage my minister friend had suggested. “Let us be glad and rejoice and give honour to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Rev. 19:7-9).
“Hmmm…I guess that minister is telling the truth about us being the Bride of Christ!” I thought. “Then where does Mary fit into the picture?” I paged around in the Book of the Revelation and noticed Rev. 12:1: “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” My eyebrows shot up. “There She is! We might be the Bride, but She’s the Queen!” All of that “ye olde English” had started to get to me, so I glanced over at the shelf where the newer and shinier book by Dave Hunt was. I got up and retrieved it, paging to where I’d left off. Mr. Hunt was mentioning the Roman Catholic Church! Maybe I’d find out where we fit into end times prophecy! Reading further, I was taken by complete surprise at the radical words of Dave Hunt. He insisted that because “Mary” herself offers the graces necessary for a sinner to find pardon with God, and she declares that reparation must be made to her “Immaculate Heart,” when the only sacrifice that could ever be offered for sin was offered once and for all by the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary, the apparitions of “Mary” must be from the pit of Hell! It’s always Satan’s desire to lead seekers away from Christ and his perfect sacrifice for sin. Therefore, the “Mary” apparitions are staged by masquerading DEMONS! And, if these demons are deliberately leading people away from the truth and toward the Roman Catholic Church, then something must be very WRONG with the Catholic Church!
I was pretty shaken and confused. How could Dave Hunt say this about such a loving institution, founded on Peter, the “Rock”? We Catholics try to be righteous, do good works, and offer perfect worship to God! Even our church buildings reflect God’s beauty in their very architecture. I put down Hunt’s book and again picked up the Bible. My glance fell upon these words in Revelation 18:
“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works; in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her; for she saith in her heart, I will sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” (Revelation 18:1-7). Why did this bring to mind the Vatican in Rome?
“And saying, Alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls…” (Revelation 18:16). Was this her ultimate fate?: “And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee; for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. And in her was found the blood of the prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” (Revelation 18:21-24).
“Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Those words played over and over in my mind. Did they mean that my family should leave the Catholic Church? Dave Hunt wrote with authority and backed up what he said with Scripture. Who should I believe: Dave Hunt and Scripture, or the Catholic Church and words from the sweet lips of “Mary”?
“What are you doing just standing there? Where’s dinner?” His gruff voice startled me, and I looked blankly at Don as he stood holding his lunch box in the foyer to the living room. He glanced at the Dave Hunt book in my hands. “Are you still reading that trash? Get rid of it!” He strode to the bedroom while I gently set the book back on the shelf and went to make dinner, my mind spinning.
The following morning
It was Saturday and the sun shone brightly as I sat at the kitchen table poring once again over the King James Bible. I wanted to see for myself the passages that Dave Hunt had quoted in his book.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16). But just what was this gospel that Paul found so powerful? I flipped a few more pages. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly; his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:5). “Worketh not”? Did that mean, like, not doing anything but believing? And if it did, just what exactly did I have to believe? I paged through Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, seeing many mentions of “the gospel,” but I still wasn’t sure what it was. The rapture books had both quoted from 1 Corinthians 15, so I went there and found what I was looking for: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand, By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Is this what Protestants mean when they say that we’re saved by faith alone? Are they saying we have to have faith alone in this fact: that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again; and that if we trust him and what he did for us, we’re guaranteed a place in Heaven?
Frank and Doug wandered in, looking for food, as usual, but sat down across from me to find out what I was studying so intently. I showed them some of the things Paul had written, and we talked about whether such an astounding idea could possibly be true. We only gradually became aware of the fact that, although it was a warm spring day, the kitchen had become icy cold. We looked at each other in amazement as we rubbed our shoulders to dispel the chill that had come over us. At that moment, our family dog, a Springer Spaniel named Misty, came running in from the living room to join us, but skidded frantically to a stop just outside the kitchen door. She turned tail and yelped painfully as she retreated to the living room.
“What the heck was that all about?” Doug got up from the table. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going outside to warm up!” Frank and I also rose and hurried out of the kitchen, which had inexplicably become absolutely frigid!
Later that day, the three of us again gathered in the kitchen to talk about what I was learning. Again, the late afternoon warmth of the kitchen turned icy while we talked. This time, however, there was an added element of inhospitality: a sudden over-powering stench filled the entire room! The only way to describe the odor that completely filled our nostrils is that it smelled like animal dung droppings in a humid forest.
“Look and see if Misty had an accident!” I choked out, gagging. Finding nothing — not even Misty, who had avoided us all day — we, for the second time in one day, ran outside to get some relief from our suddenly hostile home.
I went to bed that night with a heavy heart. What decisions did I have to make to find some peace of mind in all of this? Part of me was drawn to believing that simply trusting what Christ had done was all that was needed to be saved; but years of Catholic teaching that more than that is required waged war against that desire. The Pope, the cardinals, and all those priests and nuns must know the Bible better than I ever could; there must be some hidden catch to the whole thing that had inspired the Catholic system of salvation! I turned off my bedside lamp and tried to sleep, but sleep did not come easily that night.
“Aaaah! Get out! Mom! Mom!” I awakened out of my fitful dreams to the sound of my sons’ raised voices coming from their bedroom. I jumped out of bed and raced to their room. Don was on the night shift at the mill so I was the only adult in the house. Come what may, like any mother, I would protect my children.
I threw open the door to see them sitting up in their twin beds. Frank was pointing in the direction of the corner to the left of the door and yelling, “There’s someone there!” I snapped on the switch to the ceiling light, and we all relaxed when it was obvious there was no one in the room besides the two boys. I threw open the closet doors for good measure. “Mom, there was someone dark in that corner; we saw him.” Doug insisted. It wasn’t like them to pull a prank like this in the middle of the night so I didn’t argue. There was nothing to do but go back to sleep.
Sunday, the next day
Don surprised us by accompanying us to Mass, although he looked tired from working all night. The boys and I went willingly enough, but with a new sense of uneasiness. I listened carefully to the sermon for some hint that our Church taught the wonderful news I had read in the epistles of St. Paul, but I was unrewarded. Instead, the sermon was rambling and vague, full of philosophical ruminations and exhortations to good behavior by the kindly pastor, Father Mike. Frank and Doug had more than once expressed exasperation with the number of “little Mikey” anecdotes that sprinkled Father Mike’s attempts to connect with his parishioners.
Later that evening, I almost tripped over my Protestant husband in our narrow bedroom hallway as he reverently knelt before a painting of Mary being assumed into Heaven on the wings of adoring angels. He barely glanced at me but simply kissed the crucifix suspended from his rosary and got to his feet to begin preparing for work. A few weeks ago, the sight would have made my heart sing with the hope that a mutual love of the Blessed Mother might have the potent power to bring us back together and heal our marriage. But now, after everything I had learned, it just left me feeling queasy.
* * *
What later woke me in the middle of the night, I’ll never know; but I remember noticing the delicate moonlight coming through the French windows and splaying itself across the bed covers. The tall pines that lined the backyard looked black, lacy and beautiful. As I lay there appreciating the magical sight, my attention was suddenly drawn to an object lying across Don’s empty pillow. It appeared to be a neck tie with a distinct diamond pattern. “He must’ve left it there after church,” I thought; but I was having trouble remembering if Don had even worn a tie that day. “Mental note to self for morning: put the neck tie away before you accidentally make it right into the bed!” No sooner had I thought these words, when the “neck tie” rapidly “slithered” to the floor beside Don’s side of the bed. My eyes widened, as I thought, “That looked just like a snake!” With a bemused shrug, I went back to sleep. The only thing is, in the morning, when I reached down to pick it up, there was NOTHING there! A bolt of sudden understanding shot through me: It really had been a SNAKE! Somehow I knew, though, that it was not a snake of the natural variety, but of the supernatural.
I was stunned, shaken up, and more than a little confused. Was Satan trying to scare me, and if so, why? What did he stand to gain? All day long I pondered the question in my heart. Was the answer in the Bible? Two verses from Paul’s letter to the Romans kept repeating themselves in my mind: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24). “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). Freely…free gift…in Christ Jesus…through Jesus Christ our Lord…not through my own effort…I’d never be good enough to deserve it; that I knew. By grace are ye saved…not of yourselves…not by works…believe, just believe. An overwhelming feeling of a dam about to break built up in my heart as the day wore on.
The house was silent when I got home from work. In less than an hour, the boys would be home from school, and Don would be waking up. I walked to the corner of the living room where the Bible lay waiting and picked it up. I read from Paul’s letter to the Romans and some more from the Revelation. A small gold crucifix hung from the wall above the book case. It suddenly seemed natural – to a Catholic girl anyway – to drop to my knees before it and bow my head. My prayer, however, was directed toward Heaven, to God the Father.
“Father, I have always believed in you since I was a little girl! I knew that your Son, Jesus, died on the Cross to take away my sins; but until now, I didn’t understand that by dying, he didn’t just “open up a door to Heaven,” so that I could work my way through it! I learned all about how observing the Sacraments would give me the grace to do what is necessary to stay in a “state of grace.” But what I didn’t understand is that that is NOT how it works! What I now know from your word is that your Son, Jesus Christ, shed his blood to pay for ALL of my sins on that cross, and that ALL I HAVE TO DO IS TRUST IN HIM BECAUSE OF THAT FACT! I do trust in him, that he died for me that day, and rose again, so that I can now have eternal life with you!” Hot tears streamed down my cheeks. Hearing the back door open and my kids’ cheerful voices in the back hall, I rose and roughly wiped my face so they wouldn’t think someone had died! Then I realized that someone had died...me…to my old sinful self. I was a new creature in Christ.
Later that evening, I took the boys aside and told them the good news of my salvation. Frank shyly blurted out that he, too, had accepted Christ as his Saviour without reservation. Doug looked thoughtful and said he needed more time before he made a decision. We all agreed, however, that the Catholic Church had misled us, and countless others, into believing the wrong gospel — one that couldn’t save anyone, because we had been trusting in ourselves and our own ability to work our way up the Roman Catholic ladder of sacraments and works.
The evil manifestations stopped abruptly, although there was one “parting shot.” As I tried to find sleep that night, I began to count all of the deceptions and counterfeits that I could think of that Satan uses to keep us away from learning the truth of the gospel. Even the popular myth of Santa Claus could be construed as “anti-Christ,” with its own “gospel” requiring kids to be good while being supernaturally “monitored” by Santa! While I was trying to come up with more of Satan’s favorite tricks, behind my closed eyelids, a face appeared in the “distance,” and moved closer and closer, becoming larger and larger. It finally showed itself to be a hideous, furious, contorted face that shouted in a deep, guttural voice, “Shut up!” Although I was startled, and my first reaction was fear, I knew in my heart that “in Christ,” I now had the “upper hand” and the devils knew it. I slept peacefully knowing that he who is in me is greater than them.
The following Sunday
The demons had stopped their attacks, but that didn’t mean my surprises were at an end! The following Sunday was Easter Sunday; so, of course, we dressed up and went to St. Mary’s, as always. We now understood that the Catholic Church was wrong, but we hadn’t come up with an alternative as yet. Don accompanied us again, looking very dapper in a new suit.
Later, we realized that we never saw it coming. Right before Holy Communion, Pastor Mike, resplendent in his white and gold Easter vestments, approached the altar rail. He seemed to be looking right at us as he began to speak. Then, I realized that he was looking right at us!
“Don, Deborah, Franklin, and Douglas, will you please join me here, facing the congregation.” His kindly face was beaming with pleasure.
“What is this about?” I thought, panicking. I haltingly made my way forward with my family.
Father Mike put his large hand protectively on my shoulder; and, in a booming voice, announced, “Thanks to this fine Catholic woman and the wonderful example she’s been to her family, this husband of hers has been led to join the Roman Catholic Church. Please join us in welcoming him home!”
Thunderous applause reverberated through the cavernous church that was lavishly decorated with fragrant Easter lilies and satin bows. My knees buckled slightly with shock, but Father Mike’s hand slid to my upper arm and held me up. He continued to speak, but I only heard a few key words faintly as if from a long distance: “…came to me and expressed an interest in learning our faith…R.C.I.A. Classes…..rite of initiation…Holy Eucharist for the very first time…” My own thoughts were just as jumbled, but this sentence kept repeating in my head: “What am I going to do now that I’ve been ‘born again,’ and he’s turned Catholic?”
My head was throbbing by the time we finally made our way out of the church, stopping every few yards to receive congratulations and shake someone’s hand. “Don, I need to talk to you in private…soon!” He looked puzzled but said he’d “have some time” for me the following morning.
The next morning
With the boys sent back to school, I carefully set the King James Bible and a cup of steaming coffee on the kitchen table and waited for Don to come into the room.
“What’s all this about?” He asked as he pulled out a chair and sat down.
I wasn’t sure where to begin, so I just started talking. “Well, what I want to tell you is that you were right all these years when you said that we’re saved by grace through faith alone; and the kids and I want to join the Lutheran church where you and your family have always attended.”
He looked at me sternly and said, “Well, I’ve come to see that it’s not that easy. I’ve come to have some respect for that Pope you’re always talking about. He’s a very holy man, and he’s right about there being things we must do in order to earn the right to Heaven. Accountability, Debbie, accountability…that’s what it’s all about.” He pushed his chair back with a loud scrape and stood up. I could tell that he was about to leave the room in a huff, so I quickly said, “Can’t we at least look at some Bible verses together?”
Don shook his head, and snapped, “No! This is all about you and the way you always make sure to ruin everything I try to do for this family! Here I went to all this trouble to join your church and now you’re telling me that you want to quit? Is this something you just made up yesterday when you saw how happy everyone was to see me become Catholic? Well, don’t hold your breath, because I’m not changing my mind! In fact, I’m going to run for parish council at St. Mary’s; Father Mike thinks I’d be perfect for the job.” With that, he did stalk out of the kitchen and through the utility room and out the back door, slamming it hard behind him. I sat slumped in my chair, fighting back tears of frustration, but still sure in my heart that I was not a Roman Catholic anymore and never would be again.
The final Sunday
The boys and I walked to church by ourselves the following Sunday, as Don had to work. We admitted among ourselves that we were now very uncomfortable attending Mass; but, as I have explained, we did not have a better idea at the time — especially since I did not have a vehicle and St. Mary’s was within walking distance.
As was our lifelong habit, we sat in the very front pew. We listened to the Liturgy respectfully, standing and kneeling at the appointed times. When it came time for Holy Communion, the usher approached our pew and stood silently in the aisle, waiting for us to exit for Communion. We simultaneously glanced at each other, each noting the others’ looks of painful realization. We could no longer participate in an act that appeared to sacrifice Christ all over again and “magically” change bread and wine into a little version of him. We knew that when you’re indwelt by the Holy Spirit; there is no need to swallow something in order to have Christ inside of you. Together, we simply shook our heads and remained kneeling in our pew. The usher waited another few seconds, looking rather worried, and then, thankfully, moved on. With our heads bowed and our faces turning crimson, we could hear people around us murmuring with confusion. “What’s wrong with them; are they sick?” “They never miss Communion!” To our credit, I guess, we did not walk out early as some did every Sunday during the cover of communicants moving up and down the aisles. We politely waited out the closing prayers and benediction, and then resolutely marched through the exit, knowing that we would never be back, at least not as members of the Roman Catholic Church.
The next day
When I arrived home from work the following day, I reached for Dave Hunt’s book so that I could review again the statements he had made about the Roman Catholic Church and why it is “anti-Christ” (against Christ). But it wasn’t on the living room shelf where I had left it. My heart leaped as I hoped against hope that Don had taken it to work in order to read it himself. When he came home, I asked him about it. His face turned dangerously red, and he sputtered, “I took it back to the library! It’s from the devil!”
I protested, “But it’s on my library card, not yours! You had no right to do that without my consent!” He just looked at me coldly and kept walking to the kitchen.
Pulling on a spring jacket, I marched out of the house and walked the dozen or so city blocks to the public library, where I tried to make the ladies behind the front desk understand that I needed that book back right away. To their credit, they made every effort to find it among the returned books in the back room and give it back to me.
A few days later
Not wanting to be labeled as a “fallen-away Catholic,” or have it assumed that I had left St. Mary’s for a different Catholic church – perhaps due to a personality problem with the local pastoral staff – I made an appointment with Father Mike in order to “resign” from the Roman Catholic Church entirely. I arrived at his office with my arms loaded with books, ranging from the Bible to works on the Protestant Reformation. As always, Father Mike was gracious and cordial, but when the conversation turned to the fact that I wanted out of the Catholic faith, his face turned grim.
“Deborah, I would suggest that before you attempt to remove the speck out of our eye, you make certain to remove the log out of your own!” This he said as he sagely wagged a finger at me. “I suggest that you read the works of the early Church Fathers to see how they interpreted the New Testament on salvation and forms of worship.” He waved his hand toward his impressive collection of scholarly, ancient-looking volumes. When I continued to protest that this was unnecessary when we have the New Testament itself with the gospel of salvation given to Paul by the risen Christ to proclaim to us, he stood and showed me the door, adding sympathetically, “Young lady, in your case I’m afraid the wisest course of action would be to consult a professional in the field of mental health. Good day and Godspeed!”
* * *
Not long after that, our daily local newspaper featured a prominent article about a reported apparition of “Mary” that had occurred somewhere in the southern United States. There was speculation made in the article about whether this particular sighting was an actual supernatural appearance of the “Mother of God,” or simply a case of mass hysteria.
“People need to know the truth!” I thought, shaking my head at the obvious confusion over the matter. “I know; I’ll write a letter to the editor of the paper and at least give readers another option to think about!”
Here is the letter that I penned and sent to the paper, which they did print a couple of days later:
When I first learned of the ‘Mary’ apparitions at
Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, and at other sites, in addition
to eyewitness reports of statues and images of ‘Mary’
secreting tears and blood, as a Catholic brought up
to revere the mother of Jesus, I was totally enraptured
by the idea.
“Reading of her tearful pleadings for rosaries and
prayers for the conversion of sinners and to make
reparation for sins of those in purgatory who hadn’t
been completely saved but needed additional graces
given to them through her, I suddenly realized the genius
behind this diabolical plan to convert Catholics and
others to an idolatrous and blasphemous form of
‘Mary’ worship. As if anything other than Jesus
Christ’s death on the cross is necessary for salvation!
“The pope’s continued obedience to these demons, e. g.,
1982 consecration of Russia to her ‘Immaculate
Heart,’ leaves one reeling with possible consequences.
“It’s too bad that the visionaries can’t pull aside
‘Mary’s’ gown to get a glimpse of the cloven hooves
When I walked into the restaurant the next morning, I was totally unprepared for the standing ovation I received from almost all of my co-workers! I’m not optimistic enough to believe that I had converted any of them to my way of thinking; they were just impressed with my “chutzpah”!
There was some hate mail with which I had to contend; some of which was published in the paper as well. To their credit, the newspaper published an editor’s note near the vitriolic responses, to the effect that, as a U.S. citizen, I had as much right to my opinion as they had and that even the Roman Catholic Church allows its members to come to their own conclusions regarding modern-day supposed apparitions of Mary.
Writing the letter was strangely cathartic for me. Maybe making a public declaration of my changed belief system liberated me to put the past behind me. I determined to learn God’s word for myself and have devoted myself to that pursuit ever since. I’m happy to report that my studies have only deepened my faith in God’s grace to us in Christ.
This true account has both a happy and a sad ending. My saving relationship with Christ had just begun, but my marriage would soon be coming to an end. I’m not going to try to tell you that I became so holy that my husband couldn’t stand it and left, because that wouldn’t be the truth. My “old sin nature” tried continually to stifle my new nature in Christ, much like Paul’s lament in Romans 7. Only through consistently studying the Bible and by seeking fellowship with other believers did any sanctification slowly proceed. I’d have to admit that my sanctification process is a lot like being “pulled through a knothole backward”! I’m just grateful that “he which hath begun a good work” in me, “will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (see Philippians 1:6). Despite trials and temptations, nothing can steal the joy and peace every believer has with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I’m happy to report that my sons, Franklin and Douglas, despite having to endure mental and verbal persecution by their father, continued to learn God’s word with me. Each Sunday that their father was home, they quietly suffered his threats and accusations regarding our new-found faith. A promised trip to Disney World never materialized, but was used as both punishment for continuing to attend a Bible church and bait to quit.
It does sadden me to report that my younger son, Douglas, who made a full profession of faith in his early teens (and admits that he did to this day), later turned away from Christianity to agnosticism. I hold on to Paul’s inspired declaration in 2 Timothy 2:13: “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself.” Doug is sealed with the Holy Spirit unto the day of the redemption of these mortal bodies; his continuing belief or disbelief has no bearing on his salvation. He is eternally secure in Christ.
His brother, Franklin, praise the Lord, is allowing Christ to live through him each day, and attends church regularly. I often think about what a good pastor he would make!
I have had the wonderful privilege of meeting author, Dave Hunt, and of being able to thank him for his clear and faithful presentation of the gospel of Christ. Also, the co-worker of my ex-husband that lent him the book on Bible prophecy is now a good friend of mine, as he attends the same evangelical, non-denominational church as Frank and I do.
So, there you have it. Looking for Mary, I found God instead, and his wonderful free offer of eternal life through believing in his Son, Jesus Christ, who died for us that we might have the righteousness of God in him. We eagerly wait in joyful hope for the glorious appearing of Christ to catch up the Body of which we are members.
My prayer for you, dear reader, is that if you haven’t already done so, you’ll trust the Lord Jesus Christ, and his death and resurrection, for your salvation today. You’ll be eternally glad you did!
In order not to leave the reader with any false impressions of various elements in my testimony of my journey out of Roman Catholicism, it is necessary to point out the following. First, if you are presently a member of the Roman Catholic Church and feel the Holy Spirit leading you away from that institution, be assured that it does not necessarily follow that you will experience demonic encounters or attacks such as I did. I believe that, because I had been led so far into satanic bondage, in that I gave Mary the rank of deity, Satan, knowing that I tend to be quite vocal about my personal beliefs and could be of use to him, was determined not to let me go. Hundreds of Roman Catholics leave the Catholic Church each year without experiencing anything like the supernatural events in my testimony. Second, it must be pointed out, in all fairness, that the Roman Catholic Church does not require its members to accept alleged apparitions of Mary, although the Church has approved certain apparitions as being of merit. A list of apparitions officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church is available on the Internet. Third, the Roman Catholic Church forbids its members to extend the highest form of worship – “latria” – to any other than the Holy Trinity, although “veneration,” – or “hyperdulia” – is promoted for Mary and other saints. In other words, some of the spiritual errors into which I wandered during my obsession with these apparitions of an entity claiming to be Mary, the mother of Jesus, even conflict with established Roman Catholic doctrine.
In closing, I would have to offer the opinion that because of the reverence Catholics are encouraged to give to Mary, the saints, articles of devotion, and relics, the danger of carrying this reverence too far does exist for certain devout Roman Catholics. Most Catholics believe that Mary can hear the silent prayers of all who pray to her at any one time, which would give her the omnipotence (ability to read minds) and omnipresence (ability to be everywhere at once) that belong to God alone. All of these difficulties aside, what must be kept in mind is the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has a different gospel than that declared for us today by the Apostle Paul in the Holy Scriptures. Salvation is the gift of God given by his grace, through faith, and that not of ourselves or by our own efforts, lest anyone should boast. (See Ephesians 2:8, 9). Roman Catholicism has added so many conditions of their own making — some of which have been changed, omitted, or added throughout the centuries — onto the simple gospel, that many Roman Catholics despair of ever being found good enough for Heaven. We who understand the gospel of God’s grace must make every effort to bring this good news to all who are lost and perishing, and this includes not only Roman Catholics but all others who are now in bondage to this evil world system. I hope that this small book may help in that cause.
Deborah L. Collins
NOTE: Father Mike passed away in February of 2010. Read my blog article, “To Father Mike — Wherever You Are” on my Bible Blog