The Light of Love

It was Thanksgiving weekend, and Andrew Koval, an avid sportsman, decided to take advantage of the weather.

“I’m going hunting,he called to his wife. “I’ll be back at five-thirty.” Andrew knew his limits; due to an old baseball injury, one of his knees was good for about two hours of walking before pain set in. In addition, darkness ness would fall at about five o’clock, and since it was already late in the day, his time was short. Andrew drove to his favorite hunting spot a few miles from his home in rural Cambridge, Ohio, just down the road from a farm where he bought hay every spring. He parked in a familiar hilly area near a field.

He walked awhile, flushed a few grouse out of their hiding places, but never got close enough to try a shot. And, as he slowly realized, his heart wasn’t really in the sport today. “My nephew John Grimes had died of cancer the past summer,” Andrew explains. “We had been very close, working and golfing and socializing together, but most of all, hunting grouse together.” Andrew had grieved deeply for the younger man, and now, in this place where they’d spent so much time together, doubts crowded his mind. Was there really a God? If so, did Andrew believe in him? Was there a heaven? Was John there? Did life, another kind of life, go on after death? As a self-described lukewarm Catholic, Andrew “still had that little doubt.” How could he know for sure? Andrew had been lost in thought for some time, but it was getting ting dark, and his expedition was over for the day. He started back to the car. “On the way, I flushed a grouse and decided to follow it to get off at least one shot. The bird flew in the opposite direction, but being in familiar territory, I wasn’t concerned.”

As the sun began to set, Andrew lost sight of the bird. No problem, he told himself. The terrain was wooded, but he knew about where he was. If he walked back in a straight line, he ought to reach the car in about fifteen minutes. And that’s what he did, or thought he did. But soon Andrew realized he had passed the same marker twice. He was going in a circle. What to do? “I was wearing a light hunting vest, and it was getting ting colder,” he says. “My knee had started to hurt. I kept walking west, trying to reach an area that I recognized.” Surely he would hit a road soon and be able to flag down a vehicle. He walked and walked, only to realize that he was again traveling in a circle. He thought again of his resourceful young nephew, who would surely have found the way out of this maze.

Cold and tired, his knee throbbing, Andrew knew his wife and son were going to be very worried. How long would it be before they alerted the sheriff? If only he had a cell phone. Should he try to build a temporary shelter and wait to be found? Could he withstand a winter night with a vest as his only warmth? There was another option, although he didn’t think of it right away. He could pray. It had been a long time since Andrew had really talked to God. But if God were everywhere,even here in this lonely forest, he would surely hear.

Andrew sat down under a tree. “God,” he whispered. “I don’t know if you’re listening. But if you are, I need help.” More minutes passed, and a plan came to him. He should climb the highest hill, look for a light, and head straight for it. It was almost as if God were whispering in his ear, “Look for the light.” Andrew didn’t know if it was God’s voice or not. But there was a high hill nearby. Gathering the last of his failing strength, Andrew staggered to the top. At last! He ought to be able to see a lot of the countryside from here. But he could hardly believe it. There was no light visible, not in any direction. No distant signal blinking from a house or store, not even car headlights distant signal blinking from a house or store, not even car headlights moving in the blackness. It hadn’t been a heavenly message, after all. Yet the feeling of comfort and guidance had been so real. Look. for the light. Andrew understood just then that the real light in his life ought to be God, no matter what happened to him now or in the future.

His leg ached, and his fear of freezing was strong. But he had felt the light, just a little, and he wouldn’t let it dim again. Slowly, he turned away. He would go back down the hill and wait. Andrew gazed into the blackness once more, his eyes narrowing. ing. Was it a mirage? No, there in the distance … It was a light! Not in the same direction as his car, but Andrew had run out of choices. He would go toward it. Whoever owned it might have a phone, or warmth, or some way to help him. “I must have walked at least another mile, but I was able to keep the light in view the whole time, despite the trees,” Andrew says. Unexpectedly, he came upon the road where he had parked his car. It was sitting right there! Astonished, Andrew scrambled inside, turning on the engine and the heater full blast. Soon he was blissfully warm and content, as if this terrible experience had never happened. He should get home now, to relieve his wife’s fears. But oddly, he could still see the light streaming from a field about three or four hundred yards down the road, near the farm he visited each spring.

He was so late already-it wouldn’t make much difference if he drove down and looked to see exactly what had brought him safely out of his ordeal. So he decided to go take a look. “There in the field was a two-story house, every room brightly lit, with two floodlights on each corner,” he says. “There were people working all around, both inside and out.” Andrew remembered then that this land was owned by a real estate agent and was for sale in five-acre lots. He had no idea that a house had already been built here. “I thought it was strange that I hadn’t known, and also that every room was blazing with light and there was so much activity.” But he had his answer, and he turned around in the house’s driveway and went home.

It was almost nine o’clock by the time Andrew arrived, and his worried wife was preparing to call the sheriff and arrange a search party. But he assured her he was none the worse for wear, and told her about the house. “I haven’t heard about any construction over there,” his wife mused. “But wasn’t it fortunate that you saw the lights?”

Andrew didn’t grouse hunt for the rest of the season. But when spring arrived, he decided it was time to visit the local farmer and buy his straw. Andrew turned onto the same county road where he had seen the house, and he began to look for it. Now he would see if it was as big and beautiful-and busy-during the day as it had looked on that memorable night. Maybe he would even pull into the driveway, ring the doorbell, and tell the owner how his marvelous lights had probably saved Andrew’s life. Andrew approached the lot where the house had been. But there was no building there, or anywhere around it. The area looked just as it had last spring when Andrew had come to buy his straw. Completely deserted. He was certainly looking at the same spot where he had been that night-he remembered the familiar markers, the hills beyond, and the driveway where he’d turned around. Had the people who built the house belatedly discovered that their well was inadequate? This had happened before, and when it did, an owner would occasionally sionally have his house moved to another lot. Andrew went past the lot and pulled into the farm driveway. The farmer’s sister came out to greet him. After purchasing his straw, Andrew paused for a moment. “I was wondering what happened to that big new house down the road,” he asked. The woman looked puzzled. “What house?” “The one with all the lights. In the new subdivision. Did they have to move it because of a bad well?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about. The builder never sold any of those lots. There has never been a house there.” “But …” Andrew felt a shiver. The woman was looking at him as if he were a bit odd. He didn’t say any more, but he knew what he had seen.

Andrew has never found any evidence that a house was on that lot, or anywhere around there. But he is as sure today as he was that night that it was there. “I have come to believe that God was responsible for it,” he says, “because the whole experience completely resolved any doubts I may have had about him, and about the continuance of life after death on earth.” And perhaps his nephew was involved, too. One never knows, when one is willing to ask, just what marvels the Light will bring.

~Source:”Guardian Angels” by Joan Wester Anderson

St.Agnes’ Guardian Angel

Agnes was born in Rome of Christian parents from an illustrious patrician family in the third century. When she was twelve years of age, a fierce persecution took place and many of the faithful defected. Because of this she is often pictured with a lamb, a sacrificial symbol of truth. Her date of death is not certain; some place it between 249 and 251, others in 304.

During her actual martyrdom, an Angel often intervened to help her.Procopius, the son of the Roman Prefect, fell in love with Agnes and asked for her hand in marriage. Agnes refused. The young man then brought the matter to his own father in his official capacity as the Prefect of Rome. In his official capacity, the Prefect ordered the young girl brought to him, whereupon he asked her: “Why is it that you do not wish to be my son’s bride?”

Agnes replied: “I have another lover to whom I have promised fidelity.”

The Prefect replied: “No other young man can offer you the advantages that my son can. Who, then, is this lover?”

“It is He who is obeyed by the Heavens and the Earth: it is Jesus Christ!”

“So you are a Christian? …because I regard you so highly and for my son’s happiness, forsake your religion! In return you will have all the benefits and pleasures that Rome can offer.”

“I have no desire for any of them!”

The Prefect then ordered that she be taken to a place of ill repute.

Agnes was calm as she thought: “I am in God’s hands and my Guardian Angel will safeguard, my body.”

Agnes gave thanks to God for having sent her such generous assistance.

“Have no fear”, said the Angel, “I am here to protect you.”

Procopius, the Prefect’s son, wished to be the first to enter. He should not have wished it! The Angel struck him with a mortal blow!

When the young man’s father was notified, he was beside himself with grief: but Agnes prayed to God and Procopius was restored to life. The Prefect then came to believe in the true God of the Christians.

Since the crowd now was clamoring, he appointed Aspasio, the vice-Prefect, to carry on.

As a result, Agnes was condemned to be burned at the stake; but even here the Angel caused the flames to turn into two separate pillars of fire with the maiden between them as if encircled by flowers. As martyrdom proceeded, Agnes ascended to the Heavens.

Shrine of Monte Sant’ Angelo

The shrine of Monte Sant’Angelo, which consists of a large cave, had once been the site of a pagan temple in pre-Christian times.

Beginning in the year 490, it has been the site of at least four visitations by Saint Michael the Archangel, who specified this spot as a place where prayers will be answered.

The first visitation involved a local lord, who lost a prize bull in the cave; when the lord fired an arrow it returned back from the cave and struck him in the foot. The local bishop received a vision of the Archangel telling him to consecrate the cave, however the bishop did not listen.

The second visitation of Saint Michael the Archangel saved the town of Siponto (today known as Manfredonia) from an invasion, celebrated by the Church on the 8th of May.

On the third visitation, Saint Michael the Archangel appeared to the local bishop and stated that he consecrated the shrine himself, the only time this has happened in history.

When a procession made its way to the cave they found the cape of the Archangel used as an altar cloth and his footprint embedded in the rock. In the year 1656 Saint Michael the Archangel appeared again, this time to the bishop of Monte Sant’Angelo to stop a horrible plague that struck Southern Italy. While the Archangel has not appeared since then, the votive gifts left by centuries of thankful worshipers attest to the continued sacredness of this spot.

Angels in the Cockpit

David Moore and his wife,Florence discovered in July 1971 that Florence’s mother was dying of cancer.The Moore’s lived in the small town of Yoakum,Texas and they began driving back and forth to Hendersonville,North Carolina to visit the sick woman.After one trip,David decided to leave the car in North Carolina for Florence to use and take the bus back to Texas.

“It was the worst idea I ever had”,he says laughing.”Forty six hours of riding and listening to babies cry!On our budget I couldn’t afford to fly,but I made a vow to walk if I had to—anything to avoid getting on another bus!”

The following week as David packed and planned a hitchhiking route to Hendersonville,Henry Gardner phoned.Henry had heard about David’s transportation problems,and he volunteered to fly David to North Carolina in his small Cessna 180 and get in some sightseeing at the same time.David accepted gratefully.

David had never flown in a small plane,and he was nervous as the two men taxied down the runway early the next morning.But the little aircraft lifted gracefully, and David sat back to handle his unfamiliar duties as navigator.Within half an hour however as they neared Houston,they ran into fog.

“This is no problem,”Henry reassured an increasingly nervous David.”We Have aviation maps on board,and look—you can see the Houston radio towers rising above the fog.All we have to do is watch the towers,and we can tell where we are.”

He was right,and their journey continued.But the fog worsened,and just outside Jackson,Mississippi,the plane’s radios and instruments died.Now the pair couldn’t see anything on the ground,nor could they talk to people in the control tower.

Just as David was becoming desperate,the fog lifted for a moment to reveal the airport directly beneath them.Henry took the plane down smoothly,and within minutes they found an airport mechanic.Relieved,the two men grabbed a quick lunch and were soon airborne,with instruments and radio restored and fuel tanks filled.

Everything went smoothly for a little while.The sun had come out,and David’s tension diminished.He began to enjoy the flight and his bird’s – eye view of the ground.As they traveled northeast,he could see Atlanta off to his right.”I was really excited,”David says,”knowing that soon I would be with my wife and daughter again.”

But as the plane passed Greenville,South Carolina,the fog,which had been patchy and broken,turned once again into a continuous gray mass.There was enough visibility for Henry to clear the first mountain range,but as the two looked into the distance,they saw a solid wall of fog,and their hearts sank.Henry radioed Asheville’s airport for instructions.

“Our field is closed because of the fog,”the air traffic controller responded,”and we have no capability for instrument landing.Return to Greenville and land there.”

“But I can’t,”Henry protested.”We’re almost out of fuel–we don’t have enough to fly back to Greenville.”

There was a silence.Then,”Okay,” the radio voice snapped.”We’ll get the ground crew ready.Come in on an emergency landing.”

David gripped the sides of his seat.They seem to be flying in a dense gray blanket,and the Asheville control tower couldn’t possibly see them.How were he and Henry going to land?”We can use the aviation maps,just like we did before,”Henry reassured David,and after a brief scan of the blueprint,he began his blind descent.The airport runway should be beneath them—but what if it wasn’t?

Suddenly a voice came over the radio:”Pull it up!Pull it up!”

Henry immeadiately pulled up on the stick.As he did so,the men saw a split in the fog,and the view beneath sent tremors of fear through each one of them.Instead of being over the runway,they were above an interstate highway!Had they descended a few feet farther,they would have hit a bridge and certainly crashed.

The two looked at each other.They were almost out of fuel,and inside the grayness it was impossible to know where they were.Henry tried to descend again but almost hit the tips of some trees poking above the fog.Again,he pulled up sharply.There seemed to be no way out of their dilemma.Without enough fuel–or guidance from the control tower–how could they possibly land?

Then,with enormous relief,they heard the controller’s composed voice breaking into the tense silence in the cockpit.”If you will listen to me.”he said,”I’ll help you get down”

“Go ahead”,Henry radioed back in relief.

The controller began his instructions.”Come down just a little,”he said.”Now over to the right.Down a little more….

David gripped the seat,praying intently.Thank God the controller had been able to pick them up on radar,despite the airport’s apparant lack of the necessary instruments.But would they make it in time?It seemed impossible.The fuel needle hovered on E,but the voice went on with calm authority:”Not so fast.Easy,easy now….”Was this nightmare fight ever going to end?And would he see his wife and daughter again?

“Raise it up a little now.No,you’re too far left.”The journey seemed to be taking forever.But all of a sudden the controller said,”You’re right over the end of the runway.Set it down….now!”

Obediently,Henry dropped the plane through the fog,and the two men recognized the beginning of a runway just ahead,with lights along both sides.It was the most welcome sight they had ever seen.Within minutes,they had touched down.Tears of gratitude and relief filled David’s eyes when he saw Florence standing at the end of the runway.

The plane taxied to a stop,and the two men offered a quick prayer of thanksgiving.Then Henry turned on the radio again.”Thanks so much,” he told the air traffic controller,his voice shaky with relief.”You probably saved our lives.”

But the controller’s response stopped both men in their tracks.”What are you talking about?We lost all radio contact with you when we told you to return to Greenville”.

“You what?”Henry asked,incredulous.

“We never heard from you again,and we never heard you talking to us or to anyone else,”the controller told them.”We were stunned when we saw you break through the clouds”.

David and Henry looked at each other.Who had guided them through the grayness and onto safe ground?They would never know for sure.But even today David never hears a small airplane without thinking of that flight.”I know now that insignificant as I may be in this big world,God always has his eye on me”,he said.”He sustains me through the storm and the fog.”

~Source:”Where Angels Walk”~

Angel in the ICU

When sixteen-year-old Susan Kelly felt blue or wanted to celebrate, she turned to music first. She and her sister Cathy, just two years younger, had had a gift for singing from the time they were toddlers growing up in Iowa. The entire extended family looked forward to get-togethers because Susan and Cathy needed no encouragement to sing for them. And when there wasn’t an audience, ence, “we harmonized around the house while doing chores,” Susan says, “and to all the oldies our mom taught us,” as well as hymns from the church songbooks. Both girls felt that singing had drawn them close and allowed them to avoid most of the bickering and rivalry common to many teenage sisters.

Now, however, Susan needed more than a song to solve her problem. She was pregnant. Her parents had been devastated at the news, especially because they did not like her boyfriend at all. But they stood by her with encouragement and helped provide a beautiful church wedding. Susan felt like a hypocrite. She had always had a close relationship with always had a close relationship with God. But now she felt he must be disappointed pointed in her, not only for her own actions but because she had let down the family that loved her. How could God bless this union? How could she even ask?

But Cathy wouldn’t accept Susan’s assumptions about how God-or others-must think of her. She popped in often to give her sister a hug and a word of support. “God loves you no matter what,” she reminded her sister over and over again. On good days, Susan could almost believe it. However, there weren’t very many good days. She was not long into her marriage before Susan discovered that her new husband was not as enthusiastic about impending parenthood as she was. He, too, had dropped out of school and was now working two jobs, one fulltime in a factory and the other part-time at a gas station. As her due date grew closer, Susan hoped with all her heart that the baby would bridge the growing gap between them.

Baby Bryan was born healthy and strong after a long and complicated labor. Susan’s husband and her entire family were with her throughout it, but Cathy seemed to bring her the deepest peace and consolation, holding her hand and praying. After the birth, Susan’s husband never returned to the hospital.

At home, motherhood was fascinating, scary, and amazing, all at once. Susan had planned to return to her job, but her husband was completely disinterested in the baby and would not take care of him. “I would come home, and the baby would be in the crib, wet, hungry, gry, and screaming,” she says. So she became a stay-at-home mom, and from the start, she sang to Bryan. When Cathy came to visit, she would join the song, too. Soon the girls had an entire repertoire of harmonized songs, everything from nursery rhymes to his apparent favorite, “Rock and Roll Lullaby,” which never failed to put him to sleep. Susan’s husband, however, was becoming more distant than ever. Susan wondered often what would become of them. Perhaps God had abandoned her after all.

When Bryan was nine months old, he developed a cold, his first real illness. By the third night, after singing countless lullabies and giving the baby one sponge bath after another, Susan was very worried. Infants’ Tylenol wasn’t bringing Bryan’s fever down and her husband was working late at the gas station that night, so she was alone. She had called the doctor earlier, but he had reassured her that infant colds were rarely serious, and she should relax. But now, as she felt the baby’s flushed face, Susan took his temperature again. One hundred and six degrees! “I was a little hysterical, I think,” she says. “I knew I had to get Bryan to the hospital quickly, but after I strapped him into his car seat and roared off, I realized I should get his father, too. So I drove to the gas station first.” But when she got there, she saw her husband standing outside the station, kissing a young woman.This discovery was too shocking and huge to deal with just then, so Susan shot out of the gas station lot and sped down the highway.

By the time she reached the hospital emergency room, Bryan was having trouble breathing, and his fever had spiked to one hundred and eight. Dehydration had set in. When the nurses started an IV in each arm, he didn’t even move. Susan sat, exhausted and terrified, outside the intensive care unit, watching through the window at the nurses’ station as the baby’s chest barely moved. “Please God, save him, save him” was all she could say. At some point, her family members came, except for Cathy, who was too young to visit the ICU.At some point, her family members came, except for Cathy, who was too young to visit the ICU. Susan’s husband also arrived. She couldn’t think of anything to say to him-everything seemed vague, as if she were in some kind of fog. All that mattered to her was Bryan. But would God answer her prayer? Was he still disappointed in her?

Finally, with the nurses’ consent, Susan climbed into the oxygen tent, lay on the bed beside Bryan, clutched his little hand, and continued to pray. But after five hours and several bags of fluids, his temperature had dropped only a degree. The doctor told everyone to go home, and everyone did, except Susan. “There has to be something thing I can do,” she begged the nurse on duty. “Anything.””Well .. .” The nurse looked around and then quickly left the room. She returned with a pitcher of cool water and a syringe with the needle detached. “Fill the syringe with the water from the pitcher,” the nurse instructed Susan, “and slowly drip the water down the baby’s throat.”

Susan got back under the tent and lifted Bryan into her arms. She would do this. She had to! Somehow she knew it was Bryan’s last chance. But it was so hard to reach the pitcher, then dip and fill the syringe with the baby in her arms. Susan struggled to balance everything, but the water dribbled out of Bryan’s mouth. She was so intent on her tasks that when the nurse came back, Susan didn’t look up. “Here, let me fill the syringe and hand it to you,” a woman said.But it wasn’t the nurse. It was Cathy! “Oh, Cathy, I’m so glad you’re here!” Susan’s eyes filled with tears. How had her sister managed to sneak in, despite being underage?And wasn’t it awfully late? Who had driven her? But this was not the time for questions.

Calmly, Cathy bent over the pitcher and filled the syringe, handing it to Susan, then taking it back to refill it. The baby settled down, swallowing each drop with his eyes still closed. Peace-in this unlikely and desperate place-began to move across Susan’s heart, banishing her terrible fear. She wasn’t alone anymore.

Softly she began to sing Bryan’s favorite, “Rock and Roll Lullaby.” Within seconds, Cathy’s voice joined hers, easily harmonizing as they had always done. From “Lullaby” they moved to other favorites as they rhythmically passed the syringe back and forth. No conversation was necessary. An hour passed, then Bryan fell asleep. Almost immediately the nurse came in the room to check him. “His fever has broken,” she smiled at Susan. “That’s good news.” Susan looked for Cathy, but she had apparently slipped out of the room.Exhausted and relieved, her hand cramped, Susan lay back on the bed.

For three more days, Susan stayed at Bryan’s bedside. Her husband visited, too, but both of them knew now that their marriage had ended. Separating was the right decision, but Susan couldn’t help but feel sorrowful. Once again, she had failed at something important. God must be so dissatisfied with her.

Finally, Bryan was discharged, and Susan drove with him to her family’s home. Cathy was waiting at the door to greet her. “Oh Cathy …” Susan hugged her. “Thank you so much for coming to the hospital that night! You were wonderful!” Cathy hugged her, then stepped back, a puzzled look on her face.Cathy hugged her, then stepped back, a puzzled look on her face. “What are you talking about, Sue? I was never at the hospital. You know I’m not old enough to visit the ICU.” Had it been a dream? No! Susan had taken the syringe home with her, and would never forget it passing between them, holding those tiny drops of lifesaving water. She remembered how cramped her own hand had been.But she would say no more until she had visited the hospital staff to thank them for their care.

A few days later, she did, and the same ICU nurse took her aside. “I’ll always remember how you stayed up all night alone with your son, singing the whole time,” the nurse said. “But I wasn’t alone,” Susan pointed out. “Don’t you remember the younger girl, the one that sang with me?” “There wasn’t anyone with you,” the nurse insisted. “I could see you clearly through the window, dropping the water into the baby’s mouth. You were the only one in the room.” Suddenly, as if a warm blanket was settling around her, Susan understood. Cathy had been right all along. God Suddenly, as if a warm blanket was settling around her, Susan understood. Cathy had been right all along. God loved her now, and had always loved her, just as she loved her baby. It was he, her Eternal Parent, who had arranged for an angel to watch with her that night in the hospital. Not just any angel either, but one who resembled the person Susan had always been able to trust and depend upon most: her sister. Susan went on to become a much-cherished wife and the mother of five children. Like all of us, she has encountered trouble and disappointment along the way. But she has never doubted God’s forgiveness. And, whenever they can, she and Cathy sing praises to him.

~”Guardian Angels” by Joan Wester Anderson~