An Introduction to Divine Mercy This is the... Read more
Lorie Sage with her step father Bruce Robb, her mother Sherrie Robb, and niece Savannah.
A Story for the Unbeliever
By Lorie Sage (Sept. 7, 2010)
My step father, Bruce, went into the North Kansas City Hospital for a hernia operation this past July 16, on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The surgery was a success, but while in the recovery room talking to my mom, he suffered a heart attack. He was without oxygen for 12 minutes before they could revive him.
That morning I had read the reading of the day and attended morning Mass. "I desire mercy, not sacrifice," Christ says in Matthew 9:13. It was a sentence I had read before and loved, but in the following days I would learn the true meaning of these words.
In the following days the doctors placed Bruce in a paralyzed state and lowered his body temperature to 91 degrees to lessen the stress on his heart. He underwent surgery to put stints in to open the 100-percent blockage to his heart. He was suffering from alcohol and nicotine withdraws. He had high enzymes in his liver. He had pneumonia. He was cold to the touch and had many different tubes coming out of him. We also worried about the effects the lack of oxygen would have. We feared the worst. So we prayed.
We called and e-mailed family, friends, priests, and ministers, letting everyone know of my step father's condition. The first person to come and pray for him was my parish priest. He called me on Saturday and came up to the hospital. Father Joe spoke tenderly to my family, then he walked back to Bruce's room with me and prayed for my step dad. Bruce is not Catholic, and Fr. Joe had never even met him before. Father Joe knows and preaches that prayer is essential and that I needed someone for me as well.
On Sunday, July 18, I went to evening Mass. I arrived a few minutes early so I could go into our small chapel and pray before I went to prepare the church for Mass (I am the church sacristan). The chapel was empty so I took the cloth off of the Blessed Sacrament and genuflected. As I moved to the pew and placed my knees on the kneeler, I immediately heard in my heart a clear command to "pray the chaplet." It was a forceful and urgent command, and I, of course, followed it.
On Monday I began the Divine Mercy Novena of Chaplets and also placed the image of The Divine Mercy on the wall of Bruce's hospital room. I called and e-mailed people requesting they begin this novena with me. I also told my family that the following Tuesday "something" would happen; I didn't know what, I just knew I wanted them to pray with me.
As the days went by that week and Bruce lay there unresponsive and speechless, my mother's actions were so beautiful to witness. She stayed by her husband's side all the time. She would gently touch his arm and hold his hand. As his fever would go higher, she would find a cool cloth and wipe the sweat from his forehead. My mom spoke to Bruce with words of tenderness. With each touch and word she was willing him to live. It was so beautiful to witness. In those moments, I experienced what the scripture verse said, "I desire mercy not sacrifice."
It is not our repetitive acts of worship, but our devotion to love. It is our denial of self for another, our expression of love in another's suffering, our Christ-like extension of hands and feet to another. That is what I felt Jesus wanted me to understand and see in this time of crisis. This very scripture verse I had read many times and pondered was now coming to life.
Another priest friend of mine came by the hospital during the week to pray for Bruce, see my mom and visit. Father Justin had called right after receiving an e-mail from me and offered comforting words, just listening to me express my feelings of what was going on. He also prays the chaplet and novena anytime I have a strong need of prayer in my life, so he began to pray. When he arrived at the hospital it was a little after 3 p.m. on the second day of the novena. This is providential because the prayer intentions for the second day are for priests and religious, and the 3 o'clock hour is the Hour of Great Mercy. As we visited, I felt led to pray this prayer out loud for him, for his act of mercy and compassion to my family and me.
Another providential incident happened with my brother Randy who works for a supplier of healthcare information technology. He just happened to be having a weeklong training session directly across from the hospital, so he was able to come over during his lunch breaks and after work.
On Friday, July 23, Bruce slowly awakened, and his fever had gone down. Saturday he was alert. The doctors removed the respirator and many of the tubes. That evening they moved him out of ICU. Sunday and Monday were great days for him as his language and motor skills improved. On Tuesday — the ninth and final day of the Divine Mercy Novena — I called Bruce on the phone before I went into work. He sounded great. That evening I was preparing to go to a church event and I got a text from my sister that said, "Dad is going home!"
I immediately called my mom who was driving her car. This was the first time since Bruce's medical troubles began that my mom had left the hospital to do anything but come to my house a couple of times and sleep. She was heading to the hospital and would call me. When she called she confirmed that, yes they were releasing him! I met them at the pharmacy. I wanted to see for myself, and sure enough there he was in the car smiling.
As I spoke to some of my family members that night I asked them if they recalled how I said "something" would happen on Tuesday. They all remembered. I said, "You know that prayer, Divine Mercy, we have been praying? It works! It works in accordance with God's will, and His will was to heal our step dad and reveal to you that prayer is real and God is alive. "
To the unbeliever, faith grows in moments of unbelief if you allow the unimaginable to sink in. If you allow the change to occur within and surrender your will to His will, miracles will happen!
Lorie Sage lives in Kansas City, Missouri.