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When Our Lady Knocks

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By Marc Massery (Jan 3, 2019)
Before Seamus Kettner of Pinckney, Illinois, gave up on God, he gave praying the Rosary a try. And his life was never the same.

Though Seamus attended Catholic primary and secondary school, he went to college without much faith. "I was very big into my schooling, sports, working out, friends on the weekends, but I never had a personal encounter with Christ," he said.

The only part of Seamus' Catholic life that he seemed to enjoy was the yearly tradition of decorating his pastor's Christmas tree. "Father Ken was an awesome, down-to-earth, joyful parish priest [whom] I couldn't really compare to anyone else," Seamus said.

In college, Seamus focused on athletics, getting good grades, "and just partying with friends, not living a very moral life," he said.

But the school required him to take either a philosophy or a theology course. "And I said, 'No way am I taking theology.' I was fed up with the study of religion at that point," he said.

He took a philosophy class that addressed arguments against God's existence. Fascinated, he decided to major in philosophy. As he continued his studies, he almost completely lost his faith. For a time, he stopped going to Mass all together. "My mom was getting worried about me," he said.

Then he was assigned to write a 25-page paper about the meaning of life. "But I had no idea what the meaning of life was," he said. He investigated several other religions, including Buddhism. Not finding an answer, though, he withdrew from the class. "I told the professor I couldn't write a paper like that," he said.

Then he found an advertisement about studying abroad in Ireland. "I call it a grace now. This urge to go study abroad, it just consumed me," he said. He signed up for the program and made plans to depart the next semester.

Before flying to Ireland, he went home for Christmas where he decorated Fr. Ken's Christmas tree. His pastor told him to do two things when he was in Ireland: to pray the Rosary and visit the Our Lady of Knock Shrine. Seamus had never prayed a Rosary on his own. "I forgot the Mysteries," he said. "And I had never even heard of a Marian apparition, Guadalupe, Lourdes — nothing. I was calling it 'Knox' for the first three months. But it's 'Knock.'"

After arriving in Ireland, he decided to put God to the test. "I said, 'God, if I'm going to deny You for the rest of my life then I have to at least test this,'" he said. He gave God 40 days — all of Lent — to prove that He existed or else he would swear off religion forever.

Seamus started a couple of spiritual practices: listening to Christian sermons and praying the Rosary on his walk to school.

Every week, his mom would ask him if he had gone to Knock yet. On a Friday in Lent, two weeks before he would go home, he went. The sound of church bells greeted him, and he felt the need to go straight to Mass. "I heard the voice of the priest celebrating the Mass, and it was such a strong, raspy man's voice, kind of like Clint Eastwood's," he said. "I said [to myself], 'If there's ever been a man I want to go to Confession to it would be him."

He stayed the night and prepared to go to Confession the next morning. "[It was a] true pilgrimage without me knowing it," he said. After his first Confession in many years, the priest told him, "Seamus, ask for the grace to accept God's love."

"I still hold on to those words four years later," he said.

Seamus left Knock with a profound sense of peace. "Out of this world, truly supernatural," he said. "Though I couldn't put it into words, I knew that Our Lady was the one who led me to Knock. She was the one who led me to Jesus and His mercy ... [and] I knew the Rosary had great power."

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Christina - Jan 9, 2019

May God bless and love you now and always!

All love, adoration, praise, and glory to God Almighty in The Holy Trinity! May Our Blessed Mother pray and intercede for you, always!

Beautiful truth of reconciliation and conversion.