BY MATT POTTER
CATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP AND ABUNDANCE
A couple columns ago, I mentioned that I was going to tell you about some things that happened in my life that have no explanation.
For many years, I was an active road cyclist. Bicycle rides of 50, 75 or 100 miles were regular things. My heart and lungs were in great shape. Yet I was starting to have a hard time breathing and I also experienced great fatigue.
My oxygen levels dropped to 90 and less. Walking up the stairs in my home meant I had to stop halfway to rest. Searching for a reason for my poor health involved multiple trips to my family doctor, referrals to specialists in several states, and more than 100 tests and procedures. For all the advancements in medicine, there is still so much that is unknown about the human body; and I was living proof. We knew no more after the hundredth procedure than we knew before the first one.
This was, as you might imagine, a very stressful time. We needed a break.
Sherry suggested we get away for a while and visit our dear friend Ginny in County Clare, Ireland. I thought that was a great idea, and she set about searching for travel arrangements.
We had acquired lots of frequent flyer miles over the years, but finding them available for travel to Ireland was rare. On short notice, it was next to impossible. Yet there they were. Two tickets to Shannon in less than a month. She grabbed the tickets and we got prepared for the trip.
There was no improvement to my health as my oxygen levels remained low and I still had to rest when I walked up the stairs. Any exertion beyond that was just out of the question.
Finally the day came for us to head across the ocean. On our drive to Denver International Airport from Cheyenne, I received a phone call from a friend who asked if we were going to see the Marian shrine in Ireland. He wasn’t sure where it was, but I told him we would look into it.
After the long trip, we arrived at Ginny’s and rested a bit. She had errands to run in Limerick, so a little later that day we piled into her car for the short trip to town.
We went into a religious goods store looking for St. Patrick medals to take home with us. When we went to pay for the medals, we saw a book about Our Lady of Knock. I mentioned to Sherry that this must be the apparition my friend mentioned.
We went to a second religious goods store where saw another book about Our Lady of Knock prominently displayed at the counter.
The next day I was listening to a Wyoming radio station via the internet when I heard a story about Mary being seen in Knock, Ireland. I told Sherry and Ginny that we needed to go to Knock.
Knock was just a couple hours away from us, so we drove there the next day.
The campus at Knock is huge. We went to Mass in a chapel that adjoins the old church wall where the apparition took place in 1879. We took advantage of Reconciliation in one of the 20+ confessionals in a building designed specifically for that purpose. We prayed the Stations of the Cross outdoors with a large crowd moving from station to station. Then we prayed a rosary with another large crowd.
The rosary was led by a priest who was inside the church. His prayers were broadcast over loudspeakers for those of us outside. While he prayed, we did too, walking around the church counter-clockwise (a tradition in Knock) offering our prayers to God through Mary.
Then it happened.
On one lap around the church, I felt something leave my chest. Not an emotion, but a physical action. Not painful or frightening, but more of an expansion followed by what I would describe as “space” in my chest cavity. Something that used to be there was not there any longer.
I held onto this occurrence until we were back in the car on the way home. I asked Ginny and Sherry about their experience at Knock. “Peaceful.” “Holy.” “Very nice.”
Then I told them what happened to me. They both looked at me in disbelief.
My symptoms disappeared that day and have never returned. That was eight years ago.
Our Lady of Knock, pray for us.
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